Community Update: Splash Pad Groundbreaking Brings Us Closer to Summer Fun, Support Local Businesses – beyond small business week, Celebrate Creative Economy Week



Mead Splash Pad Groundbreaking Brings Us Closer to Summer Fun

A groundbreaking ceremony took place on Wednesday, May 3, 2017 for the new Splash Pad Park. Photos by Tom Loucks/WRCM

Wisconsin Rapids took another step toward restoring family-friendly aquatics opportunities to our citizens last Wednesday. That’s when student leaders from Mead Elementary Charter School gathered with City leaders, and design firm MSA and Legacy Foundation representatives to turn up the first spades-full of dirt to break ground on the Mead Field splash pad.

Mayor Zach Vruwink gives high-fives to students from Mead School at the groundbreaking ceremony.

I was honored to attend this occasion with Alderpersons Todd Ferkey, Scott Kellogg and Tom Rayome, Terry Dolan and city staff, each of whom has played a major role in the development of this initiative.

We were joined by Michael Bovee, executive director of Legacy Foundation, which has generously donated $575,000 to finance the project. Bovee expressed the foundation’s objective to promote the health and wellbeing of neighborhoods and local residents.

It was a special treat to have on hand the Mead School students, who supplied splash pad design company Vortex Aquatic Structures with their comments, suggestions and drawings to determine the features, colors & styles they wanted in a splash pad.Spider Splash Park

 We look forward to opening the Mead Field splash pad to the public this summer, possibly as soon as late July, and are pleased that residents and visitors will be able to enjoy this new summer recreational experience free of charge.



  • Video of the groundbreaking event, here.


Support Local Businesses – beyond Small Business Week

Last week’s annual observance of National Small Business Week again recognized the critical contributions of America’s entrepreneurs and small business owners. As the U.S. Small Business Administration points out, more than half of Americans either own or work for a small business, and they create about two out of every three new jobs in the United States each year.

Keep jobs in the Heart of Wisconsin; Buy Local! Image courtesy of Mark’s MediaWorks.

Here in our hometown of Wisconsin Rapids, we directly benefit from the businesses that employ 20 or fewer employees. These businesses help to diversify our economy, across a range of industries. Every day, they’re working to grow our financial base, create jobs and increase our competitiveness.

So, while this year’s recognition of Small Business Week is past, the reasons to shop local and with small business remain. With the recent trend we have experienced in central Wisconsin of national and regional retailers shifting focus and priorities, local small businesses remain steadfast in supporting community causes and consumer preferences.

These local businesses deserve our support!

Celebrate Creative Economy Week

It is my pleasure to be among a number of mayors throughout the State of Wisconsin proclaiming May 13-20 as Creative Economy Week. This celebration of the arts and creativity, and their impact on economic, educational and civic success,

Is hosted by Arts Wisconsin and the League of Wisconsin Municipalities (LWM).

This is an opportunity for us to take an inventory of our local cultural resources, and make linkages and partnerships to engage all our citizens in magnifying the role that the arts play in our community. Research shows that a high concentration of the arts in a community leads to higher civic engagement, more social cohesion, higher child welfare, lower crime and poverty rates.

Just as important, arts and cultural experiences account for a significant number of small businesses that broaden the tax base and attract tourists, as well as create community assets that improve quality-of-life measures valued by businesses and their employees.

This free-standing mural commemorates the historic
Wisconsin Rapids municipal swimming pool and shows the hydroelectric dam and paper mill which still stand on the opposite shore of the Wisconsin River.

In line with this concept of citizen engagement, the theme for this year’s Creative Economy Week is murals. Event sponsors want to show off public art from as many Wisconsin municipalities as possible – including ours: Residents are invited to submit high-resolution photos of our city’s murals with a caption and photo credit. The LWM will publish as many photos as possible on the Municipalities Facebook photo album. Please send those photos to  Check out the The Municipality Magazine.  

Creative Economy Week is also highlighted by the statewide Downtown Open House.  Supported by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, Wisconsin Main Street and Wisconsin Downtown Action Council, Downtown Open House offers community members throughout the state opportunities to see exhibits, performances and other activities, and to see what our state’s downtown areas have to offer.

Investment in the arts and creativity is our state’s – and our city’s – ticket to economic, educational and civic success. Let’s celebrate our creative economy during Creative Economy Week … and every week.  

Thanks for reading,

Mayor Zach Vruwink


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