Community Update: [A new format] Grand Re-Opening of Demitz Park!


New Video Format!

I’m adapting to a new format! Moving forward, in keeping with communication trends, my community update will be presented as a video. This format streamlines important happenings around Wisconsin Rapids right to you in an easily digestible, visual manner.

VIDEO: Demitz Park Grand Re-Opening

Be sure to ‘Like’ or ‘Follow’ my Facebook page or the City’s Facebook page to keep up to date!

As always, thanks for engaging,


Community Update: Bike Ride with the Mayor, Suicide Prevention Awareness Month; Join me for coffee!


Join me for a Bike Ride to Promote Community Reinvestments

I am hosting another Bike Ride with the Mayor event on Monday, September 16th at 6:00 p.m. at the Veterans’ Memorial Park. This is the second ride this season after having a successful first ride in August.

River Riders Bike Share started in 2014 and was spearheaded by community members who saw the need for transportation and recreation options in Wisconsin Rapids. River Riders Bike Share is focused on making sure that biking is suited for all ages, and that residents and visitors will have increased access to transportation, recreation, and physical activity opportunities.

Recognizing the positive impact this program has had on the community, I worked with the bike share team to create the Bike Ride with the mayor event in hopes that it will promote community involvement, physical activity, and give community members a different view of the city.

Wisconsin Rapids is experiencing a period of brand-new developments and road improvements almost everywhere you look, among them, bike-friendly initiatives. The Bike Ride with the Mayor event will allow community members to ask me questions about new developments, understand the timelines of projects, and learn how bright the future is for the city.

On-hand for the event will be bicycle safety materials, helmets, water bottles, and reusable bags to give away. 

Residents are encouraged to bring family, friends, and bring their biking gear on Monday, September 16th at 6:00 p.m. at the Veterans’ Memorial Park to enjoy an evening with the mayor.

To RSVP to the ride, check out the Facebook event at

September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

Did you know that suicide was responsible for 44,193 deaths in 2015? According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), that is approximately one suicide every 12 minutes. In fact, there is a higher rate of suicide in rural areas in comparison to urban areas.

In 2014, Wood County reported 10 deaths by suicide, and the rates are only continuing to increase with each passing year.

Yesterday marked World Suicide Prevention Day, and with September being recognized as being National Suicide Awareness Month, I wanted to take a moment and share this important information with you. 

If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs help, you can reach out locally to the Wisconsin Rapids Area Crisis Hotline at 715-421-2345, or nationally at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

You can also find more resources on the Wood County Human Resources Crisis Services page.

Coffee with the Mayor Tuesday, September 17th

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The unique opportunity to meet face to face and talk with fellow citizens during “Coffee with the Mayor” sessions throughout the city is very rewarding. I look forward to another special occasion this Tuesday, September 17th from 9:30-10:30 am at The Hilltop Grand Village, 1400 24th St. South.

Engaging with citizens and empowering all to be “part of the conversation” helps to generate invaluable insights about our city’s current status and future direction. I hope you’ll be on hand to share your thoughts and questions!

Thanks for reading!

Mayor Zach



Community Update

Help Raise Money for the Aquatics Center with Mini-Golf

Our friends at Sunrise Rotary are hosting their 2nd Annual “Mini-Ryder Cup Classic” mini-golf event on Thursday, August 15th at Papa Bear’s Mini-Golf at 266 Matterhorn Trail (Alpine Village Business Park) in Rome, WI. Join me for the fun which starts with a “loosen up” pre-game meal at 5:00 p.m. with the J2 Catering Taco Truck and shotgun start at 7:00 p.m.

The cost to participate is $30, and participants (ages 21 and over) can register as an individual or up to a group of six golfers per hole. The money raised goes to 2 great causes. The Wisconsin Rapids Regional Aquatics Center and Shoulder to Shoulder, Inc. (providing clean potable drinking water in rural Honduras) are the recipients of the event proceeds.

 Event organizers are planning a fun-filled evening with games, hole prizes, raffle prizes, food, and fellowship. Contact or call or text (608) 235-2155 to register or for more information. I hope to see you there! 

Lowell Center Opens Accessible Gardens

Screen Shot 2019-08-09 at 9.09.09 AMThe Lowell Center has a lot to offer, including a new garden area that has now been officially opened. This project came together after several years of planning and fundraising efforts, with donations and memorials also making the new gardens possible. A ribbon-cutting event took place on Wednesday morning, July 31, with the Wood County Master Gardeners, myself, and other supporters on hand to show off the newly opened area.

Screen Shot 2019-08-09 at 9.10.04 AMThe gardens feature a U-shaped vegetable garden which is designed for maximum accessibility. The previous garden was very difficult to reach across and led to a vision for a new garden that could be enjoyed by all. The garden also includes various flowering plants and leafy vegetables, a wide sidewalk, a patio area where visitors can relax and enjoy the gardens, and other special features that allow Lowell Center guests to enjoy gardening or simply a place to be refreshed. Produce from the vegetable garden is offered to Lowell Center visitors to share. Now with a new garden area, residents are encouraged to visit the Lowell Center to take advantage of their many programs and services. 

Coffee with the Mayor Tuesday, August 13th

Screen Shot 2019-03-19 at 12.58.56 PMHaving experienced the unique opportunity to meet face to face and talk with local citizens during “Coffee with the Mayor” sessions throughout the city, I look forward to another special occasion this Tuesday, August 13th from 9:30-10:30am at The Hilltop Grand Village 1400 24th St South.

Engaging with citizens and empowering all to be “part of the conversation” helps to generate invaluable insights about our city’s current status and future direction. Hope you’ll be on hand to share your thoughts and questions! 

Thanks for reading!

Mayor Zach



Community Update

“Bike the Lake” Event Promotes Wellness & Bike-Share program

In order to promote physical activity and togetherness in the community, Hannah Wendels of the Wood County Health Department has created a new event called “Bike the Lake”. It will be held on two nights, Tuesday, July 16th and Thursday, July 18th. Participants can meet at White Sands beach at Lake Wazeecha (5510 Wazeecha Avenue) at 7:00 p.m. The event is open to all, and I’m looking forward to participating on Thursday evening.

Participants may use their own bike or rent a River Riders Bike Share bike at the start location. If you choose to rent a River Riders Bike Share bike through the Zagster app, you can select one of the three available memberships to you. These include a $1 pay-as-you-go membership which a $1 per hour, an annual membership that is $20, and a student membership which is $15 with a email. The ride will circle the entire beautiful lake in the evening sunshine. Come out and enjoy some recreation with your fellow community members. 

Summer Movie Night Comes to Wisconsin Rapids

TeenMovieNight_5In an attempt to offer more youth-friendly activities, on Thursday evening, July 18th, the Mayor’s Youth Council is presenting a Summer Movie Night event. The featured film for the event will be “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” which will be shown at 9:15 p.m. Food will be available, as Chat-R-Box Restaurant will be selling snacks with 20% of the proceeds being donated to the Wisconsin Rapids Regional Aquatic Center. Attendees have the option to watch the movie in their car, think “drive-in” style, or bring your own blanket for seating on the grass. Parking is limited for drive-in viewing. There is no admission fee for the movie.

Prior to the movie event, lawn games will be available for participants to enjoy. This is a unique event that the whole family can enjoy. The Mayor’s Youth Council undertakes projects such as these to develop members’ leadership skills and to become provide youth with the opportunity to become more involved in our community.  

 Thanks for reading!

Mayor Zach





Community Update

Wisconsin Rapids Noon Rotary Celebrates 100 Years of Service

Screen Shot 2019-06-27 at 8.26.04 AMOn Monday, June 17, I had the privilege of taking part in a truly historic occasion: the Centennial Celebration of the Wisconsin Rapids Noon Rotary Club. The event fell on the exact date in 1919 that the Wisconsin Rapids club received its charter from the international organization. That milestone launched a century of service to our community, and the world, that includes extensive cultural exchange initiatives and investments in polio prevention campaigns.  

I was honored to represent the City by declaring the proclamation of June 17, 2019, as “Rotary Club Day” in Wisconsin Rapids. 

Celebration highlights also included official recognition by State Senator Patrick Testin and Rotary District 6250 Governor Bill Hoel; acknowledgment of past and present leaders; and a colorful history of the club’s achievements throughout the decades.

 Interspersed throughout the event were heartfelt in-person and video tributes from former high school students, now successful adults, from our area and from around the world, who had participated in the Rotary’s cultural exchange programs. A rousing keynote address by Ed Futa, past International Rotary secretary and UN representative, emphasizing local community activism, rounded out this special evening.

Our Wisconsin Rapids Noon and Sunrise Rotary clubs are part of a worldwide fellowship of business and professional persons, united to provide humanitarian service, encourage high ethical standards in all vocations, and help build goodwill and peace in the world. Approximately 1.2 million people belong to over 35,000 Rotary clubs in more than 160 nations. The Rotary motto is Service Above Self.

 The Wisconsin Rapids Noon Club meets each Monday at 11:45 a.m., at the Hotel Mead. It welcomes individuals who value “service above self” to join its ranks. Members of our entire community greatly benefit from such service.

City Delivering Carts for Automated Garbage Collection Service

IMG_1991Another step in the direction of safer, more cost-effective and more sustainable waste disposal was taken this past Tuesday. That’s when we began delivering 96- and 48-gallon carts to local residences, continuing through Wednesday, July 3. This activity is in preparation for the updated automated garbage collection service, scheduled to begin Monday, July 8. No reduction in staffing will occur as the staff no longer involved in garbage pickup will be reallocated to other streets maintenance activities.

The 96-gallon cart is the default size for all properties, although residents were allowed late 2018 and early 2019 to choose a 48-gallon size. Property owners and residents still have the choice of switching to a 48-gallon cart, at a cost of $55. If you wish to change your cart size, please contact the City Garage at (715) 421-8218. Once the automated process begins, July 8, only carts issued by the City will be allowed.

This updated garbage collection system will be similar to the recycling collection system that was successfully implemented in 2017. The use of 96- or 48-gallon carts and automated collection trucks will provide service that offers more convenience for property owners and residents, and increased efficiency for City workers. In addition, automated collection is safer for workers and provides a cleaner look in neighborhoods when compared to manual collection.

The City has mailed property owners and residents a letter that explains the delivery and collection process. Included in the information is a notice that garbage/recycling collection days may change. 

For more information, commonly asked questions with answers and updates, please visit the City’s Garbage & Recycling website page.


Thanks for reading,

Mayor Zach



Community Update

Come Out and Celebrate the Annual Cranberry Blossom Festival

blossomfestThe Annual Cranberry Blossom Festival once again ushers in our City’s summer season this Thursday through Sunday, June 20-23. More than 20 events help to enliven our community with a mix of live music, colorful pageantry, games, arts & crafts, exhibits, and foods from local vendors, for residents and visitors of all ages

Highlights include Cinema Under the Stars in Downtown Rapids on Thursday evening, with a free showing of the Disney classic Lady and the Tramp; the June Dairy & Berry Breakfast on Friday morning; and plenty of live music on Saturday, delivered by the UW-Madison Marching Band, and during the daylong Music Fest presented by Friends of Rapids Music

Screen Shot 2019-06-19 at 2.57.18 PMI personally urge families and their young ones to take part in Kids to Park Day, on Saturday, June 22, at Robinson Park. Hosted by the Mayor’s Youth Council, event sets time aside to get kids outdoors for fun and play. Youth Council members have put together a lineup of activities such as kickball, arts & crafts, nature scavenger hunt, and more, from 1 to 3 p.m.

It’s all climaxed on Sunday by our grand Cranberry Blossom Festival Parade, and a “splashy” performance by the Wisconsin Rapids Aqua Skiers Show Team.

A complete schedule and description of the Festival highlights are right here.

Make plans to join family and friends for all the fun at this year’s Annual Cranberry Blossom Festival!

Wisconsin Rapids City Band kicks off musical entertainment

Screen Shot 2019-06-18 at 8.36.37 AMPlease join me in welcoming back the Wisconsin Rapids City Band for another season of great musical entertainment! This fine group of skilled volunteer musicians delivers a range of music that spans generations – from jazz to polka, from stirring anthems to selections from the Great American Songbook.

The City Band kicked off the 2019 season this past Tuesday night at its familiar summer venue, the Robinson Park Band Shell. Tuesday concerts are also scheduled for June 25, July 23 and 30, and August 6, all beginning at 7:15 p.m. (In the case of inclement weather, the concerts will be held at the PAC, at 7:45pm to accommodate setup)

In addition, the band will conduct special performances on July 4, at 7 p.m. at Centralia Center, and a benefit concert on July 14, at 2 p.m. at the Performing Arts Center at Lincoln High School. All performances are free of charge and are a treat for the entire family.  

Make time this summer to experience – or dance to – the music of the Wisconsin Rapids City Band.

Thanks for reading,




Community Update

Aquatics Center Groundbreaking Signals New Era in Area Recreation

Screen Shot 2019-06-04 at 9.47.45 AMAn unseasonably chilly spring day did not dampen the spirits of Wisconsin Rapids residents who gathered near Witter Field on May 21. People of all ages turned out to help celebrate a groundbreaking ceremony for the Aquatics Center at Witter Field. This event signified that the dream of renewed outdoor aquatic recreation in our city is fully taking shape.

Located near the Skate Park and Tennis Courts at Witter Field, the Aquatics Center will offer year-round recreational activities that appeal to residents and tourists across generations. City officials, Miron Construction representatives and students from Howe Elementary School were among those who ‘dug in’ to kick off construction activities for the facility, which is set to open in time for the 2020 outdoor pool season.

During groundbreaking ceremonies, City Alderperson Tom Rayome, one of many City officials who tirelessly worked to make the moment possible, reflected upon the 20-plus years of public discussion and debate on the need, location and scale of such a facility, He also looked ahead to the work that remains in completing this project.

Screen Shot 2019-06-04 at 9.44.33 AMJorian Greenwood, a now newly graduated alumna of Lincoln High School, spoke as president of the Mayor’s Youth Council, which has played a major role in assessing residents’ desires for the aquatic park and in fundraising efforts. Jorian expressed her hope that she can look forward to returning home during and after her college career and enjoy this regional venue with her family.

Angel Whitehead and Meredith Kleker of, respectively, the Heart of Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce and Wisconsin Rapids Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, acknowledged the importance of projects such as the Aquatics Center to help market and “brand” our community as a destination of choice in which to live, work and play.

For me, the occasion, in a way, brought me full circle. When I was 11 years old, I took it upon myself to write a letter to City leaders to express my support for an outdoor aquatic center adjacent to what is now going to be the YMCA/Boys and Girls facility near Centralia Center. Eighteen years later, I am thrilled as a resident and policymaker to be on hand for civic history in the making.

The City has raised just over $3 million in private fundraising and is investing $5.5 million into this $12 million project. We’re raising an additional $3 million in additional funding from individual donations and corporate contributions to offset any additional contribution necessary by the City. Naming-rights and sponsorship opportunities are available. Individual contributions, of whatever amount, help us to get closer to our goal of attracting people to visit and live in central Wisconsin.

For more information about the Aquatics Center Project, visit our City website.

Honor the symbol of our nation’s ideals on Flag Day, June 14

Screen Shot 2019-06-14 at 9.42.09 AMThis Friday, June 14, people across the United States can celebrate an enduring symbol of our nation’s ideals. National Flag Day commemorates the adoption of the flag of the United States on June 14, 1777, by resolution of the Second Continental Congress. It also enables citizens to reflect on the foundations of this country’s freedom.

Flag Day helps us to keep close at heart our loyalty to the nation and observe the priceless gift of liberty, by displaying the American flag at homes and public buildings.

In addition, Flag Day kicks off Honor America Days, a U.S. Congress-declared 21-day period through to the 4th of July. This period offers ample opportunities to applaud and honor our country.

Make Friday a day to show your true colors – red, white and blue!

Coffee with the Mayor at McMillan Library this Tuesday 

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Having experienced the unique opportunity to meet face to face and talk with local citizens during “Coffee with the Mayor” sessions throughout the city, I look forward to another special occasion this Tuesday, June 18 from 9:00-10:00am at McMillan Memorial Library.

Engaging with citizens and empowering all to be “part of the conversation” helps to generate invaluable insights about our city’s current status and future direction. Hope you’ll be on hand to share your thoughts and questions!

Thanks for reading,




Community Update

Celebrate Cycling During Wisconsin Bike Week

Screen Shot 2019-05-31 at 12.54.42 PMI encourage you to hit the road (or trail) … on two wheels, during Wisconsin Bike Week, June 1-8. This annual observance of all things biking is sponsored by Wisconsin Bike Fed, the country’s largest, statewide bicycle organization devoted to making bicycling convenient, safe, accessible and fun. In addition to feeling better about putting in some healthful exercise, you’ll also be contributing to a cleaner, less carbon-fueled environment. Join me Wednesday, June 5th at noon for a short half hour lunchtime ride leaving from the Veterans Park bike share location. (Weather permitting)

Our local River Riders Bike Share helps to make the going easy, entering its second season with Zagster, the national bike sharing company that provides a technologically advanced system of bicycle rental. River Riders Bike Share, supported by the Legacy Foundation and Healthy People Wood County, offers bicycles at an affordable rate, at six Wisconsin Rapids stations. Riders can select from annual, student annual, pay-as-you-go and limited-income access plans. As an added incentive, use the Promo Code RIVERRIDERS for a one-dollar ride credit.

Simply download the free Zagster app, register, find stations (and bikes), and use the app or an access code to unlock the bike to use. (Riders without Internet available can gain access at McMillian Library. When you are done with the bike, you can return it to any of the designated stations, regardless of where it was first checked out.

So, take time during Wisconsin Bike Week – and throughout the rest of the warm-weather season – to get active and flex your pedaling muscles.  Whether traveling to your job, running errands or simply to enjoy a leisurely excursion along our parks’ bike paths.

Empower yourself to adopt this beneficial, active mode of transportation!

Have Fun and Honor Firefighters at Fire Department Open House

Screen Shot 2019-05-31 at 12.39.22 PMThe City of Wisconsin Rapids Fire Department will hold a fun-filled and activity-packed Open House on Saturday, June 1, at fire station #1, 1511 12th Street South. The event is open to the public at no charge and will run from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Event highlights include opportunities to view/experience:

  • Fire Station tour
  • Fire Safety Trailer
  • Fire extinguisher training
  • Fire safety tips and displays
  • Displays of Fire Department vehicles and equipment
  • First Aid Station

Personnel from Wood County Dispatch and emergency medical responders from the Town of Saratoga also will be on hand. And, attendees will get an up-close view of the Life Link Air Transport helicopter.

Free hot dogs and chips will be available.

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 these dedicated first-responder professionals prepare and train to keep us safe. Take time this weekend to have fun, become better informed and pay tribute to those who honor us with their service.


Thanks for reading,


Public Service Recognition; Wastewater Superintendent Recognized


Community Update

Appreciation To All Those Who Serve The Public

May consists of a variety of ‘weeks’ recognizing those who serve in various public service roles. Public Service Recognition Week, Police Week, Public Works Week, Emergency Medical Services Week, and those not associated with city services-Nurses and Teacher Appreciation weeks. recognition-cake.jpg

Last week we expressed appreciation to our fine, dedicated City employees for serving the people of Wisconsin Rapids.

The many tasks in keeping our residents safe, our government running smooth could not be done without their efforts.

City Employee Earns Recognition For Environmental Leadership

As the City of Wisconsin Rapids continues striving to make sustainability and environmental health a hallmark of our identity, I am proud to congratulate Ryan Giefer, our Wastewater Treatment Plant Superintendent.

file-10Ryan recently was honored with the 2019 Operator of the Year Award for the State of Wisconsin from the Central States Water Environment Association (CSWEA)He was cited for “outstanding performance of a wastewater treatment plant and for demonstration of professionalism in the performance of a wastewater treatment plant operator.” The award is given to one operator per year for each member state.

Ryan was hired as the City’s wastewater superintendent in February of 2017. In his letter recommending him for this honor, City Public Works Director Joe Terry noted that Ryan worked “tirelessly” with his staff for solutions to challenges related to industrial waste loads, operational capacity and collection system readiness. His efforts have resulted in dramatically improved plant energy production and decreased demand for natural gas and electricity, making the plant more environmentally and economically efficient than ever before.

He also has helped to improve relations with waste-producing manufacturers and industrial service providers, while also successfully negotiating with State DNR officials to provide in 2018 the long-awaited permitting of an exceptional quality class A biosolids program.


We are proud that Ryan is part of the Wisconsin Rapids departmental administrative team. His decisive actions reinforce our mission to prioritize water quality as essential to the health of our citizens and to the goal of local economic revitalization. The Plant provides industrial services for Mariani Packing, Ocean Spray and Advanced Disposal among many other local septic haulers.

The CSWEA fosters greater awareness of water quality challenges and achievements by sharing water quality knowledge and experiences. It presented Ryan’s Operator of the Year Award during its 92nd Annual Meeting Awards Event in Madison, on Wednesday, May 15.

We extend our congratulations to Ryan!

Thank you for reading,




Community Update

Help to shape a healthy community – take the County Health Assessment

1554480159844Now is the time to hear from Wood County residents!

What do you think is the current state of health in Wood County? Healthy People Wood County, Wood County Health Department, Aspirus Riverview Hospital and Clinics, and Marshfield Clinic Health System are working together to identify and respond to our citizens’ health needs … but they need your help.

By completing the Wood County Community Assessment Survey 2019, you provide important information that will provide the basis for a Community Health Improvement Plan. This plan directly guides the work of Healthy People Wood County, a partnership that aligns residents, hospitals, nonprofits, businesses, public health officials and schools to fight complex health problems together. Survey results will help this partnership to better understand the requirements and concerns of our residents, and to identify healthcare priorities for our community. (The last most recent version of the Community Health Improvement Plan can be found here.)

I encourage Wood County residents to take a few moments to take the Wood County Community Assessment Survey 2019. The deadline to complete the survey is this Wednesday, May 22.

Express yourself … and help to shape the future for a healthy community.

Coffee with the Mayor at Four Star Family Restaurant this Thursday

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Having experienced the unique opportunity to meet face to face and talk with local citizens during “Coffee with the Mayor” sessions throughout the city, I look forward to another special occasion this Thursday, May 23 8:30-9:30am.

Engaging with citizens and empowering all to be “part of the conversation” helps to generate invaluable insights about our city’s current status and future direction. Hope you’ll be on hand to share your thoughts and questions!

Thanks for reading,