Trouble viewing this gallery on your device? Click here for photos.

LAKE MALONE, Ky. (10/23/13) — It's no secret to the residents and visitors of Lake Malone State Park, which opened in 1962, that it has fallen on hard times. Unfortunately, that seems to be a trend throughout Kentucky, due to massive cutbacks to the state budget for parks maintenance.

To emphasize the problem, state Rep. Brent Yonts (D) of House District 15, which includes the lake, chaired an unusual hearing on what some see as a shocking decline and fall of Kentucky's long treasured parks statewide.

Yonts, along with other state representatives and a senator from across the state, took part in the Interim Joint Committee on State Government Wednesday, Oct. 23 at Lake Malone.

Also on hand for the often emotional hearing were numerous media outlets, and several members of a group working to save Lake Malone, called Friends of Lake Malone.

Yonts, who co-chairs the committee with Sen. Joe Bowen of Owensboro, told the group that the reason for the degeneration of the parks all boils down to money.

"We have not funded parks as well as we should have." Yonts said. "I worked here before I went to college. There would be hundreds of people here daily — picnicking, camping, fishing, swimming and spending money in the local stores. This park is only a symbol of the real problem, which is under funding."

For Rep. Martha Jane King (D) of District 16, who represents Logan and Todd counties, this is a personal fight to save "a big part of my life. Just because we are small, doesn't mean we should get looked over." she said.

State Rep. Stan Humphries (R) Senate District 1, which includes Lake Barkley and Ken Lake, told Surfky.com News that while the problem is statewide, help should be allocated to solve the situation.

"All the state parks, even large parks, have been effected by cuts. It's a shame to see them come down in the last several years,” said Humphries. “We need to help get them back where they need to be."

Department of Park Commissioner Elaine N. Walker also spoke about funding woes during the meeting.

"We are reaching a critical phase,” said Walker. “For the last several years we have had financial problems. Until revenue issues are addressed, our system will continue to erode. We have been greatly affected by the down turn in the economy."

Walker added that the computer system used by the state park system is so old and outdated that "you cannot even book a room at a park on Travelocity or Expedia.

"If you log on it will tell you dates are unavailable, and will redirect you to our competitors," she said.

Yonts said Walker has done a "tremendous job" in dealing with the circumstances she has been dealt.

Rep. Brad Montell, (R) Dist. 8-Shelby Co., said the status of the state park system is distressing.

"We have long been proud of our park system in Kentucky,” he said. “It is sad to see all of our parks in one way or another, falling into disrepair."

Montell asked Walker if there was a possibility of involvement of the private sector as part of the solution.

Walker said while that might be part of the fix, several closures have resulted from losing revenue on the sites.

"One of our golf courses takes $300,000 a year to maintain,” she said. “We recently closed the golf course at Rough River State Park, because it was just not profitable."

She said that allowing a private company to run part of the park system facilities is a possible solution to at least part of the problem with parks not operating in the black.

Joseph House, of Greenville, spoke during the public forum, said while he understands the issue of revenue, the depressed economy makes state park access more important for vacationers.

"I know money is very tight,” he said. “But I have friends, who don't have a lot of money, and they can't leave Muhlenberg County to take a vacation. They love this lake. My grandson asks me, 'Can we go fishing at Lake Malone?' I'd like to be able to tell him we can."

After the meeting, Rep. Derrick Graham (D) of District 57, which includes Frankfort, told Surfky.com News that park funding should be a priority.

"We have to find a way to fund the parks,” he said. “Part of that is tax modernization. We need to move in that direction. This is not just a Muhlenberg County park. I'm sure many people in surrounding counties use this park."

Others suggested more alcohol sales as possible answer to funding upkeep of parks.

Several members of Friends of Lake Malone, a local group that has worked to save the lake, found the hearing to be very emotional. One member who spoke to the legislators was Melody Vaught of Belton.

"If you think this part of the park is beautiful, you should get out and go around to some of the caves and waterfalls,” said Melody Vaught of Belton. “You will see beauty you cannot imagine. There are caves here with impressions in the rocks from when Indians ground corn hundreds of years ago. I was born near this lake, and I will die here. I hope you will please not let this lake go down."

SurfKY News
Paul McRee

e-max.it: your social media marketing partner

LIKE SurfKY on Facebook - Click here to LIKE us now.

© Copyright 2015 SurfKY News Group, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, or rewritten without permission. SurfKY News encourages you to share this story on social media.

In Other News...

Greenville Man Charged with Rockport Robbery, Burglary, Kidnapping

ROCKPORT, Ky. (5/28/15) — A Greenville man has been charged in connection with a police investigation involving a… Read More

Accident with Injury

HENDERSON, Ky. (5/28/15) - According to a Henderson Police Department report, on May 24, 2015 at approximately 1:34… Read More

Most Read This Week

May 23, 2015 7994

Missing 5-Year-Old Boy Found

by Doreen Dennis, SurfKY News
May 27, 2015 6773

VIDEO: Sparks Fly Over Hanson Rezoning Issue

by Tammy Holloway, SurfKY News
May 28, 2015 4763

Four Charged with Burglary for Entering Elderly…

by SurfKY News
May 25, 2015 3809

Can Sunscreen Save Your Life?

by Melissa Patrick
May 27, 2015 3576

Midnight Ride on Rabbit Ridge Ends in Jail

by SurfKY News

Most Read This Month

May 15, 2015 10985

New Madisonville Business In Full Operation Soon

by Tammy Holloway, SurfKY News
May 23, 2015 7994

Missing 5-Year-Old Boy Found

by Doreen Dennis, SurfKY News

Stories Trending Now

May 28, 2015 4763

Four Charged with Burglary for Entering Elderly…

by SurfKY News
May 28, 2015 1523

Greenville Man Charged with Rockport Robbery,…

by SurfKY News
May 28, 2015 1270

Livingston Street, Hanson Rezoning Request…

by SurfKY News
May 28, 2015 1015

Dawson Springs Woman Charged on Drug Offenses, DUI

by SurfKY News
May 28, 2015 963

Teens Injured When Vehicle Crashes into Tree

by SurfKY News
May 28, 2015 747

Southside Elementary Wins $30,000 in National…

by Doreen Dennis, SurfKY News
May 28, 2015 745

Slaughters Student, Madisonville Faculty Member…

by Joyce Riggs
May 28, 2015 663

Hopkins County Health Department Food Scores Thru…

by Barry Franklin
May 28, 2015 599

'The Patrick Rudd Project' Encourages Community…

by Ron Sanders