PRESTONSBURG — May Lodge marked half a century as one of Floyd County’s prime tourist attractions Friday.
Jenny Wiley State Resort Park manager Julian Slone welcomed state Sen. Johnny Ray Turner, Tourism, Arts and Heritage Secretary Marcheta Sparrow and State Parks Commissioner Elaine Walker to Prestonsburg as part of the celebration. But the guest commanding the most attention was noted attorney Barkley Sturgill, who presided over the ceremony when the Lodge opened 50 years ago.
Sturgill, who was a friend and neighbor to former Gov. Bert T. Combs, who made developing Jenny Wiley a priority of his second administration, recalled how the governor welcomed the public to “nowhere” when the Lodge opened. The remark was a dig at Combs’ rival, former Gov. A.B. “Happy” Chandler, who had opposed the construction of the Mountain Parkway by saying it would lead to nowhere.
Sturgill told the audience how Combs took a personal interest in Jenny Wiley, converting the old Jenny Wiley State Park to Jenny Wiley State Resort Park in his first budget, then personally seeing to the construction of the Jenny Wiley Amphitheatre and golf course.
“I’m really delighted to rededicate it here and take a part in what I think is one of the best things to happen to Prestonsburg and Floyd County,” Sturgill said.
During his remarks, Sen. Turner noted a long connection to the park and the Lodge.
“A lot of people don’t know it, but Jenny Wiley State Park at May Lodge, down in the dining room, was my first job,” Turner recalled. “I was a busboy, and I made $2.10 an hour.”
Turner said the park and Lodge remain important in Floyd County’s efforts to develop tourism.
“Jenny Wiley State Park and May Lodge still serve this community immensely,” Turner said. “I’m proud to have been an employee here. This park is one of the greatest, Madam Secretary, one of the best in the system, and that’s mostly because of the beautiful scenery and the great employees.”