Common Council appointment marks historic landmark, City Hall Holiday Open House, Citizens Needed to Serve


ImageCommon Council appointment marks historic landmark, City Hall Holiday Open House and citizens needed to serve.

Common Council appointment marks historic landmark

Lee Thao takes the oath of office at the Common Council meeting on Dec. 15, 2015.

Lee Thao takes the oath of office at the Common Council meeting on Dec. 15, 2015.

At its Dec. 15 meeting, the City of Wisconsin Rapids Common Council, Lee Thao took the oath office to fill the District 1 aldermanic seat vacated by Chad Wirl. He will represent District 1 until April 16, 2016, when a special election will be held for the office.

After council debate as to the options and process of filling the vacancy, a motion was made to appoint Lee, who expressed interest in the position, until a special election would be held. With the council split 4-4 on the motion, I am pleased and proud to have cast the tie-breaking, deciding vote in favor of Lee’s appointment. Along with the four Council members who supported him, I think Lee is a most worthy selection. He has long been active in the community and had previously expressed interest in getting more involved in city government. As someone who strongly believes in representative democracy, I feel this landmark appointment- our first Hmong representative on the council- symbolizes our recognition that the City’s interests are best served by embracing a diversity of cultures and perspectives.


Alderperson Chad Wirl shares his thoughts to the public and the Common Council on Nov. 17, 2015 following his resignation.


Video: Alderperson Chad Wirl

After much reflection and consideration, Chad decided to give up the seat, effective November 30. Since his election in 2009, Chad has served our City very well, elevating awareness of District 1 concerns such as neighborhood cleanup and community policing. We will miss his direct contributions to our government, and I personally wish him well in his ongoing endeavors. Chad will be formally recognized at the January City Council meeting.

 City Hall Holiday Open House

Holiday Open House Invite[1]We invite all City residents to join us on December 22, for our annual City Hall Holiday Open House. This festive event will take place from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. in the City Hall Lobby. You’ll be able to visit with alderpersons, commissioners, committee members and City staff; while enjoying refreshments, and live music and decorations by area students. Bring a non-perishable food item to be distributed to a local food pantry. I look forward to seeing you there! For more information, call 715-421-8216.

Citizens needed to serve

During my State of the City address last February, I repeated my ongoing call to local residents to be more engaged in shaping our community’s future. Specifically, I highlighted how citizens can actively participate through their involvement as part of Mayor’s Councils on Beautification, Sustainability and Youth.

Of course, these three initiatives only hint at the many ways that dedicated individuals can play a role in their community. We are always looking for people to apply for and accept appointment to a number of boards, commissions and committees whose deliberations and decisions impact the City to a significant extent.

Just two examples are the Board of Zoning Appeals, which hears matters relating to property variances and appeals; and the Industrial Development Board, whose members review and take action on potential developments in our city business parks. Again, these are just a couple of examples of how you can make a mark, both now and perhaps, for generations to come.

Screen Shot 2015-11-13 at 10.32.45 AMAt our City website, you can find a complete list of boards and commissions that offer opportunities for you to have an influence. Take a look … and get involved!

Learn more about running for an elected position in this video by RCCA Media.

Thank you for reading,

Mayor Zach Vruwink



COMMUNITY UPDATE – Housing Survey, Christmas Tree Walk



Community Update – Housing Survey, Christmas Tree Walk

Area residents invited to complete Housing Survey

In order to identify our community’s current and future housing needs, the City has contracted with Wisconsin-based planning and community development consultant Vierbicher Associates to conduct a housing study and needs assessment. The purpose of this study is to evaluate how our existing housing stock meets current housing demand and what changes are necessary to meet future needs by filling housing gaps and establishing priorities for project funding.

I strongly encourage residents who live, work, and play in the City of Wisconsin Rapids and surrounding communities to please take 10-15 minutes to fill out the survey, which you can access by clicking web link:

Housing SurveyWhile electronic surveys are preferred, paper copies are available at City Hall, McMillan Memorial Library, Aging & Disability Resource Center, River Cities Community Access Media, Heart of Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce, Mid-State Technical College, and the village and town halls of Grand Rapids, Nekoosa, Port Edwards, Rome and Vesper.

Paper copies should be turned in to the City of Wisconsin Rapids, attention of Adam Tegen, Director of Planning and Economic Development at Wisconsin Rapids City Hall, 444 W. Grand Avenue; or in designated drop boxes at any of the locations listed above. For more information, please call 715-421-8225.

 Christmas Tree Walk

Looking for something festive to do this weekend? Celebrate the holiday season with more color and glitter for the Inaugural Christmas Tree Walk at South Wood County Museum, 540 3rd Street S., in Wisconsin Rapids. This year’s festivities take place this Saturday and Sunday, December 5 and 6, from 1:00-5:00 p.m.

Christmas Tree Walk at South Wood County Museum, 540 3rd Street S., in Wisconsin Rapids.


Video: Watch a sneak peak of this weekends event.

Those who attend will be treated to the sight of 16 Christmas trees, lovingly designed and decorated for the season by a variety of individuals and local organizations. You also will enjoy complimentary refreshments, and live entertainment provided by talented vocalists and instrumentalists. This event is sponsored by South Wood County Historical Corporation, Mayor’s Council on Beautification and supported by an Incourage Community Foundation ‘What If’ grant.

Thanks for reading!

Mayor Zach Vrwuink