As the region prepares to breathe a sigh of relief when fall arrives, residents and business owners near Burr Oak State Park are exhaling in relief, too.
On Monday, the Ohio Controlling Board met and approved the release of $2 million earmarked for the demolition of Burr Oak Lodge to instead be used for part of the lodge's renovation.
The Controlling Board, a legislative panel for financial oversight, approves unbid contracts and other state spending.
"We are ecstatic here in Morgan County," said Deana Clark, director of the Morgan County Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The lodge at Burr Oak was closed in January. According to Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Director James Zehringer, the decades-old facility was deteriorating and occupancy was low.
It is estimated that the re-opening of Burr Oak will result in 45 new jobs at the facility in Glouster.
About Burr Oak
1953: Burr Oak becomes a state park.
1967: Burr Oak Lodge opens with 60 rooms.
January 2012: Burr Oak Lodge closes due to deterioration and low occupancy.
Aug. 20: Ohio Controlling Board approves the release of $2 million to be used for a portion of Burr Oak Lodge's renovation.
Oct. 1: Burr Oak Lodge slated to reopen. Call (740) 767-3570 for reservations.
"That's 45 local jobs here that are really important to us," Clark said.
Burr Oak Lodge also counted for 80 percent of the budget for the Morgan County Convention and Visitors Bureau, noted Clark.
"The future of our Convention and Visitors Bureau really rested on whether or not Burr Oak opened again," Clark said.
The re-opening is due in large part to a partnership between the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) and private hospitality company U.S. Hotels.
According to Bethany McCorkle, ODNR spokeswoman, Burr Oak has always been a priority for the agency.
"It's a great facility and great location," said McCorkle.
Instead of using the earmarked $2 million to raze the lodge, the agency wanted to reinvest "back into the local community" with the renovation and re-opening of the lodge.
Dedicated more than four decades ago in April 1967, Burr Oak Lodge has 60 rooms.
Renovation will include updating the lodge's decor as well as more large scale improvements.
"Some walls will be knocked down to provide suites for more of a family atmosphere," said McCorkle.
There will also be renovations to the lodge's common areas and cabins, as well as beginning electrical repairs.
The lodge currently has a temporary generator, after its transformer blew out in 2011, resulting in periodic power outages. Installing a new generator will be a top priority as renovations begin, McCorkle said.
Last Thursday ODNR held an open house at Burr Oak to take input and suggestions about how to draw visitors to the park and lodge. Many suggestions were related to outdoor activities including mountain bike trails, a zip line and ATV trails, McCorkle noted.
Burr Oak is slated to reopen on Oct. 1.