Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin went to Cumberland Falls State Resort Park last Thursday to sign HB 268 allocating $50 million in spending for the state parks.
“It is a joy for me to help lead the charge,” Bevin said of the spending known as the “Refreshing the Finest” Initiative.
The money comes on top of $38 million previously allocated.
Officials estimated that $246 million is needed to complete needed maintenance and upgrades at the state parks.
“Clearly, we have to do more,” Bevin said.
Bevin said the investment is paying off in more visitors coming to and staying in state parks across the commonwealth. He noted that there were 18,000 more room nights booked at the state parks in 2018 compared to 2017.
Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, who joined Bevin Thursday, said it is not just about what happens at the parks, but the economic benefit to the surrounding areas through spending at local restaurants, gas stations, and other businesses.
“The money coming in to the areas around the parks is multiplied by a factor of three to seven. That is an economic generator of great proportion,” Stivers said.
Cumberland Falls’ portion of the funding has been used to repair the pool, and to put a new roof on the lodge.
Officials said the roof had suffered from multiple leaks and the only option was to replace it.
“We had a lot of leaks that were in some high traffic areas,” said Bret Smitley with Cumberland Falls.
“This is badly needed,” he said.
In addition the restaurant has just reopened after undergoing an extensive renovation.
The cottages and bathrooms at the falls have been renovated and a new campground store was constructed.
Not everyone was happy to have the governor in Whitley County.
When Bevin was introduced, John Blevins, a local attorney, began booing.
“The governor is a liar!” Blevins shouted.
Bevin did not respond to the remark.
Following the announcement Bevin met with reporters for an impromptu press conference.
With a contested a primary election on May 21, Bevin said the most important thing is for the people of Kentucky to vote.
“Whoever you vote for is your business. Whether you are registered this way, or the other way, or whatever, just get out and vote,” Bevin said. “There are a lot of choices on both sides.
As to the protestor, Bevin took it in stride.
“It is not just in this community. It is not just in this state. It is everywhere in America and everywhere in the world,” he said.
“I applaud anyone that comes with a sense of passion and wants to make a point,” he said. “There are ways to make a point that are effective, and some that are just sort of embarrassing to the person trying to make the point.”
“But I applaud the energy and the passion,” he said.
Bevin said should he lose either in the primary, or in the November General Election, he has no regrets.
“We have had our foot on the gas right from the get-go,” he said.
Bevin said he has focused on the things past administrations refused to address such as right to work, shrinking the size of government and the pension crisis.
“Everyone of those platforms was a political loser in terms of a good way to get elected,” Bevin said.
“No matter what the resolution, they needed to be addressed,” he said.
If he is re-elected, Bevin said he would like to continue with what he has started.
“While we have made great strides on everything I have mentioned, we will still have more to do,” Bevin said specifying the continuing pension crisis.
“We have got figure out how to save the pension system for those who are counting on it,” he said.
“We have got to continue to figure out how to deliver the best quality education to every kid in the state, no matter where they are,” Bevin said. “There should be nobody slipping through the cracks.”
“We have got to continue to modernize our tax code.”
“None of these are fun. None of these are easy. But this is what we will be focused one,” he added.