Community Update: Voter education opportunities and early voting enhance ballot access


Voter education opportunities and early voting enhance ballot access

On Tuesday, August 14, the State of Wisconsin will hold its Partisan Primary for governor; other statewide, legislative and county races; and for U.S. senator. Residents of Wood County are fortunate to have multiple opportunities to maximize the value of their precious right to vote.

Learn more about the candidates.

Arrive early to get a good seat for Tuesday, July 31 Voter Forum at WRCM. The event begins at 6:30pm.

Your invited to join us for the Wisconsin Rapids Area League of Women Voters (LWV) Voter Forum for Wood County candidates on Tuesday, July 31.  The forum begins at 6:30 p.m., at the Wisconsin Rapids Community Media (WRCM) studio, 220 3rd Avenue South, located in the Centralia Center or watch the forum via WRCM’s website, WRCM’s Facebook Page, Solarus high-definition cable channel 3, Charter Spectrum cable standard-definition channel 985, and on Roku devices by adding the WRCM’s channel through the web, here.

Candidates invited to participate are: Cindy Joosten and Brad Kremer for Wood County Clerk of Courts; Scott Brehm and Linda Stankey for Wood County Coroner; and Theodore Ashbeck Jr., Shawn Becker, Joel Flewellen and John Hiller for Wood County Sheriff.

You can call in questions for the candidates at 715-423-0441 beginning at 5:30pm on the evening of the forum.

In addition, you can find a wealth of Wisconsin election information, here

Get help registering.

The League of Women Voters invites citizens who need help with voter registration to stop by McMillan Memorial Library on Wednesday, August 1, anytime from 4:00-7:30 p.m. LWV volunteers will set up tables near the library’s first floor staircase, where they will provide assistance and answer questions about the registration process.

Cast your ballot before Election Day.

Through Friday, August 10, eligible residents of Wisconsin Rapids can cast an In-person absentee ballot (also known as early voting) at the City Clerk’s office in City Hall at 444 West Grand Avenue. Voting hours are 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays.

To vote in-person absentee, you must produce an acceptable photo ID. If you are not a registered voter, you must register at the Clerk’s Office before casting your ballot. For more information, call 715-421-8200.

Know where you should go.

If you plan to vote on Election Day, note that Wisconsin Rapids has two polling places. Eligible voters from Wards 1-10, 22, and 23 will vote at the Centralia Center, located at 220 3rd Avenue South. Eligible voters from Wards 11-21, and 24-29 vote at Crossview Church, located at 1000 East Riverview Expressway, Suite 120.

Taking part in selecting people to serve and represent your interests is one of our grandest privileges. Make sure you cast your ballot!

Thank you for reading.

Mayor Zach Vruwink



Community Update: Observe a special addition to our 4th of July celebration Wednesday


Observe a special addition to our 4th of July celebration Wednesday

Click on the photo to see a short video about the new event before the fireworks.

On Wednesday, July 4, families are invited to the shores of the beautiful Wisconsin River in downtown Wisconsin Rapids, for a triple-dose of patriotic pageantry and tribute.

First, the Wisconsin Rapids City Band performs it’s annual Fourth of July Show at 7 p.m. outside the Centralia Center.

Prior to our annual 4th of July Fireworks Show, Wisconsin Rapids invites residents and visitors to gather at 8 p.m. near the light pole in the center of Veterans Memorial Park, 112 2nd Avenue South, for our inaugural “Salute to our Heroes.”

Fireworks in Wisconsin Rapids are set for approximately 9:30 pm on the 4th of July.

This red-white-and-blue event honors the men and women who serve or have served in our nation’s defense. With gratitude, I personally invite all active duty, Guard, Reserve and retired military personnel, and their families, to participate. We encourage past and present military members to come decked out in their uniforms. Attendees to this event will receive a small American Flag while quantities last. The brief program will conclude with the singing of our National Anthem … and a special surprise you won’t want to miss- so keep your eyes to the sky!

Then, after 9:30 p.m., witness the annual Wisconsin Rapids Fireworks Display, one of central Wisconsin’s most dazzling fireworks displays, choreographed to lively music. Members of the Teen Fireworks Committee,  who fundraised all of the money to put on this great event, will kick off the show with the ceremonial lighting of the first shot. Donations are still being accepted here. 

The fireworks show may be viewed along most of the riverbank, except for the launch zone on the western bank of the river, from the foot of the Grand Avenue Bridge to south of the Moravian Church. Food and refreshment vendors will be located during the day on West Grand Avenue on the west side of the river, and south of East Grand Avenue on 2nd Street on the east side of the river. In the event of inclement weather, announcements will be made on WFHR AM 1320.

Please join us in Downtown Wisconsin Rapids for a combined commemoration of local heroes, and of our nation’s independence!

Thank you for reading and have a great and safe 4th of July.

Mayor Zach Vruwink


Community Update: Contribute to a grand tradition – the 4th of July Fireworks show; “Welcome!” to the City will get a much needed upgrade!


Contribute to a grand tradition – the City 4th of July fireworks show

Click on the image above to make a donation for the fireworks.

The City of Wisconsin Rapids annual 4th of July fireworks show has set a standard for holiday celebrations in central Wisconsin. This spectacular event along our Downtown’s riverfront brings together local residents and visitors from far and wide to witness an awesome display of bursting colors, choreographed to a lively music soundtrack.

The show goes on this year … but it comes at a cost. Members of the Mayor’s Youth Council have been busy fundraising, contacting local groups and municipalities, and asking individuals to contribute to this one-of-a-kind exhibition. Still, they need your help to close a $5,000 gap. 

Do your part to support our City’s thrilling tradition. Make your donation today, here.

City embraces updated “Welcome!” to the City


Wisconsin Rapids Common Council members recently voted to communicate our City’s sense of renewal and civic pride – approving the installation of new “Welcome” signs at various entry points to our City:

  • State Highway 13/34 near Bonow Avenue
  • State Highway 54 near Spring Street
  • Ben Hanson Park, near the Wisconsin State Firefighters’ Memorial

20180301_074230_resizedRecognizing the value of making an effective “first impression” on prospective employers, residents, and visitors, the City, the WR Convention & Visitors Bureau and a Leadership Class of the  Heart of Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce collaborated to put this updated signage in place. The project began well over a year ago and the Leadership group will be raising money for the 3rd sign. Donations can be directed to the Heart of Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce- Entrance Signs fund.

With some $100 million in new construction planned or taking place in Wisconsin Rapids, these new signs deliver a crucial message of renewed energy and revitalization,  Wisconsin Rapids a city on the upswing.

Thank you for reading and have a great weekend!

Mayor Zach Vruwink


Community Update: “New look” River Riders Bike Share up and rolling, Be a part of the next “big” idea at HATCH-Wisconsin Rapids



“New look” River Riders Bike Share relaunches

VIDEO: Click on the photo to see my video of the new stations! Bike share went live on Thursday, June 14th!

If you’ve noticed the new River Rider Bike Share installations in our area, you’ll realize that this nationally recognized, community-conceived program continues to roll forward with innovations. The program launched its fourth season of operation on Thursday, June 14, is headed by coalition formed by Healthy People Wood County Wood County Health Department.

Starting its fourth year of operation, after two years of planning the no-frills, donated and restored cranberry colored bikes, River Riders Bike Share is introducing an updated, app-based program with Zagster, a national bike sharing company. The immediate result is a larger and more technologically advanced selection of bicycles. A rider can download the free Zagster app, available on the App Store, Google Play or online. Using this app, a rider can register, find stations and bikes, and use the app or an  

Tom Loucks/WRCM – Check out the new stations around town by searching

access code to unlock the bike to use. (Riders who do not have Internet availability will be able gain computer and Internet access through an installation at each site.)

When a rider is done with the bike, he or she can return it to any of the designated stations, regardless of where it was first checked out. Each bike contains technology that facilitates fee assessments and tracking.

From 2015 to 2017, River Riders Bike Share tracked more than 700 rides. Last year, the program was awarded a Mayors’ Climate Protection Award during the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ summer meeting in Miami. This national recognition affirmed that this community and its citizens are committed to fostering a healthy and sustainable environment in which to live, work and play.

In launching this updated program, the Healthy People Wood County Recreate Health coalition engaged the community, meeting with residents and organizations to get them involved in making decisions for locations, types of accessible bikes and membership fees. Responding to this feedback, the group researched options to continue making the program safe, accessible and affordable, while allowing for easy tracking of the bikes

River Riders Bike Share is empowering people to adopt a healthier, non-polluting mode of transportation that not only promotes healthful exercise, but also offers a convenient way to conduct short grocery shopping trips, job searches and visitor exploration.

Be a part of the next “big” idea at HATCH-Wisconsin Rapids

Join us in the Urban Forestry lab at Mid-State for HATCH 2018! Click on the photo to see the invite on Facebook.

Would you like the opportunity to help select the next “big” business idea? Your chance comes next Wednesday, when the City of Wisconsin Rapids again hosts HATCH – the exciting, community-based competition that helps entrepreneurs to transform their “napkin” ideas into early-stage companies. As an audience member, you get to vote on the winning idea!

Five presenters have five minutes to “pitch” their ideas in front of judges  – one of whom will be yours truly – and a live audience for the chance to win $2,000 and be selected as a semi-finalist for the HATCH regional finale. As so many participants discovered last year, HATCH is fun, highly social and inspirational.

The event is free and open to the public, and takes place on June 20, from 6:00 – 8:30 p.m., in the Urban Forestry Lab at Mid-State Technical College (I building, room 142), 500 32nd Street N. Complimentary food and beverages from Great Expectations will be served, and a DJ will be on hand to help keep spirits lively.

Semi-finalists in each region will eventually pitch for the grand prize of $5,000 and other business services for the best articulated and most developed business idea. Last year, the grand prize was awarded in a tie vote to two finalists: a business that helps track the growth of trees and a concept for an easy-access infant onesie.

Take advantage of this opportunity to bring a great idea to life. Join us at HATCH.

Thank you for reading my blog.

Mayor Zach Vruwink


Community Update: Enjoy fun and healthy activity at 3rd Annual Kids to Parks Day, Celebrate the 11th Annual Cranberry Blossom Festival


Enjoy fun and healthy activity at 3rd Annual Kids to Parks Day

Families and individuals of all ages are invited to get outdoors and play! The third annual Kids to Parks Day  takes place Saturday, June 16, at Robinson Park, 1150 17th Street North, from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m.

Young ones will enjoy a variety of arts & crafts, kick ball and disc golf. Kids can also bring their own squirt guns for a squirt gun fight.

This afternoon of fun and healthful activity is brought to you by the City of Wisconsin Rapids, the Mayor’s Youth Council and the National Park Trust. It’s a way to build a greater awareness and appreciation for the importance of our country’s public lands and parks.

Get in on the action Saturday afternoon, and discover how much fun healthy living can be!

Celebrate the 11th Annual Cranberry Blossom Festival

The celebration of our City, and all it has to offer, officially kicks off with the 11th Annual Cranberry Blossom Festival, Thursday through Sunday, June 14-17. Individuals of all ages will find among nearly 30 events an all-around spectacle of live music, fun activities, arts & crafts, exhibits, foods from local vendors, and more.

Highlights this year include the fun-filled, three-day Riverfront Carnival, an outdoor presentation on West Grand Avenue of Disney’s The Lion King for “Cinema Under the Stars” and the lively Friends of Rapids Music “Music Fest”

The parade hosted by the Heart of Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce will gather downtown and begin at noon on Sunday, June 17.

The festivities close out in grand style on Sunday, June 17, with – among other special events – the colorful Cranberry Blossom Festival Parade; “5th Quarter” showmanship by the University of Wisconsin Marching Band “5th Quarter” Show; and the Wisconsin Rapids Aqua Skiers Show Team Performance.

Make time to join family and friends at this year’s Cranberry Blossom Festival!

Thank you for reading and I hope to see you out at the events this year.

Mayor Zach Vruwink


Community Update: Splash and stay cool, Splash Pad opens Friday, May 25 at 3pm; Wisconsin Rapids Municipal Zoo set to open on Memorial Day


Splash and stay cool, Splash Pad opens Friday, May 25 at 3pm

The Splash Pad opens Friday, May 25 at 3pm.

It’s going to be hot, temperatures are expected to reach in the high 80’s/low 90’s going into the holiday weekend, so come out and join us by cooling off for the opening day of the Splash Pad at Mead Athletic Field Friday, May 25 at 3pm.

On the first day of fall last year, Sept. 1, we unveiled our new Splash Pad. We were lucky enough to extend that time because of warmer than usual temperatures in September.  But now, we are ready to provide a way for all to enjoy and keep cool this summer by visiting Mead Field.  

A formal grand opening is planned this summer, so stay tuned into this blog, Facebook and the City’s media channels.

There is no cost to play so please invite your friends and family to visit Wisconsin Rapids and while you’re here, grab a bite to eat or a cool treat at a fine local establishment. At the splash pad, you will find some really cool and unique features such as:

  • River race, a toddler favorite and fun for everyone! (Bring a small ball or small toy that floats)
  • Light spray splash features for the younger kids
  • Lively and exciting spray features for the older kids
  • Interactive spray features to encourage team play and creativity
  • Four water cannons for games and challenges

This is the first in many steps in providing family-friendly, outdoor recreational facilities for residents and visitors.  We are also “Taking the Plunge” by fundraising for the Regional Aquatic Center at Witter Field. Our goal is to raise $4.5 million with corporate, individual and philanthropic donations in order to reach out goal.  The Mayor’s Youth Council is also in the process of raising $250,000 towards the project with fundraisers through the summer.  We encourage you to follow our progress at

Wisconsin Rapids Municipal Zoo set to open on Memorial Day

File photo – The City of Wisconsin Rapids Municipal Zoo opens Monday, May 28 at 10am for the season.

Memorial Day is the celebration to honor for those who fought selflessly in combat, as well as those who are Veterans and current members of the US military.  It also means an extra day to spend with family and friends and there is no better way than getting outdoors with a visit to the City of Wisconsin Rapids Municipal Zoo.

File photo – The Zoo has many unique animals to see and feed.

The Municipal Zoo officially opens for the season on Memorial Day, May 28 at 10am. There is no admission fee but donations are always welcome. If you would like to feed the animals, it is available for purchase on site.

Throughout the summer, our Parks and Recreation Department has several special activities planned for youth, adults and families visiting the Municipal Zoo.   A coloring contest, Adult in the Park, Weird Science Experiments, Down at the Zoo and Story Time activities are some of the events planned.  For more information on these events and rules and guidelines visit the Municipal Zoo webpage, here.

The Municipal Zoo is one of those jewels we have in our city.  We are grateful for a generous benefactor who provided $300,000 to help provide improvements to the Zoo.   Currently the Mayor’s Youth Council along with Community Development Specialist Madelin Petz, are completing a master plan process to help us guide future investments and improvements.

Hours of operation:

  • Memorial Day, Monday ,May 28 – 10am – 7pm
  • July 4, closes early at 4pm
  • Tuesdays thru Sundays, 10am-7pm and closed Mondays for cleaning and maintenance
  • Petting Zoo closed daily from 1-2pm.
  • No admission fee; donations accepted.
  • Children under 12 must be accompanied by an adult. 

Thank you for reading and have a great holiday weekend!

Mayor Zach Vruwink


Community Update: Mayor’s Youth Council and Culver’s to co-host aquatics fundraiser, Young Professionals spearhead Spring Clean this weekend



Mayor’s Youth Council and Culver’s to co-host aquatics fundraiser

The Mayor’s Youth Council continues to stay busy, coordinating the raising of funds for the Wisconsin Rapids Regional Aquatics Park at Witter Field. Culver’sis generously participating in the latest effort.

Next Monday, May 21, we encourage community members, family and friends to purchase lunch and/or dinner – or, maybe, a “family-fresh” custard – at Culver’s, 2711 8th Street South. Culver’s will donate to the Aquatics Park 10 percent of all sales through 8 p.m.

The Mayor’s Youth Council has set a fundraising goal of $250,000 for the Wisconsin Rapids Regional Aquatics Park. Find more information and help us out by donating here

Young Professionals spearhead Spring Clean this weekend

File photo – In 2017 the event took place in Downtown Wisconsin Rapids, but this year the event will stage outside Sportsman’s Pub Grille, 4810 Eighth Street South.

Current, the Young Professionals organization in Wisconsin Rapids, continues its contributions to making our community more inviting and appealing. This Sunday, May 20, the group hosts Spring Clean.

All are invited to meet at 10 a.m. in the parking lot of Sportsman’s Pub & Grill, 4810 8th Street South. Participants will then help clean up areas near Sportsman’s, including along Highway Z and Highway 13, until 12 noon. Special thanks to Country Disposal, LLC, which will pick up what is collected.

Afterward, you’re invited to socialize or, if you’d like, enjoy refreshments and/or lunch.  

Thank you for reading my blog.

Mayor Zach Vruwink