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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