Community Update – Street Construction Projects and Summer Activities



HomeSlide-Rafters2With another successful Cranberry Blossom Fest celebration concluded, I wish to thank all of the volunteers and sponsors who worked to make it possible as well as those who took part in the many events.

“Great Book Giveaway” and Summer Activities

Being able to read can make the difference between a child being successful in school or dropping out.  That is why I was proud to serve as a reading volunteer on June 10 at McMillan Memorial Library, as part of the United Way of Inner Wisconsin’s Sixth Annual Great Book Giveaway to send a message of the importance of reading, even during the summer.

Reading a favorite of mine, “Oh the places you will go” by Dr. Seuss.

In all, the Great Book Giveaway ran from Wednesday through Friday, June 10-12, at seven different locations.  Volunteers read books to children up to age 12.  Afterwards, each child selected books to take home and keep.  By putting free books into the hands of children, the Great Book Giveaway bestows a gift that lasts a lifetime.

Of course, this event was just one in the summer-long schedule of reading programs McMillan Memorial Library offers toddlers, children and teens.

Just a few of the major highlights include:

  • June 8-August 4 – Teen Reading Program (Ages 6-12}
  • June 23 – Teen Book Club
  • July 23 – All Ages Read-A-Thon
  • August 3 – Library Night @ the Rafters Book Giveaway

Early childhood learning is essential to the future of our society.  I urge children and youth, parents, grandparents, caregivers, and daycare providers to attend and participate in the full range of McMillan Memorial Library reading events this summer.  For more information, call 715-421-5131, or visit

For a listing of other summer fun for families and children, click here for Wisconsin Rapids Parks & Recreation Summer programs.

City Road Construction Projects

na_street_repaving_826_t640The City of Wisconsin Rapids works to make streets safer and maintain appropriate maintenance and reconstruction cycles. Knowing that preventive maintenance helps to avoid more costly repairs or early reconstruction later on, the City continuously seeks out ways within our means to keep our infrastructure healthy and sustainable for generations to come.

The following projects have been completed:

  • Washington Street Sidewalk – State Highway 54 to 28th Street N.
    Completed May 15
  • 17th Avenue N. – West Grand Avenue to Green Bay Street – Completed May 29
  • West Grand Avenue Pavement Patching – 25th Avenue to Viaduct
    Completed June 15

In order to promote driver and pedestrian safety during road roadclosedmaintenance season, our Public Works department wants local residents to be aware of these ongoing and upcoming street construction projects: Click each for a detailed project description.

  • 7th Avenue N. – Harrison Street to High StreetScheduled Completion June 24
    Closed to through traffic between High Street and Harrison Street; and at the High Street and 7th Avenue N. intersection. Truck route and detour routes from Riverview Expressway are at West Grand Avenue and Wilson Street.
  • Klevene Court – 15th Place S. to West Cul-de-sacScheduled Completion June 24
    No road closure.
  • 8th Street S and Grove Avenue Mid-block Concrete Refuge Island
    Completion is scheduled the week of June 26.
    Awaiting traffic control parts and planting in island area.
  • Apple Street – 8th Street S. to 12th Street S.Scheduled Completion Week of August 17.
    Road closed to through traffic between 8th Street S. to 12th Street S.
  • Chestnut Street – 8th Street S. to 16th Street S.
    Work begins the week of June 29, with scheduled completion the week of October 1.
    The road will be closed to through traffic between 8th Street S. to 16th Street S.
  • Municipal Zoo Parking Lot
    Completion is scheduled the week of September 28.
    The City will be reconstructing a new parking lot for the City zoo.  Work to be done includes grading and shaping the base course, paving asphalt, and painting parking lot stalls. This project will also improve the traffic flow between pedestrians and vehicles.
  • 8th Street S. and Chestnut Street Highway Safety Improvement Program
    Maintenance and modification work begins the week of September 28, with scheduled completion the week of October 19.
    This joint project between the Wisconsin Department of Transportation and the City of Wisconsin Rapids is designed to solve safety concerns at the intersection.  Construction is for restriping and modifying traffic signals.  Some lane closure is expected, but no road closures

chipsealingnewIn addition, the Public Works Department will oversee the chip sealing and crack sealing of more than 50 streets, beginning the week of July 20, and finishing up the week of July 27. These maintenance and repair projects are designed to extend pavement life and provide good driving surfaces.

  • With chip seals, a thin film of heated asphalt liquid is sprayed on the road surface, followed by the placement of small aggregates (“chips”).  The chips are then compacted to maximize adherence to the asphalt, and excess stone is swept from the surface.
  • During the crack sealing process, maintenance crews will clean out all loose debris and dry out moisture in the cracks, and then apply the sealing compound
  • Traffic will resume on affected streets shortly after sealing procedures are complete.

When driving near these areas, consider an alternate route. Further, please proceed with caution; be aware of workers, equipment and barriers; and be prepared for possible delays. For more information, call the Engineering Department at: 715-421-8205; by email: or Streets Department at 715-421-8218 or

We thank everyone for their patience and understanding as we make all of these improvements to our City’s infrastructure.

Thank you for reading,

Mayor Zach Vruwink



Community Update – NightSeeing, Cranberry Blossom Festival and WSAW-TV’s “Your Town”



NightSeeing Event

Thanks to the impressive spirit of commitment by residents, property owners and investors- and the kickoff of our Riverbank Green Space and Recreation Preliminary Design project, our City stands ready to make the Wisconsin Rapids Downtown area truly a centerpiece of which will activate the spaces surrounding it.  In order to ensure continued success, this process requires imaginative thinking and citizen participation.

DSC_0027On Wednesday, June 3, we invited residents to hear and share ideas about revitalizing our Downtown riverfront environment during the nighttime hours – and then, experience an up-close look at the possibilities, during an evening walk along the river.

“NightSeeing” was conducted by Leni Schwendinger, a lighting designer/artist with Arup, an international firm of designers, planners, engineers, and technical specialists. During the NightSeeing walk, Ms. Schwendinger and her design team offered insights on the impact of lighting by pointing out the effects of existing lighting choices; envisioning the opportunities for enhancements; and inviting residents to take a critical look at lighting options and to express their preferences.

A video recap of the event can be found here:

Designed to spark community engagement and open minds to new approaches and imaginative DSC_5235ideas, NightSeeing programs have been held in the United States, Colombia, London and Australia. As Mayor of Wisconsin Rapids, I feel it is important that our public spaces be activated beyond the hours of daylight. We light our streets, how about our public spaces, too?  A vital element in realizing that vision includes creative lighting.

The “NightSeeing” event ties into the Riverbank Green Space and Recreation Plan, which will incorporate improvements along the east and west banks of the river within the City limits. Supermass Studios, the company hired for the plan, sub-contracted Arup for structural engineering and lighting design.

There will be further engagement opportunities for your participation in the coming months. We expect to have recommendations on the Riverbank Green Space in late summer.  In the meantime, we continue to act to reinvigorate a critical piece of our community- our core central business district.

Blossom Fest

blossomfestThis week marked the start of the 2015 Cranberry Blossom Festival!  This year’s Fest runs through
Sunday, and features something for every member of the family – a total of nearly 20 events, including live music, arts and crafts, exhibits, a variety of foods from local vendors, and our annual grand parade.  See a brief recap at River Cities Community Access Media.

Some of the featured events include:

  • Arts, Crafts and Cranberries Fair
    Saturday, June 20, from 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. at Witter Field
    You’ll find a treasure trove of crafts, framed art, pottery and cranberry-themed products.
  • Cranberry Blossom Festival Carnival
    Friday-Sunday, June 19-21, at Witter Field
    Families can enjoy carnival rides, games and food throughout the weekend.
  • Cranberry Blossom Fest Parade
    Sunday, June 21 at 12:00 noon, Downtown
    Our colorful parade along Grand Avenue this year features members of the University of Wisconsin Marching Band, who will follow up at 3 p.m. with a performance at Witter Field.

For full details on all the events,  Look forward to seeing you at the events!

600x-YTown-Road-SignWSAW Promotes “Our Town”!

This week, WSAW-Channel 7 news anchors and reporters have created stories throughout the community, for its week-long “Your Town” feature. The feature included live broadcasts for its 5:00 and 6:00PM newscasts at locations around our community highlighting much of what Wisconsin Rapids has to offer!

View the great exposure WSAW and area businesses provided Wisconsin Rapids right here.  I had a good time closing out the Live 6pm broadcast from Witter Field last night with news anchors Jeff Thelen, Heather Sahr and Director of Meteorology, Chris Nelson- Thanks Guys!

I hope to see you around this weekend! 

Thanks for reading,

Mayor Zach Vruwink


Community Update – WR Fire Department and Riverview partner for Community Care Paramedicine program

Community Update

WR Fire Department and Riverview partner for Community Care Paramedicine program

From left: Joel Fetterer – Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), Wisconsin Rapids Fire Department; Lisa Rowe-Peplinski – VP of Quality Improvement and Patient Safety, Aspirus; Zach Vruwink – Mayor, Wisconsin Rapids; Quinn Pixler – Case Manager Coordinator, Riverview Medical Center; Scott Young – Deputy Chief, WRFD; Peggy Ose – Interim Chief Operations Officer, RMC; Justin Pluess – Fire Fighter/Paramedic, WRFD; and Aaron Mancl – EMT, WRFD. Not pictured: Dave Kerkman– Chief, WRFD, Andy Metcalf – President/CEO, Riverview Health Foundation.

Earlier this year, I emphasized the importance of building a healthier community and the many forms that can take. I’m proud to acknowledge an effort between two of our city’s important institutions teaming up on a dynamic and creative approach to improve the health and wellness of our residents.

After a year of researching the successful results of community-based health care, the city of Wisconsin Rapids’ Fire Department (WRFD), in partnership with Riverview Hospital Association, launched on May 11 Community Care Paramedicine (CCP). This pilot program delivers an organized system of health care follow-up and preventive care services, to meet the specific needs of two patient groups:

  • Patients identified in the Riverview Hospital or Family Clinic as high risk for re-admittance or ongoing medical care; and
  • Patients who frequently use emergency medical services, 911 and/or the emergency room as a form of primary care.

Through CCP, WRFD and Riverview Hospital will identify eligible patients, who will be assigned a case manager to explain the benefits of the program. If a patient agrees to enroll, a WFRD community health care paramedic will schedule a home visit to review medications, activities, equipment, home safety and additional local services that may be required. CCP is strictly voluntary and is provided at no cost to the patient.

CCP provides a WIN-WIN-WIN for a healthier community, by:

  1. Strengthening our ability to recognize and target early on chronic diseases such as obstructive lung disease, congestive heart failure, diabetes and cancer;
  2. Directing patients to appropriate services to alleviate and prevent long-term diseases; and
  3. Decreasing the cost of, and burden on, community emergency care services.

CCP delivers new and improved preventive health care benefits, thus building upon the WRFD’s decades-long capabilities in preventive safety.

Having been adopted by a handful of cities across the nation, CCP represents the wave of the future in community-based care. Wisconsin Rapids is among the first in Wisconsin to launch the program; after the pilot is evaluated on its metrics and with hopeful success, we will consider continuing the program on a permanent basis. Ultimately, our vision, a healthier Wisconsin Rapids, will be achieved in part through a targeted approach with our most frequent EMS services users. I look forward to sharing an update on this program in the future.

Thank you for reading,

Mayor Zach Vruwink

Community Update Footer