Groton on the Inside: From Marine Corps mechanic to artistic entrepreneur

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Although he was born and raised in Newfield, Bill Hulbert has made Groton his home since 2001, and couldn’t be happier about that. During the summer of 2017, Hulbert discovered his artistic niche in his home on Roosevelt Avenue, where his current business, “Bill’s Concrete Creations” also now resides, but the “long and winding road” he took to get to this point is quite an interesting path.


When Hulbert graduated from Newfield, he immediately enlisted with the United States Marine Corps, faithfully serving his country for 10 years, primarily as a generator mechanic. While stationed in Okinawa, Japan, he met and married his wife, Aurora, in 1996. Two of their three sons were born there and are both alumni of Groton High School, Joseph ’16 and Alex ’17. Hulbert also proudly informed me that both are Eagle Scouts and Marines! His youngest son, Freddy, is currently a sophomore at GHS, and very involved in the youth bowling league at Memory Lanes on Main Street.


After being discharged from the Marines Hulbert knew Groton was where he wanted to be.


“I had family who lived here and wanted to be closer to them,” he said, “but I also found it to be the nicest and most affordable community in the area.”
What does a Marine Corps generator mechanic do when he moves to Groton? Hulbert started out working at Tops Market in Ithaca, where he had worked in high school, just to get himself back into the world of work, but it didn’t take long before the company sent him to be the store manager at Wilson Farms – its affiliate on Main Street in Groton – the very building 7-11 most recently vacated! Unfortunately, he was not there very long before it was closed when Tops began to close all its Wilson Farms stores.


Over the course of the next 10 years, Hulbert worked at Home Depot and Lowes, but while working full time, he simultaneously attended Tompkins Cortland Community College as a full-time student – earning his A.A.S. in the Graphic Design program in 2010. Since 2015, he has been employed at BJ’s, which he enjoys, yet he lamented the fact that he was not able to find work in his field of study that would mesh with his family life.


Knowing Hulbert’s expertise, his cousin, Carolyn Brewer, sent him a photo in the summer of 2017 of a concrete planter she had found, and asked him if he thought he could make something like that for her, given his background in design. Make it he did, and it was everything Brewer had hoped for; a unique work of art!


Some of Hulbert’s neighbors had seen the finished product and loved it, so he began making a few more as gifts for them. During his research process, Hulbert also came across concrete decorations that had been made from leaves, so he began creating similar artwork of his own.


The process for making these beautiful creations is very intricate – involving concrete, water, common bath towels or baby blankets, and leaves or flowers, which Hulbert gathers either from his own extensive garden areas or pretty much anywhere he goes where leaves or flowers are found. He laughingly said, “I don’t really go anywhere without a pair of garden shears in the car, just in case.”


As his collection grew, his business, “Bill’s Concrete Creations” was launched. His first public show and sale were at the Groton High School French Club craft show last November, and things have blossomed from there. “I just love doing it,” Hulbert said. His wife, Aurora, helps him a great deal with the painting. “She didn’t want to do it at first because she didn’t think she would be any good at it, but the best sellers I’ve had are usually the ones she’s painted!” he said.


Because every leaf is unique and different, such is the case with Hulbert’s work. No two creations are exactly alike. He also welcomes custom work such as fountains, plant stands, and yard art such as animals or seasonal décor. He can be contacted at (607) 800-1484, by finding “Bill’s Concrete Creations” on Facebook, or by checking out some of the beautiful displays around the house on the curve on Roosevelt Ave!

Speaking of craft shows…
The Groton High School French Club will host its eighth annual craft show from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 10. Admission is free, and this show has become one of the school’s biggest and most well-attended events of the year. For more details, come back to this column next week.


Election education at the library
Do you want to vote, but may not know the difference between conservatives and liberals, or perhaps have been held back by other questions you may have? The Groton Public Library is hosting an event it has titled “Come and Ask Questions of the Political Parties” that may have some answers.


The event will be held from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 30. Representatives from the Republican, Democratic, and Libertarian parties will explain their beliefs and who their candidates on the Nov. 6 ballot will be.


Andrew Hollister, Libertarian candidate for lieutenant governor, and Mike Sigler, Tompkins County legislator, and Republican Party chairman are both confirmed guests, and there will also be representatives from the Democratic Party and the League of Women Voters.


Groton on the Inside appears weekly. Submit items to Linda Competillo, lmc10@cornell.edu or 607-227-4922

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