LATHAM – The Ohio-West Virginia Youth Leadership Association’s Cave Lake property in Pike County recently entered its next phase of development with the construction of a $1.6 million lodge.
Ohio House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger and former Senate President Doug White joined representatives from YLA, the Pike County Commission, JobsOhio, the Ohio Department of Agriculture and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources at a 3 p.m. groundbreaking ceremony at Cave Lake on Tuesday.
Set on 700 acres of the region’s most scenic property, Cave Lake includes an ecologically significant cave, a 42-acre lake and hundreds of species of birds, trees and shrubs. YLA purchased the Cave Lake property in 1999 and has been utilizing parts of the land for youth day trips and family camping.
The property will be used by several groups throughout the Ohio Valley, including those from Meigs, Mason and Gallia counties.
The new lodge will include overnight housing, kitchen, dining room and meeting space. The facility will be available to schools and organizations to conduct programs, retreats and conferences.
“There really is nothing like this piece of property,” said Steve Evans, president of the YLA board. “Cave Lake allows our youth to come here and learn by doing. They will work in teams, develop plans of action, test and refine their approaches, build confidence and discover their full potential.”
Evans thanked Rosenberger and White for their leadership in bringing Cave Lake and the new lodge building to reality. The funds for the project were appropriated by the Legislature and are distributed through the Ohio Department of Education.
In addition to construction of the lodge, the $2 million appropriation will allow for the upgrade of Cave Lake’s water, electrical and wastewater treatment systems. Funds will also be used for improvements to the resident director’s house.
“Through this project we are not only providing a first-class outdoor classroom for our youth, but we will also be preserving some of Ohio’s most beautiful land,” Rosenberger said. “As this development continues, we believe that Cave Lake can become an economic anchor for the region, bringing youth and families to Pike County from all over Ohio, West Virginia, Indiana, and beyond.”
Senate President Keith Faber added, “The development of the Cave Lake Center for Community Leadership will be available to all Ohio’s communities and schools. It will be a center of positive education, training, and hope for the future not only for students but adults as well.”
Other officials who reportedly participated in the groundbreaking were Sen. Bob Peterson, Rep. Ryan Smith, former President of the Senate Tom Niehaus, and Ohio YLA Youth Governor Lindsay Chapman.
Evans also thanked the Pike County Commission and Ohio DNR for their early support of the project.
“We would not be here today without their help,” he said.