The state’s decision of making drastic changes to the Laurel Lake Wildlife Management Area will be devastating to Mingo County.
Due to budget cuts across West Virginia, some local parks will see many of their recreational attractions shut down. This included Laurel Lake, which was opened in the early 1960s.
The Division of Natural Resources Director, Robert “Bob” Fala, told media sources that out of their $1 million cut from the budget, about $600,000 affects Parks and Recreation.
“Our Foundation has quite a bit of work up there. We’ve worked with Justin (Marcum), received a grant through him and Mingo County Commission, and received the grant through the 1st and 10 Foundation,” said Lola Lackey, Secretary and Treasurer of the Laure Lake Wildlife Management Area Foundation, Inc. Her family is a resident of that community and they are big advocates of the recreational area.
Lackey said the organization worked with local government officials and companies to purchase new playground equipment, which had not been updated in years.
“We worked with Consol to buy new swings and riding toys,” Lackey said. “We worked with Cotiga Development to obtain funds to put electricity in two of the (picnic) shelters. “
The group worked with former State Senator Truman Chafin to get the swimming pool repaired and renovated.
“An action like this is something that our area definitely does not need. While we may be a rural area, our people do not need to be made recreationally and culturally impoverished,” said Gail Hall, President of the group. “Our area has been focusing on having a healthy population and this is one area that is a vital component of that focus. There has to be something that can be done. Our Foundation has begun the process for creating a walking track at the tunnel end of the Lake’s property. “
“Now all of our hard work is just going down the drain because there isn’t money in state funding to be able to keep someone there as a groundskeeper,” Lackey added. “The grass will grow up, the trash will pile up, and you won’t be able to access the area due to the uncleanliness of it. It’s very much a shame. A lot of people utilize that playground and those shelters during the summer.”
This publication agrees with Lackey and Hall and we hope that something can be done to keep Laurel Lake functioning for the residents of Mingo County.
There are not many recreational areas in this region that are close enough for families to drive to and spend the day. Laurel Lake is one of the best kept secrets in the area. I can remember spending many enjoyable days in my youth with my family at the facility. I would hate to see my grandchildren not have the same opportunity.
Laurel Lake is one of the jewels of Mingo County and the state should try its best to keep the facility open for public use. Recreation is important to southern West Virginia and the funding cuts that include the local community will be a big blow to our area.