During the year 1992 the community of Idlewild witnessed the entrance of several new small business owners. Harrison R. Wilson, a longtime resident, was on the verge of retiring as Lake County Commissioner in order to provide the necessary leadership needed to nurture the Yates Township DART System.   Larry’s Nursery and Landscaping, owned by Larry and Judy Portis, was fully operational, so was Burns Construction Company, which is owned by former Yates Township Supervisor Norman R. Burns, the East Meets West Boutique, owned by James and Larnell Cox, as well as Morton’s Motel, owned by John O. Meeks.

The accomplishments of these new establishments may have been gradual signs of proof of economic development and rebirth in the community, but none were more significant than the community services to follow by Mr. John O. Meeks.  Having relocated to Idlewild from Detroit, after retiring from the Detroit Public School system and a successful dry cleaning business, Meeks purchased the old Morton Motel in Idlewild in 1989, and immediately began renovating it in 1991.   Being a visionary by seeing a need for motel accommodations in the community, Meeks was creative when he added a multi-purpose room to the 17-room motel with kitchenettes in ten of the units.  However, Meeks’ work did not end there.  He purchased a second motel in the area, and began to look for other ways to promote the community.   Darci McConnell, a staff writer for the Detroit Free Press, reported in December, 1996: Hoping to spark others’ interest, Meeks founded the Mid-Michigan Idlewilders and was able to get a charter through the national Idlewilders organization.   Mid-Michigan has since grown to a membership of one hundred active members, and a waiting list of fifty potential members wanting to join the organization.  By always working to promote Idlewild, Meeks, the founding president of the Mid-Michigan Idlewilders, who is now president emeritus of the group, recently took on to another pet project, which involves the redevelopment of a defunct chamber of commerce in Idlewild, an organization that was originally founded by Phil Giles of the Phil Giles Enterprise in the 1950s.

During the summer of 2000, Meeks founded the Idlewild African American Chamber of Commerce for the purpose of promoting existing local businesses and for attracting newer ones to the area.  Within a year’s time, the organization has grown under Meeks’ leadership from one to ten business members.




Morton’s Motel
6389 South Tacoma Drive
Idlewild, MI 49642
(231) 745-4742
John O. Meeks 1992
Idlewild Party Store
712 E. Bridge Street
Idlewild, MI 49642
(231) 745-8746
     Dana Joubert-Hayes and Sandra K. Joubert 1993
Road Runners Variety Store
12 E. Baldwin Road
Idlewild, MI 49642
(231) 745-7712
Denise Bellamy and Freddie Mitchell 1998
Sha Rhon’s Hair & More
6176 South Broadway
Idlewild, MI 49642
(231) 745-6100
Roz and Katena 1998
B.M.G Sporties Grill
867 N. Michigan
Baldwin, MI 49304
(231) 745-8815
Ronald "Big Money" Griffin 1999
Century 21 Realtor
201 W. Upton
Reed City, MI 49677
(231) 832-1941
Terrance J. Herd 2001
Hummingbird Retreat Cottage Debra Grant 2001
Deep Tissue Massage Theraphy
6420 Delta Place
Idlewild, MI
Deborah R. Grant
Certified:  Massage Therapist
Tech-Human Solutions Group, Inc.
Voice & Fax:  (312) 808-9512   (231) 745-2194
E-Mail:  drgrantmail@NetZero.Net
Holiday House
on Paradise Lake
Idlewild, Michigan
(231) 745-7832   7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
(231) 843-9566   8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
(231) 745-3431, any time after 5 p.m.
Joe L. Lindsey

The Idlewild African American Chamber of Commerce also provides a number of community services to a variety of social programs and charitable activities in the Idlewild community and Lake County area. Various members of the organizations also belong to the Mid-Michigan Idlewilders and other non-profit groups.

Other local businesses operating in the community who have not yet joined the organization include the Red Rooster Lounge, owned by Bill and Betty McClure, Burns Construction, owned by Norman Burns, The Holiday House, owned by Joe L. Lindsey, and Larry’s Nursery and Landscaping, which as mentioned earlier is owned and operated by Larry and Judy Portis.

Other community developments include the Lake County Merrymakers, which obtained funding support from the Enterprise Committee to develop a lasting legacy to preserve the historic value of the community through the development of the Idlewild Historical Museum and Cultural Center. Friends of Historic Idlewild, an affiliated group of the Lake County Merry Makers, Inc., a local civic and charitable organization, obtained support from the Lake County Enterprise Board under the direction of Mary L. Trucks, executive director of FiveCAP, Inc., and Deborah Smith-Olson, president of the Lake Osceola State Bank, who laid the ground work, infrastructure and enthusiasm needed to garner support for new countywide projects. The Enterprise Board, The Lake County Board of Commissioners, Yates Township Board, and several other organizations and agencies have since been working collaboratively to improve the infrastructure and business development opportunities throughout Lake County, Michigan.