The Mountain Times

°F Sun, April 20, 2014

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Bill’s Country Store restored, soon to be ready for use

KILLINGTON - As the hammers pound and the floors are cleaned, what had been Bill's Country Store is on track to become the new home of the Killington Chamber of Commerce, with the vision of becoming a full fledged visitor center within the following year.
Many members of the KCC board have volunteered their time and expertise to bring the long-disused building back into useful shape.
"We're keeping the post-and-beam frame," said Phil Black, a chamber member, owner of the Lookout Tavern and partner in Bill's LLC, "and we're upgrading the bathrooms to ADA standards. Construction ends in about a week, maybe a week and a half. Then we have to plan the layout."
"In the future we'd love to turn this into a state-of-the-art visitor center, but in order to do that we're going to need the support of the community, resort and town," said Chamber President Howard Smith. "At this point we've done it one our own, on a shoe-string budget with the help of volunteers and calling on our resources… we couldn't have done it without the help of generous local contractors including, Paul McNeil Construction, Bob Evegan and Joe Craven," he added.
Bill Radaker founded Bill's Country Store in 1964. At the time, it was the only store in Killington with a beer and wine license. It sold Vermont agricultural products and other food items, souvenirs, and provided directions for tourists, many of whom were looking to find Killington Mountain Resort, which is just five miles up Killington Road directly across the highway on Route 4.
Sons Bill and David took the store over in 1985, and kept it going until 2008, when it became a victim of a victim of the Great Recession.
Last year, on Sept. 14, five businessmen bought the building at auction for $355,000; the group consisted of Howard Smith, Steve Durkee, Aris Spanos, Phil Black and Chris Karr. The group formed Bill's, LLC for the expresssed purpose of securing it for the Chamber as a welcome center.
The terms under which the LLC was formed include not making a profit from selling the building or any activities leading up to the sale. "If we make a penny profit, it will be turned over to the non-profit at the time of the sale," Black explained.
Bill's, LLC began leasing the building to the Chamber in April allowing the Chamber to file for a bank loan, which they received from local lender Sandy Preedom at Merchant's Bank in Rutland on Tuesday, Sept. 3.
Smith said the reason for taking this particular route is that banks do not lend money for auctions when the value and price are unknown. That prevented the Chamber from buying the building outright.
"It seemed the best way," Smith said. "We've been working on it for six months. Thank God the local banks are good to me!"
Unrelated setbacks, however, have affected some plans. Earlier this year, the town of Killington lost a bid for a $175,000 grant to improve drainage at the intersection of Routes 4 and 100, which would have helped beautification efforts for the country store.
Black said that if all goes as well as expected, the Chamber would be out of its present location by November. No target date has yet been set for formally opening the center.