Community Update – April 28

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Alderperson Orientation            

Last Tuesday the City held an orientation for all Alderpersons.  With three new faces to our City CouncOrientation 7il, the timing was right to generate an orientation for the newly electeds.  Although framed primarily around introducing the newly-elected Alderpersons to their roles on the City Council, the orientation also served as a refresher for all Alderpersons to further acclimate them with City departments, the City organizational structure, open meetings laws and the various related topics.

UWSP Political Science professor Ed Miller joined us at the orientation to speak to the role of Alderpersons on the City Council.  Given the undertaking of the position and sometimOrientation 4es complex nature of the decisions, Professor Miller’s presentation was very informative and provided our Alderpersons a very important foundation. With their primary role as policy makers, some may wonder how to convert ideas into actual policy for the city to consider.   There were also presentations from the City Clerk – discussing the agenda and referral process, and City Attorney – discussing open meetings law, parliamentary issues and preventing liability.  Additionally, a majority of City Department Heads were present.  Individual one-on-one meetings will be set up with Alderpersons and departments in the near future to further expose and educate on how specific departments execute their duties.

I thank all Council members and Staff who were in attendance for the orientation last week. I know first hand how much information is to be learned about city government and an orientation is a great start to that process.  I look forward to working with the newly elected and returning Council members in the coming year!

Mayor’s Council on Beautification

IMG_0256Last Wednesday, I was joined by residents for our second meeting of the Mayor’s Council on Beautification.  The meeting was highly productive, with a great turnout of residents; and projects are already underway!  The group has plans for the 15 long planters, including a partnership to fill them with a local vendor and placement at various visible locations.  There is also inspiring momentum with a hanging flower basket project, which includes hanging 36 planters on lampposts along West Grand Ave. from City Hall to 2nd Street, as well as along 1st and Oak streets.  The “hanging baskets” project has seen community involvement through an “adopt a basket” component (with over 20 of the baskets already committed) and volunteers taking part in the watering of the baskets.  If you or someone you know would like to be involved with the project, please call or email my office to be put in contact with the project coordinators.

The intent and focus of the Mayor’s Council on Beautification is to be action-oriented in identifying potential projects, working to secure project funding through grant opportunities and subsequently scoring and prioritizing projects. Making our city a more attractive place for our current and future residents and businesses. After all, businesses locate in communities that invest in themselves and their appearance. Further, I am proud to see another example of resident-led engagement, this time in beautifying our City. I look forward to what future meetings will bring.  If you’re interested in participating in future meetings, please contact me to be added to the contact list.

Radio Interview on Public Service and Visitors

Last Friday, I had the opportunity to be a guest on Wisconsin Public Radio’s “Central Time” show to talk about what it is like to run for public office.  I joined Vel Phillips, a Wisconsin-based Attorney and the first woman and African American person to be elected Secretary of State in Wisconsin, to share our experiences on what it’s like to run for public office and the importance of serving in public office as part of an underrepresented class of people.

As a millennial, who chose to run for office, I made the case for the need for those of a generation not widely represented in government to seek the office. The radio show was timely- nominations for fall elections in Wisconsin are open as of last week- and I was honored to offer my experiences and encouragement for anyone thinking about running for public office.  Please follow this link to listen to the radio show.  I encourage anyone interested in serving to reach out to those who are currently serving or have served in public office as sources of information on running- it is a tremendous opportunity, regardless of success.

I also had the pleasure of hosting 22 German Students from Hans Leinberger Gymnasium, Landshut Germany last Thursday.  The students are part of an exchange program with Assumption High School that has been in place since 1994, where students spend three weeks with American partners in Wisconsin Rapids, attend classes at Assumption and go on different field trips around the state.  City Hall was the first destination for the studIMG_0267ents last Thursday, and I had the opportunity to welcome them to Wisconsin Rapids, speak about various City functions and a bit of city history.  As young people, I encouraged them to take action sooner rather than later. I expressed my growing appreciation for the city and world as I became involved in starting a business as well as seeking and holding elected office. The students were full of good questions; I enjoyed answering them and discussing my role as Mayor of this City!

Tribune Building Meetings – Second Round

Last February wrapped up the first phase of the Tribune Building meeting process.  Phase 1 meetings saw as many as 220 individuals taking part in selecting the future adaptive reuse of the building, from idea prioritization to space utilization.  Top recommendations from participants include recreational rentals, a microbrewery, and at least one type of food service.

Phase 2 of the building process officially kicks off this week, meeting on Tuesday, April 29 at 5:30PM at the Centralia Center.  Phase 2 is termed “the design phase” and will reveal the plans imagined by over 500 residents and involve participation in deciding design elements for all of the building’s spaces.  I’m looking forward to our community’s continued participation in the project. If you haven’t attended a meeting, I highly encourage it. Your voice will be heard! Make your mark on this unique redevelopment on our riverfront.

Coffee with the Mayor

On Tuesday, May 6th, I invite you to join me at The Hotel Mead’s Cafe Mulino, from 8:00-9:00AM.  All are welcome to join me for all or just part of the time, for breakfast or coffee, so spread the word to friends and neighbors.

Thank you for reading,

Mayor Zach

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A Changing City Council, Mayoral Appointments and Beautification

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Changing Council and Swearing In

Last Tuesday was a notable day for the City of Wisconsin Rapids.  We saw the most significant changeover of the Council since the change from 19 Alderpersons down to 8 in 2002.  In that changeover, we said goodbye to three Alderpersons who, collectively, had 52 years of service: Marion Hokamp, Bob Nash and Jean Young.  That’s an incredible amount of time and decision-making.  On behalf of the residents of our wonderful City, please accept a heartfelt thank you; those years of service have immeasurably enriched our community.  I am certain each outgoing Alderperson will continue to serve the community in different ways.

City Clerk swears in Alderperson's Tom Rayome, Todd Ferkey, Greg Hepp

City Clerk swears in Alderperson’s Tom Rayome, Todd Ferkey, Greg Hepp

With three departing, we welcomed three new faces to our City Council.  Those members are Terry Dolan, Todd Ferkey, and Gregg Hepp.

The reorganized Council elected Alderperson Chad Wirl as Council President.  I look forward to working with the new and existing Council members in the coming year!

 

 

I,too, was officially sworn in last Tuesday, marking the end of the first term and beginning of my second term as Mayor.  It has been an honor and a privilege to be your Mayor the past two years, and with a great deal of appreciation to continue serving as the Mayor for another term!  Making our community more competitive for residents and businesses, diversifying our local economy, supporting opportunities for you- our residents– to participate and improving our city business operations will move Wisconsin Rapids forward.  I look forward to continuing our City’s progress over the next two years!

Mayoral Appointments

Serving as an Alderperson is just one way to get involved within our city.  Beyond Council appointments to committees and commissions, I’d like to share another opportunity that exists for interested individuals, like you, to make a contribution to our City.  As Mayor, It is my responsibility to appoint City residents to various Commissions and Committees as terms expire.  Participation on a board or commission is essential to infusing new ideas and energy within city government.  Most boards meet once per month or in some cases, quarterly.  If you are interested in serving and would like to be considered, please send me a resume and your interests.  Serving as a mayoral appointment on a decision making body in the City offers one of the most tangible ways to influence change and make a difference. Click here to see a full list of boards & commissions.

Airport Sponsor Workshop

As the Chairman of the Alexander Field Airport commission, last Wednesday, I joined our Fixed Base Operator and representatives from airports around the state for the 2014 Airport Sponsor Workshop in Madison.  The workshop is designed to discuss future projects that require state and federal funding at our airport for the coming years as well as compliance with the rules of both entities to ensure the maintenance of state and federal funding. Bureau of Aeronautics staff to discuss airport operational issues.

Aside from gaining insight from Bureau staff regarding airport operations, the workshop provided a unique opportunity to dissect and refine planned improvements over the next 6 years at Alexander Field.  Last year, the Airport Commission began work on an updated airport layout plan (ALP) for land inventory as well as reflecting plans for taxiway and runway improvements.  Planning for future improvements is essential to utilize state and federal funding through airport entitlement dollars.  The commission also purchased it’s own snow-removal equipment to help control snow removal costs. In winters like the last, finding creative ways to maximize operational dollars is essential. An additional note related to Alexander Field is that of the tree cutting that has finished on airport property. In the coming weeks, further cleanup and land restoration will occur. A replant of areas will also be performed restoring the land to a much more physically appealing place.

Mayor’s Council on Beautification

The Mayor’s Council on Beautification will have their second meeting this Wednesday, April 23 at 4:30PM in the first floor conference room.  The group had a very productive first meeting a few weeks ago with a great turnout of residents.  Initial projects identified were: planting trees, beautifying City entrances, boulevards and hanging flower baskets on Grand Avenue.

The group’s second meeting will build on ideas from the first meeting and decide on projects to pursue in the coming months.  I encourage anyone interested in participating to stop by, or contact me to be added to the list. I am thrilled to support another example of resident-led engagement- this time in beautifying our City.

Coffee with the Mayor

On Tuesday, May 6th, I invite you to join me at The Hotel Mead’s Cafe Mulino, from 8-9 AM.  All are welcome to join me for all or just part of the time, for breakfast or coffee, so spread the word to friends and neighbors.

Thank you for reading,

Mayor Zach Vruwink.
PS: To read past Community Updates, click here.

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Community Update – April 14

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Rapid Improvement            

Creating a culture of continuous improvement takes time and participation. Last week, we began our second round of Rapid Improvement training. This time, we have 19 trainees from 9 City Departments taking part in the ‘fundamentals’ of Lean-Six Sigma. Sessions focus on each phase of Defining, Measuring, Analyzing, Improving and Controlling the new process of a potential project (DMAIC) as well as concepts of lean.  This training affords employees the training and concepts to be involved with improvement projects within the City.

As with thePrint first round of trainees, this training group will be working on a project during their training. That project will examine the extensive ‘long grass/weeds enforcement’ process by Ordinance Control. The goal is to reduce or eliminate some of the many areas for delay in the system, bringing the process from one that can take as long as two weeks to bring into compliance, to closer to the 5 days given for compliance as spelled out in our ordinance.  It is our hope the improved process can further be applied to other ordinance control violations (i.e. snow removal).

The progress we as an organization have made in learning and applying lean concepts has been significant and- in many ways- inspiring to see.  I applaud the Council for their forward thinking approach in approving funding to supplement costs of training not covered by grants.  I also thank all our city employees and Department Heads who approach the training with an open mind and continue to devote time out of their schedules to participate.

Volunteers, Mentoring, and Beautification

Last Monday, the United Way held their annual Volunteer Breakfast at the Hotel Mead and Convention Center.  The breakfast served a dual purpose – formally kicking off “National Volunteer Week,” and to recognize those individuals and groups in our community who cVolunteer Breakfastommit their time and energy to various service opportunities in our area.  As someone who recognizes that forward progress requires the hands of many, I feel it is important to always seek to inspire, recognize and encourage residents to commit to volunteering opportunities in our area. Contact the Volunteer Coordinator at United Way to see opportunities.

Last Wednesday, I joined community leaders from our area at Renaissance Learning to mentor at this year’s Junior Achievement’s Business Challenge.  Junior Achievement’s mission is to prepare youth to successfully navigate their economic future, through learning experiences centered around financial literacy, entrepreneurship and work-readiness skills.  The business challenge paired 2 high school students up with a mentor (community member), and tasked them with strategizing to operate the most successful business and perform duties of a company’s management team.  My team did a fantastic job and I’m proud and inspired at the knowledge and skill that my team had in running our global business!

The Mayor’s Council on Beautification had their first meeting last month.  The intent and focus of the group is action oriented- identifying potential projects, working to secure project funding, and seeing through on ranked and prioritized projects.  The Mayor’s Council on Beautification had a very productive first meeting with a great turnout of residents.  Initial projects identified were: planting trees, beautifying City entrances, boulevards and hanging flower baskets on Grand Avenue. The group’s next meeting will be next Wednesday, April 23, at 4:30PM in the 1st Floor Conference Room at City Hall.  I encourage anyone interested in participating to stop by, or contact me to be added to the list. I am proud to see another example of resident-led engagement- this time in beautifying our City.

Hosting 2nd Graders

Last photo 1Friday, 64 second graders from Mead Elementary School toured City Hall and the Wisconsin Rapids Police Department as part of their community/law unit.  For the “Community” portion of the visit, the City Clerk and I had the pleasure of hosting the students, exposing them to our local government’s legislative process, including holding ‘mock’ City Council meetings and an election.  For the election, the students voted on what their favorite ice cream wphoto 2as.  The result of the election was a overwhelming response for Chocolate receiving 60% of the vote!  Strawberry came in second, just beating out vanilla.  As always, the students were full of good questions.  To see students enthusiastic, engaged and asking questions of the democratic process at such a young age is inspiring!

Young Adult Happy Hour

This Tuesday, April 15,  the Young Professionals Network (YPN) will be joining Incourage Community Foundation in hosting a “Young Adult Happy Hour” at Jennings and Company, 210 1st Street North, from 5:30PM-7:00PM.  Along with networking, this event seeks to get insight into what young adults/professionals and families in our community value and feel attracts them to a community.  It will also serve as a chance to learn about updates on exciting new developments in our community.  As a fellow Young Professional, authentically addressing the attachment to our community is a high priority, and young adults/families have a unique perspective to share.  I look forward to learning of the feedback shared at the meeting.

Coffee with the Mayor

This Wednesday, April 16th, I invite you to join me at Gracie’s Family Restaurant, 1371 8th Street South, from 8:00AM-9:00AM.  All are welcome to join me for all or just part of the time, for breakfast or coffee, so spread the word to friends and neighbors.

Thank you for reading,

Mayor Zach

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Community Update – April 9

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Wisconsin Rapids welcomes new businesses!

Over the past few months, The Wisconsin Rapids area has seen an introduction of new businesses, and relocation of existing businesses around the area, with two of them filling vacant locations in the Rapids Mall.

Pete’s Meat Service, an established business in Rudolph, is expanding and opened a location in the Rapids Mall in March.  The business, whose success has been built on their offerings of quality meat, had limited operations in Wisconsin Rapids in the past, through our local farmers markets.  The new Wisconsin Rapids retail store gives customers a convenient option of buying locally processed meats year round. Stop by for a tasty sample!

Cure Candles also filled a vacant location in the Rapids Mall in March.  The store not only offers a unique, and locally made, assortment of candles, but also a location for gatherings in their store.  Cure Candles is has taken over the location formerly occupied by Higher Grounds Cafe.  Higher Grounds Cafe is relocating their business from the Rapids Mall to Eighth Street with plans to open very soon.

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Wood County Title opened their doors last month.  Part of the Quality Title Group network-Wood County Title serves Adams and Wood counties in areas related to title insurance, records retrievals and title searches.

Shane Blaser (City Clerk by day) officially opened his business, Blasers, in the city last December.  Blasers offers individuals an indoor location for honing their pitching, batting and golfing skills.  Located in the former NAPA Auto Parts store on Baker St, Blasers has 6 turf and netted tunnels for recreational participants and professionals alike to have the opportunity to play baseball/softball and golf-even when the weather isblasersn’t conducive!

Finally, last Friday, Richard’s Liquors opened its doors on 8th Street.  Owned by Zach Coleman, and named in memory of their grandfather, Richard’s Liquors is a full-service liquor store focusing on wine and craft beer, including specialty products and brands that are hard to find.  With plans of potential partnerships with Wisconsin Rapids businesses, local brewers and distillers, the owners plan to grow their business while keeping their focus local.

This is just a snapshot of small business development in our area.  More is to come; I am excited new businesses are recognizing opportunities in our city and existing infill development.

Get Your Business Online

As small businesses continue to find Wisconsin Rapids increasingly attractive to open their doors, it reminds me the importance of keeping our focus on exposing Wisconsin Rapids businesses to tools and resources they need to experience success in their endeavors.  One such example is the online tools available to all businesses for establishing or increasing their online presence.  Last month, we formally kicked off the Get Your Business Online campaign, with Breakfast Before Business.  This year-long initiative consists of tools and resources that will continue to be uploaded on our “GWisconsinRapidset Your Business Online” website for small businesses.

As your mayor, it remains a priority of mine to connect with innovative ideas to support both new and existing businesses-large and small. We continue to identify ways to make Wisconsin Rapids more welcoming to new businesses to our community, and I look forward to see what is to come.

Coffee with the Mayor

Next Wednesday, April 16th, I invite you to join me at Gracie’s Family Restaurant, 1371 8th Street South from 8:00-9:00AM.  All are welcome to join me for all or just part of the time, for breakfast or coffee, so spread the word to friends and neighbors.

It is with a great deal of appreciation to continue serving as the Mayor of this wonderful City for the next two years! Making our community more competitive for residents and businesses, diversifying our local economy, supporting opportunities for you- our residents- to participate and improving our city business operations will move Wisconsin Rapids forward.

Thank you for reading.

Mayor Zach Vruwink

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