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New G.R. Amtrak station to open next week

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WZZM) -- The new Vernon J. Ehlers Amtrak station in Grand Rapids is opening Monday.

The new, $6.1 million station is near the Rapid's central station. It integrates bus and rail transportation, which is good news for passengers using the popular Grand Rapids-to-Chicago Pere Marquette line.

The new station has a larger waiting area, a covered canopy, and 118 spaces for parking.

"It means we are taking very seriously rail transportation in Grand Rapids," says Mayor George Heartwell. "We are making the investment in a transit system using federal funds to build a great building."

The official ribbon cutting will happen Monday at 10 a.m., and former U.S. Representative Vern Ehlers will be there to celebrate.

My First Visit to the Blue Dog Tavern

My First Visit to the Blue Dog Tavern

Last Saturday I had the opportunity to visit the Blue Dog Tavern, formerly the Kopper Top Bar, for the first time. The tavern is located on the corner of Stocking & 4th St. NW in Grand Rapids, MI.

What a change from the former bar. I never knew there were windows on the side of the building but now those have been opened up to let the outside in. It is so wide open and inviting. The barback is especially neat; it looks like metal but I was told it is wood. Tables have receipts under glass from way back when, from years of 1936 on up, that the waitresses actually wrote out for customers orders. These were found when the new owner/owners started cleaning out the upper floor in the building.

No Bullying in Gov. Snyder's Campaign Ads

No Bullying in Gov. Snyder's Campaign Ads

I don't usually get too involved in politics but felt I had to point out the fact that Micigan's present Governor seems to be the only politician that can run a campaign on his merits not by slandering and bullying his oponent. To me, this shows he's a businessman moreso than a politician.

What he says is so true. Anyone who has been in the position Michigan was in a few years ago knows you cannot turn the State around overnight. It's kind of like people who have gained a lot of weight; the weight did not go on overnight so it's going to take time for the weight to drop off with a lot of work and determination.

I for one, admire the campaign Gov Snyder is running and feel he will do all the things he has promised but again, it won't happen overnight and not everyone will agree with his methods.

We can't have our cake and eat it too; there has to be trade-offs for us to get back to the great self-sustaining State of Michigan we used to be.

Fire damages NW Grand Rapids home

GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) -- Firefighters say they're not sure what started a blaze that damaged a home on the city's northwest side.

It happened around 12:45 a.m. Tuesday at a home on the corner of Garfield Avenue and Crosby Street NW.

Women's Resource Center hosting Wine, Women & Chocolate

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WZZM) -- There's a delicious event coming up that will benefit the Women's Resource Center:

Wine, Women & Chocolate.

Women's Resource Center Executive Director Sharon Caldwell-Newton stopped by WZZM 13 News at 5 to share details.

Last year, WRC served over 900 women, most of whom are financially strapped and living near poverty. Because of this, WRC doesn't charge these women fees for its many career development services, but instead relies on support from the community to keep resources accessible to the women most in need.

John Ball Zoo ready for 500,000th visitor

GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) - If you head to the John Ball Zoo this week, you could be the 500,000th visitor of 2014.

As of Monday afternoon, the zoo was at 494,000 guests for 2014. The previous record for attendance for a season was last year when almost 470,000 people visited the zoo. The zoo says they plan to hit the 500,000 visitor some time today before 11:30 a.m. The zoo started the countdown yesterday at 11:00 a.m.

Kevin O'Neill, the CEO of the zoo says that "There will be plenty of hoopla when that magical 500,000th visitor walks through the gates!"

The half-millionth guest will receive a family membership to the zoo and a zoo-themed prize package.

Fire at Spring Air Mattress in Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) -- Fire broke out Friday morning inside a mattress facility on the city's northwest side, near the border with Walker.

The flames started about 10:15 a.m. at the Spring Air building in the 600 block of Myrtle NW.

Workers at the facility, along with firefighters, were able to put the fire out before it spread to the building.