Community Update – Riverbank Project Preview at Lunch by the River, City of Wisconsin Rapids Fourth of July Display



Riverbank Project Preview at Lunch by the River

I’m pleased to share an update and another opportunity to engage in our Riverbank Design Project! Earlier this month, we kicked off the idea-sharing and information gathering process, with a Nightseeing event– which saw us exploring and discovering the downtown and Wisconsin River, to set the stage for future nighttime design.  As we mark the second month since the inception of the work and initial site visit from our East Riverbank design consultant Supermass Studio, another site visit is underway. Since the time, marked progress has been made in bringing renewed life to Wisconsin Rapids’ waterfront public spaces!

veterans-memorial-parkNow, to show the progress made, I am excited to invite our residents to experience a preview of our City’s waterfront future, at this Thursday’s Lunch by the River, July 2, where Supermass Studio, our riverfront design consultant, will share early concepts.

The concepts will include the overall programming and planning framework of the riverbank public space between the Wisconsin Rapids dam and Riverview Expressway/Demitz Park; as well as more detailed concept designs of Legion Park, Mead Rapids View Park, Veterans Memorial Park, the east & west riverbank south of Grand Avenue bridge.

All are invited to ask questions and to offer your thoughts and suggestions.

Please join us at Veterans Memorial Park this Tomorrow, during 11:30 a.m. -1 p.m. to preview first hand the work by our consultant, and of course, for Lunch by the River!

Wisconsin Rapids Fireworks Display

 This Saturday, July 4, marks the return of the popular City of Wisconsin Rapids Fourth of July Independece Day Fireworks Display – widely recognized as one of the most unique, colorful and explosive shows in the entire State. The show begins at approximately 9:30 p.m., along the shores of the beautiful Wisconsin River, in Downtown Rapids.

This year’s Fourth of July Fireworks Display will be choreographed to music on local radio station WLJY 105.5; and members of the Teen Fireworks Committee, who diligently work to raise all the money to put on this event, have the richly deserved honor of launching the show with the ceremonial lighting of the first shot.

The 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.IMG_7266 Combined with other activities that bring our City to life during the July Fourth holiday period, the Fireworks Display brings our community together and helps pull in many out-of-town visitors each year – so it’s important to plan ahead.

For more information on logistics and safety reminders, visit:

Have a safe and enjoyable Independece Day celebration!

Mayor Zach Vruwink


Community Update – Street Construction Projects and Summer Activities



HomeSlide-Rafters2With another successful Cranberry Blossom Fest celebration concluded, I wish to thank all of the volunteers and sponsors who worked to make it possible as well as those who took part in the many events.

“Great Book Giveaway” and Summer Activities

Being able to read can make the difference between a child being successful in school or dropping out.  That is why I was proud to serve as a reading volunteer on June 10 at McMillan Memorial Library, as part of the United Way of Inner Wisconsin’s Sixth Annual Great Book Giveaway to send a message of the importance of reading, even during the summer.

Reading a favorite of mine, “Oh the places you will go” by Dr. Seuss.

In all, the Great Book Giveaway ran from Wednesday through Friday, June 10-12, at seven different locations.  Volunteers read books to children up to age 12.  Afterwards, each child selected books to take home and keep.  By putting free books into the hands of children, the Great Book Giveaway bestows a gift that lasts a lifetime.

Of course, this event was just one in the summer-long schedule of reading programs McMillan Memorial Library offers toddlers, children and teens.

Just a few of the major highlights include:

  • June 8-August 4 – Teen Reading Program (Ages 6-12}
  • June 23 – Teen Book Club
  • July 23 – All Ages Read-A-Thon
  • August 3 – Library Night @ the Rafters Book Giveaway

Early childhood learning is essential to the future of our society.  I urge children and youth, parents, grandparents, caregivers, and daycare providers to attend and participate in the full range of McMillan Memorial Library reading events this summer.  For more information, call 715-421-5131, or visit

For a listing of other summer fun for families and children, click here for Wisconsin Rapids Parks & Recreation Summer programs.

City Road Construction Projects

na_street_repaving_826_t640The City of Wisconsin Rapids works to make streets safer and maintain appropriate maintenance and reconstruction cycles. Knowing that preventive maintenance helps to avoid more costly repairs or early reconstruction later on, the City continuously seeks out ways within our means to keep our infrastructure healthy and sustainable for generations to come.

The following projects have been completed:

  • Washington Street Sidewalk – State Highway 54 to 28th Street N.
    Completed May 15
  • 17th Avenue N. – West Grand Avenue to Green Bay Street – Completed May 29
  • West Grand Avenue Pavement Patching – 25th Avenue to Viaduct
    Completed June 15

In order to promote driver and pedestrian safety during road roadclosedmaintenance season, our Public Works department wants local residents to be aware of these ongoing and upcoming street construction projects: Click each for a detailed project description.

  • 7th Avenue N. – Harrison Street to High StreetScheduled Completion June 24
    Closed to through traffic between High Street and Harrison Street; and at the High Street and 7th Avenue N. intersection. Truck route and detour routes from Riverview Expressway are at West Grand Avenue and Wilson Street.
  • Klevene Court – 15th Place S. to West Cul-de-sacScheduled Completion June 24
    No road closure.
  • 8th Street S and Grove Avenue Mid-block Concrete Refuge Island
    Completion is scheduled the week of June 26.
    Awaiting traffic control parts and planting in island area.
  • Apple Street – 8th Street S. to 12th Street S.Scheduled Completion Week of August 17.
    Road closed to through traffic between 8th Street S. to 12th Street S.
  • Chestnut Street – 8th Street S. to 16th Street S.
    Work begins the week of June 29, with scheduled completion the week of October 1.
    The road will be closed to through traffic between 8th Street S. to 16th Street S.
  • Municipal Zoo Parking Lot
    Completion is scheduled the week of September 28.
    The City will be reconstructing a new parking lot for the City zoo.  Work to be done includes grading and shaping the base course, paving asphalt, and painting parking lot stalls. This project will also improve the traffic flow between pedestrians and vehicles.
  • 8th Street S. and Chestnut Street Highway Safety Improvement Program
    Maintenance and modification work begins the week of September 28, with scheduled completion the week of October 19.
    This joint project between the Wisconsin Department of Transportation and the City of Wisconsin Rapids is designed to solve safety concerns at the intersection.  Construction is for restriping and modifying traffic signals.  Some lane closure is expected, but no road closures

chipsealingnewIn addition, the Public Works Department will oversee the chip sealing and crack sealing of more than 50 streets, beginning the week of July 20, and finishing up the week of July 27. These maintenance and repair projects are designed to extend pavement life and provide good driving surfaces.

  • With chip seals, a thin film of heated asphalt liquid is sprayed on the road surface, followed by the placement of small aggregates (“chips”).  The chips are then compacted to maximize adherence to the asphalt, and excess stone is swept from the surface.
  • During the crack sealing process, maintenance crews will clean out all loose debris and dry out moisture in the cracks, and then apply the sealing compound
  • Traffic will resume on affected streets shortly after sealing procedures are complete.

When driving near these areas, consider an alternate route. Further, please proceed with caution; be aware of workers, equipment and barriers; and be prepared for possible delays. For more information, call the Engineering Department at: 715-421-8205; by email: or Streets Department at 715-421-8218 or

We thank everyone for their patience and understanding as we make all of these improvements to our City’s infrastructure.

Thank you for reading,

Mayor Zach Vruwink


Community Update – NightSeeing, Cranberry Blossom Festival and WSAW-TV’s “Your Town”



NightSeeing Event

Thanks to the impressive spirit of commitment by residents, property owners and investors- and the kickoff of our Riverbank Green Space and Recreation Preliminary Design project, our City stands ready to make the Wisconsin Rapids Downtown area truly a centerpiece of which will activate the spaces surrounding it.  In order to ensure continued success, this process requires imaginative thinking and citizen participation.

DSC_0027On Wednesday, June 3, we invited residents to hear and share ideas about revitalizing our Downtown riverfront environment during the nighttime hours – and then, experience an up-close look at the possibilities, during an evening walk along the river.

“NightSeeing” was conducted by Leni Schwendinger, a lighting designer/artist with Arup, an international firm of designers, planners, engineers, and technical specialists. During the NightSeeing walk, Ms. Schwendinger and her design team offered insights on the impact of lighting by pointing out the effects of existing lighting choices; envisioning the opportunities for enhancements; and inviting residents to take a critical look at lighting options and to express their preferences.

A video recap of the event can be found here:

Designed to spark community engagement and open minds to new approaches and imaginative DSC_5235ideas, NightSeeing programs have been held in the United States, Colombia, London and Australia. As Mayor of Wisconsin Rapids, I feel it is important that our public spaces be activated beyond the hours of daylight. We light our streets, how about our public spaces, too?  A vital element in realizing that vision includes creative lighting.

The “NightSeeing” event ties into the Riverbank Green Space and Recreation Plan, which will incorporate improvements along the east and west banks of the river within the City limits. Supermass Studios, the company hired for the plan, sub-contracted Arup for structural engineering and lighting design.

There will be further engagement opportunities for your participation in the coming months. We expect to have recommendations on the Riverbank Green Space in late summer.  In the meantime, we continue to act to reinvigorate a critical piece of our community- our core central business district.

Blossom Fest

blossomfestThis week marked the start of the 2015 Cranberry Blossom Festival!  This year’s Fest runs through
Sunday, and features something for every member of the family – a total of nearly 20 events, including live music, arts and crafts, exhibits, a variety of foods from local vendors, and our annual grand parade.  See a brief recap at River Cities Community Access Media.

Some of the featured events include:

  • Arts, Crafts and Cranberries Fair
    Saturday, June 20, from 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. at Witter Field
    You’ll find a treasure trove of crafts, framed art, pottery and cranberry-themed products.
  • Cranberry Blossom Festival Carnival
    Friday-Sunday, June 19-21, at Witter Field
    Families can enjoy carnival rides, games and food throughout the weekend.
  • Cranberry Blossom Fest Parade
    Sunday, June 21 at 12:00 noon, Downtown
    Our colorful parade along Grand Avenue this year features members of the University of Wisconsin Marching Band, who will follow up at 3 p.m. with a performance at Witter Field.

For full details on all the events,  Look forward to seeing you at the events!

600x-YTown-Road-SignWSAW Promotes “Our Town”!

This week, WSAW-Channel 7 news anchors and reporters have created stories throughout the community, for its week-long “Your Town” feature. The feature included live broadcasts for its 5:00 and 6:00PM newscasts at locations around our community highlighting much of what Wisconsin Rapids has to offer!

View the great exposure WSAW and area businesses provided Wisconsin Rapids right here.  I had a good time closing out the Live 6pm broadcast from Witter Field last night with news anchors Jeff Thelen, Heather Sahr and Director of Meteorology, Chris Nelson- Thanks Guys!

I hope to see you around this weekend! 

Thanks for reading,

Mayor Zach Vruwink


Community Update – WR Fire Department and Riverview partner for Community Care Paramedicine program

Community Update

WR Fire Department and Riverview partner for Community Care Paramedicine program

From left: Joel Fetterer – Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), Wisconsin Rapids Fire Department; Lisa Rowe-Peplinski – VP of Quality Improvement and Patient Safety, Aspirus; Zach Vruwink – Mayor, Wisconsin Rapids; Quinn Pixler – Case Manager Coordinator, Riverview Medical Center; Scott Young – Deputy Chief, WRFD; Peggy Ose – Interim Chief Operations Officer, RMC; Justin Pluess – Fire Fighter/Paramedic, WRFD; and Aaron Mancl – EMT, WRFD. Not pictured: Dave Kerkman– Chief, WRFD, Andy Metcalf – President/CEO, Riverview Health Foundation.

Earlier this year, I emphasized the importance of building a healthier community and the many forms that can take. I’m proud to acknowledge an effort between two of our city’s important institutions teaming up on a dynamic and creative approach to improve the health and wellness of our residents.

After a year of researching the successful results of community-based health care, the city of Wisconsin Rapids’ Fire Department (WRFD), in partnership with Riverview Hospital Association, launched on May 11 Community Care Paramedicine (CCP). This pilot program delivers an organized system of health care follow-up and preventive care services, to meet the specific needs of two patient groups:

  • Patients identified in the Riverview Hospital or Family Clinic as high risk for re-admittance or ongoing medical care; and
  • Patients who frequently use emergency medical services, 911 and/or the emergency room as a form of primary care.

Through CCP, WRFD and Riverview Hospital will identify eligible patients, who will be assigned a case manager to explain the benefits of the program. If a patient agrees to enroll, a WFRD community health care paramedic will schedule a home visit to review medications, activities, equipment, home safety and additional local services that may be required. CCP is strictly voluntary and is provided at no cost to the patient.

CCP provides a WIN-WIN-WIN for a healthier community, by:

  1. Strengthening our ability to recognize and target early on chronic diseases such as obstructive lung disease, congestive heart failure, diabetes and cancer;
  2. Directing patients to appropriate services to alleviate and prevent long-term diseases; and
  3. Decreasing the cost of, and burden on, community emergency care services.

CCP delivers new and improved preventive health care benefits, thus building upon the WRFD’s decades-long capabilities in preventive safety.

Having been adopted by a handful of cities across the nation, CCP represents the wave of the future in community-based care. Wisconsin Rapids is among the first in Wisconsin to launch the program; after the pilot is evaluated on its metrics and with hopeful success, we will consider continuing the program on a permanent basis. Ultimately, our vision, a healthier Wisconsin Rapids, will be achieved in part through a targeted approach with our most frequent EMS services users. I look forward to sharing an update on this program in the future.

Thank you for reading,

Mayor Zach Vruwink

Community Update Footer

Community Update – An Invitation for “NightSeeing” in Wisconsin Rapids


These are exciting times in Wisconsin Rapids!  Because of the ongoing spirit from the community, and investments made by property owners and investors, the Wisconsin Rapids Downtown and Waterfront District has received a renewed interest and has become primed for reinvestment and redevelopment.

Decades of city planning and work done by past administrations, city councils and citizens have gifted us with great visions of our city’s future.  In performing a comprehensive review of past plans (1, 2, 3), we’ve repeatedly seen a focus on the downtown and surrounding waterfront area as an area that serves as a tremendous asset, and a continued source of prosperity for our community..  Over the last month, significant progress has been made towards the implementation of these plans through the development of Wisconsin Rapids’ waterfront.  With the recent approval by the City of hiring Supermass Studio for the completion of the preliminary design of the riverbank, I am thrilled that we can now move beyond planning, and into implementation.

One of our first events to kickoff idea-sharing and information gathering for the waterfront area will take place this coming Wednesday, June 3, 2015 in an event called “NightSeeing.”  In this event, all of the community is invited to join the Rierfront design team for an evening of exploration and discovery of the downtown and Wisconsin River, to set the stage for future nighttime design.  The event will begin at City Hall at 8:30PM, and a walking tour will commence at 9:00PM, and will include exploring our City’s beautiful riverfront..

A vibrant and flourishing core is the centerpiece for any city’s health and economic success.  Thanks to these past and recent investments, our City stands ready to make the heart of our community truly a centerpiece of which we can all be proud.  I look forward to the community’s involvement, enthusiasm and input through this exciting event.

The invitation can be viewed below:

150603 - NightSeeing Wisconsin Rapids Invite

Wisconsin Rapids Will Host the 2016 World Show Ski Tournament


Exciting news came from the IWWF International Show Ski Committee this week.  After previous

skinews that Wisconsin Rapids and Lake Wazeecha were one of three finalists announced for the 2016 World Tournament, we learned that the Aqua Skiers of Wisconsin Rapids were awarded the winning bid!  This year’s finalists all were very experienced and capable locations for the event.  The award to Wisconsin Rapids was due, in large part, to having submitted an excellent application, having an organization capable of hosting such a large event, and speaks to our area’s strong offering to recreational visitors.

ski tournamentThe selection of our Community for the 2016 World Tournament is an honor, and an affirmation to the work that has occurred to leverage our natural assets for recreational pleasure.  It also speaks to the capability of our local organization of hosting such an event.  The Wisconsin Rapids Aqua Skiers have shown this capability through their experience hosting the annual Wisconsin State Water Ski Show Tournament, and event the national tournament more than once.  2016 will be extra busy with our area hosting the 50th Anniversary of the State Tournament as well.  Adding the opportunity to host the World Tournament is a natural choice, given the Aqua Skiers’ expertise and experience.  I’d also like to recognize Dan and Maggie Muleski, for their involvement making our Water Ski Tournament hosting history unmatched.  Dan serves as the Board President for the Aqua Skiers, and Maggie has served as tournament chair for the Wisconsin State Show Ski Championships for several years, and will be serving as tournament chairwoman for the 2016 world competition.  Maggie’s experience chairing two of the largest water ski tournaments in the world, along with many other volunteer-related activities, means she knows first-hand what it takes to host a large tournament, and means that our area well positioned for success with two big tournaments in 2016.

Yesterday’s announcement is fantastic news for our community!  The economic activity resulting from thousands of visitors is welcomed and will certainly be felt beyond our City. Additionally, as this event is a world tournament, team squads from Australia, Belgium, Canada and China will be joining United States teams and participating in the tournament. These teams will bring with them many fans, and offer an excellent opportunity for residents and visitors from our area communities to experience different cultures, and we have the opportunity to show our guests the many assets that central Wisconsin has to offer!

Although a tournament in 2016 seems far away, long-range preparation and planning is underway.  Winning a world tournament bid, is a wonderful accomplishment, but it is only the first part.  The preparations must continue so all our future visitors will have the best possible experience. This ranges from sharpening our customer service skills to making our city spaces more attractive for leisure activities.  Wednesday’s announcement is a reminder for the work to be done to make our City a more attractive and presentable City for future visitors to this (and hopefully many other) renowned events hosted in Central Wisconsin.

Community Update – 2015 State of the City Recap and Mayor’s Council on Sustainability Kickoff



2015 State of the City Recap

Healthier WREarlier this month, I delivered my 3rd-Annual State of the City Address.  I am pleased by the excellent turnout, both in person and among viewers watching from home. I wish to thank residents for attending as well as City Staff and Alderpersons who were present to meet with the public at the reception prior. Your attendance at events such as this, and participation in civic engagement initiatives such as Mayor’s Councils, helps solidify a willingness to work together to improve our City’s quality of life. I am grateful for the opportunity to inform our citizens about our progress during 2014, and to reveal a vision for 2015. In case you missed it: watch it here.

This year’s State of the City address focused on the concept of a Healthy Community, comprising three elements:

1) Economic Health – fostering and nurturing an environment for business development and job growth;
2) Governmental/Organizational Health – making City services more accessible and responsive to our citizens; and
3) Civic Health – participation by our residents in helping to shape the culture and the future of our community.

In the area of Economic Health, I recounted projects from 2014 that hold great promise to infuse economic activity into our business districts. These initiatives include the resident-led planning and redesign of the Tribune Building as a space for entrepreneurs to start and grow; the YMCA/Aspirus partnership in a state-of-the art aquatics facility that connects directly to our area’s assets along the Wisconsin River; and building upon past investments in planning to make our city more liveable and vibrant. I specifically pinpointed housing as a cornerstone to any city development, particularly in creating demand for surrounding economic growth; as well as its connection to attracting and retaining talent, critical to the success of current and future business enterprises. We also are supporting business growth through the use of technology – like the newly launched, which offers a one-stop city hub for Business Development resources.

In addressing Organizational Health, I highlighted advancements introduced in 2014 to provide GIS Example2residents and businesspeople with enhanced access to information and services. These innovations included GIS City Viewer, which provides at-your-fingertips information about services, properties and recreational destinations (much to be added throughout 2015); Get Your Business Online, our City’s online partnership with Google to build online awareness for local businesses; and an award receiving broadband network. I also announced a few of the many new developments to come for 2015.  One, Put Your Business on the Map, is an extension of the Get Your Business Online initiative with Google. SCF Another, the recently launched SeeClickFix, is an exciting app that allows residents to report and track non-emergency neighborhood issues on the web or via an app on their smartphone.  We have already experienced wide use of the application and encourage all to download the app on their smartphone or check it out on the web. In addition, a growing number of City employees have participated in Rapid Improvement training, supporting our efforts to streamline and continuously improve how government works for our citizens.

Lastly, I spoke to Civic Health, focusing on the progress we made in 2014 as a result of active resident involvement- notably, through the launch of the first “Mayor’s Council” the Mayor’s Beautification Council.  From cleaning up neighborhoods, to planting trees and hanging flower baskets that add a breadth of color in the summer months, residents have stepped forward to really take ownership in making a wonderful impression on anyone living here or visiting our City. In line with this success, I mentioned the newly formed Mayor’s Youth Council, along with the upcoming introduction of the Mayor’s Council on Sustainability, which I describe in more detail next in this update. If you are passionate about a subject the city could be concerned about through the connection of fellow residents on a Mayor’s Council, contact me!

In short, the key to a Healthy Community is to take a holistic approach – to be invested in Economic Health, Organizational Health and Civic Health.  This same sense of connectedness is needed among us as citizens, as we work together as one to improve our community’s well-being.

For anyone who missed the State of the City Address, you can view the entire event online by visiting this link.

Launching of the Mayor’s Council on Sustainability

Tomorrow marks the formal kick-off of the Mayor’s Council on Sustainability.  This launch marksEco Tree with environment symbols another step in our journey toward helping Wisconsin Rapids become more sustainable- for the benefit of residents and visitors today, and for generations to come.  The Kick-off Meeting will take place Tuesday, February 24, at 5:00 p.m., at McMillan Memorial Library in the 2nd Floor Conference Room.  At that time, the vision and scope of the Sustainability Council will formally be introduced.  Additionally, participants will learn about current sustainability efforts in our City, and how the Council can support those efforts in moving Wisconsin Rapids forward as a model for progress in achieving sustainable growth.  To view the kickoff video announcement, please visit this link.  If you have passion on this subject, I hope to see you there!

Thank you for reading,

Mayor Zach Vruwink