Cliff and Nancy Hill

Resolution Walkers step optimistically into 2010

January 7, 2010 // 0 Comments

  Apparently Mother Nature didn’t buy into the hype and rewarded the Resolution Walkers with a bright sun and blue skies to add to the crisp air and light winds. Perhaps because of the uncommon winter sun, a common salutation by everyone present that morning was a resounding “Happy New Year.” Promptly at 10:00 a.m., Dave Heybour, chairman of the FWPT, welcomed and thanked everyone present for attending. He went on to say, “This year, folks, we are walking south instead of north. The turnaround point is a short two miles, just south of House Street, where you will see and appreciate one of two covered metal picnic tables that were installed this past fall. Wolverine World Wide funded the tables and, on behalf of the Friends and all Fred Meijer White Pine Trail users, we would like to thank Wolverine World Wide for this most recent contribution.” An annual group picture was taken and the four-mile round-trip trek commenced. The trail had been cleared in the early morning hours and all of the walkers—young and old alike, accompanied by more dogs than ever—returned in about an hour to the cozy confines of a heated Rockford Rotary Pavilion. Refreshments were then the order of the morning. Waiting was hot coffee and cocoa, along with cookies and energy bars. But best of all, again for the third year in a row, was Jennifer “Coney Girl” Idema with her original Detroit Coney offerings. Served from her stainless steel downtown Grand Rapids pushcart were hot dogs along with Polish and Italian sausage on buns. Toppings? You name it. Available were the usual mustard, ketchup, pickles and onions plus cheese, chili, sweet and hot peppers, and sauerkraut. Everything provided was free of charge, but donations toward the good works of the Friends were gratefully accepted. Everyone left that morning with a full belly and a sense of having started a new decade on the right foot (or maybe the left)! See what you missed? Happy New Year from the staff at The Rockford Squire.

‘Waterdance’ coming to dam

December 3, 2009 // 0 Comments

      by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL The greater Rockford community is blessed with a multitude of accomplished artisans, many of whom participated in this year’s ArtPrize competition. Local artist Steve Anderson of Anderson’s Metal Sculpture may have contemplated entering the prestigious competition but found himself engrossed in the creative design and layout of his—to date—largest undertaking. From his home/studio tucked away in the woods between Rockford and Cedar Springs, Anderson along with two of his sons, Troy and Chad, is in the midst of completing a prodigious work of art that will forever enhance the iconic Rockford Rogue River Dam. Anderson’s Metal Sculpture has been designing and creating original metal sculpture works of art since 1975. As opposed to cast bronze sculptures, Anderson’s has carved a niche for itself, working with copper, brass and most recently stainless steel plate. “Our varieties of sculptures range from small garden sculptures to large three-dimensional pieces that bring life and texture to the inside or outside of one’s home or business,” said Anderson. Locally, Anderson’s talent is on permanent display in front of North Rockford Middle School (NRMS) and also in front of the Cedar Springs High School Red Hawk Stadium. The large-scale renditions of the Rockford Fighting Ram and the Cedar Springs’ Tom Brown Fire Hawk are but two prime examples of many gifted creations. The Rockford Dam sculpture, yet to be completed, will be a three-dimensional sculpture of three fish leaping in and out of swirls of water and mist. Working with heavy gauge stainless steel plate over stainless steel frames, Anderson is creating three fish synonymous with the Rogue River. Most fittingly, the piece will be titled “Waterdance.” Incorporating a rainbow trout, a steelhead and a brown trout, the finished piece will be grand in size and scope and will measure approximately 12 by 18 feet. Each fish, itself, will be considerably larger than life-size. The rainbow trout will be some eight feet long with a girth of five feet, the steelhead approximately 10 feet long with a girth of six feet, and the brown trout about 7.5 feet long with a girth of five feet. The gleaming stainless steel fish will be individually textured to be life-like in detail. The large size of […]

REF concert tickets a great Christmas gift

November 18, 2009 // 0 Comments

A CAST FROM AN EARLIER SECOND CITY TIME—do you recognize anyone? Photo courtesy of DK/NY by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL Rockford Education Foundation (REF) Administrator Sue Arend and the gang at REF have gone outside the box and done themselves one better. In annually producing a mid-winter fundraising show, which featured mostly musical acts, this season REF has instead decided to bring a touring ensemble cast of Second City to Rockford. On Saturday, Jan. 23, Second City will star at the REF’s 14th Annual Benefit Performance. The iconic Second City bills itself as “a comedy powerhouse” and in celebration of 50 years of being recognized as America’s greatest comedy theater, they have taken their act on the road. Second City had its beginnings in 1959 in a small cabaret theater on the corner of North Avenue and Well Street on Chicago’s north side. It has since grown to become a comedy empire with resident theaters and training facilities in Chicago, Los Angeles and Toronto, currently enrolling over 3,000 students. Over the years, the cream of the crop have gone on to stardom on television and the big screen. Honing their comedic craft in Second City methodologies, recognizable superstars such as Alan Arkin, Joan Rivers, Gildna Radner, John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, Martin Short, John Candy, Bonnie Hunt, and more recently Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Mike Myers, Steve Carell, Stephen Colbert, Tina Fey and many, many more have become household names. Over the years, the popular late-night NBC program “Saturday Night Live” could not have survived without a steady stream of Second City graduates. “Attendees at the Rockford show will see stars in the making as they perform a comedy review that satirizes politics, culture and news of the day,” said Arend. Speaking for himself, the male half of the reporting team recalls attending Second City performances in Chicago during the ‘60s that were “side-splitting and hilarious comedy.” Remember the performance will be held in late January, and who isn’t looking for an evening of laughter to escape, if just for a couple of hours, from another bleak Michigan winter?! Christmas is coming and if you are looking for a gift for someone who has everything or who is hard to please, why not surprise them—or indulge […]

Just call him ‘Fred’

November 18, 2009 // 0 Comments

Meijer book-signing event an evening of fun by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL Last Wednesday evening, Nov. 11, as Fred and Lena Meijer walked through the entrance of North Rockford Middle School, they were greeted by someone who said, “Hi, Fred. How are you?” With a big grin on his face, Fred’s quick-witted response was, “You don’t ask a 90-year-old man a question like that unless you have the rest of the day for the answer!” Thus set the tone for an evening of fun. Fred—as always, he insists that everyone call him by his first name—and Lena were in town for a Rockford Area Historical Society sponsored book-signing event. The featured book was “Fred Meijer – Stories of His Life,” authored by Bill Smith and Larry ten Harmsel, who were also present. A near-capacity crowd filled the school’s auditorium as Terry Konkle, president of the Rockford Area Historical Society, welcomed everyone present to a short program prior to the book-signing. After a brief and hilarious video—Fred was seen and heard singing “Happy Trails to You”—ten Harmsel, historian for the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park and one of the book’s authors, read an excerpt from the book from a time when Fred was a boy of 13. Ten Harmsel then introduced his co-author, Smith, a Meijer Corporation employee for over 40 years. The banter of both men was lighthearted as they led into the introduction of the guest of honor, Fred Meijer.   Fred, as he always does, held everyone in the palm of his hand as he spoke lovingly of his bride of nearly 63 years, telling everyone, “She is only 39 years old and she’s the boss and always has been.” Lena loved it and so did we. He went on to introduce his personal assistant, Pam Kleibusch, who has been his “right-hand woman” at Meijer Inc. for 52 years. Fred finished by saying, “The grocery business is serious business. We’ve got to pay the bills, do the job, and have fun along the way.”   The audience then exited to the foyer for the book-signing and light refreshments provided by the Historical Society. Everyone present that evening had arrived with a previously purchased book or bought one that night at the door. […]

Old broads hold pajama party at Grandma’s House

November 18, 2009 // 0 Comments

by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL Last Friday evening we had just settled down for a quiet evening of reading. Around 8:30 the phone rang and a guy named Larry tipped us off to a loud and boisterous party going on in a residence in Rockford. Thinking there might be a story here, we headed out to check it out. Pulling into the driveway of the address given, we found ourselves at Grandma’s House, the bed and breakfast owned and operated by Rockford Mayor Janice “Chi Chi” Rogers and her husband Larry. (Yes, he was the caller!) We could hear loud laughter coming through the walls. Thinking it might not be politically correct for us to be there, we were just about to leave when the front door flew open and Chi Chi beckoned us in. We quickly found out Chi Chi was hosting a pajama party, of all things, for four of her closest friends. Now here’s the best part: they weren’t just any women—they were the mayors or mayors pro-tem of Cedar Springs, Rockford, Walker and Wyoming. The lady mayors had met earlier for dinner at Rockford’s Reds on the River, where, we were told by the others, Chi Chi had “worked the room” like the consummate politician she is. After dinner, the get-together moved to Grandma’s House for a first-ever sleepover. These twice-annual get-togethers had usually been dinner out and good conversation. This year was different, because Mayor Carol Sheets of Wyoming and Mayor Linda Hunt of Cedar Springs were both retiring from political office after many years of distinguished public service. So the idea of a pj party in celebration was hatched. Other than the two retirees, and along with Chi Chi, mayors pro-tem Pat Capek of Cedar Springs and Barbara Holt of Walker were part of this tight group. Obviously this is a close group of friends who over the years have developed a strong personal and professional relationship as a result of a common shared interest in city governance. They are dedicated and talented women and extremely proud of their combined 89 years of public service. With a self-deprecating sense of humor, the ladies described themselves as “old broads.” They were seated around the dining room table in the evening’s […]

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