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Toy tiger in G.R. backyard prompts call to animal control


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WZZM) -- A stuffed, toy tiger could be described as a paper tiger after animal control officers responded to a call about it.

According to the Kent County Animal Shelter's Facebook page, someone called animal control on Thursday to report a tiger seen in the backyard of a home on the southwest side of Grand Rapids.

An animal control officer and an animal control officer supervisor responded, snapping a photo that shows what looks like a tiger resting at the back of a driveway. They quickly determined, though, it was just a realistic-looking stuffed animal. As you can see in the image showing the shelter's Facebook post, they had some fun with the situation.

GVSU's proposed west-side park-and-ride lot moves forward


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WZZM) -- There is strong opposition to a proposed 18-acre parking lot on the west side of Grand Rapids. It's planned on the north side of Lake Michigan Drive east of Maynard Ave. NW.

It was among the issues discussed at a city planning commission meeting Thursday.

The planning commission received a petition signed by more than 300 neighbors of the proposed parking lot and heard face-to-face public comment from another 20 or so people.

Those who commented said they do not want a parking lot wedged in an area between their homes and two senior living facilities.

But the decision made by the planning commission Thursday would not stop Grand Valley State University from building that lot, intended as a park-and-ride lot. It would only change possibly what could happen with the land going forward.

New restaurant moves into historic G.R. building


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WZZM) - A new restaurant has moved into a historic building near downtown Grand Rapids.

The first floor of the old LaMar Hotel on Grandville Ave. SW north of Wealthy had been vacant for more than three decades. This week, a new restaurant, Horseshoe Smokehouse, opened its doors there.

"I drove by this place all the time, and it was always vacant. I thought, 'Man, that would make such a cool restaurant,'" said head chef Cody Clements.

He says the history of the building is unlike anything in West Michigan.

"The main floor was a jazz club, with a grocery store in the basement. The second floor was a hotel, and the third floor was a brothel -- and I believe Grand Rapids' only brothel," he said.

The LaMar Hotel and Horseshoe Bar occupied the building for decades. It's believed that Frank Lamar operated the brothel during the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s.

GRPD raids bar for alleged illegal gambling


GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) -- Grand Rapids police and the Michigan Liquor Control Commission are investigating a popular West Side neighborhood bar for alleged illegal gambling.

Police executed a search warrant May 19 at Putt-Putt's Bar on West Fulton Street. No arrests have been made yet.

"We've done nothing wrong," owner Mike Fischer told WZZM 13. He adds the bar will remain open for business: "There's nothing to worry about. We're still who we are, we're still a West Side landmark and always will be."

Police say the investigation is "sensitive" and on-going and they are not releasing further information.


G.R.'s first microdistillery opening on West Side


Grand Rapids, Mich. (WZZM) -- Grand Rapids is known for its beer, but the area's latest handcrafted drinks start pouring this week at the city's first microdistillery.

Fourteen months ago, the owners of Long Road Distillers wondered why Grand Rapids had no place that sold its own spirits.

"We asked ourselves, 'Why is nobody else doing this?' and we decided we should do it," explained Kyle Van Strien, one of the owners.

On Thursday, Grand Rapids gets its first handcrafted vodka, gin, and whiskey.

The restaurant and distillery lets you sit at their long wooden bar to eat and try one of their many cocktails.

Behind a giant glass window, large copper stills can be seen. "This is our production area here, so everything you see here helps us make alcohol," Van Strien said.

The process starts with locally-grown grain.

Semi bursts into flames along U.S. 131 in G.R.


GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) -- Black smoke and intense flames slowed traffic northbound U.S. 131 Wednesday morning after a semi truck caught fire along a service drive.

The truck burst into flames on Scribner Avenue NW near Leonard Street.

The fire was visible to passing motorists and in nearby office buildings.

Grand Rapids firefighters extinguished the blaze within minutes and no one was hurt.

Man who struck boy on sled gets jail, probation


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WZZM) -- The man charged in a hit-and-run accident near Richmond Park in late January had been drinking before his car collided with a wayward sled, seriously injuring a four-year-old boy.

Kevin Daniel Witte may not have known he struck a boy, but the fact he was driving home from a bar and didn't stop requires "some sort of public punitive response,'' Kent County Circuit Court Judge Donald A. Johnston explained in court today.

"Your case is a difficult one from a number of perspectives,'' Johnston said. "On the plus side you have no record and you appear to be a pretty solid young man with a lot of good prospects for the future. On the negative side, you had been drinking and driving.''