Cliff & Nancy Hill

Bostwick Lake Inn preps for early May opening

April 26, 2012 // 0 Comments

by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL “We are polishing a jewel,” says Greg Gilmore, CEO of the Gilmore Collection, when speaking about the soon-to-be reopened Bostwick Lake Inn. Squire readers will recall the Gilmore Collection acquisition of the historic waterfront Bostwick Lake property earlier this year. Undergoing extensive and intensive renovations and updates since, the Bostwick Lake Inn (BLI) will reopen in the very near future. “This is a 100-year old building and we specialize in historic renovations and we are very, very good at it,” says Gilmore. Historic indeed. Located near Rockford, at the intersection of Belding Rd. and Kitson Drive, the current Bostwick Lake Inn was originally home to a 1910 beach house and pavilion. In 1927 this structure was replaced by Bert’s Lakeside Place. Owned by James and Susan Bert, it operated as a soda fountain/bathhouse/restaurant, and later as a tavern. With the repeal of Prohibition in 1934, Bert’s Lakeside Place became known as the Bostwick Lake Inn and was one of the first three area taverns to receive a liquor license. The other two were Chinnick’s on Pearl St. and the Pantland Hotel, now the Amway Grand Plaza. During the decade of the 1930’s, the tavern featured floorshows from Chicago, slot machines, dancing, and full course dinners. An old menu from the 30’s offered up a complete seven-course dinner for an amazing $1.25! BLI also served as an unofficial post office in the 1940’s, allowing lake residents to stop and pick up mail when the postman could not navigate the roads around the lake due to winter snows. In 1954, Earnest Gates purchased the lakeside Inn and, along with the Pullen family, operated the BLI for decades. Jim Web purchased the BLI in 1996 and ran it for fifteen years as a more upscale, white linen style restaurant before passing the torch on to the Gilmore Collection in 2012. Currently, with historic renovations nearing completion, the BLI also features a complete state-of-the-art renovation of the kitchen. Everything in the old kitchen was replaced with gleaming stainless steel commercial restaurant equipment. The entire interior of the restaurant has been returned to its original luster with many additional enhancements. The bar and back bar have been replaced by an even grander historic 25’ antique […]

Rockford Brewing Company promises to be worth the wait

April 19, 2012 // 0 Comments

by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL Everywhere we travel in West Michigan we are met with the question, “When is Rockford Brewing Company (RBC) going to open its doors?” The buzz of anticipation in the greater Grand Rapids area for RBC’s opening is absolutely amazing. Here’s the “scoop” directly from RBC’s Brewmaster Jeff Sheehan’s mouth. “Taking an empty shell of a building and creating a world class microbrewery is no easy task. Each and every day we are aggressively working towards an anticipated opening of late summer of this year. My partners (Brien Dews and Seth Rivard) and I are committed to getting it absolutely right. If we have to suffer through the inevitable delays in construction, equipment manufacture and delivery, and licensing then so be it. It’ll all be worth it on opening day.” It can’t be soon enough for the legions of beer lovers who can’t seem to get enough of craft brews. RBC is destined one day to join the heady ranks the likes of Founders Brewing, HopCat, Brewery Vivant, and Schmohz Brewing. Located as it is in northern Kent County, in the very center of beautiful downtown Rockford, RBC has just what the old adage “location, location, location” suggests. With the State’s longest linear State Park, the Fred Meijer White Pine Trail, on one side and one of the State’s premier trout and salmon rivers, the Rogue River, on the other side exposure will not be a problem. It only seems inevitable that RBC will become a destination “watering hole” of choice for the thousands of trail users, especially cyclists, that traverse the trail daily spring through fall. RBC will offer up many one-off’s and experimental brews along with mainstays and seasonals. German-style lagers as well as the more traditional styles of ale will be available. Not a beer drinker – not a problem. Michigan wines, ciders, meads, and soft drinks will also be offered. Hungry? Artisan sandwiches will be served up from Rockford’s premier gourmet deli – Poindexter’s Specialty Marketplace, a next-door tenant in the RBC building. As this article goes to press, the interior build-out of the brewery is well under way under the skillful hands of two of Rockford’s foremost builders, Solomon Homes and Thornapple Timber Frame. Located in […]

West side Rockford riverside trail nears completion

April 18, 2012 // 0 Comments

by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL Over 20 years ago Rockford City planners envisioned a pathway that would provide a beautiful and safe walkable trail (for children and families) along the west side of the Rogue River. In conception it was planned to begin at the City’s southern boundary and end at its northern border. More importantly, it was meant to provide a pedestrian pathway connecting the City neighborhoods on the west side of the river, one to another, and also to the heart of Rockford’s downtown. Construction has begun in recent weeks on Phase III (the final phase) of the trail that is known today as the Rogue River Nature Trail. It is anticipated that construction will be completed in early May of this year with a dedication ceremony planned during Rockford’s Start of Summer Celebration. “What began with land acquisition, as the west side of the river developed, now culminates with the construction of this third phase of the overall trail project,” said City Manager Michael Young. “All three phases have been funded by successful Natural Resource Trust Fund (NRTF) Grants totaling over $500,000,” adds a proud Young who personally masterminded the grant applications. Squire readers will recall that Phase II of the project, completed in 2008, was constructed as a riverside boardwalk with railings and lookouts. This beautiful elevated segment was so well received that in 2009 it was awarded the “Project of the Year Award – Structures” for projects less than $5 million by the American Public Works Association. In 2010 Rockford was awarded $98,000 by the NRTF with required local matching monies of $27,000. Combined, the $125,000 allowed the City to complete the third and final phase. Constructed as a grade-level boardwalk, the 800 linear ft. pathway will include an overlook platform extending over the river’s surface. Contractor Dave Bultsma of Bultsma Construction Co. tells us, “Things look good to have construction of Phase III wrapped up by May 10.” Along with sons Justin and Cody, and other company employees, Bultsma is proud to have had his company chosen to play a role in the construction of this beautiful award-winning nature trail. If you haven’t already taken advantage of this wonderful quality-of-life amenity offered by the City of Rockford, plan to […]

Local meteorologist’s crystal ball foggy this past winter

April 5, 2012 // 0 Comments

by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL With the past 2011-12 winter season being one for the record books now might be a good time to poke a little good-natured fun at local West Michigan meteorologists! If anything at all was learned during this, the second warmest winter on record, it’s that the predictions/forecasts of season long weather are pure folly. Let us remind you of the Grand Rapids Press tradition of every November publishing upcoming season-long winter temperature and snowfall predictions by the foremost Meteorologists of metropolitan Grand Rapids. In the Thursday, Nov. 3, 2011 edition of the G.R. Press an intrepid quintet of local meteorologists made their annual predictions for total snow accumulation for the upcoming winter as follows: WOODTV Chief Meteorologist Bill Steffen – 89 inches AccuWeather Meteorologist Carl Erickson – 84-89 inches WXMI Chief Meteorologist Peter Chan – 85 inches G.R.National Weather Service Meteorologist Bill Marino – 85 inches WZZM Chief Meteorologist George Lessens – 80 inches All five predicted colder and snowier weather than normal for West Michigan and to be “shovel-ready”. Off to a slow start, January 2012 was ushered in by a warmer than normal November and December with little or no snow on the ground. Business and industries that rely on cold and snowy weather murmured words of financial gloom. Ice fishermen, skiers, snowmobilers, etc., hung their heads in dismay. In the newspaper and on TV every evening, the meteorologists collectively persevered in their predictions telling us “not to worry” there were still 3 months left in the winter season. What they and winter enthusiasts failed to understand was what farmers have always known, “When it comes to Mother Nature, there are no guarantees.” In the Thursday, Jan.5, 2012 edition of the Rockford Squire, your reporters threw our hats into the ring and made a belated prediction for the 2011-12 winter season. Hey, the experts had been wrong thus far so why not? We predicted not 80-90 inches of snow but rather 50-60 inches of snow and temperatures remaining overall unseasonably warm. We based our prediction on established west to east jet-stream patterns during November and December carrying winter storms, for the most part, north of the Grand Rapids area. Occasionally the jet-stream split, both north and south, leaving […]

Squire visits shoe factory in San Antonio, Texas

March 22, 2012 // 0 Comments

by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL For the past two weeks, the Rockford Squire has been visiting San Antonio in south Texas and the “hill-country” surrounding the jewel of a city. No different than avid regular Squire readers, we took copies of our hometown newspaper along on the journey seeking a great photo-op. Granted, Texas is not necessarily one of the most exotic places our well-traveled newspaper has ever visited, but never the less a great picture taking opportunity occurred when we visited the factory and the adjacent outlet store of San Antonio Shoemakers (SAS). The Rockford community, being the world headquarters of Wolverine World Wide, is steeped in the history of shoemaking and we couldn’t believe our good fortunes to be able to take a behind the scenes peek at the SAS shoemaking facility. SAS, established in 1976, is one of a scant few remaining American shoemaking companies who continue to make shoes right here in the USA. Specializing in handcrafted comfort shoes, SAS believes that “life is a journey and why not wear comfortable shoes along the way”. Every day SAS prides itself on working to make sure their name continues to stand for superb craftsmanship and extraordinary comfort. The Company strives to make their shoes so comfortable that you don’t want to take them off! We were 2 of a 47-member Holiday Vacations tour group spending 9 days seeing and experiencing everything that the San Antonio, Texas area has to offer. On the day of our visit to SAS, the shoe company divided us into groups of ten to be led by one of the company’s experienced shoemakers. On the floors of two different shoemaking facilities, our guide led us from one shoemaking station to the next while the factories were in full operation. We were able to follow a style of shoe as it was being made from start to finish. Not exactly the same-old, same-old vacation itinerary, but never the less it was an educational blast! Not taking a merchandising backseat to WWW, the SAS guides concluded our shoemaking tutorial with a visit to the company’s General Store/factory shoe outlet. Our tour group must have been sold on what they witnessed on the factory floors that afternoon, as almost each and […]

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