JULIAN - A new business has opened in Boone County that was designed and brought to life to help feed blossoming tourism interests.
Local Businessman Dain Bender, who already owns a pawn shop, a driveway care business, a construction business and property rental company among others, brought the idea for Little Coal River Camping & Kayaking to life within a span of about four months.
Tent camping, full camper hookups, concessions, kayak rentals, shuttle bus rides for kayak rentals coupled with separate bathrooms and shower facilities with electricity, sewer and water highlight the offerings.
Eight RV camping sites are available for $35 per night, while 20 sites for tent camping are just $20 per night.
Kayak rentals are $35 per day. Bender has nearly 20 kayaks available for rental and is looking to expand that in the coming months.
"I bought that land and a house down there and I gave the house and some of the land to my son," Bender said. "I was building a gazebo down by the river for my son and I kept noticing kayaks coming down the river. I was wondering what I was going to do with the land, since I had given part of it to my son. That is where the idea came from."
The campground, which covers an acre-and-a-half, boasts a state-of-the-art kitchen facility approved by the health department, new restrooms and showers and electric service to each camp.
"I went into this thinking it could work or I wouldn't have made the investment of money, but also my time," Bender said. "People are excited about it and of course I need for it to be successful but I think the community needs for it to be successful, too. I want other local businesses to profit from it as well. We're all in this thing together. When you talk about coolers, bun warmers, hot dog machines, ice machines, nacho machines, three septic systems, two leech beds and tons of gravel hauled in - there is a significant investment in this."
For now, concessions will be available on the weekends. Bender said the hours for concessions will depend on the interest in the business and how full the campgrounds are during the dog days of summer.
"I think this is a good test for how much tourism we can draw to the area for kayaking and hopefully the Hatfield McCoy Trail System," he said. "I know there has been some movement on the trail situation and we'll see how that goes. I've talked to a lot of people who have cabins and they think I have a good thing to offer and that it will be successful. It will show that there is more to offer the area than 4-wheeler riding."
Bender said he is working on two apartments beside the campground that will tie into tourism.
"They'll be for the Hatfield McCoyers to stay in," he said. "We want them to be ready and furnished for lease later this year. If this works, I'll look at expanding the business. In the end, it is always for sale if someone is interested. I'm open to anything."
As reported by the CVN, Bender has been working with the county for a year-and-a-half or reopening the county transfer stations as a for-profit business. The process has left him waiting for the blessing of the Public Service Commission, which could come in six to eight months, according to Bender.
For now, the campground will employ a groundskeeper/shuttle bus driver and a kitchen attendant.
"As I was working on it, I had people asking about it and I've had people inquire about renting a spot for a year," he said. "I'm just concerned about taking up the spots with long-term rentals. I'd rather keep them open in the summer months for our kayakers, providing they support it. While it is seasonal, I feel it could be a very profitable business, but we'll just have to wait and see come summer."
Little Coal River Camping & Kayaking is located north of Danville on Route 119 (Corridor G) 15 minutes from Charleston and four minutes from Danville at 375 Lory Road in Julian. Find the business on Facebook or visit kayakandcamp.com for more information. Phone inquiries can be directed to 304-785-9514. Brochures may be picked up at the Coal Valley News Office at 85 Town Square in Danville.
Reporter Phil Perry can be reached at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @philipdperry.