Community Update – Aquatics Commitment, Safe Routes to School, and Freedom Walk



Pool Closing and Aquatics Commitment

With Labor Day in the past, cooler “fall-like” weather becoming the norm and school starting, it also marks the poolCity’s seasonal closure of the Mead Municipal Pool.  This season’s pool closing leaves much work and planning for the City to undertake during the pool’s “off-season.”  In a previous Community Update, I outlined the challenges the City faced with this year’s opening; which is also pushing the usable life for a pool of its kind in Wisconsin.  These challenges place the City in a position to explore a long-term, permanent solution for its aquatics needs.

Earlier this year at my State of the City Address, it was reported that the City is exploring how we might find a solution by working with community partners who have an interest in developing, operating and supporting a public option.  We can all agree, we need a sustainable model- one that is more cost effective and one that demonstrates fiscal responsibility to the taxpayer and its contributors. I am proud to report that at the September City Council meeting, our Council unanimously renewed its commitment to support aquatics offerings through an aquatics resolution.  Last month’s announcement by the John E. Alexander YMCA and Riverview Hospital Association allows the City to explore how a collaborative approach to solving our aquatics challenges through partnership on a facility might be a more viable, long-term solution.

In the near future, I will be forming an Ad-Hoc committee to understand the usage of our current pool offering and explore alternatives. This Ad-Hoc committee will consist of Alderpersons, Park & Recreation Commission members and city staff. As this committee moves through the process, expect an opportunity for public involvement.

It is my position that we have a significant opportunity to improve the quality of life through such a project for not only our City, but our region. I commit to continued participation in the dialogue until a solution benefiting all of our residents is reached.

POLL: What was your favorite outdoor activity this summer?


School Children Safety: Walking School Bus

Last week marked the start of the 2014/2015 school year for children and young adults in Wisconsin Rapids.  As our City’s young residents excitedly make the adjustment from summer break to return to classes, drivers in our City must also make adjustments- particularly at crossings where speed limits are reduced before and after school.  With each school having hundreds of students coming in by bus, walking or vehicle, exercising caution as a driver is the best way to ensure that students get to and from school safely.

Walking School BusOne way that students who walk to school receive help in arriving to school safely is through the  “Walking School Bus” established by the Safe Routes to School Program.  A walking school bus is a group of children walking to school with adult volunteers. The volunteers have a designated route that has been set by the Safe Routes to School Coordinator.

The Walking School Bus is an excellent opportunity for children within walking distance to arrive at school safely, under adult supervision.  On a broader level, the Walking School Bus program enhances children’s well being, eases traffic congestion near schools and improves community members’ overall quality of life.  The 2014/2015 Walking School Bus will start on Tuesday, September 30th and will run into December, weather permitting.  Routes are run on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings, from 7:30-8:30AM.

I have enjoyed the walks with students on my shifts for the walking school bus and know the volunteers have similar positive experiences!  If you are interested in being a Walking School Bus Volunteer, please contact Beverly Ghiloni at or 715-459-5599.

9-11 Freedom Walk

This Thursday, September 11, 2014, the annual Remembering Freedom Walk is planned to remember the victims of September 11th, and honor troops who continue to fight for our freedom.  The event will begin at 6:00PM, with a short program prior to the walk.  Following the program, all guests and program participants will join in on a two-mile walk which begins at the Firefighter’s Memorial at Ben Hansen Park and continues down the walking trail adjacent to the park.  Prior to the program, the Wisconsin State Firefighter’s Memorial will have an open house from 5:00PM-6:00PM.

As time goes on, events like Thursday’s Freedom Walk serves as a wonderful way to honor those who lost their lives on that fateful day, and show appreciation for the brave heroes who defend and protect our great nation, emergency service providers and responders, law enforcement agencies and fire departments.  More information can be found here.  I hope to see you there.

14th Annual Downtown Grand Affair

The start of cooler weather in Wisconsin this time of year typically marks the transition into fall.  Last Sunday, residents and visitors celebrated the beginning of the fall season through our community’s annual Downtown Grand Affair.  Now in its 14th year, the Downtown Grand Affair spanned from the Centralia Center to Veterans Memorial Park and was packed with live music from two stages, food vendors, arts and crafts and a classic car cruise-in.

The Grand Affair is always an excellent opportunity to draw people to Wisconsin Rapids’ historic downtowngrand affair and display area businesses/activities, while also showcasing our community’s rich history.  To help navigate the historical points in our City, three “Historical Bus Tours” were conducted throughout the day, taking visitors and residents around our City to view historical sites and tell the story of where our community has come from.  Finally, past met present, with a “classic car cruise-in” which lined over 100 cars from Veterans Park down the West Grand Avenue Bridge.  It is always a site to see so many classic cars, hot rods and trucks lined down the streets of our downtown vying for one of several recognition awards!

As always, this year’s Grand Affair had a great turnout and wonderful participation, all coupled with one of the best-weather weekends of the summer.  I look forward to the upcoming fall activities planned for Wisconsin Rapids.  To view upcoming events in our area, please visit the Heart of Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce’s calendar of events, or the Wisconsin Rapids CVB events page.

Thank you for reading,

Mayor Zach Vruwink



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