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Smoke from garage fire seen for miles in G.R.


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WZZM) -- Emergency crews were called to Sibley St. NW between Lane and Seward for a garage fire Friday afternoon.

Heavy smoke was seen near Grand Valley State University's downtown campus just after 2 p.m.

Early investigation reveals there were fireworks in the unattached garage at the time of the fire. It is unknown at this time if the fireworks started the fire, or just made the problem worse.

No one was injured. The cause remains under investigation.

Woman finds family possessions piled on sidewalk


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WZZM) - For two years after her mother's death, Braylyn Cotter says her mother's boyfriend of many years continued to live in the Davis Avenue home the couple shared in Grand Rapids.

But this week, he was evicted for not paying the rent and all the contents of the house, including many of Braylyn's childhood memories, were stacked outside on the sidewalk. And she says she didn't find out until it was a done deal and the pile of her mother's possessions was soaked by rain and ransacked by neighborhood scavengers.

"My mother lived here for 24 years, and I grew up in this house my whole life," she explains. "He never got a hold of me to let me know he was getting evicted so I could get my things. My grandmother's antique stuff is in here. It's making me nauseous to know that nobody even got a hold of me."

Construction closes Bridge St. in G.R.


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WZZM) -- If you use Bridge St. to get between downtown Grand Rapids and the West Side, you will need to find another route.

Crews are improving Bridge between Winter and Summer avenues. They're putting in new stoplights and pavement, in addition to expanding the sidewalks.

Detours are posted in the area.

That section of Bridge Street will re-open at the end of next month.


Second GR park's renovations unveiled


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WZZM) -- We're seeing the results of a park millage approved by Grand Rapids voters.

Thursday morning, the city unveiled the second of eight parks undergoing reconstruction. Westown Commons Park received $384,000 worth of renovations.

City officials, neighborhood residents, and local skateboarders attended the grand re-opening. There's a new skate park there, giving skateboarders a chance to show off their skills. Other new features include concrete sidewalks, benches, bike loops, a drinking fountain, and landscaping.

"It's a gathering place; it's a place where people come to enjoy the park and enjoy each other," said Kurt Reppart. "What these improvements have done is really open it up and make it more safe, and there's something for each age so the whole family can come together -- there's something for everybody."

G.R. workers create West Side green space


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WZZM) -- Some Grand Rapids city employees have decided to pitch in to make one neighborhood more green.

About 20 members of govern:GR and other city employees planted perennials at Tremont Green Space on the city's West Side. The city created the green space after tearing down homes either on or near that site, which is along Tremont southwest of the Covell Ave. and 7th St. intersection. Repeated flooding problems prompted the homes' demolition.

"The plants are going to be used to help take care of a water problem that they had in this area," said GR Environmental Services intern Megan Knight. "There was a lot of flooding going on for quite a long time, and the plants are going to help soak up a lot of that water and keep this area from having that problem again."

A federal grant helped fund the removal of the homes.

Opinion: Robo Calls, Everyone's Nightmare

Opinion: Robo Calls, Everyone's Nightmare

I just read an article about robo calls in the Consumers Report magazine (September issue) called “Rage Against Robo Calls.” Telemarketing fraud that often begins with a robo call is estimated to cost consumers $350 Million dollars a year.

Some of the most common types of calls state that your computer has a virus, then promise to fix it, if you provide access to your computer, thereby opening the door to identity theft. The IRS scam is another one that has been going for months. The caller threatens, saying you will be jailed or imprisoned because of taxes you owe, even leaving messages like this on answering machines. In the first place, the IRS does not make phone calls and secondly, if you do not owe anything to the IRS, why would you ever take this serious? Another claims that you did not show for jury duty and asks that you verify your date of birth and Social Security number.

Chemical spill contained at Haviland Enterprises


GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) -- About 50 gallons of diluted sodium hydroxide entered a storm water drain flowing into Mill Creek during a late morning spill at Haviland Products on the city's Northwest Side.

About 200 gallons of the chemical, commonly known as lye, spilled at Haviland's Ann Street facility, located west of U.S. 131. Haviland employees were able to contain 150 gallons on site, but the remainder entered the city's storm water drain, Grand Rapids Battalion Chief Bruce Veldkamp said. The incident was reported at 11:15 a.m.

The chemical was 50 percent diluted and the amount entering the water system does not pose a health risk, Veldkamp said.