Community Update – Shoe Store, Beautification Updates and Tree Planting Event

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Wisconsin Rapids to Get a Shoe Store

A long awaited and desired retail option by those throughout the greater Wisconsin Rapids area is becoming a reality! On November 20th, Wisconsin Rapids will welcome a new shoe store, Shoe Sensation. In a previous Community Update, I polled readers for their thoughts on what the largest retail gap in Wisconsin Rapids was.  Not surprisingly, one of the identified retail gaps (and matched by feedback I’ve had) was a shoe store.

Shoe Sensation looks to be a great fit for the Wisconsin Rapids area!  A regional chain that focuses on growing in smaller communities, Shoe Sensation aims to provide shoes to the whole family, with typical stores carrying over 10,000 pairs of shoes across a wide range of styles.  For those of us who struggle to find shoes close to home, the addition of Shoe Sensation to our community is welcomed. The store is located at the Crossroads Center, 1000E. Riverview Expressway between Copps and Shopko.

Beautification Update and Tree Planting Event

The Mayor’s Council on Beautification (MCB) held its September meeting last Thursday.  At the meeting, the group discussed, recapped and made plans for several initiatives.

Flowering Baskets – With the first season of the Flowering of Grand Avenue initiative now completed, the IMG_0420group recapped 2014 and began planning next year’s program.  The MCB overwhelmingly affirmed the inaugural year of the flowering basket program’s success.  Overall, the baskets received many compliments, even drawing attention from our America in Bloom Judges who remarked on their presentation, placement and success in increasing the vibrancy of the downtown.

As with any first-year large-scale project, the first year of the flowering basket program was a learning experience for all parties involved.  Over the 2014 season, we learned much about the care and feeding, as well as the importance of flower choice for aesthetics, care and durability to adverse weather.  We will be applying this knowledge to the baskets next year, and the MCB is looking forward to a 2015 expansion of up to 60 baskets in total (38 baskets were placed in 2014)!  If you are interested in supporting 2015’s initiative through financial or volunteer-hour donations, please contact Sue Wesley for more information.  We thank her, supporters (both financial and waterers), the Water Works and Lighting Commission (installing and support of brackets) and Incourage CF (What-If recipient) for making this year a success.

Street Medians – Like the flowering basket program, the Mayor’s Council on Beautification sought to continue its focus of vibrancy and color in noticeable, trafficked areas by removing some of the weed-prone, unattractive medians.  Beginning with a pilot effort with the medians at the intersection of 4th St. N. and Jackson St., the asphalt will be replaced with native plants of a range of colors in an effort to “green” our streetscape.CMM3

Creating a plan for beautifying our City’s medians creates a wonderful, and previously unexplored, opportunity to enhance our area for years to come with a minimal upfront investment.  Working with the City to replace the unattractive material with native, natural landscaping will surely improve the streetscape and provide a softer feel to our higher trafficked areas.  Work on the medians will begin early next month, with hopes to complete the first medians by this fall, weather permitting.  After a successful “pilot implementation”, the MCB has plans to continue work on the Jackson Street medians next year and a plan for others to come.

Tree Planting –  Earlier this summer, the MCB held a tree planting event to commemorate the replant of
flowering trees along the river on 1st Avenue South.  In a related initiative, the Council on Beautification felt there was an opportunity to restore trees and involve youth at the same time.  Now into the fall, a second tree planting event is planned- this time on the City’s east side, along 1st Street North by Mead Rapids meadrapidsView Park and along the river to Legion Park.  This tree planting event, taking place Saturday, October 4 at 10:30AM, will contribute to what will total 28 trees planted in the area.  The tree planting event will focus planting trees at Mead Rapids View Park.  The event will bring together the Mayor’s Council on Beautification and the beginnings of a Mayor’s Youth Council, planned for launch this fall.  All are invited to help volunteer with the tree planting event.  If you are interested and would like to receive further details related to the event, please contact me.  I am pleased to see youth choosing to get involved in a way that makes our city greener and environmentally friendly.

As you can see, even with the fall season having arrived, our City’s beautification efforts are still in bloom.  Whether through implementing 4th quarter projects before winter, or planning our 2015 projects, the Mayor’s Council on Beautification is hard at work planning and carrying out projects that help in making Wisconsin Rapids a welcoming and vibrant place to live and visit.

The intent and focus of the Mayor’s Council on Beautification is to be resident-led, action-oriented in identifying potential projects, working to secure project funding from alternative sources and subsequently score and prioritize projects all the while, making our city a more attractive place for our current and future residents and businesses. After all, businesses invest in communities that invest in themselves and their appearance.  If you’re interested in participating in future meetings, please contact me to be added to the contact list or feel free to attend future meetings.

Thank you for reading,

Mayor Zach Vruwink

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