Fri, Sep 6, 2013 01:13 PM
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
"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
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
"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
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.