Community Update

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Rapids Mall and Wisconsin Rapids Retail            

Recently I had the long awaited and much anticipated opportunity to meet with the ownership of the Rapids Mall.  Beyond sharing the most obvious concerns about attention to the internal and exterior state of the property, I also provoked a dialogue about it’s future. While we all have hopes (and maybe dreams) there is realistic action that can be taken now to better position itself for a positive future. With commitments from the owners in making the property much more presentable to current and future tenants, we also discussed other action items both the mall ownership, management, and city can take.  Considerations given to the former Younkers space, parking and outlots were discussed. Active marketing and management is a critical component to restoring vibrancy to the property. As we move forward building on this first contact in which I hope is part of a much more regular dialogue, we can effectively market the vacant spaces as opportunity to fill gaps in our retail offering.

A vibrant future for the Rapids Mall is all but certain.  As your Mayor, I will continue to explore new ideas and strategies to help address the long-term sustainability of all our City’s retail spaces.  Even as early as next week, I will be working with the mall ownership to solicit interest in not only our mall ‘opportunity spaces’ but spaces for development all across our City.  Each of our retail spaces are unique and have different potential, however, the City plays an important role in supporting their growth. Economic development and success are reliant upon the support and strategic vision that the City and business owners coming together can provide. The City of Wisconsin Rapids, in coordination with the private sector, has a vital role to help showcase and support our economic, entertainment and recreational assets and opportunities.

National Nursing Home Week

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Photo credit to Daily Tribune Media – Casey Lake

This week, Wisconsin Rapids joins cities around the country in celebrating National Nursing
Home Week.  National Nursing Home Week recognizes the incredible work that nursing homes in our area and throughout the country do in caring for members of our community.  I participated in kicking off National Nursing Home Week in Wisconsin Rapids with the reading of a proclamation and a balloon release in celebration at Strawberry Lane. I heard loud and clear from residents how much they enjoy the visit from friends and loved ones- make it part of your routine to pay a visit!

Teen Leadership Graduation

10294281_668410286560274_277259658087378960_nLast Tuesday marked a special evening for a group of high school sophomores in our community.  The 2013-2014 Teen Leadership group celebrated their graduation from the program with a dinner held in their recognition of their accomplishment.

Teen Leadership is a program of Incourage Community Foundation and supported by our area local businesses and organizations that offers hands-on learning for high school sophomores from our five area high schools, with untapped leadership potential.  A capstone of every Teen Leadership class is a community project, aimed at applying their skills.  Last year’s project included beautification of the stormwater retention pond at 16th and Two Mile; this year’s group focused on prepping and painting bikes to help get the local bike share program, River Riders, closer to start up.10246661_668410283226941_1277702372130922131_n

I took the opportunity to speak to the teens about the significant role they each can play in our community.  As a young professional and millennial Mayor, engaging and encouraging young adults to be active in the community is critical to our growth as a community.  I reminded the graduating class that just because the Teen Leadership program was coming to a close, it was just the beginning for them to make their mark on their community.  Having youth, young adults or newly involved individuals step forward and take action in various leadership roles is important.  “We” as a community will be looking to see where their interests lie as we see and hear about thier community involvement going forward.  Congratulations to the graduates and thank you for learning leadership skills to apply in our community!  For more information on the Teen Leadership program, please visit this link.

Judging 6th Graders Speech Competition

Last Friday, I had the opportunity to participate as a judge for Wisconsin Rapids Middle School’s sixth grade speaking contest.  The contest consisted of 12 students giving a 3-5 minutes speech on the theme of “The Importance of Healthy Living” and scored in the areas of content, organization and delivery.

The students gave an impressive array of speeches on topics ranging from exercising and leading a healthy lifestyle to more serious and complex issues of tobacco and drugs and health issues of meals in the prison system.  I was pleased to see students giving effective presentations on complex issues as well as local solutions.

Parents Who Host Lose The Most

Last Tuesday, the Family Center arranged an event that aimed to take steps to avoid tragic alcohol related deaths involving young adults by holding a “Parents Who Host Lose the Most” Town Hall at the Wood County Courthouse.  The event was part of a larger public awareness campaign seeking to draw attention to the risks associated with underage consumption of alcohol.  A panel discussion occurred with residents and stakeholders from Wisconsin Rapids and surrounding communities.  I was joined in attendance by our Police Chief and the Wood County Sheriff, as well as members from the Family Center and Wood County employees.  I would like to thank everyone who joined in the conversation for their time and participation in raising awareness for this important matter.

Thank you for reading,

Mayor Zach

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