Community Update: City Vehicles Enhance Efficiency, Making a “Splash” at Mead, Mayors Unite on Healthcare

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 Making a “Splash” at Mead Elementary

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Photo by City of Wisconsin Rapids Multimedia Coordinator Tom Loucks -while sharing a concept of a splash pad to all Mead School students on Tuesday, February 14.

Valentines Day was extra special for students and myself during an assembly at Mead School. I witnessed the smiles and heard the excitement when I presented the news, their neighborhood is going to be the first aquatics site open this summer. 

This event will be followed by several presentations the City will be making in the weeks to come.

Our next meeting on aquatics will be working with the Constitutional Convention Group from Mead Elementary Charter School at City Hall on Monday, February 20.   During this meeting, 24 student representatives from will be able to express their planning and design ideas – an opportunity that will be reflected in tangible community assets they can look upon with pride for years to come.

The City is currently proposing an over 3,000-square-feet splash pad at Mead Field, tentatively proposed to be located just south of the old Mead Pool location. We expect to have this facility constructed and in operation by this summer. Splash or spray pad design can consist of nearly limitless combinations and themes. By definition, they are an aquatic play attraction that has no standing water and serve all ages and abilities.

We also plan for splash play features in the zero-depth entry of the proposed Witter Field aquatics facility, east of the ball diamond where the existing old running track lies. A decorative fountain/splash area would be located outside the aquatics facility fence for aesthetics and possible after-hours use.

Depending upon weather-related factors, construction costs and fundraising progress, the Witter Field aquatics park facility would be completed by either mid-summer of 2018 or the spring of 2019.

City Vehicles Enhance Timely and Efficient Removal of Snow and Ice

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Photo by City of Wisconsin Rapids Multimedia Specialist Travis Plowman – A panoramic view of the new fleet inside the City Garage.

Each winter (and, sometimes, late autumn and early spring!), City of Wisconsin Rapids Street Department crews face the challenge of keeping our communities safe by removing snow and ice in a timely manner. This year, our dedicated Street team members have replaced aging plow and salt-spreading trucks with new vehicles to help them do their jobs more efficiently for the benefit of drivers and pedestrians.

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Photo by City of Wisconsin Rapids Multimedia Specialist Travis Plowman – A new one-ton truck used to plow snow in alleys and parking lots in the city.

Replacements in the City’s fleet of trucks include:

  • Two tandem-axle trucks to facilitate the spreading of salt and sand/salt. These trucks can hold four cubic yards more salt than the older vehicles, which enable drivers to cover more roads and stay on the job longer. In addition, by purchasing these two tandem-axle vehicles, the City was able to reduce its fleet, replacing two single-axle trucks purchased in 1996 and one tandem axle vehicle purchased in 2000, as well.
  • Two one-ton dump trucks to handle plowing in alleys and parking lots. They replace vehicles purchased in 1999 and 2001. The new trucks have stainless steel bodies, which will last longer and not need the same degree of periodic maintenance that the older trucks required.

With these new vehicles come new procedures to further enhance the quality of snow and ice removal. Beginning next fall, Street Department crews will start “pre-wetting” –spraying the de-icing salt with a solution of liquid chemical before spreading on the roadway. Wet salt clings to the road instead of bouncing off or being swept off by traffic, which saves money and minimizes potential environmental problems. Also, pre-wetting moisture dissolves the salt, thereby releasing heat and facilitating the melting process.

These investments in newer, more-efficient, lower-maintenance vehicles mean that Wisconsin Rapids residents and other travelers can be assured that municipal services are on steady footing.

Mayors Unite for National Healthcare Day of Action

Concerned about the health for all of our residents, I am proud to lend my voice to supporting the National Mayors Healthcare Day of Action, on Wednesday, February 22.

The serious impact of losing health care coverage of residents in our city and millions of U.S. citizens – including more than 200,000 Wisconsinites from the catastrophic costs of illness- would have devastating affects on our economy.

Affordable Health Care (ACA) provisions that have received bipartisan support include

  • Insuring children up to the age of 26;
  • Eliminating lifetime and annual limits;
  • Assuring eligibility for insurance coverage, even with pre-existing conditions;
  • Guaranteeing coverage for pregnancy and breast cancer screenings; and
  • Providing coverage for preventive services at no additional cost.

ACA provisions also enable increased benefits for mental health and substance use disorders.

The economic impacts of ACA repeal on the State of Wisconsin are real, and substantial. Wisconsin’s opposition to the law is projected to cost $678.6 million in tax dollars through the 2017 fiscal year. In addition, repeal of the ACA could again expose our taxpayers to the burden of essentially footing the bill for unpaid emergency room visits.

I stand shoulder to shoulder with my fellow U.S. mayors in advocating that our state and national leaders take a measured and responsible approach to health care reform.

Thank you for reading,

Mayor Zach Vruwink

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