PAXTON- There's more than corn and soybeans sprouting up in the rural countryside west of Paxton.
Jim Walder of Paxton is building a bed and breakfast that he hopes to open by midsummer.
"What I'm trying to build here is something that would appeal to me," Walder said. "If it is something I would like, my guess is our guests would like it, too."
Hidden by an iron gate and thick woods along Illinois 9 west of town, the 25-acre Timber Creek Bed and Breakfast will provide guests with tranquil country living, high-tech security and modern amenities.
Guests need to negotiate digital security locks and a winding road bordered by 22 lanterns that snakes through woods and gentle hills to Timber Creek, which consists of a central building that looks like a giant barn and a nearby log cabin overlooking a large, secluded meadow and a meandering stream.
The interior is anything but rustic. When completed, the 3,600-square-foot facility will include seven suites, each with private baths; four fireplaces; a Jacuzzi in one suite; floors of white oak, brick and tile; cathedral ceilings; wood beams; oversized trim and king and queen beds.
"Our number one goal is to provide a relaxing place for people to get away from it all," Walder said.
One suite on the first floor is fully handicapped accessible, and a suite is large enough to accommodate a family of six. Rooms include reading areas overlooking the countryside.
Only people with reservations will be given the electronic code to open the automatic front gates, he said.
Walder, 36, and his wife, Beth, hope to have the interior of the bed and breakfast completed by the end of May. They intend to host an open house in late June and will be open for regular business on July 1.
Walder said room rates will range from $100 to $200 a night for two people. All rooms include a full breakfast catered by Paxton's CountryTyme Tea Room and served in a large dining room.
Walder plans to market the bed and breakfast throughout the area, concentrating on Champaign-Urbana, Danville, Bloomington, Peoria and western Indiana.
"We intend to have the entire building available for family reunions, weddings and various social functions, and area businesses will be able to rent the place for company retreats," he said. "I've already got one corporation that has booked our place during the Farm Progress Show."
Timber Creek marks Walder's third business venture in the area.
He founded Vacuflo, which produces in-wall vacuum cleaners, and Closet Concepts, which produces closet shelving, both based in Paxton, before selling them in February 2002.
Walder then took some of the proceeds from the sale to develop Timber Creek.
Walder said he first had his sights on the property 10 years ago, but the owner, Wallace Judkins, wasn't interested in selling the land.
After Judkins' death, Walder let a local banker know he was interested in acquiring the property, and he purchased it a year ago.
Walder originally planned to use the place as a private shop.
"Then one day Beth and I got the idea of opening our bed and breakfast, so we decided to pursue the idea," he said.
While the couple have only gone to a few bed and breakfasts themselves, Walder said they believe the idea of a rural retreat will be appealing for potential guests.
The log cabin, which is also available for guests, was completed in July 2002. Then the Walders began work on the main barn building.
The Walders don't plan to run the facility themselves on a daily basis, so they are setting aside an extra suite for a site manager.
"We're planning on hiring someone to live out here and run the place," he said. "You have to be here 24 hours a day to run a bed and breakfast, and I don't want to be tied down."
After the facility opens, Walder plans to plant native prairie grasses and build hiking trails.
You can reach Tim Mitchell at (217) 351-5366 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org .