Employees Sad Over Burr Oak Closing

Devin Bartolotta

Updated Wed, Feb 1, 2012 10:26 am

In a decision made by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, the Burr Oak State Park Lodge was closed indefinitely on Tuesday because of a serious electrical problem.

The lodge began having electrical problems since late August 2011, when the transformer that powered the building exploded.

Since then, the company that manages the building and its nearly 45 employees has not renewed its contract and ODNR chose to close the lodge rather than find a new management company.

General Manager Kathy Smedley has worked at the lodge for 35 years.

“We had heard rumors of it, but actually I read it in the paper the same as everyone else. But I had heard rumors of it in the latter part of August. And that as all in direct relation to our transformer, when we had major electrical problems,” says Smedley.

An outside standalone transformer currently powers the building, but it is not a permanent fix. A new transformer would cost more than $750,000, a large expense for one of the smaller Ohio State Parks.

For some employees like Sally Shiveley, the saddest part is not the loss of a job, but the loss of a family.

“It’s more than a job. It’s like we’re a big family here. It’s like your whole family is moving away,” Shiveley says.

Burr Oak State Park Lodge has also had problems recently with finding the money to renovate the building. The last time the paint and furniture were updated was in 1967.

The lodge boasts 60 rooms and banquet halls, which are used for 20 to 30 weddings each year.

Housekeeping supervisor and employee for 38 years, Charlotte Hogsett, says that she still can’t believe the lodge is closing.

“They kept telling us there was hope, and the hope ran out,” Hogsett says.