Cliff and Nancy Hill

Rockford soon to spill over with craft beer

August 23, 2012 // 0 Comments

by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL  Ladies and gentlemen, “whet” your whistles. The long awaited and much anticipated opening of Rockford’s signature microbrewery, Rockford Brewing Company (RBC), is close (or closer) at hand. In recent weeks, a flurry of activity has been in evidence inside and out of the craft brewery. Seven, custom crafted to RBC’s specifications, stainless steel brewing tanks were recently delivered and installed inside the brewery’s Brew House room. Manufactured by Metalcraft Fabrication of Portland, Oregon, the tanks are everything and more of what brewmaster Jeff Sheehan hoped they would be. “I couldn’t be more satisfied with the support and quality of workmanship of this highly specialized company,” said Sheehan. The three partners, Jeff Sheehan, Brien Dews, and Seth Rivard, have been up to their elbows engaging in hands-on sweat equity to get the doors of the microbrewery open for business. On a recent visit your reporters even witnessed them with sledgehammer in hand physically breaking up an old White Pine Trailside concrete entrance walk. It’s not often one sees a poitician (Dews) doing hard manual labor. Way to go Brien! Most recently RBC received their “brewer’s notice”, a federal license to produce beer. This notice was a missing piece of the puzzle to secure licensing from the Michigan Liquor Control Commission. The partners are very hopeful that the state license will be granted in the very near future. “We can see the light at the end of the tunnel (or beer if you will),” said Sheehan. “At the same time the closer the opening day gets the higher my stress and anxiety level. I just want to see this dream fulfilled and completed absolutely right and in a way that will make everyone, investors and patrons alike, PROUD of their hometown brewery.” The three partners, again, invite everyone to join in the excitement by stopping in any time the trailside door is open to check out the progress inside. Or simply go to RBC’s website at: or

God rocks at Praise in the Park

August 2, 2012 // 0 Comments

by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL  Sunday afternoons and evenings used to be pretty quiet in downtown Rockford. Other than White Pine Trail users and those canoeing or kayaking on the Rogue River along with the faithful addicted to Sunday evening Custard by the Dam or Rocky’s desserts, not much goes on. All that changed this summer with a series of Sunday evening concerts in Garden Club Park with a different genre of music, that being Christian themed contemporary praise music. This summer, the talented musicians and vocalists of the Praise Teams of nine Rockford community churches volunteered to showcase their God-given talents during twelve scheduled Sunday evening performances of the first “Praise in the Park” concert series. City Council member and event organizer, Rich Moll, has been more than gratified to see attendance increase during each of the seven concerts held thus far. “Rockford is a faith-based community of many church denominations that are interwoven in the eclectic mix of a community we are proud to call home,” said Moll. City Hall has received numerous calls and emails of thanks and appreciation for granting approval for an event that further adds to the quality of life we all enjoy here in Rockford. Moll is hopeful that the weekly series of “Praise in the Park” concerts will become an ongoing annual event in ensuing years. Judging from the enthusiastic response of those in attendance thus far, that shouldn’t be a problem. Your reporters were in attendance at the beautiful riverside Garden Club Park venue, a few Sundays ago, to take in the concert presented by the multi-talented Praise Team of Rockford United Methodist Church. Wow, they were as hot as the 90-degree temperature! For one hour and thirty minutes, without a break, they sang their souls out in praise of the Lord. Approximately 250 people were in attendance that evening. When you add to that the unknown numbers of trail users who stopped and were caught up by what they were witnessing and hearing, it was an inspiring summer evening indeed. Four scheduled Sunday evening concerts, from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m., remain. Next up on Sunday, August 5, is the team from Rockford Reformed Church. Following in ensuing weeks, will be the team from Dick Rounds, […]

Rockford Fourth of July hotter than a firecracker

July 12, 2012 // 0 Comments

by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL Rockford did not escape the successive days of record-breaking heat that engulfed two-thirds of the nation last week. Unless you were beachside, the stifling heat put a damper on out-of-door 4th of July activities especially backyard cookout gatherings. Air conditioning was certainly the order of the day. Locally, venues such as Rockford’s North Star Cinemas were extremely busy all day long with many people changing their holiday plans as they sought to escape a heat wave flirting with 100 degrees. Venturing barefoot out on our concrete front porch at 3 p.m. that afternoon, brought us an abrupt and painful explanation of the term “hot foot”. It also brought to mind the old expression, “It’s hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk.” You guessed it; this was an experiment we always wanted to try. So we got out a small frying pan, sprayed it with a little olive oil, and set it on our concrete porch in full sunlight. Wanting to verify the surface temperature of the concrete, we placed an extremely accurate digital thermometer on the porch’s surface adjacent to the frying pan. The thermometer quickly rose past the current 98 degree outside air temperature to an astounding 133 degrees on the concrete’s surface! We broke an egg into the pan and, although it wasn’t as fast as stovetop, we were soon rewarded with a perfectly cooked sunnyside up egg. Being reporters, we wanted to share the results of this “scientific” test with West Michigan so we contacted our newspartner WZZM TV 13 via an email and a picture. Meteorologist Joe Kopecek of WZZM’s “On Target Weather Team” quickly replied, “Thanks for the pic, I’ll work it into the weather segment during the 11:00 p.m. newscast.” And so he did – did you see it? Proof positive is in the accompanying photo. By the way, Cliff ate the egg on top of an ice cold 4th of July salad of Farm Market mixed greens.

Rockford, are you ready for another contest?

June 21, 2012 // 0 Comments

The RAM needs your votes by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL On the wings of last summer’s improbable win in the nationwide America’s Favorite Farmers Market contest, the Rockford community is being asked by the Rockford Historical Society to rally around their entry in the “Building Our Community Contest”. For 50 years Erhardt Construction has been proud to build some of the most recognizable buildings in our respective communities. They are even more proud to be a part of West Michigan which, as we all know in our hearts, as a great place to live, work and do business. In recognition of their 50th Anniversary, Erhardt Construction and its project partners wish to recognize and support the work of people and organizations that are serving others in Kent and Ottawa counties. Together with their project partners, Erhardt is giving away a construction project and prizes totaling $50,000 to area non-profit organizations through their “Building Our Community” contest. Instead of celebrating their achievements, Erhardt invites everyone to join them in honoring the organizations doing truly great work in the greater Grand Rapids community. Erhardt’s hope is to reach non-profit organizations that have a vision for a project or facility improvement that will help them accomplish their mission. Talk about a timely contest. As we all know, the Rockford Historical Society has been engaged in a yearlong campaign to raise funds to move the Rockford Area Museum (RAM) from its current inadequate facility. To date the fund-raising campaign has been successful enough to prompt the Rockford City Council to enter into a lease agreement with the RAM that would allow them to relocate the museum into the vacant 63rd District Court building adjacent to City Hall. The move would allow the RAM to, in large measure, keep the storied history of the Rockford community alive for future generations. Costs for such a project are substantial and a $45,000 first prize in winning the “Building Our Community” contest would be a Godsend. This is Rockford, we can do this, here’s how: The contest, to be conducted in two rounds, is similar to last year’s America’s Favorite Farmers Market contest. Votes may be cast by registering and following the simple instructions online at You may vote for the Rockford […]

Rockford Ace holds Grillin’ Extravaganza

June 14, 2012 // 0 Comments

by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL On a recent Monday evening, “Ace was the place” to be. Pete Kruer, of Rockford Ace Hardware, was hosting his first ever “BBQ Boot Camp” and everyone who had signed on for the evening was in hog heaven! Kruer had secured the services of Rob Russell, a real Kansas City BBQ expert, who conducts BBQ seminars around the country for Ace of Hearts BBQ Specialties of Kansas City, MO. With 15 years of championship competitive BBQ experience, 20 years of catering and restaurant experience, Russell has a great way of bringing real BBQ to backyard hobbyists as well as professionals and competition cookers. Also on hand that evening was “Barbecue” Bob Nurmikko, host of Cumulus Broadcasting’s “The Grillin’ Guys” radio show heard across Michigan and locally in Grand Rapids on WJRW 1340 AM. “Barbecue” Bob acted as host and sidekick while, at times, interjecting humor by poking a little fun at the expense of his good friend Russell. The 40 participants of the sold-out evening were treated to three solid hours of BBQ grilling education in the beautiful Meijer Garden like setting of Ace’s Ray Kunst Gardens outdoor garden department. It didn’t matter how much you thought you already knew about BBQ grilling, what we learned that evening took us all to the next level. We were treated to expert tutorials covering different grill fuels – including varieties of charcoal (lump preferred), grilling techniques, smoking, creating marinades, brining, using seasonings and rubs, and the preparation of ribs and chicken. Russell also discussed and demonstrated in great depth food handling safety, as well as cooking and smoking temperatures to strive for. In short, the man was a veritable fount of backyard barbequing information. With “BBQ on the brain” Russell was definitely present to help us all become better cooks! Gordy Aulbach, the butcher from Cannonsburg’s Grist Mill, was also on hand to answer any and all questions about meat cuts and selection. Kruer had arranged for the Grist Mill to supply slabs of baby back pork ribs and yes, even beef ribs along with plump grilling chickens. During the grilling class we were afforded the opportunity to taste test everything that had been pre-prepared prior to the start of the BBQ […]

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