Community Update: Sand Valley Golf Resort Shares it’s future, Accomplished Businesses & Individuals Honored, National 2-1-1 Day



Sand Valley Golf Resort Highlights Heart of Wisconsin Annual Meeting

Thursday evening’s 2017 Heart of Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce Annual Meeting & Awards provided an exciting overview and preview of developments at Sand Valley Golf Resort, in the Town of Rome.


Photo submitted by Angela Loucks – Glen Murray, Sand Valley general manager, delivers the keynote address on Thursday night.

Keynote speaker Glen Murray, Sand Valley general manager, delivered a detailed, entertaining and personal address on founder Mike Keiser’s mission to bring “golf as it was meant to be” to the United States. For Sand Valley, this means playing amidst acres of tumbling sand dunes one would expect of Scottish seaside links.

After reminding us that the resort’s first world-class golf course opens to the masses in less than three months, on May 2 , Murray thrilled the audience when he announced that a second course, Mammoth Dunes, crafted by renowned Scottish designer David Kidd is already under construction, to open in 2018. He further revealed that the Keiser organization is so optimistic about prospects for success in central Wisconsin, it has begun planning for a third, par three course at the resort, as a “gateway” venue for beginning and casual golfers. With these additional links will come an expansion of overnight accommodations at Sand Valley.

Murray repeatedly extolled the importance of heartland American hospitality and friendliness as a key to ensuring the resort’s success. He pointed out that these virtues had made an impression on the national and international visitors who already have flocked here, long before the course has opened.

In conclusion, he extended an invitation to all to attend a special Community Day on May 1, the day before the course’s opening. Community members will be treated to tours and be able to play the links.

Attractions such as the Sand Valley Golf Resort generate increased out-of-town traffic and extended-stay tourist visits. These, in turn, produce a multiplier-dollar effect for our South Wood County Airport-Alexander Field and local businesses. We look forward to welcoming the many new visitors and staff Sand Valley will host.

Heart of Wisconsin Annual Awards Spotlight Community Diversity and Innovation


From health care to recreation, from community engagement to child enrichment, honorees at Thursday evening’s 2017 Heart of Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce Annual Meeting & Awards offered a glimpse of the innovation and diversity that drives progress in our local community.

Photo submitted by Angie Loucks – The Heart of Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce Annual Meeting & Awards dinner Thursday night.

Heart of Wisconsin award winners for 2017

Business of the Year – Aspirus Riverview

Aspirus Riverview earned this honor because of its dedicated leadership in supporting our community, and for its $25 million dollar investment in a new cardiovascular institute, birthing rooms and emergency rooms at the Aspirus Riverview Hospital-Clinic facility.

Innovative Business – Mid-State Technical College

Mid-State Technical College continues to demonstrate its commitment to growing our economy by investing in equipment and programs that prepare their graduates to be top candidates for area businesses. Mid-state has many new programs in the works and continues to boast a 90% placement in jobs for graduates!

Entrepreneur/Developer – BluPlay Cafe

BluPlay Cafe  was honored for enhancing our community’s quality of life across the age spectrum. Doug King and Paula Cammarata have demonstrated creativity in developing this unique combination of café, children’s play area and community gathering place. It has been a great demonstration of community need and fun place for kids and families- always a common site at the café.

Shining Star – Aqua Skiers

The Aqua Skiers impact on our community is measured by the organization’s longtime work in providing free entertainment, conducting learn-to-ski programs and volunteering for other non-profit causes. These achievements are in addition to hosting the 2016 Wisconsin State/Regional Water Ski Show and World Water Ski Show 2016 tournaments.

Community Spirit – Heather and Tim McKellips/Jigsaw Run and Doris Laskowski/A Smile From Lacey

These awardees were recognized for the passion and leadership they have displayed in helping fellow community members. The McKellips’ organized the Jigsaw Run to raise money for autism support programs in Central Wisconsin; proceeds from the 2016 event were donated to the “All Together Children” playground, which will be our area’s only wheelchair- and walker-accessible playground. Doris Laskowski has given back to the community the love and support shown to her and her family during their daughter Lacey’s battle against leukemia by organizing and directing the annual A Smile From Lacey fundraiser.

Citizen of the Year – Maggie Muleski

The Heart of Wisconsin recognized Maggie’s contributions to promoting the community and the economic impact of those efforts, through her leadership in developing and managing the annual Wisconsin State/Regional Water Ski Show Tournament, the world’s largest such event. In 2016, Maggie elevated her efforts, by working to attract and host the 2016 World Water Ski Show Tournament.

Chamber Champion – Shannon Buss

This new award honors a person or business that goes above and beyond to support the Heart of Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce. Shannon was cited for his years of leadership with the Heart of Wisconsin, and for his ongoing support and promotion of the organization.

We are grateful that these individuals, companies and organizations call our community “home.” We look to them as inspiration for the creativity and pride that make our area more vibrant and prosperous. The water ski tournaments, in particular, demonstrate the power of special events and attractions such as the soon-to-be-opened Sand Lake Golf Resort in the Town of Rome to generate increased out-of-town traffic and extended-stay tourist visits. These, in turn, produce a multiplier-dollar effect for our local businesses and often South Wood County Airport-Alexander Field is their first point of entry.

Check Wisconsin Rapids Community Media website to see the entire Heart of Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce Annual Meeting & Awards event.

National 2-1-1 Day: A Time to Celebrate, Advocate and Volunteer

Photo submitted by Angela Loucks of UWIW – Mayor Zach Vruwink (right) presents the 2017 “2-1-1 Day Proclamation” to Amy Fluno, United Way’s 2-1-1 Program Director, on Monday, February 6, in the Common Council Chambers at City Hall.

Every day of the year, a wide range of people who need essential human services find that help is just a phone call away. By dialing 2-1-1 these individuals can speak to a resource specialist and get all the information they need to address matters such as job training, employment, food pantries, help for an aging parent, addiction prevention programs, affordable housing options and support groups. The service is free, confidential and available 24/7.

At 2-1-1 call centers across the nation this Saturday, people will celebrate this invaluable information and referral resource, during National 2-1-1 Day. Recognizing the importance of this service to our local community, I have officially proclaimed February 11 as 2-1-1 Day in Wisconsin Rapids.

In Wood County, 2-1-1 is a partnership between United Way of Inner Wisconsin and Marshfield Area United Way, and covers 14 counties from Ashland to Juneau. In 2016, the call center answered 3,866 calls. This program is especially helpful to people whose lives have been affected by emergencies such as the loss of a job or health issues.

The top five needs were:

  • Rent Payment Assistance
  • Food Pantry Information
  • Electric Service Payment Assistance
  • Low Income Housing
  • Gas Money

To learn how you can help celebrate this excellent service; advocate for a family member or friend; or, as a government or non-profit agency, have your programs listed in the 2-1-1 database and/or distribute free materials, call 2-1-1 or 877-947-2211, or visit

Thanks for reading,

Mayor Zach Vruwink




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