Community Update – Public Aquatics, Heavy Metal Bus Tour, and Visiting German Students

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Commitment to Public Aquatics, Aquatics Ad-Hoc Committee

Pool CrackingAt a time when our public aquatic facility is deteriorating, the City leads on looking to the future for its public aquatics offering.  For over 100 years, aquatic facilities have been an essential part of the Wisconsin Rapids community. Today, the clock is ticking on our remaining public aquatic facility.

Last August, Wisconsin Rapids received exciting news when, at a media conference, Riverview Hospital Association and John E. Alexander SWCYMCA announced an intent to collaborate on the construction and operation of a new YMCA facility in Wisconsin Rapids.  Proposed to be located on the Riverview campus, the facility will be designed to address a wide range of community health and wellness needs.

A facility like what was announced provides us with the opportunity to strengthen our community economically through attracting and retaining young adults and families. The aquatics facility announced by Riverview and YMCA could serve as a place to nurture the potential of children and families through youth development, while helping to improve the health and well-being of residents in our community.  Although the announcement was an exciting step for the future of aquatics in our area, the City recognized that work exists to preserve a public aquatics offering.  At the September City Council meeting, our Council unanimously renewed its commitment to support public aquatics offerings through an aquatics resolution, and discussed an upcoming formation of an Aquatics Ad-Hoc Committee, to aid in the decision of if and how a collaborative approach to solving our aquatics challenges is practical.  Last Tuesday, the Council approved the formation of the Ad-Hoc Committee, with Common Council and Park & Recreation Commission representation, to explore the extent in which a new public aquatics facility could serve the needs of all members of the public from children to seniors.

The objectives of the Committee will be to swiftly quantify the existing public aquatic offering’s usage, Mead Poolreview recommendations by the 2012-2016 Recreation Plan to collaborate with community partners, and understand our current and upcoming aquatics challenges. Further, the Committee will work to understand resident’s desires in a public aquatics facility. The Committee will produce a summary of its findings and a recommendation in December of 2014 for full City Council consideration. All Committee meetings will be open to members of the public and attended by City staff.  Our first meeting is Tomorrow, Tuesday October 28th, 2014 at 5 pm in the First Floor Conference room of City Hall. 

It is indeed an exciting time for our community.  I am hopeful this is the first of many collaborative efforts to make our community stronger.  To read my previous reaction to the announcement, click here.

Heavy Metal Bus Tour

This Wednesday, high school Sophomore High School students from Nekoosa, Port Edwards, Assumption and Lincoln will join local and elected leaders in the Heavy Metal Bus Tour, to get an inside look at our local manufacturing facilities and highlight the challenging and rewarding careers that manufacturing offers.  The Heavy Metal Bus Tour is a program coordinated by the Heart of Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce, with a goal of exposing and encouraging students to consider jobs in the area of Manufacturing.  The day’s activities will include tours of NewPage, Tweet/Garot, Fey Printing, and ECC Corrosion Inc. and learning more about the training opportunities for careers in manufacturing at Mid-State Technical College. This is a great opportunity for area employers and Mid-State Technical College to come together to benefit students by giving them exposure and awareness to careers in manufacturing.

To help highlight the challenging and rewarding careers that manufacturing offers, and to reaffirm the importance of manufacturers to our state’s economy, the Governor proclaimed October “Manufacturing Month” in Wisconsin.  With his proclamation, came the encouragement that Wisconsin’s manufacturing employers host visits, tours and other events to highlight that manufacturing in Wisconsin is a robust and dynamic industry driving the creation of jobs, inspiring innovation and advancing the state’s economy.

Manufacturing is the backbone of Wisconsin’s economy, having dominance in many Wisconsin cities like ours.  Events like this Wednesday’s day-long tour shows students the highly technical and great careers in manufacturing.  With the average pay for a manufacturing worker in Wisconsin at $53,000 per year- more than $10,000 per year higher than the average pay for all Wisconsin private-sector workers, and the retirement of baby boomers- the field of manufacturing is more vibrant and appealing than ever before.  Seeing firsthand what jobs in manufacturing entail provides students with the opportunity to explore and learn more about the compelling jobs the manufacturing industry can offer them.

For our area, there is also tremendous value in having programs such as the Heavy Metal Bus Tour.  Our area is fortunate to have a great combination for youth to succeed with jobs that are high paying, have good benefits and are in an area that offers a great quality of life.  Not only does our area have fantastic manufacturing employers like ERCO, Domtar, NewPage and Golden Eagle Log Homes right in our backyard; we also have an outstanding technical college to help give students the skills and education needed to fill the positions needed by these companies in the near future.

Hosting German Business Students

German Exchange students visit City Hall

German Exchange students visit City Hall

Last week, I had the pleasure of hosting Students from Max Eyth Schule, in Dreieich Germany.  The students are part of an exchange program with Mid-State Technical College, where business students spend two weeks with families in Wisconsin Rapids, tour local businesses and go on different field trips around the region.  City Hall was a destination for the students last Monday, and I had the opportunity to welcome them to Wisconsin Rapids, speak about various City functions and a bit of city history.  As young professionals, 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 discussing my role as Mayor and answering their questions!

Thank you for reading,

Mayor Zach Vruwink

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2 thoughts on “Community Update – Public Aquatics, Heavy Metal Bus Tour, and Visiting German Students

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