Community Update: Christmas Tree Pickup this week; 18 for ’18 – Highlights from a Year in the Life of Wisconsin Rapids; Join me for coffee next week!



City of Wisconsin Rapids Street Department workers will conduct a Christmas tree pick-up for City residents, Monday-Friday, January 21-25.

To allow City workers to operate as efficiently as possible, we ask that residents please:

  • Remove tree bags, stands, lights and all decorations.
  • Do not have trees buried by snow.
  • Place trees at the curb no later than Sunday, January 20.

Crews will make one pass through the City.

For more information, please contact the Street Department at 715-421-8218.

18 for ’18 – Highlights from a Year in the Life of Wisconsin Rapids

The City of Wisconsin Rapids experienced a wealth of continued change in 2018. New and existing business expansions, infrastructure and recreation investments, and changes in City departmental leadership all contributed to the overall sense of revitalization and growth.

Looking back over the year 2018, we are energized by seeing and feeling a sense of new and reinvestment at recent historic highs. Economic activity to and through our city as well as developments within the paper industry contribute to an overall positive outlook, civic renewal and economic prosperity. Building on the dynamic developments from 2018, we optimistically look forward to ongoing and upcoming progress in 2019 … and beyond.

Learn more about the achievements made in 2018, here.

  • New Developments and Jobs- with others on the horizon for 2019!
  • Sand Valley Golf Resort Expansion
  • State of Wisconsin Opportunity Zone Designation
  • Upgrade of Infrastructure – West Side Lift Station/Wastewater River Crossing
  • South Wood County Airport-Alexander Field Groundbreaking
    Biron/Rapids Recreational Trail Connection Completed
  • Demitz Park and East Riverbank Improvements
  • River Riders Bike Share App-based Relaunch
  • Zoo Master Plan Complete- a plan for the future
  • New Housing Projects- strengthening our housing stock
  • YMCA Groundbreaking
  • Mead Park Splash Pad – Successful First Season
  • City Welcomes New Fire Chief
  • July 4th Flyover – Salute to our heroes- First-Of-Its-Kind Celebration
  • Aspirus Riverview Invests in Behavioral Health w/Opening of Clinic
  • $2.5 Million Matching Gift for the Aquatic Center at Witter Field
  • Department of Energy Gold Designation Recognition for Solar Energy
  • Collaboration with the Leadership group to bring a renewed Welcome Sign presence!

Coffee with the Mayor at Cravings

One of the most enjoyable aspects of being Mayor of Wisconsin Rapids is the opportunity to meet face to face and talk with local citizens. I look forward to continuing the tradition this Wednesday, January 30, during my second 2019 “Coffee with the Mayor” session at From The Ground Up Coffeehouse on West Grand Ave. The event takes place from 8:30 – 9:30 a.m.

It is a privilege to converse with engaged citizens. I look forward to your sharing your thoughts and questions about the future of our city, and to provide me with valuable feedback. Hope to see you there!

Thank you for reading my blog.

Mayor Zach Vruwink



Community Update: Looking ahead with Holiday Greetings to all; Parks and Recreation offers plenty of fun winter opportunities



Looking ahead with Holiday Greetings to all

As we celebrate everything that the holiday season affords us- reflection, peace and joy- as your Mayor, I am humbled and energized by those who made investments of time, resources and confidence in our City in 2018. Whether it be the new and existing business expansions, public investments in infrastructure and recreation, and redevelopment projects, all of which promise a revitalized, and a more welcoming and healthier city for residents and visitors alike.

I am looking forward to sharing a video I am currently working on with Wisconsin Rapids Community Media, that will recap the accomplishments our community has made together. Please keep watch for my next blog post that highlights 2018.

But the factor that truly sustains our community is our culture, which is reflected in the cherished ties we share with family, neighbors and friends, particularly at this festive time of the year. As we head into 2019, we do well to value and exemplify, every day, our heritage of generosity and fellowship.

On behalf of all City staff, Alderpersons, we wish to you and yours, health, happiness and peace during this holiday season.

Parks and Recreation offers plenty of fun winter opportunities

This winter season take advantage of our outdoor of facilities, amenities and programs offered by the City of Wisconsin Rapids Parks & Recreation Department.

For starters, choose from among ice skating at Witter Field Ice Skating Pond, low board hockey at Robinson Park or sledding at Poplar Springs Park. (weather permitting; a limited number of skates are available at no charge during regular hours)

Witter Field Ice Skating Pond Hours of operation are as follows:

  • School weekdays: 5:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
  • Weekends (Sat & Sun): 1:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
  • Christmas Break: 1:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
  • Holidays: Closed (Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day)

I urge you to consult the Parks & Recreation Department’s 2019 Winter/Spring Recreation Activity Guide, you’ll find a complete list of colorful and fun-filled sporting and arts programs to see you and your family through the winter months.

Winter and spring program registration begins on Wednesday, January 2 at 8:00 a.m. Online registration available at  or call 715-421-8240.

Thank you for reading my blog.  Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year!

Mayor Zach Vruwink


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



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

Thank you for reading my blog.

Mayor Zach Vruwink


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



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

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving Holiday.

Mayor Zach Vruwink


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



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


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



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


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



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

Thank you for reading my blog.

Mayor Zach Vruwink