WHITTINGTON, Ill. — The state is seeking a new operator for a southern Illinois conference center and resort that was closed last year due to safety concerns.

Illinois Department of Natural Resources Director Wayne Rosenthal said Wednesday that finding a new operator for the Rend Lake Resort and Conference Center is a top priority. The resort is on the Wayne Fitzgerrell State Recreation Center in Whittington.

Rosenthal says the facility can be “a shining light for southern Illinois tourism.”

The Department of Natural Resources cited health and safety hazards including mold when it terminated a lease agreement with the previous operator. The operator also was delinquent in lease and rent payments totaling more than $200,000.

The center opened in 1990 and has 104 rooms, suites and cabins adjoining the lake.