Wisconsin Rapids invests in new business development with Crowdfunding, 8th Street South and Chestnut Street Safety Improvements, Kids Trick-or-Treating Hours in Wisconsin Rapids

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Wisconsin Rapids Supports Wood County Crowdfunding Project for Business Creation and Expansion

As Mayor of Wisconsin Rapids, I am proud to be a member of a recently formed team of Wood County leaders who are supporting Wood County as one of just a few areas in the country – and the only one in Wisconsin – to be selected as a demonstration site for the Rural Crowdfunding Project of The Local Crowd.

Crowdfunding is commonly used in times of tragedy or illness to raise funds but doing so for business growth and development in rural areas like ours is far less common. Crowdfunding empowers entrepreneurs to raise business capital through the Internet and social engagement. With the help of The Local Crowd, Wood County can give ambitious individuals a single platform upon which to showcase and share their brand, resources and plans with potential investors. This approach also enables entrepreneurs to be creative in offering investors more ways to contribute, ranging from financial investments in exchange for equity, to small-scale donations in exchange for a first-run product or other reward.

The Local Crowd model includes locally-based crowdfunding software, consulting and instruction – including webinars, seminars, workshops, retreats, in-person and online classes, and courses for groups and individuals. The Local Crowd taps into community involvement by working directly with local economic development groups – in this case, the North Central Community Action Program (NCCAP).

To qualify for the Rural Crowdfunding Project, NCCAP submitted a detailed proposal in which it committed to:

  • Establishing a virtual incubator at NCCAP offices;
  • Including Wood County leaders as team members;
  • Attending all trainings and provide research assistance;
  • Marketing the program via local Community Media (TV), public radio, print media and social media and;
  • Sharing experiences with local and state governmental bodies.

Our NCCAP team represents a wide swath of Wood County, from north to south. Joining me as team advisors are: Joe Ancel of the Clean Green Action Program; Mary Jo Carson, former Wisconsin Rapids mayor; Jenny Harms, of Incourage; Karen Olson, of the Marshfield Area Chamber of Commerce and Service Corps of Retired Executives; and Ed Wagner, Wood County Board and Marshfield Council member. Carla Lenk, Jobs & Business Development coordinator for NCCAP, serves as team leader and liaison to The Local Crowd.

NCCAP deserves kudos for opening up this opportunity to local people seeking to start or expand their businesses. As Aaron Hagar of Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation has expressed it, “With the help of modern technology, crowdfunding is revolutionizing business finance for both small companies and small investors.”

NCCAP  Newsletter link: here. 

During the past several months, the Wisconsin Rapids area has made tangible forward steps toward our vision of a vibrant and prosperous community: private and public Downtown development projects; Riverfront revitalization grant assistance from the State of Wisconsin; Incourage’s Tribune Building project; and the growing interest of prospective Triangle Area developers, to name a few. The time is ripe for current and aspiring entrepreneurs to share in an exciting era for our community by growing or creating businesses right here. The Rural Crowdfunding Project offers another asset for fulfilling both community and individual aspirations for success.

8th Street South & Chestnut Street Safety Improvements in Place

I have often spoken about the need for a “healthy” community, from the standpoints of finance, sustainability and civic engagement. From the government administration standpoint, this vision extends to protecting our community’s literal health.

14729195_1252032748172107_4302444348616223397_nReflecting this spirit of concern and responsibility for our citizens’ welfare, the Wisconsin Rapids Engineering Department recently completed safety improvements at the intersection of 8th Street South and Chestnut Street, which has been the scene of a significant number of traffic accidents. The City has received both positive and negative responses from area motorists regarding these upgrades, but I feel the improvements will result in a safer driving experience for motorists.

Between 2003 and 2009, 54 crashes occurred at the intersection of 8th Street and Chestnut; most of these crashes resulted from left turns, and nearly 43 percent led to injuries. In 2012, the City Engineering Department received funding from the State of Wisconsin Department of Transportation Highway Safety Improvement Program to help make this intersection safer by reducing left turn crashes.

The new intersection layout provides dedicated left turn lanes that allow drivers to see oncoming traffic more clearly and electronic left turn signals that allow for a protected left turn phase. Once the left turn arrow disappears, motorists can still make a left turn, but must yield to oncoming traffic.

We understand that these changes may take some getting used to. In the long run, however, the safety prospects for residents and visitors will be greatly enhanced.

For more information regarding this safety improvement, residents can call the City Engineering Department at 715-421-8205, or my office at 715-421-8216.

Kids Trick-or-Treating Hours in Wisconsin Rapids

1640053_moonlightparty_layered_landscapeOctober is here, and that means costumes, candy and fun. Make plans for your kids to safely enjoy the season in the Wisconsin Rapids.

Trick-or- treating hours are from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. on Monday, October 31.  Trick-or-treating is a time for fun, but please make sure your kids are safe, by following a few tips:

  • Children should always go out trick or treating accompanied by a responsible adult. For a group of kids, parents should choose two or three adults to go along.
  • Stick to the times set by the community, and stick to subdivisions and areas with a lot of homes so your kids can get in as much trick or treating as possible.
  • Make sure your child carries a flashlight, glow stick or has reflective tape on their costume to make them more visible to cars.
  • Parents with older kids should plan safe routes to know where their kids will be at all times. Make sure children are old enough and responsible enough to go out by themselves, insist that they stay in a group and set a time for their return home. Make sure that they have a cell phone.
  • Make sure your children know to stay in populated areas and stay in well-lighted areas with lots of people around. Explain to them why it can be dangerous for kids not to do this.
  • Remind your children to look both ways before crossing streets.
  • Instruct your children not to eat any treats until they bring them home to be examined by you.
  • Instruct your child to never go into the home of a stranger or get into their car.
  • Motorists should be aware of the increased presence and activity of children, stay alert and drive carefully.
  • May you and your children celebrate Halloween in a safe and fun way!

Thanks for reading,

Mayor Zach Vruwink

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City continues fight against drug abuse and distribution, Day Of Caring, Parks Department Prepares for Winter Season

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Drug Task Force on the Front Line in Stemming Drug Abuse

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services’ (DHS) State Health Officer recently issued a Public Health Advisory that contained alarming information: In 2015 – for the second year in a row – more than 600 people in the State of Wisconsin died from opioid-related causes. These numbers capped a dramatic increase in our state’s opioid-related deaths, which tripled from 2003 to 2013, from 194 to 588. More people in Wisconsin die from drug overdose than from breast cancer, colon cancer, firearms, HIV, influenza, motor vehicle crashes or suicide.

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Unfortunately, the City of Wisconsin Rapids and surrounding communities have not escaped the effects of this health crisis. Achieving measurable progress in combating the crisis requires work in a comprehensive way. In this update, I’d like to share one of the ways the City is acting – in the area of law enforcement.

The City Council and I prioritized the investment in our Police Department’s two dedicated detectives to follow up and develop leads on drug use in Wisconsin Rapids. Recently, the Legacy Foundation and City partnered to hire a third individual to join the detective bureau, through a hybrid patrol/drug detective position that, will perform investigative and treatment support.

13876470_1075472879155647_5309836456410249255_nThese detectives also represent our City as members of the Central Wisconsin Drug Task Force. This multi-county, multi-agency initiative has had a significant impact on drug arrests and the availability of illicit substances.

The Drug Task Force comprises the Wood, Waushara, Waupaca, Portage, Juneau, Marquette, Green Lake and Adams County sheriff’s departments; and the Wisconsin Rapids, Waupaca, Stevens Point, Marshfield, Grand Rapids and Berlin police departments. We are proud to be a participating municipality in this team effort.

Of course, as in so many circumstances involving the overall welfare of the entire community, “it takes a village.” If you have any information about illegal drug activity, you can help by calling the Wisconsin Rapids Police Department at 715-423-4444, or a detective at 715-421-6216.

You can also provide anonymous tips to Wood County Crime Stoppers by using the secure online form, sending a text message or calling 1-877-325-STOP (1-877-325-7867). Text your tip to 274637 and start your message with WCCS. You can remain anonymous and be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000. You may also call the Wisconsin Drug Hotline at 1-800-622-DRUG.

As a City, we are committed to continuing our fight against drug abuse and distribution. Taking a proactive approach to solving this problem is essential to protecting and nurturing the overall health and welfare of citizens in our community. In future updates, I will share other ways we are applying resources and effort to combat this serious health situation.

Share Your Spirit of Charity During Day of Caring

If you care, share … your time and spirit of giving, tomorrow Saturday, October 22. That is when United Way of Inner Wisconsin calls on community members to come together to provide needed services for its annual Day of Caring. Students, families, co-workers, church groups, service organizations and individuals are all welcome to rake a yard or two for our local elderly and disabled neighbors.

Do you need your yard raked?

  • If you are unable to physically rake your yard, and cannot afford to pay for the service, dial 2-1-1 to register.


    day-of-caringWe need groups of volunteers who care about the community to provide needed services to our local elderly and disabled neighbors! We are looking for:

    • STUDENTS:  Get a group of friends together to volunteer and have fun!
    • FAMILIES:  Parents – show your kids the value of volunteering… volunteer together as a family!
    • CO-WORKERS:  If your company is having a United Way campaign, this is a great way to incorporate volunteering!
    • CHURCH GROUPS
    • SERVICE ORGANIZATIONS
    • INDIVIDUALS: We will pair you with other volunteers so you can make new friends!

The day starts at 8:00 a.m. with breakfast at the Grand Rapids Lion’s Club. You will then receive your assignment(s) as part of a group of four or five people per yard. Please provide your own transportation, rakes and gloves. Homeowners provide garbage bags. All volunteers receive a free t-shirt.

Show that you care: To sign up or for more information, call Day of Caring Coordinator Amy Fluno at 715-421-0390, or send an email to amy@uwiw.org.

Parks Department Prepares for Winter Season

“Winter is coming” … but that does not mean our Parks & Recreation Department staff get a break.

As temperatures in the area begin to dip below freezing, Parks and Recreation is working hard to winterize bathrooms and sprinkler systems throughout the city. To avoid the possibility of freezing water, bathrooms in local parks were closed October 14.

Parks & Recreation staff also has a full checklist of projects they have either completed or will complete in coming weeks, including:

  • Blowing out and winterizing all systems and adding antifreeze where necessary;
  • Winterizing and cleaning buildings;
  • Removing water meters;
  • Preparing heating systems for startup; and
  • Removing volleyball and tennis nets.

In addition, leaf pickup will take place October 17-21 and October 31-November 4; final mowing of green areas, within the next two weeks; brush pickup, October 24-28; and skate park shutdown by mid November.

Looking further ahead, parking lots will be graded for low-board hockey installation;

West Side Christmas decoration platforms will be installed and decorations inspected; and low-hanging tree branches on plow routes will be trimmed.

The City of Wisconsin Rapids is most fortunate to have this dedicated group of workers, who keep our public spaces attractive and accessible throughout the year.

Thanks for reading,

Mayor Zach Vruwink

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“Run with the Cops”, Join in Public Power Week Celebration at WWLC, “Dancing for a Cause”

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Step Up and “Run with the Cops” on Behalf of Special Olympics

Tommorrow, the Wisconsin Rapids area can enjoy the fall color and temperatures with a fun recreational opportunity for ‘good’ – join Wisconsin Rapids police officers for the Run with the Cops 5K Run/Walk and Kids’ Run

Local law enforcement officers and Special Olympics Wisconsin host this event, with proceeds helping local athletes with intellectual disabilities train and compete in sports year-round. Activities begin at 5:30 p.m., outside the Centralia Center at 220 Third Avenue South.

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Kids 12 years old and younger can participate in the half-mile run with McGruff the Crime Dog. Then, flashing police vehicle lights will illuminate the 5K adult run/walk route. Visitors also can try on SWAT gear, meet K9 officers and sit behind the wheel of a squad car

Last year, communities raised more than $65,000 for Special Olympics Wisconsin. You can sign up online and donate to a participant of your choice, or collect pledges from family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, businesses and more for your own run/walk. Cash and check donations also are accepted.

This year, I encourage our community’s runners and walkers of all ages and abilities to step up on behalf of this worthy cause.

  • 5:00 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. – On-site registration & packet pick-up
  • 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. – Law Enforcement Vehicle Display, a fun opportunity for kiddos! Try on SWAT gear, tour a police command center, police cars, meet the local K9s and more!
  • 6:30 p.m. – Kid’s Dash with the Cops and Ace the K9!
  • 7:30 p.m. – 5K Run/Walk

Join in Public Power Week Celebration at Water Works & Lighting Commission

screen-shot-2016-10-04-at-10-20-13-amI invite you to join us in celebrating Public Power Week this Thursday, from 3:00-7:00 p.m., at our Wisconsin Rapids Water Works & Lighting  (WWLC) facility at 221 16th Street South. Event highlights include gift certificate drawings, giveaways, bucket truck rides, tours of the water filter plant, and complimentary food and beverages.

Our WWLC celebration is part of an annual national observance to remind customers and stakeholders about the “hometown” advantages that community-owned public power electric utilities offer. WWLC is one of about 2,000 such utilities across the country, which serve 48 million Americans. WWLC holds down household and business costs with its not-for-profit rates, and then puts much of its revenue right back into the community in support of utility infrastructure reinvestment, local programs and services, such as investments in renewable energy projects.

When it comes to service, WWLC has a proven track record of keeping the power on and/or restoring it as soon as possible.

WWLC also contributes to the economic vitality of our community by providing jobs, purchasing locally, and contributing payments to our City coffers.

I hope you’ll take advantage of this opportunity to celebrate and express appreciation for everything that public power does for us.

Put Your Best Foot Forward – Support “Dancing for a Cause”

Our community is fortunate to have a strong base of charitable and service organizations that nurture our culture of compassion and concern. One such organization, Wisconsin Rapids Sunrise Rotary Club, currently is building upon that tradition in a unique fashion, with its “Dancing for a Cause” campaign.

screen-shot-2016-10-05-at-2-38-03-pmThrough next Friday, October 14, you can go out and vote for dancing teams putting on performances online to raise money for community causes, and for Sunrise Rotary programs and services.

The campaign culminates at the “Dancing for a Cause” Dinner/Dance event being held on Friday, October 14, beginning at 5:30 p.m., at the Hotel Mead. Guests can enjoy a cash bar, Little Italy buffet, raffles, dancing to the Downtowners Band (Fond du Lac} and continued voting for the winning dance team. Cost is $50 per person.

Funds raised will go directly to charities selected by the dance teams, with a share of net proceeds to support Rotary projects and new initiatives.

Wisconsin Rapids Sunrise and Noon Rotary Clubs place special emphasis on youth, with funds used for charitable programs within the community, youth exchange programs and similar projects. They are part of a world fellowship of business and professional persons united by the motto, “Service Above Self.”

Tickets for the “Dancing for a Cause” Dinner/Dance are available online, and from any Sunrise Rotary member. Purchase by Friday, October 7th!  Either (or both!) ways, contributing is an excellent way to thank them for their time, talent and energy on behalf of great community causes.

For more information, contact: mary_jo_green@hotmail.com.

Thanks for reading,

Mayor Zach Vruwink

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