Social Hosting Ordinance Signing
At November’s City Council meeting, Council held a second reading and formally adopted a Social Hosting Ordinance in the City of Wisconsin Rapids. In doing this, Wisconsin Rapids joined various Central Wisconsin communities including Marshfield, Nekoosa, and Wausau, to penalize those who knowingly host parties where underage drinking occurs. Just as important, the ordinance opens the door for those conversations around underage drinking and how to deter it -creating a community that prioritizes safety of our area’s young people.
The Social Hosting Ordinance was brought about by the suggestion of area youth, in collaboration with WRPD and the Wood County Health Department. Students pushed for the law to help deter underage drinking in our community. Last Friday, I invited students involved with generating the ordinance to come to City Hall and participate in the formal signing of the ordinance. I am proud of the youth in our community and hope that this is just the first example of engagement with our local government. It is my goal to help give our area’s youth these opportunities through the formation of a Mayor’s Youth Council in the near future. I look forward to sharing details on the upcoming Youth Council in the near future!
Notable Action from December’s City Council Meeting
December’s City Council meeting brought several notable actions that will set the stage for future discussions around City Staffing and ensuring services are delivered in a more efficient and effective way- at the same time aligned with resident expectations.
Along with the Council recognizing our outgoing City Engineer for 36 years of service to the City of Wisconsin Rapids and acting on my appointment of our interim City Engineer, Council also took action on an expected vacancy in the City Treasurer position. The decision is a result of a previous discussion by the Council of how the Finance and Treasurer departments might be restructured to promote greater efficiencies to better serve residents. Recognizing that the transition of City Treasurer would present an opportunity to potentially restructure both departments, Council unanimously voted to approve a charter ordinance removing the Treasurer as an elected officer and naming the Finance Director to perform those duties otherwise performed by the Treasurer. Revised position descriptions for the Finance department will be brought forward to Council in the upcoming months.
In addition to discussing reorganization in city operations, Council also took action in the area of our service offerings- public aquatics- with an update and recommendation by the Aquatics Ad-Hoc Committee. The Aquatics Ad-Hoc Committee has met over the last couple months to discuss resident’s desires in public aquatics and to produce a summary of its findings with a recommendation for full City Council consideration. Meetings included discussions around how access or usage could be defined with a facility that could have multiple access options (YMCA Membership, public citizens, swim teams, etc.). Ultimately, the Aquatics Ad-Hoc Committee made a unanimous recommendation to City Council that the Mayor and City Staff continue to pursue a partnership with the SWC YMCA to offer public access to the aquatics facility. Council unanimously voted to follow the Ad-Hoc Committee’s recommendation with the added point that public access and financing would need to further be explored, with updates brought back for consideration once determined. I look forward to continued discussions with SWC YMCA, City Staff, and residents about what access (and financing) might look like for a shared aquatics facility, and the potential of Wisconsin Rapids having a exemplary facility that helps improve the health and well-being of our community! To view the Aquatics Ad-Hoc Committee recommendation, and Council’s subsequent aquatics discussion and vote, please visit this link.
As the 2014 year draws to a close, I thank you for your hard work and caring commitment to the betterment of our community throughout this busy and progressive year. Teamwork is a key ingredient behind our success; whether it’s taking care of your own property, helping a neighbor take care of his or her yard, reaching out to help a stranger in need, or donating your time and energy with one of the many opportunities for community improvement, YOUR involvement is what makes Wisconsin Rapids so great!
I am very appreciative of the countless hours of volunteer time so many of you have contributed to our various efforts. Through your suggestions, questions and voiced concerns, we work to improve our City every day. Your input is crucial to our work, and I look forward to working with you again next year as we move forward to make our beloved community an even more wonderful place to live, work and play.
On behalf of the City of Wisconsin Rapids, please accept my best wishes to you and your families for a very Merry Christmas and a safe start to a brand new year. May God bless you and your loved ones in 2015.
Thank you for reading,
Mayor Zach Vruwink