Joe Wheeler State Park Faces Budget Cuts

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ROGERSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - After a slowdown in monies coming in and a tightening state budget, more cuts at Alabama state parks could soon be a reality.

In a letter to community leaders, the state parks director has warned of the shutdown of certain amenities and reduced hours at other state parks.

One of the affected parks is Joe Wheeler State Park in Rogersville.

Joe Wheeler State Park sits along the Tennessee River in Lauderdale County and covers more than 25 acres.

The spot has remained a staple for the town of Rogersville, drawing in thousands of visitors each year.

Rogersville Mayor Richard Herston knows what the park means to his town.

“It means a lot to our economy, we have a lot of people that shop here that stay down there.  I think cuts will hurt the whole area, and not just Rogersville,” said Mayor Herston.

This week, Mayor Herston received word that the state parks director is proposing changes at 22 state parks to save money.

At Joe Wheeler, that would mean closing the marina office and group lodge.  Also crews might be forced to shut down the picnic area during the winter and reducing the hours at the golf course.

“You are going to slow down the economy in our area if you are doing things like that.  That is one of the few avenues we have in this particular area to get tourists through here, and tourism is big business,” said Mayor Herston.  According to the mayor, tourism is a major part of his town’s economy.

State officials say the proposed changes are a result of $12 million dollars in state budget cuts, loss of tourism after the 2010 oil spill, and the damage to Guntersville State Park after the April 2011 tornadoes.

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