Community Update – America In Bloom Symposium, Tree Planting Recap and Final Alarm Ceremony

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America in Bloom and Judge Feedback

America in Bloom envisions communities across the country as welcoming and vibrant places to live, work, and play – benefiting from colorful plants and trees; enjoying clean environments; celebrating heritage; and planting pride through volunteerism.

America in Bloom envisions communities across the country as welcoming and vibrant places to live, work, and play – benefiting from colorful plants and trees; enjoying clean environments; celebrating heritage; and planting pride through volunteerism.

As part of our effort to make our city more welcoming to businesses, visitors and residents alike, in 2014 Wisconsin Rapids joined the America In Bloom (AIB) program.  Last July, we hosted two judges for three days to evaluate and assist in helping identify and rank potential image improvement and beautification projects within the City. A look in the mirror of sorts.  After much anticipation by residents and members of the Mayor’s Council on Beautification, last Friday I had the opportunity to meet with our judges to receive their feedback at the America in Bloom Symposium.

The AIB Symposium has three focuses; the first being celebrating communities by learning what they are currently implementing for beautification efforts and best practices associated with them.  These conversations with other communities present at the symposium were very valuable for gaining insight into current and future projects in our City.  With the Mayor’s Council on Beautification planning our 2015 projects through idea generation, discussing similar projects with other communities assists in gaining a better understanding of the resources and potential pitfalls associated with each potential project.

Wisconsin Rapids was asked to present at the symposium as well.  The presentation included an overview of our community and recent beautification efforts.  This was an exciting opportunity for us, and I took the opportunity to highlight initiatives like the flowering basket program, and similar accomplishments (and struggles) we’ve had with our various beautification efforts.  The second focus of the AIB Symposium is that of educational sessions and special programs.  This included panel presentations on involving youth with beautification efforts, the value of public gardens in communities and tree planting strategies for our communities.  Partaking in these sessions and associated conversations proved to be both useful and eye-opening.  At our next Mayor’s Council on Beautification meeting this month, I will be sharing the feedback and recommendations received at these sessions and discussing how the ideas can be utilized in our 2015 project planning.

A final focus of the AIB symposium, and a cornerstone of the AIB program, was meeting with our judges toIMG_0021 receive their impressions, feedback and project recommendations.  Accompanied by this meeting was our receipt of the judge evaluation and recommendation document.  A review of the evaluation and recommendation document shows that our participation in the program has its benefits-it will be an instrumental resource for the Mayor’s Council on Beautification to incorporate ideas into our 2015 planning and beyond.  It was encouraging to see the judge’s overall feedback of 2014 projects such as the flowering basket program, and the planters at City entrances as signs that beautification is beginning to root and spread.  I would share the following excerpt from the judge’s evaluation:

“Wisconsin Rapids is a city with rich heritage and a bright future. The heavily used river and the extensive park system combine to give a strong recreational use to this area. Active community members have begun to take the initiative to revitalize this beautiful setting along the Wisconsin River. Both neighborhood cleanup projects and downtown beautification efforts are well underway. The Mayor’s Council on Beautification is a strong, hard-working group that is making a difference in the community and the economy.  They meet regularly and represent a good cross-section of the city. Residents, business owners, and service organizations are becoming united in their interest and initiatives to make Wisconsin Rapids a more vibrant community.“

Now that we’ve received the AIB report and are entering into the fall season, members of the Mayor’s Council on Beautification have the opportunity to review the report, discuss alternatives and feasibility of implementation and prioritize new and existing project ideas.  October’s Beautification Council meeting will be an excellent chance to learn about planned projects and voice your ideas for potential ones.  If you have an interest in participating in this month’s Beautification Council meeting, feel free to contact me to be added to the communication list.  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.

Tree Planting Event at Legion Park

IMG_0009Last Saturday, Alderperson Scott Kellogg and young residents from the community held a “Tree Planting Event” aimed at planting trees at Legion park, and along the 1st Avenue South Riverbank including areas that previously featured them.  Saturday’s event kicked off what will be a total of 28 street and park trees planted in that area.

Last weekend’s event was not only significant for the City’s efforts to continue its commitment as a Tree City USA, but was also the “seeds” of a Mayor’s Youth Council.  With a goal of IMG_0011generating interest in volunteering and making a difference in our community, we put out the invite to students at both Lincoln and Assumption high schools for volunteers.  I’m excited to report that we had eleven students helping plant trees!

I am proud of the resident-led work being done by the Mayor’s Council on Beautification and volunteers of
all ages in our community!  If you’re interested in participating in future volunteer events with the City, please contact me to be added to the contact list and watch for opportunities announced in future Community Updates.

2014 Final Alarm Ceremony

As the permanent (and proud) host city of the Wisconsin State Firefighter’s Memorial, this Saturday, October 11, 2014, the annual Final Alarm and Roll Call Ceremony will be held.  The event is set to begin at 3:33PM, with a memorial service to honor the firefighters who have died in the line of duty in the State of Wisconsin.  The names of all fallen firefighters listed on the Memorial Wall will be read along with ringing of the Memorial Bell for each.

Events like Saturday’s Final Alarm Ceremony serve as a way to honor and show appreciation for those emergency service providers and responders who have given their lives protecting the lives and property of others.  More information can be found here. If you are looking for a reason to visit the memorial, this is the time! I hope to see you there.

Thank you for reading,

Mayor Zach Vruwink

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