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Conference centre expansion attracts no local contractors

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By Alex Wimsatt

 SHEPHERDSVILLE - When Vicki Downing put out an advertisement for contractor bids on an elaborate patio to be build onto Paroquet Springs Conference Centre she was hoping for competitive bids. 

During the last regular meeting of the Shepherdsville-Bullitt County Tourist and Convention Commission the conference center director said the project has been held up yet again.

Having received not a single bid on the project, Downing told commissioner’s she’s hoping for better luck with a new print advertisement. 

Chairman Tom Kelly said the project was initially advertised locally because commissioners had hoped to give the project to a local contractor, adding that he couldn’t understand why no one in Bullitt County placed a bid.

Treasurer James Watkins, who has been actively involved with the project, speculated that because the project required a bonded contractor the local pool was shallow because there aren’t many bonded contractors in Bullitt County.  

Downing said she hoped the new advertisement for bids would run before the end of the month. 

“We want to start scheduling events as soon as possible,” she said. 

The roughly $700,000 project would greatly enhance the aesthetics of the conference center, while also providing an elegant outdoor venue for a variety of events from weddings to luncheons.

Plans include a stone patio large enough to seat 200-300 guests theater-style, surrounded by landscaping and trellace. 

Plans also call for an exterior wall surrounding the patio, decorative light fixtures, water elements, an audio visual system and decorative landscaping intended to create an intimate setting while serving as a buffer from outside activity.

In other business:

*The commission reported yet another increase in hotel and restaurant tax revenue, which is not just good news for the commission, but for the community. 

Watkins reported that August lodging receipts deposited in September rose to $48,973, which is nearly $10,000 more than what was collected in 2011.

Vice chair Jay Patel, who owns the Hampton Inn in Brooks, said he had a good month, though he saw fewer guests staying at his hotel for Louisville’s annual national street rod show this year than last year.

Hotel occupancy for the month was over 55 percent.

Watkins said July restaurant tax receipts deposited in August rose to $61,190 from $56,142 July 2011. 

Commissioner Buddy Deeley, who co-owns the Moby Dick franchise, said it was peculiar that tax revenue from Shepherdsville restaurants grew because, from his experience, restaurants don’t fare well during the month of July.

Whatever the reason for the increases there have been no new hotels in Bullitt County and only a couple new restaurants have opened in Shepherdsville since last year.

Following the treasurer’s report, the commission discussed taking the burden of tax billing processing off the city of Shepherdsville. 

Downing said with fewer than 50 restaurants billed commission staff could do the job.

 Kelly said the commission would receive revenue quicker if billing and receiving were processed in-house. 

*Bullitt County Tourism director Troy Beam reported that the number of visits to local attractions continues to grow. 

And with the recent grand opening of Jim Beam’s new, state of the art, multi-million dollar visitors experience at its flagship distillery in Clermont, he expects even more to come to Bullitt County in the coming months.

Beam also announced that the Future Farmers of America convention will return to Louisville next year. 

“Hopefully that’ll give our hotels a big boost and bring people out this way,” Beam said. 

*Downing reported that Paroquet Springs Conference Centre revenue fell by just under 7 percent. 

But on a positive note, she said the conference center’s job profitability was “remarkable.”

Downing said her staff worked hard to keep expenses low and ensure everything ran smoothly. 

This, she said, contributed to the conference center’s 7 percent job profitability rate for the month.  

*Kelly announced that commissioners Kirit Gandhi and Buddy Deeley would serve on the commission’s nominating committee. 

The nominating committee is charged with overseeing the selection of new executive officers on the commission. 

Kelly said his term as chair is up in January, adding that nominations would be taken for vice chair, treasurer and secretary in addition to chair.

Upcoming Events:

*Toys for Tots – November 4, Paroquet Springs Conference Centre.

*Rabbit Breeders – November 9 & 10, Paroquet Springs Conference Centre.

*The next regular meeting of the Shepherdsville-Bullitt County Tourist and Convention Commission will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 20 at the Paroquet Springs Conference Center in Shepherdsville. The meeting begins at 4:30. The public is invited.