Community Update – Local Paper Company Transactions, Crossing Guard Appreciation, and State of the City

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Completion of Verso/Catalyst Transactions

Last Thursday, two transactions involving our local paper companies came to resolution.  The Wisconsin Rapids operations, formerly owned by NewPage Corp, officially joined Verso Corporation.  Immediately prior to Verso’s acquisition of NewPage, NewPage divested its Biron papermill to Catalyst Paper Operations, to comply with Verso acquisition antitrust requirements.

VersoThe plans for Verso to purchase NewPage were originally announced almost a year ago, to the date, in January 2014.  With last week’s announcement, change, as we’ve grown more accustomed to through recent acquisitions, will continue to be apart of our future. We will again welcome new company names to our community’s manufacturing sector. What won’t change will be our support for the employees (over Catalyst1,700 of them), company leadership and optimism for a strong local future. As paper production continues to evolve for each, diversification of operations looks to be critical to their success. In many respects, the same is true for our local economy and each company will have unique strengths, as does our community.

To all directly (or indirectly) employed by one of our local paper manufacturers or supporting companies, know that the city will continue to communicate and assist in any way we can. Regardless of our professional affiliation, we must all continue to advocate to our federal representatives for fair trade practices to ensure our American production can effectively compete against international competitors.

There is no doubt papermaking, alongside much of the manufacturing sector, has endured much in the past decade and a half. Wisconsin still remains the Papermaking State; facing strong headwinds of international competition- and the substitution of digital will continue to challenge the industry. It is my hope the hard work and commitment to excellence of employees, and the forward looking management team from each company will ensure a future for our local mills.  Copies of press releases related to last week’s mergers can be found here: (Verso, Catalyst).

Adult School Crossing Guard Recognition Week

Crossing GuardThis week, please join me in bringing special attention and recognition to the dedicated adult crossing guards in our communities.  Crossing guards play a vital role in facilitating a safe route to and from the schools for children in our community.  As recent weeks have reminded us, the winter can often be very unforgiving with subzero temperatures- yet crossing guards in communities across Wisconsin faithfully attend their intersections to ensure the safe crossing of our community’s school children.

Please take a moment this week and tell an adult crossing guard how much you appreciate their service- even if it is just a friendly wave.

Coffee With the Mayor

On Tuesday, January 27,, I invite you to join me at From the Ground Up Coffeehouse, 250 West Grand Avenue, from 8:30-9:30AM for my next coffee session.   All are welcome to join me to ask questions and provide me feedback. I always enjoy the opportunity to meet and have conversation.  Spread the word to friends and neighbors!

2015 State of the City Address – Save the Date

I will be holding my third-annual State of the City address on Wednesday, February 4, 2015.  This year’s State of the City will take place at McMillan Memorial Library, with a pre-address reception taking place at 6:30PM, and remarks beginning at 7:00PM.  I look forward to highlighting the initiatives my office has been working on, and introducing a vision that provides the basis for priorities during the upcoming year.  More details will follow as we get closer to the event.

Thank you for reading,

Mayor Zach Vruwink

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