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Changes may be in store for Guntown Mountain

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Negotiations proceed for Cave City attraction

By Monica Spees

Bowling Green Daily News/Kentucky Press News Service

A Louisville man is negotiating to purchase a Cave City roadside attraction.

JB Enterprises of Cave City, owner of all 100 shares of stock of Tourco Inc. – licensee of Guntown Mountain – is in talks with Will Russell, owner of souvenir shops WHY Louisville and who also runs Lebowski Fest in Louisville. Lee Bartlett, president of JB Enterprises, said negotiations should wrap up today or next week.

Bartlett has owned Guntown Mountain for seven months. He said he hadn’t considered selling until he heard Russell had discussed buying the attraction from the previous owner.

“I priced it, and we’ve been going from there,” Bartlett said.

Bartlett said negotiations have been going on for about 30 days.

Although nothing has been signed, Russell is already dreaming big for the longtime Cave City fixture. Russell passed through Cave City some time ago and said he noticed several Cave City businesses had closed and Guntown Mountain looked lifeless. The image made Russell sad, he said, because the area is special to him.

“I’ve been interested in Cave City my whole life. It’s my favorite place in the world,” Russell said.

Russell even proposed to his wife on the chairlift at Guntown Mountain. Russell said he thought someone should do something to help revitalize the attraction and decided he could be the one to do it.

Some plans Russell has considered for Guntown Mountain – if negotiations go as he hopes – include a pop culture museum, turning the opera house into a movie theater and redoing the putt-putt course. The museum would feature a concept revolving around Cave City, Mammoth Cave, Guntown Mountain and Kentucky history. Russell also mentioned putting in water slides and a roller coaster.

“It’s basically a Kentucky carnival-themed amusement park,” Russell said.

Russell said he wants to “rebrand Cave City as the roadside attraction capital of America” and bring attention to Cave City and southcentral Kentucky.

Kentucky is “not just fried chicken and bourbon and horses,” Russell said.

Russell said all that’s left is the paperwork between attorneys.

“We’ve come to an agreement, and it’s just a matter of due diligence until it’s done,” Russell said.

If negotiations go in Russell’s favor, he wants to open Guntown Mountain – renamed Funtown Mountain – in summer 2016.

“We’re going to take away the guns and add the fun,” Russell said. “We’re taking away the cowboys and putting in the clownboys.”

Sharon Tabor, executive director of the Cave City Convention Center, said the city would be delighted if the attraction is revitalized.

“It’d be great because it would give people one more thing to do and stay longer in town,” Tabor said.

Guntown Mountain will open in April as usual, regardless of how negotiations turn out, Bartlett said.