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SHEPHERDSVILLE - Having spent more than two decades looking out for Bullitt County’s hotel industry on the Shepherdsville-Bullitt County Tourist and Convention Commission, Bill Barnes’ recent retirement was bittersweet.
In honor of Barnes’ service, the commission hosted a reception at Paroquet Springs Conference Center where dozens gathered to congratulate the local hotelier.
Barnes, who has owned the Best Western in Shepherdsville since 1974, was humbled by the reception and the recognition.
“I don’t feel I deserve it. I really don’t,” he said.
For his service, commission chair Tom Kelly presented Barnes with a wooden gavel mounted on a commemorative plaque, but not before Barnes got to see the cornish game hens the conference center’s kitchen staff prepared especially for him as an inside joke.
Kelly formally thanked Barnes for his years of service to the commission and for his role in helping to bring the Paroquet Springs Conference Center to life.
Barnes, who has sat on the commission since the mid-1980s, was part of the effort to have the conference center built on the site once occupied by a truck stop.
From the time he joined the commission, Barnes’ goal has been to, as he said, “put heads to beds,” through the partnering of Bullitt County’s hospitality and tourism industries.
As a commissioner who supported the construction of the conference center when it was nothing more than an idea, he not only played a role in bringing more people to local hotels through events held at the facility, he helped give the county a public venue it could be proud of.
“I think it’s been a great asset to the community,” Barnes said of the conference center. “I’m glad I had a small part in getting it built.”
Barnes, a native of Bardstown, grew up in the tourism industry as the son of a hotelier.
Barnes joined the commission after opening his own hotel in Shepherdsville.
Though more than 20 years have passed since then, Barnes said it didn’t seem that long ago.
And while he said he was ready to retire from the commision, his departure was bittersweet.
“I’d been on so long, I thought we needed new blood and new ideas,” he said. “I’ve enjoyed it. A lot of good things were accomplished.”
Barnes said what he would miss most about serving on the commission is the camaraderie commissioners share.
His proudest moment during his tenure: the dedication of the conference center in 1999.
Although he’s retired from the commission, Barnes said he’s not getting out of the hotel business any time soon and he plans on visiting the conference center whenever he can.