Community Update: Visit the South Wood County Historical Museum for good cheer and fun, Preparing for the winter season

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Visit the South Wood County Historical Museum for good cheer and fun

You can get yourself into the Christmas spirit this season by visiting the South Wood County Historical Museum for the fourth annual Christmas Tree Walk beginning on Saturday Dec. 1 at noon.

The 2018 Mayor’s Beautification Council Christmas Tree.

The museum will come alive with a feeling of warmth and joy with 22 beautifully decorated themed Christmas trees and numerous decorated “spaces” throughout the museum provided by local organizations and individuals. Complimentary refreshments will also help to convey the holiday spirit.

  • Saturday, December 1: : noon – 4 p.m.
  • Sunday, December 2::  noon – 4 p.m.
  • Friday, December 7: 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Saturday, December 8 : noon – 4 p.m.
  • Sunday, December 9:  noon – 4 p.m.

This year’s event is dedicated to the Kathleen Johnson and Bonnie Dhein who were the original designers of the gallery, solarium and entry displays.

 So, take just an hour of your time to visit with friends and family to take in “Christmas Tree Walk.” Thanks to the Museum and all the decorators and supporters for bringing this spectacular event to us!

Preparing for the winter season

The winter season is upon us and as Wisconsin Rapids property owners we need to do our due diligence by clearing clearing snow and ice from sidewalks within 24 hours of a snowfall.

The Public Works Department provides sand barrels at various locations around the city to help with ice and snow. Residents may use the sand on their sidewalks if the ice cannot be removed.  If the snow isn’t removed City crews will clear the walk when time allows and will charge the property owner a substantial amount for use of labor and equipment.  Also, please when removing snow and ice from your property please don’t push or blow the snow onto city streets

We also asks that property owners remove snow from fire-hydrants adjacent to their properties as a fire safety measure and that residents be good neighbors and assist the elderly and handicapped with removal of snow from their sidewalks.

The City of Wisconsin Rapids policy in regards to snow removal from local streets is when snow accumulation reaches four inches or more, lessor amounts may be removed upon decision of supervisory personnel.

For more information on snow removal please visit www.wirapids.org/snow-removal.html

Thank you for reading my blog.

Mayor Zach Vruwink

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Community Update: Help celebrate Small Business Saturday on November 24, A Global Day of Giving

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Help celebrate Small Business Saturday on November 24

I invite all residents throughout our community to join me and the Heart of Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce in actively participating in Small Business Saturday, on November 24.

Held on the day after “Black Friday,” Small Business Saturday is part of a nationwide cause that supports the small businesses that create jobs and boost the economy, and promotes vibrant and diverse communities.

To do your share for this community-building celebration, you can shop at local businesses in the Heart of Wisconsin area, by uploading a #ShopSmallSelfie to the Chamber’s Facebook page  before Monday, November 26, 2018 by 5 pm. The winner will be announced on Facebook on Tuesday, November 27, 2018. You could receive a chance to win a $25 Chamber Gift Certificate and the Grand Prize Basket.Chamber’s.

While shopping is the main focus of Small Business Saturday, you can acknowledge the day in other ways. Promote the event on social media, or recommend your favorite small business to your friends and family.

To learn more details and see a list of participants, visit, here.

I urge all to embrace Small Business Saturday as a holiday shopping tradition, and to remember: ”Shop Small”!

A Global Day of Giving

Photo submitted by United Way of South Wood & Adams Counties.

GivingTuesday, is a global day of giving celebrated on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday.  This year, #GivingTuesday will be November 27, 2018.  The event kicks off the charitable season, when many focus on their holiday and end-of-year giving.

Locally you can get involved through the United Way of South Wood & Adams Counties you can get involved by making a $25.00 donation and sponsoring a child in the Dolly Parton Imagination Library program.  This program mails free, high-quality books to children from birth until the age of five every month.  A donation of $25.00 will cover one year of free books for a child in south Wood County.

Imagination Library was implemented in south Wood County last year by United Way of South Wood & Adams Counties’ Women United.  So far this year, 553 children in south Wood County received books each month.  Children who begin the program first receive “The Little Engine That Could.” When the child turns five he/she gets a final book titled “Look Out Kindergarten, Here I Come!”  Each book is selected with a special purpose, based on the age of the recipient.

To make a $25 donation to United Way of South Wood & Adams Counties’ Imagination Library, visit our website at www.uwswac.org.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving Holiday.

Mayor Zach Vruwink

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Community Update: Share your input at the Downtown Housing Development workshop, Keep our planet and community beautiful on America Recycles Day

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Share your input at the Downtown Housing Development workshop

The City of Wisconsin Rapids invites residents to share their views on an exciting component of Downtown redevelopment, during a Community Input Meeting/Workshop on the proposed Downtown Senior Housing Project. This event takes place on Thursday, November 15, from 5:00 – 7:30 p.m., at the River Walk in the Centralia Center, 220 3rd Avenue South.

During this gathering, attendees will be able to:

  • Learn more about the Downtown Senior Housing Project;
  • Share ideas for site design and amenities;
  • Participate in the decision-making process for components of and surrounding the development; and
  • Hear about the steps being taken to promote health through this project.

A complimentary salad bar meal will be available. In addition, attendees will have the chance to win a $25 gift card.

We would especially appreciate a turnout from potential tenants and surrounding businesses, but anyone with an interest in the City’s Downtown District redevelopment vision is welcome to participate.

Wisconsin-based Northpointe Development Corporation hopes to break ground on the apartment complex in early 2019, on the west side of Centralia Center’s main parking lot, along Seventh Avenue South. The proposed 40-unit development will be three stories high. Tenants would have access to surface and underground parking.

Space for the input session is limited, so RSVP now at 715-421-9228. I look forward to seeing you there!

Help keep our planet and community beautiful on America Recycles Day

America Recycles Day will take place on Thursday, November 15. This national initiative recognizes the economic, environmental and social benefits of recycling, and provides an educational platform to raise awareness about the value of reducing, reusing and recycling – every day – throughout the year.

A national network of community-based affiliates, governmental institutions, schools, businesses and faith-based organizations celebrate America Recycles Day by holding a variety of educational workshops and recycling collection events.

But individual action is just as important.

Do your part, right here in Wisconsin Rapids, by taking the BeRecycled Pledge. Actively choose to live a recycled lifestyle in all aspects by committing to “Reduce. Reuse. Repurpose. Recycle.” This includes:

  • Recycling at home, work or school, and on the go;
  • Buying products made with recycled content; and
  • Educating and encouraging family, friends and neighbors to take the BeRecycled Pledge.

Our recycling efforts over the past three years have increased dramatically.  So far in 2018, we have collected 995.93 tons compared to the same time period in 2017, 965.69 tons and 2016, 682.33 tons.

The individual efforts of many can yield results that last for generations. Plan to pitch in, on America Recycles Day … and beyond.

Thank you for reading my blog.

Mayor Zach Vruwink

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Community Update: Alexander Field closed, with more renovations and expansion in view; Step up your recycling and contribute to a “green” community

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Alexander Field temporary closure, with more renovations and expansion in view

It was gratifying to join airport manager Jeremy Sickler, other governmental officials and area residents this past May in a groundbreaking ceremony that kicked off another round of improvements at Alexander Field- South Wood County Airport. As part of the improvements, Alexander Field-South Wood County Airport experienced a complete closure October 8 with anticipated re-opening around the 28th. During this time, air traffic will be temporarily diverted to surrounding airports.

Acknowledging the role that Alexander Field plays in area economic activity for area business and leisure travelers- a conduit for visitors to Sand Valley Golf Resort, both the State of Wisconsin Biennial Budget and the Federal government are supporting airport enhancements to promote safety and promote greater economic activity. Recently completed projects included partial construction of Parallel Taxiway B (east half of runway 12/30), to promote more efficient aircraft circulation and improve connectivity between hangars and runways; and reconstruction of runway 12/30 to build up its base for heavier aircraft and widen it from 50 to 60 feet.

The next phase involves tripling the size of the apron to increase parking and enhance circulation for more and larger aircraft, and overlaying primary Runway 02/20 (the long north-south runway) postponing very expensive reconstruction until far into the future. Apron expansion.jpg

To complete the enhancements, Parallel Taxiway A next spring will be expanded to the entire length of Runway 02/20, reducing the possibility of accidental aircraft encounters, promotes and improving efficiency and apron-runway connectivity.  Planning for the development of a corporate hangar area is also under consideration.

As business and leisure travelers associated with Sand Valley Golf Resort’s continued expansion, growing potential exists for investment and development in this area. The improvements, funded in large part by State and Federal resources, of Alexander Field-South Wood County Airport supports the vision of making ours a vibrant community in which to live, work and play.

Step up your recycling, and contribute to a “green” community

The updated recycling program introduced in January of 2017 has enabled Wisconsin Rapids residents to conveniently co-mingle all recyclable items inside single-stream recycling carts.  This program has greatly aided the City’s effort to collect recyclables in a safe and efficient manner, and to help ensure a sustainable future for our community.

Single-stream recycling collection has diverted a substantial amount of recyclables from our landfill. In fact, a comparison of the January to September period for 2018 indicates an increase in recycling participation (888.94 tons) over the same period in 2016 (615.99 tons) and 2017 (865.92 tons).

But let’s not rest on our laurels. Single-stream recycling is easy, and I personally encourage all our residents to take full advantage of this opportunity to enhance our city’s efforts to live “green.” For more information, please call 715-421-8218.

Thank you for reading my blog.

Mayor Zach Vruwink

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Community Update: Ensure family safety during Fire Prevention Week, October 7-13, United Way offers teachable moment about workers in our community

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Ensure family safety during Fire Prevention this week

File photo – Children learn about fire safety in the classroom.

During a fire, young children, teenagers, adults and the elderly can all be at risk, so it is important that every member of the community understand how to stay safe in case of a fire. That is the motivation behind Fire Prevention Week.

This year’s campaign theme is  “Look. Listen. Learn. Be aware. Fire can happen anywhere.” The focus is on three essential steps we all can take to reduce the risk of a fire – and to escape safely in the event of one:

  • LOOK around your home. Identify potential fire hazards, and take care of them.
  • LISTEN for the sound of the smoke alarm.
  • LEARN two ways out of every room, and make sure all doors and windows leading outside open easily and are free of clutter.

The Final Alarm and Roll Call Ceremony will begin at 3:33 p.m., at the Wisconsin State Firefighters Memorial Park on 2nd Street South in Wisconsin Rapids this Saturday, October 13.

In connection with Fire Prevention Week, members of the Wisconsin Rapids Fire Department have been taking their fire safety truck to our local public and parochial schools to give kindergarteners and third-graders lessons in fire safety. Our firefighters should be commended for engaging our young ones to think “safety first” in the event of a fire-related incident.

And, as we think this week about fire safety, join me to honor fallen firefighters who have made the ultimate sacrifice while serving their communities, during the annual Final Alarm and Roll Call Ceremony and the Final Alarm Procession, this Saturday, October 13.

The Final Alarm and Roll Call Ceremony will begin at 3:33 p.m., at the Wisconsin State Firefighters Memorial Park on 2nd Street South in Wisconsin Rapids. A memorial service will be held to commemorate the firefighters who have died in the line of duty in the State of Wisconsin. The names of all Fallen Firefighters listed on the Memorial Wall will be read from the previous 10 years, accompanied by the tolling of the Memorial Bell for each.

At 7 p.m., Fire Department drivers will lead the Final Alarm Procession, a winding tour through the streets of Wisconsin Rapids that ends with a drive-by of the Wisconsin State Firefighters Memorial Park.

Please take time this weekend to pay tribute to those who honor us with their service.

United Way offers teachable moment about workers in our community

Did you know that many hard-working adults in our community are just “getting by” – barely able to cover basic needs, such as housing, childcare, healthcare, transportation and food? It’s a problem known as underemployment, and a number of our area’s residents have to deal with it every day.

To help clarify the magnitude of this issue and how it affects all segments of our community, United Way of South Wood & Adams Counties will present the topic, “Understanding Underemployment,” at McMillan Library, (Tomorrow) Wednesday, October 10, from 1:00 – 3:30 p.m. and Thursday, October, 18 from 2:00 – 3:30pm.

The presentation will highlight statistics from the 2018 ALICE Report.  ALICE stands for “Asset Limited, Income Constrained Employed” – families, neighbors and colleagues who work hard and earn above the federal poverty level, but who struggle to make ends meet.

To attend this presentation, RSVP by calling 715-421-0390, or email emily@uwswac.org.

Thank you for reading my blog.

Mayor Zach Vruwink

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Community Update: We need you to help beautification efforts gain national recognition, Dispose of unwanted items in a sustainable way: “Choose to Re-Use”, Support local businesses during Chamber of Commerce Month

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We need you to help beautification efforts gain national recognition

The Mayor’s Beautification Council has taken its efforts to promote enhanced quality of life to the national level.

With the assistance of Tom Loucks from Wisconsin Rapids Community Media, the Council recently filmed and entered a video into the national “America in Bloom {AIB) program’s, People’s Choice YouTube Video Award competition – and is selected as one of five finalists.

Now it’s up to local residents to determine the winner. Voting will be available right up until the winner is announced on Saturday evening, September 29, during the AIB Symposium & Awards Celebration. So … vote now for Wisconsin Rapids, here.

Being selected as an awards finalist provides national exposure to the Beautification Council’s efforts, while opening the way for invaluable resources that can enhance our local activities. Founded in 2001, America in Bloom envisions communities across the country as welcoming and vibrant places that benefit from colorful plants and trees, and clean environments, through citizens moving and working together.

The program offers a national awards program for communities of all kinds, and provides on-site, one-on-one mentoring and coaching by a team of expert judges. America in Bloom also offers online, on-demand free webinars and an annual educational symposium. More than 240 cities in 41 states have participated.

I am proud to chair the Mayor’s Council on Beautification, and to view firsthand the many ways these volunteers nurture our city’s pride and enhance community attractiveness. The group meets monthly at City Hall and is always looking for new members. If you would like to take part, please call: 715-421-8216.

Dispose of unwanted items in a sustainable way: “Choose to Re-Use”

Photo by Clean Green Action Facebook page.

Residents from all area municipalities are invited this Saturday to help reduce the amount of solid waste in our landfills – while helping a fellow community member in the process.

The South Wood County’s semiannual “Choose to Re-use” event welcomes residents to bring items they want to discard, but that someone else can use. The activity takes place this Saturday, September 15, at the Grand Rapids Town Garage 2811 Two Mile Avenue in Wisconsin Rapids, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“Choose to Re-Use” offers free disposal of items such as appliances, lawn care items, household goods, bicycles, seasonal decorations, knick-knacks, office equipment, books, CDs/DVDs/VHS tapes/records, clothes, tools, electric motors, car batteries and more. A select number of items can be discarded for a modest fee.

For more information or to help with the event, contact Town of Grand Rapids Board Supervisors Patty Lumby at 715 423-2449 or Bill Clendenning at 715 423-2469.

Do your part to reduce landfill clutter, and to help one another.

Support local businesses during Chamber of Commerce Month

State of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has proclaimed September as Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce Month.  Throughout this month, the Heart of Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce is highlighting its vital role as an advocate and champion for local businesses, both large and small. In doing so, “the Heart” contributes to our drive to make the Wisconsin Rapids area a vibrant place in which to live, work and play.

As individual citizens, we too should have a share in the revitalization process, by following one basic principle – both this month and beyond: “Buy Local”. Keeping dollars in the community has a “multiplier” effect that girds our economic base, and bolsters opportunities for growth and development.

To celebrate Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce Month, Heart of Wisconsin is hosting community events and special programs. If you can, join in and show your support.

And, remember: When you “Buy Local,” you invest in making ours a more prosperous community, both now and in the future.

Thank you for reading my blog.

Mayor Zach Vruwink

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Community Update: “Building the future” begins with YMCA/BGC groundbreaking Wednesday, Mayor’s Youth Council seeks members to shape community’s future

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“Building the future” begins with YMCA/BAGC groundbreaking Wednesday

The John E Alexander South Wood County YMCA and the Boys & Girls Club of the Wisconsin Rapids Area will literally begin “building futures together” this Wednesday, August 29. That’s when they break ground on their new shared facility at the former Rapids Mall at 555 W. Grand Avenue, which begins at 10 a.m.

The ceremony will include a color guard, followed by brief remarks from organization, government and philanthropic leaders. I have the honor of sharing in this occasion as a speaker, and to “pitch in” on the groundbreaking. Light refreshments will be available at the close of the 45-minute event.

The announcement last August that the local South Wood County Y and Boys & Girls Club planned to buy the Rapids Mall and convert it into a community health and fitness center was welcome and exciting news for this community. This 70,000-square-foot facility will include an aquatic center with competitive swimming lanes, lazy river and splash pad; group exercise studios with member lounge areas; childcare area and kids adventure center; teaching kitchen and community garden; community gathering space; indoor walking/jogging track; and a sports field for football and soccer.

In short, this new initiative provides a resource that is accessible and welcoming to children, families and seniors through programs that support their healthy development.

In addition, the realization of this facility will create impact, traffic and fits in with our goals for a more revitalized Downtown area. The project will also improve our overall quality of life- families with children having a world class facility before and after school, improve our physical and social well-being and for local businesses attraction and retention of employees in the Wisconsin Rapids area.

I invite all to join us this Wednesday morning and help us celebrate this exciting milestone.  If you can’t make you can watch the program being streamed LIVE on facebook.com/wirapids or through the City’s Wisconsin Rapids Community Media Department website at wr-cm.org or cable channels.

Mayor’s Youth Council seeks members to shape community’s future

Photo submitted by the LWM – The League of Wisconsin Municipalities has recognized the Wisconsin Rapids Mayor’s Youth Council as a unique force that engages young people and inspires solutions that enhance a community’s quality of life.

Since forming the Mayor’s Youth Council in 2014, I have been honored to see this initiate blossom as a model for tapping the intelligence and enthusiasm of future leaders. These young people actively contribute to policy, service and recreation initiatives that make our community a better place in which to live, work and play.

Guided by a Youth Council Advisory Team and chaired by me, the Mayor’s Youth Council presents its recommendations and findings to Common Council committees and the public, administers surveys, and produces content for broadcast and online media.

Over a few short years, Mayor’s Youth Council participants have been at the forefront of issues important to our City, such as: fund-raising for projects like the proposed Aquatic Park at Witter Field, youth-led design of the splash pad at Mead Field and the annual 4th of July fireworks show; taking the lead in developing recreational events and proposals such as Kids to Parks Day and the Municipal Zoo Master Plan; and pitching in on beautification programs such as neighborhood cleanups and tree plantings.

Now, the work of the Mayor’s Youth Council has been recognized statewide. During its recent Chief Executives Workshop, the League of Wisconsin Municipalities praised the Youth Council as a unique force that engages young people and inspires quality-of-life solutions.

I encourage high-school students from Wisconsin Rapids, Nekoosa, Port Edwards, Rudolph and Vesper to apply for membership. More information is available here. Get together, and help take ownership of our community’s future!

Please read the City of Wisconsin Rapids news release for more information about the award, here.

Thanks for reading!

Mayor Zach Vruwink

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