Community Update: Sand Valley Golf Resort holds “Community Day”, Creates Economic Growth; Splash Pad Groundbreaking Wednesday



Splash Park Groundbreaking Wednesday

I invite community residents to join me tomorrow for a special event that takes  Wisconsin Rapids another step toward restoring family friendly aquatics opportunities to our citizens.

City leaders and representatives from MSA Professional Services, Inc. and the Legacy Foundation of Central Wisconsin will host a groundbreaking ceremony for the new Mead Field splash pad, on Wednesday, May 3, at 12:00 noon, at 311 17th Avenue South. Also on hand will be some of the student leaders from Mead Elementary Charter School Youth who participated in the design process.

Attendees will be able to view display boards depicting the facility’s bright colors, and interactive learning and game-playing features. We anticipate the splash pad being up and running by midsummer.

The Legacy Foundation, based here in Wisconsin Rapids, deserves our deep gratitude for providing a major gift of financing for the splash pad.

Look forward to an enthusiastic turnout by residents tomorrow.

Sand Valley Golf Resort held “Community Day” before today’s opening!

A stunningly beautiful property.  Photo submitted by Sand Valley Golf Resort

In a much anticipated occasion, Sand Valley Golf Resort held a preview of its facility Monday, May 1. This special “Community Day” took place a day before the official opening of the resort’s world-class golf course on May 2.

The event featured managing partner Michael Keiser, who provided a development update for the benefit of community members.


Sand Valley Golf Resort Offers Promise of Area Economic Growth

Photo submitted by Sand Valley Golf Resort : A sunset view.

The potential benefits of the Sand Valley Golf Course for our area are exciting and will no doubt spur economic impact in our region. My recent visit to Bandon Dunes Golf Resort in Bandon, OR., with our Central WI Economic Development delegation has given me and our group an enlightening experience.(I will share more on this visit in a future post!)

As evidenced by the interest the property has already gained from visitors and the news media, the expansion of golfing opportunities will bring an expansion of overnight accommodations at Sand Valley, as well as a significant increase in traffic at our South Wood County Airport. Sand Valley General Manager Glen Murray estimates that the resort will host some 200,000 golfers this year.

That number will only increase: Starting this June, Sand Valley will welcome visitors for preview play on its Mammoth Dunes course, due to open in 2018 (along with a three-par course). This is significant news, because Murray pointed out that when the first golf course opened just for preview play during September of 2016, Alexander Field traffic was three times the volume during September of 2015; Sand Valley welcomed golfers from 10 different nations and from more than 40 states across this country. In all, Murray said, the first course garnered some 9,000 rounds of preview play during 2016.

As last year’s World Water Ski Tournament demonstrated, attractions such as 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.

As he did earlier this year during the Heart of Wisconsin Annual Meeting & Awards, Murray praised the virtues of heartland American hospitality and friendliness. These uniquely central Wisconsin characteristics have already made an impression on national and international visitors, and will be crucial to our area’s ongoing economic growth.

Additional ideas:

  • Sand Valley to employ 300+ in 2017
  • 2016 preview golf welcomed golfers from 10 different countries and over 40 states across USA
  • Alexander Field Airport traffic tripled its previous year’s traffic the month of September in 2016 when 18 holes opened for preview play

Thank you for reading,

Mayor Zach Vruwink



Community Update: Lend Your Talents During National Volunteer Week, Make Yourself “Money Smart” Next Week



Lend Your Talents During National Volunteer Week

National Volunteer Week began Sunday, April 23. It’s the ideal time to share your talent and support to help build a stronger and more vibrant community. You can step forward as an individual, or enlist your family, friends, co-workers or social group.

Volunteer Week is also an opportunity to recognize and thank those individuals who give of themselves throughout the year.

The City of Wisconsin Rapids will team up with Current, our local Young Professionals organization, to host a cleaning of community places on April 29, for the Wisconsin Rapids Spring CleanI look forward to area residents joining us as we help beautify our City’s neighborhoods. Meet us from 11 a.m.- 3 p.m. at Veterans Memorial Park (in front of Jennings).

For the second consecutive year, the United Way of Inner Wisconsin (UWIW) has pulled together a variety of opportunities available throughout the week. These include opportunities with Mead Elementary Charter School, SWEPS Food Pantry, The Family Center and The Neighborhood Table . To find your volunteer match, next week or throughout the year, call 715-421-0390.

Wherever you choose to focus your attention, take action, and help to inspire and create change for the better on behalf of our community: Take part in National Volunteer Week!

Make Yourself “Money Smart”

A major aspect of community health is the individual financial security of each of our community members. Thanks to the United Way of Inner Wisconsin, local residents will have several opportunities next week to gain information and tools that can help them toward their goal of financial independence.

Money Smart Week®  is a public awareness campaign designed to help consumers of all demographics and income levels better manage their personal finances. Through its Financial Stability Coalition, UWIW works with a variety of professionals in the community to help local residents learn skills to become financially independent.

During Money Smart Week, you can take advantage of programs covering a variety of personal finance matters. Presentations include:

  • Monday, April 24 – Rent Smart – McMillan Library at 5 p.m.
  • Tuesday, April 25 – Credit – What Is It And How Do I Build It? – Lincoln High School at 6 p.m.
  • Wednesday, April 26 – Am I Ready For Retirement? – River Cities Bank at 12 Noon and 6 p.m.
  • Thursday April 27 – Becoming Money $mart – Heart of Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce at 12 Noon

Learn how you can become “money smart.” For more information, visit, or call 715-421-0390.

Thanks for reading,

Mayor Zach Vruwink

Community Update: Young Professionals Highlight Local Opportunity & Growth, Volunteer in Wisconsin Rapids Spring Clean



Young Professionals Highlight Local Opportunity, Growth

Current, the dynamic Young Professionals organization in Wisconsin Rapids, will next week continue the tradition it began last year, by inviting our area’s best and brightest to celebrate local aspiration, opportunity and partnership, during Young Professionals Week, from April 22 through 29. This event engages and excites working professionals of our community about the range of opportunities that are possible in our area and how they can play a role in making that potential a reality.

Wisconsin YPWeek, as it is commonly known, is designed to empower the next generation of workers to take ownership in shaping a thriving local community by spotlighting our unique cultural and economic assets through interactive learning and social events.

I join with Current to invite professionals of all ages and career stages to participate in at least one of these local events:

Tuesday, April 25 – Get Current  –5-7 p.m. @ Karen’s Wines & Steins

Submitted Photo – Wisconsin Rapids Current members pose for a photo during YP Week in 2016.

Speakers from the City of Wisconsin Rapids, Renaissance Learning and Verso highlight his quarterly social-business gathering. Hear from a representative the many things their organization has going on.

Thursday, April 27 – “Why did you bet on Wisconsin Rapids?” Panel Discussion – 5:30-8:30p.m. @ Bull’s Eye Country Club

I was honored to moderate last year’s panel discussion with community leaders. We’re equally excited this year to hear the observations of these distinguished panelists:

  • Mary Brown, Glacial Lake Cranberry & Honestly Cranberry
  • Diana Buss, BowWow Meow LLC
  • Zach Coleman, Richard’s Liquors
  • Jason Gruszynski, Daly Drug
  • Brian Slinkman, NextHome Partners & Country Disposal LLC

Friday, April 28 – Volunteering at A Toast to Great Futures (Boys & Girls Club) – Varying times @ Nekoosa Area Community Senior Center

Saturday, April 29 – Spring Clean  – 11 a.m.-3 p.m. @ Meet at Veterans Memorial Park
Supported by Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., YPWeek Wisconsin currently showcases a total of 25 communities focused on the lifestyle and career issues of younger professionals. It is an expanding initiative to excite, retain and grow the state’s talent pool.

This essential spirit of collaboration evidenced by our Downtown Redevelopment and Aquatics Facility projects is reflected in the support YPWeek has received from community partners Bull’s Eye Country Club, Jennings, Karen’s Wines & Steins, and the City of Wisconsin Rapids.

I look forward to seeing you next week, as Current continues to help us to lay a foundation for sustained civic engagement and economic growth.

Join the Wisconsin Rapids Spring Clean

Area residents: The City of Wisconsin Rapids and Current need you. Join us as we help beautify our City’s public spaces and neighborhoods, during the City Spring Clean on Saturday, April 29.

Meet us from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. at Veterans Memorial Park (in front of Jennings).

This is truly a total community event, for all ages. Signups are available for 18 and over, here, and for under 18, here.

You can even nominate areas to be cleaned, by clicking the See Click Fix app, here.  We will compile all nominations and prioritize public areas first, and then private areas. Volunteers will be given their assignments when they arrive for their shift.

See you there!

Thank you for reading,

Mayor Zach Vruwink


Community Update: Anticipation Grows as Sand Valley Golf Resort Nears Opening



Anticipation Grows as Sand Valley Golf Resort Nears Opening

Mayor Zach Vruwink, right and Community Development Director Adam Tegen, middle, tour Sand Valley. Photos by Jesse Austin/WRCM. See more photos here.

A view of one of the fairways on the Sand Valley Course.

I recently had the pleasure of taking in a construction tour of Sand Valley Golf Resort with the City’s Director of Community Development Adam Tegen and the media. Our preview ramped up anticipation for the opening of Sand Valley’s first golf course in just two weeks, on May 2. Mark your calendars for Community Day, May 1st! See more photos here.

Glen Murray, Sand Valley general manager, and construction lead Frank Cauger, led us on a detailed journey into founder Mike Keiser’s vision of bringing to the United States the golf experience one would expect of Scottish seaside links: sand dunes, windy playing conditions, unusual bounces from firm fairways and a variety of strategic playing options. He and Cauger also brought to life in vivid terms the large, elegantly designed clubhouse, lodge, bar and overnight accommodations that are now in the final stages of construction, but will be up and in operation in June.

A few fun facts we picked up along the way:

  • 2016 preview golf welcomed golfers from 10 different countries and over 40 states across USA;
  • Sand Valley is partnering with Aspirus to offer sports massage services to guests;
  • It is expected that 70 percent of the estimated 300 employees will be local residents and,
  • The Sand Valley team “dares” visitors to find essential infrastructure such as power generators – such support is being subtly incorporated into the landscape design to maximize the unique golfing experience.

A second course, Mammoth Dunes, crafted by renowned Scottish designer David Kidd, is already under construction, and will open in 2018. In addition, the Keiser organization already has begun planning for a third, par-three course at the resort, as a “gateway” venue for beginning and casual golfers, also scheduled to open in 2018.

Of course, a major element of the excitement surrounding this 1,700-acre project is the economic benefits it may to bring to our area. Fortunately, with other Keiser-family led golf resort properties in existence, we have the opportunity to learn from any economic growth elements of them. It would be our objective to have economic impact reach the Wisconsin Rapids community which I will address in my next Community Update, next week.

Thanks for reading!

Mayor Zach Vruwink


Community Update: Aquatic Center Designs Revealed, Wisconsin Rapids a Key Community for Medical College of Wisconsin, PBS TV Show Highlights the People and Places of Wisconsin Rapids



Aquatic Center Designs Revealed

The proposed Wisconsin Rapids Aquatic facility slated to be built alongside Witter Field has taken shape. At a presentation last Thursday night, the Mayor’s Youth Council, the project design team and I revealed the extensive state-of-the-art facility designs to the community. The project design lead by MSA Professional Services and Water Technologies Inc., has been working with input from the City and our residents to develop a high-quality, regional-scale destination!

Notable features include: a tot interactive water play area, lazy river, climbing wall, geysers, shallow water zero depth entry area, basketball hoops, water walk, recreational lap swim, two slide variations and concessions.

Slide presentation available, here.

A Lazy River is incorporated into the project. See more examples of amenities by clicking on this photo.

With Witter Field a major asset in our community, the placement of the facility will only enhance and create a cohesive design by being a multi-purpose seasonal use facility. By incorporating many state-of-the-art outdoor elements in the master plan, we are ensuring the center provides for a fun and safe family environment, one that will also enhance tourism efforts in the city and in return will help provide a return on the city’s economic investments.

Not only do we want the site to be an attractive and high-end aquatics park for generations to come and visit, we also want the area area to be used as a multipurpose facility that can be used throughout the year with multiple uses beyond aquatics: all-season reservable shelter for birthday parties, wedding venues, business meetings and in the winter, provide an ice-skating rink and skating loop along with a warming house that will invigorate Wisconsin Rapids thought the entire year.

Achieving a new aquatic facility has been a long process- decades, in fact- however, I am optimistic that community members and donors will rally to make the facility a reality!

Stay in the know by subscribing to our aquatics updates, here.

Wisconsin Rapids a Key Community for Medical College of Wisconsin

Lisa Dodson, M.D., Campus Dean of Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW)-Central Wisconsin recently noted, “The city of Wisconsin Rapids is an important geographic location for the MCW-Central Wisconsin’s region-wide curriculum … to identify future students from the area with an interest in healthcare professions and keep them on a trajectory for future medical college acceptance.”

Our being a focal point for this prestigious institution can play a significant role in our ability to attract and retain high-quality medical professionals. The MCW-Central Wisconsin campus trains primary care physicians, surgeons and psychiatrists who will live and work in the region when they complete their medical education. These future physicians, in turn, can help to ensure the sustainability of our local healthcare system.

Click on the video above to learn more about the campus.

On Wednesday, April 19, MCW-Central Wisconsin will emphasize its focus on Wisconsin Rapids, by hosting a community town hall event at Aspirus Riverview Hospital. Aspiring medical professionals and interested community members are invited to learn more about the MCW’s Wausau campus, its impact on Wisconsin Rapids and opportunities to get involved. The event begins at 5:30 p.m.

This event comes on the heels of last month’s visit to MCW’s Wausau campus by 50 Wisconsin Rapids high school students. During sessions led by MCW-Central Wisconsin physician staff members, students participated in a class lecture, medical student exercises and a hands-on brain investigation with body donor organs. Students were also able to discuss with campus assistant deans the life and work of family practice and how to navigate a path to medical school. Aspirus Riverview Foundation funded the visit.

The connection between our community and MCW-Central Wisconsin reveals a uniquely synergistic relationship. Even now, MCW students experience ongoing learning opportunities in Wisconsin Rapids, serving clinical apprenticeships with local physician faculty members. And MCW-Central Wisconsin works in partnership with the best medical and academic facilities in the region, including Aspirus; Ministry Health Care; Northcentral Technical College; and the Marathon County, Marshfield/Wood County and Stevens Point campuses of the University of Wisconsin.

Let’s do our part to nurture this relationship. For more information about the April 19 event or about MCW-Central Wisconsin, call 715-870-0900 or  

PBS TV Show Highlights the People and Places of Wisconsin Rapids

Click on the video above to watch Around the Corner show about Wisconsin Rapids with John McGivern.

It’s “Lights … Camera … Action!” for Wisconsin Rapids.

Our City is the focus of a personal and in-depth view of our how we live, work and play, on the latest edition of the PBS series, “Around the Corner with John McGivern.”

Wisconsin Rapids gets its “close-up” on Wisconsin Public Television.

Now in its sixth season, “Around the Corner” features Emmy-winning actor John McGivern as he explores the individual lifestyles, personalities and histories of Wisconsin communities.

I heartily invite residents to enjoy this entertaining and informative overview of what makes the Wisconsin Rapids area such a special place. Don’t turn it off early, as you will see a 60-second appearance by your’s truly!

Thanks for reading!

Mayor Zach Vruwink