by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL Mission accomplished! The third and final phase of the Rogue River Nature Trail is now complete. Bultsma Construction has made good on a promised May 10 completion date and the award-winning trail is now open for foot traffic. The entire Rogue River Nature Trail was constructed primarily as a boardwalk with picturesque Rogue River vistas along with observation and fishing platforms. From its southern origin at James St. and Longview Dr. on the City’s southwest side, the trail extends northward to its terminus at a sidewalk connector to Chelsea Ct. in the Riverchase Neighborhood. Not quite a mile in total length and handicap accessible, the Rogue River Nature Trail begs to be discovered if you haven’t already done so.
Cliff and Nancy Hill
by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL Under the banner of the Gilmore Collection of restaurants, the Bostwick Lake Inn (BLI) opened its doors for business this week Tuesday. Your reporters had the good fortune to be invited as guests to one of three days of an invitation only soft-opening. Soft-openings are meant to hone the skills and menu of a new restaurant’s management and staff. They’re kind of like shake down cruises or breaking in a new car if you will. Soft-openings are oftentimes like train wrecks but such was not the case during our visit last Saturday evening. What was not to like? Gone is the decades old monochromatic white exterior along with an interior needing a little tender loving care. Now sparkling clean inside and out, you’ll love the vibrant new color schemes. History was not forgotten. The walls of the dining room displayed newly framed black and white antique photographs of the lake and the restaurant’s past that were freely provided by lakeside and area residents. We loved the eclectic menu offerings. Variety is the spice of life and with an extensive menu, in part, of fourteen starter appetizer plates it was difficult to narrow it down to one or two so why not order three? Cliff ordered Applewood Smoked Harrietta Hills Trout over baked herbed cheese with fried tarro chips. Nancy went with the Grilled Wild Gulf Shrimp with local asparagus 2 ways, both grilled and salad with candied ginger vinaigrette. Our attentive and knowledgeable server Rebecca suggested the third, Olive Oil-Spice Roasted Cauliflower Steaks with roasted pepper puree and golden raisins. Bursting with flavor and freshness, we could not fault any one of the three. On to the main course. Cliff ordered the BLI Mac ‘N Cheese composed of rigatoni pasta, baby spinach, roasted garlic, slow roasted tomatoes, house cheese sauce, crispy asiago cheese, and crispy leeks to which he added perfectly grilled and sliced flank steak. Cliff was in “seventh heaven” stating it was the best Mac ‘N Cheese he had ever had, the mélange of flavors of the combined ingredients was that good! Nancy, a seafood lover, chose Potato Chip-Sweet Corn Crusted Walleye. The generous filet was served with house remoulade and lemon on the side with grilled local […]
by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL Rockford native Kevin Groothuis (47) has recently opened his second Hex Shop Fly Fishing Outfitters. Both stores are named after the second largest mayfly (Hexagenia) in the United States. For the uninitiated, dramatic hatches of mayflies have become legendary over the last 30 years during the month long period from mid-June to mid-July in Michigan. During that period trout, especially Browns, gorge themselves as the mayflies hatch from river bottoms and rise to the surface. If you are a dry fly fisherman presenting Hex fly patterns, you are in hog heaven! Anglers who only fly fish once a year have been known to drive hundreds of miles to play their part in the drama of a Hex fly hatch. No one has a better handle on this than Kevin Groothuis who over the years has become a well-known fly tier and fisherman. After opening his first Hex Shop on East Paris near 28th St. in East Grand Rapids some three years ago, Kevin then began to pursue a dream of operating a fly-fishing outfitters shop in his childhood hometown, Rockford. The opportunity presented itself when Mrs. O’s Bait and Tackle closed up shop last October 2011. Kevin seized the moment and signed a lease for the space and has been renovating the interior of the shop for the past few months culminating with a soft opening some two weeks ago. Kevin’s love of fishing and fly tying began when he was a fifth grader. “When I was 10 years old, my mother took me to the Meijer on Plainfield so that I could spent the $20 I had saved up to buy a skateboard,” said Kevin. “While walking through the Sporting Goods Dept. I passed a display of fly tying kits and thought I’d love to learn the art of fly tying. Just like that the skateboard was put on the back burner. I asked Mom to loan me the extra six bucks the kit would cost and the rest was history.” (Kevin adds he did eventually buy a skateboard.) Kevin, a Hope College graduate with degrees in Biology and Natural Resources Mgt., tells us he is ever so proud to be the very first fly-fishing outfitter located within downtown […]
by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL History is a living thing. It’s not only about the past, history is being made today and it will continue being made tomorrow and into the future. You may think history is boring and you may well have hated it in school but nevertheless, everyone plays a role in the making of history. This article may be rather long and redundant but bear with us and see if you don’t identify yourself at some point in our narrative. For many years the Rockford Historical Society has operated the Rockford Area Museum (RAM) in an overcrowded and inadequate antique of a building adjacent to the Rogue River Dam in downtown Rockford. The current RAM houses the past history of the greater Rockford community and because of its size and condition it is totally inadequate to the task. One cannot turn around in the RAM without bumping into one’s self. It is so full of the artifacts of the area’s history that exhibits overflow into one another and cannot be separated to be adequately appreciated. Many large and important artifacts are out of sight and stored elsewhere. The RAM building lacks the simple necessities of running water and restrooms. Lacking air-conditioning, it is stifling in the summer. It is poorly lit making it difficult to discover the many treasures hidden within. The RAM, in this location, lacks adequate parking for volunteer staff and visitors. We could go on and on but you get the idea. The rhetorical question should be, can’t the Rockford community do better? “Given what the volunteers of the Historical Society have had to work with these many years, they have done an absolutely wonderful job,” said Museum Consultant Gerard Adams, “but it’s time to take the RAM to the next level. What the RAM now has is an antique shop without prices. What the RAM needs is to provide visitors an ‘experience’ in history.” (Adams is a highly credentialed museum designer who at one point served as curator/collection manager at the Public Museum of Grand Rapids.) Always harboring a desire to move the RAM to larger quarters, the Historical Society and its many supporters were afforded a one-year window of opportunity to relocate the RAM to the vacant […]
by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL From purely a state-level prestige perspective the honor bestowed upon the Rockford High School’s (RHS) Women’s Chorus last Friday afternoon was perhaps greater than what might be garnered by the football team winning, yet another, state high school football championship. Echoing a sentiment heard over and over again, Michigan School Vocal Music Association (MSVMA) President-Elect Doug Armstead said, “This is a really, really big deal.” Amstead was speaking about RHS Women’s Chorus being only one of five chorus’ selected to perform at the 2012 Michigan Music Conference (MMC) held in Grand Rapids last Thursday – Saturday. “When one takes into consideration that only five high school chorus’ were chosen from 600 high schools across the entire state of Michigan the honor to appear takes on a very special meaning,” said Armstead. Just prior to the start of the RHS Women’s Chorus program, it was announced that RHS Vocal Music Educator and Women’s Chorus Director Mandy Makita Scott, herself, was to be further honored. We learned Scott had been awarded the Carolyn F. Leep Scholarship by MSVMA and had been chosen by her peers, in a statewide ballot, to be the 2014 State Honors Choir Conductor. She will rehearse and conduct a 100+ voice elite high school women’s chorus at the MMC conference in January 2014. This is widely considered one of the highest honors that a high school conductor in Michigan can receive. High honors indeed for this Rockford resident. Performing in the Grand Ballroom of the JW Marriott, before a standing room only audience upwards of 700, the Women’s Chorus then opened a flawless 5-selection program. At times Conference Pianist Dr. Kenneth Bos, Grand Rapids Symphony Principal Cellist Alicia Eppinga, and RHS student Percussionists Aaron Bainbidge, Spencer Gordon, Tylor Hoekstra, Jason Ibarra, and Zach Kidder, accompanied the Chorus. Your reporters hearts swelled with “Rockford Pride” as the talented young women of the Chorus closed the afternoon’s performance with their beautiful rendition of Michigan Composer Jeffrey Cobb’s We are the Music Makers. You really should have been there and enjoyed, along with us, the rousing applause of everyone in attendance that afternoon.