Community Update: Fire Department Reaccreditation Affirms Commitment to Community Health, Alexander Field Prepares for Increased Economic Opportunities



Fire Department Re-accreditation Affirms Commitment to Community Health

I was proud to receive news from outgoing Chief David Kerkman that our Wisconsin Rapids Fire Department has reaffirmed its commitment to the health, safety and well being of our community.

WRFD recently earned reaccreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Ambulance Services  for its compliance with national standards of excellence. WRFD was the first ambulance service to be accredited in the State of Wisconsin and is just one of two fire departments in the State of Wisconsin to successfully complete this voluntary review process.


File photo submitted by the Fire Department.

To successfully meet these standards, WRFD had to complete a comprehensive application and on-site review by national experts in emergency medical services (EMS). Nationwide, only some 180 ambulance services in the country qualified for this accreditation.

The Commission on Accreditation of Ambulance Services is a non-profit organization that was established to encourage and promote quality patient care in America’s standard medical transportation system. This mission is realized by establishing standards that address not only the delivery of patient care, but also the ambulance service’s total operation, and its relationship with other agencies, the general public and the medical community.

Each staff member of the WRFD deserves praise for contributing to this recognition. Having accredited EMS capability demonstrates a commitment to excellence that affirms the status of the Wisconsin Rapids area as a desirable community in which to live, work and play.

Alexander Field Prepares for Increased Economic Opportunities

With the emergence of Sand Valley Golf Resort as a major destination and the promise of our City’s revitalization efforts, the South Wood County Airport Commission, of which I am proud to Chair, continues to take steps to enable Alexander Field to meet the needs of an expanding regional, national and even international user base.

A fueling truck was purchased by the airport making it more attractive to pilots to refuel their aircraft in Wisconsin Rapids.

For example, the Commission approved in December of 2016 the purchase of a 3,000-gallon-capacity fueling truck, which was delivered on May 20. This fueling truck enhances our services to more aircraft who cannot access our stationary fueling facilities; improves safety; and offers staff and aircraft operators more landing, taxiing and parking flexibility.

Features include three separate fueling hoses, which allow separate planes to be fueled at the same time, or for two separate tanks on the same plane to be fueled simultaneously. A state-of-the-art water monitor filtration system helps to assure that clean fuel is being delivered to the aircraft.

A view from the back of the truck showing a closer view of the levers and hoses used in the fueling process.

Offering aircraft operators a mobile fueling option upgrades the experience of traveling through our area. Making Alexander Field a more attractive refueling stop for aircraft operators will result in increased fuel sales and profits to further enhance the Airport.

From new equipment, to facility improvement grants from the State of Wisconsin, to active leadership engagement and collaboration, your South Wood County Airport Commission is working to ensure that Alexander Field provides services that go “above and beyond.”

Thanks for reading,

Mayor Zach Vruwink


Community Update: Alexander Field Hosts Events to Promote Aviation Awareness, Youth Lead Community in 4th of July Fireworks Fundraising



Alexander Field Hosts Events to Promote Aviation Awareness

The local Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) chapter invites area residents and aviation buffs to its two annual “Flying Hamburger Socials”, on July 12 and August 9, at our South Wood County Airport-Alexander Field .

The Social travels throughout participating states each week between the months of June to August to promote aviation, increase public awareness of airport facilities and raise funds for the local EAA chapter. This marks the fifth year for “Flying Hamburger Socials” in Wisconsin, and the second year that the event has extended its reach to the states of Michigan and Minnesota.

In addition to potentially seeing an array of small aircraft descend upon Alexander Field, attendees can enjoy a meal that includes hamburgers, fixings, sides, salads, snacks and and drinks. The meal is usually served between 5:00 and 7:00 p.m., and donations are appreciated.

As our community attracts more travelers with attractions such as Sand Valley Golf Resort and special events like the Wisconsin State Water Ski Show Championship and Cranberry Harvest tours we value more and more the importance of having a facility such as Alexander Field right in our own backyard.

Show your appreciation, by being on hand for an evening of fun, food and flying!

Youth Lead Community in 4th of July Fireworks Fundraising

Photo by Jen Clark/Mayor’s Office – This group of students from the four area high schools contacted local groups and municipalities, asking individuals to contribute to help cover the fireworks cost of $18,000. They also raised another $2,000 during the fireworks event this year.

The call went out last month for donations to our annual Wisconsin Rapids Fourth of July fireworks spectacular … and our City responded with flying colors. This year, both residents and visitors from throughout the region were treated to a celebration of our nation’s freedoms, highlighted by an awesome display of pyrotechnics.

This is a tribute to our community as a whole, and to the tireless efforts of the Teen Fireworks CommitteeThis group of students from the four area high schools contacted local groups and municipalities, asking individuals to contribute to help cover the fireworks cost of $18,000. These young people never stopped – they even raised over $2,000 from the crowd on the night of the 4th!

As your Mayor, I am proud to be part of a community that generously gives of itself for a glorious  local tradition.  Many thanks to all those who were ‘on-duty’ working the event as well as those who volunteered their time!

Thanks for reading,

Mayor Zach Vruwink

Community Update: Wisconsin Rapids Earns U.S. Mayors Award for Bike Share Program, Free Access to Wi-Fi Now Available in Downtown Parks



Wisconsin Rapids Earns U.S. Mayors Award for Bike Share Program

Last week when the U.S. Conference of Mayors held their Summer Meeting, I’m pleased to share that we were recognized through the 2017 annual Mayors’ Climate Protection Award Program. Specifically, receiving the Small City-Honorable Mention Award for our River Riders Bike Share program. The award was presented at the Climate Awards Luncheon on June 23, during the Conference of Mayors’ annual gathering in Miami.

Now in its third year, River Riders Bike Share makes more than 20 community-donated bikes available for checkout by riders at Hotel Mead, the Wood County Health Department, South Wood County YMCA-Wisconsin Rapids and West Grand IGA. Cyclists can check out bikes at no cost, for up to 24 hours. A bike can be returned to any of the locations, regardless of where it was first checked out.

Thus far, River Riders Bike Share has been a tremendous success. During the first two summer seasons of 2015 and 2016, more than 500 bike checkouts were recorded.

River Riders Bike Share is empowering people to re-think how they get from point A to point B; how can we change a car-centric rural community into one that promotes bicycling; a healthier, non-polluting mode of transportation. The bike share program was originally  designed with recreation in mind; however, the primary use of bikes by riders is transportation, an unintended benefit of the program. River Rider bikes have been most commonly used for; short grocery shopping trips, job searches, recreational purposes, work release programs, and visitors looking to explore the area!

Just as important, the conception and growth of the program points to the spirit of community and collaboration that makes ours such a unique and inviting area. River Riders was born through a collaborative community effort under the Healthy People Wood County Coalition; Recreate Health. Planning, implementation and evaluation was done by staff from multiple partner organizations, including; Wood County Health Department, Incourage, City of Wisconsin Rapids, civic organizations, and community volunteers.  

River Riders Bike Share is now it’s third year and continues to see increasing numbers of riders utilizing the program. “Our committee is planning for the future; we’re putting together plans to see if it is feasible to bring a more robust system to Wisconsin Rapids; something you would find in a larger city, but catered towards our rural community.” (Sarah Salewski, Wood County Health Department, Healthy People Wood County Recreate Health Coalition).

The award recognition by the U.S. Conference of Mayors heightens the profile of Wisconsin Rapids as a forward-thinking community, whose citizens are actively engaged in promoting a healthy and sustainable environment in which to live, work and play.

This is the 11th year for the Mayors’ Climate Protection Awards, in conjunction with the 2005 Mayors’ Climate Protection Agreement, to which more than 1,000 U.S. mayors have signed. Under the agreement, signatories vow to reduce carbon emissions in their respective cities below 1990 levels, in line with the Kyoto Protocol on climate change. Ten awards are given out, with five for large city winners and five for small city winners.

Free Access to Wi-Fi Now Available in Downtown Parks

A potentially important element in our menu of initiatives designed to spotlight our city’s Riverfront and Downtown districts is now “Live”.  That is when the Wisconsin Rapids City Council approved a 12-month trial agreement with Solarus to provide wireless Internet services at Veterans Memorial and Mead View parks. As a result, residents are now able to access the Internet along the river from the Wood Trust building to the clock tower.

This creative government-business partnership recognizes the key role online communications can play in powering a connection to the heart of the City and driving community inclusiveness. Veterans Memorial and Mead View parks are scenic public spaces just steps away from Downtown-area businesses, and are popular gathering spots for people who come out to take in events such as Lunch by the River and our upcoming Fourth of July fireworks celebration.

During the one-year trial, Solarus Media Shower subscribers who visit the parks can gain free, unlimited access by logging into Wi-Fi with their account email and password. Non-subscribers will be able to access the Internet once a week for a free, 30-minute session, and then choose from a menu of options to purchase more Internet services.

Solarus is providing this Wi-Fi service at no cost to the City. As part of the trial, Solarus & the City will survey individuals who used the service to better understand preferences and feedback. City leaders and Solarus will then determine the size of the audience for this service and any changes that may be required.

In the meantime, we invite you to stay connected with free Wi-Fi in the parks for yourself.

Thanks for reading,

Mayor Zach Vruwink