January 5 – 12
I hope everyone had a safe and enjoyable holiday!
A new chapter for NewPage-
This past week started with a surprising phone call shortly after 8 a.m. on Monday notifying me of the announcement that Verso Paper Corporation planned to purchase NewPage Corporation’s mills. This announcement rippled through our community as did the news of the two previous acquisitions. My thoughts immediately went to those currently employed here in Wisconsin Rapids and other mills in Biron, Stevens Point and beyond. My mind turned back to the news in 2000 when Consolidated Paper who had claimed home to Wisconsin Rapids for a century was to be sold to a Finnish company. My mother and stepfather had both been employed at the Wisconsin Rapids mill. Today, my mom and 1,700 other people remain employed at one of the area mills. While we have been assured it is business as usual and Verso has no plans to close any NewPage mills, the uncertainty continues to plague the community. The one thing that is certain, however, is the economic well being of those families affected directly and indirectly will continue to be my top priority as we continue to learn more about the acquisition going forward.
There is no doubt that paper-making has endured much in the past decade and a half. Wisconsin still remains the Paper-making state; facing strong headwinds of international competition and the substitution of digital will continue to challenge the industry. It is my hope the hard work and commitment to excellence of employees and the forward looking management team to stay competitive will ensure a future for our local mills.
- Mayors Halverson & Vruwink speak to Wisconsin Public Radio
- JS Online report on WI Paper-making
- Verso & NewPage press release
- WR Tribune
With 2013 on the books, it is now time we look forward to 2014. I am very excited for what’s in store for Wisconsin Rapids. For starters, within City Hall, we have many initiatives planned for 2014 along with completion to several started in 2013. Externally, many developments are in the planning stages creating jobs and growing our tax base.
Also on Monday, I presented a shortened version of a State of the City to the Noon Rotary Club consisting of a look back at 2013 – my priorities and what has been accomplished.
SAVE THE DATE for my full State of the City Address – Jan. 29, 2014 at 7 p.m., Fine Arts Center in McMillan Memorial Library.
At my staff meeting this week, I updated management on my plan to introduce a Director of Innovation & Technology for the Human Resources Committee as well as the progress on our city social media policy and strategy. Additionally, I updated staff on a number of economic development projects that were pending.
As the week came to a close, I participated in a ribbon cutting ceremony for the Carlson GI Clinic which has been relocated to the first floor in the Riverview Medical Center.
On Saturday night, I was reminded of the talent of our young people when I attended the 2014 Variations recital at the PAC. We are fortunate to have a venue of that scale in our community. Click here for upcoming events at the PAC!