Community Update: Refurbished Bell Tower Clock a “Timely” Symbol of our History and Future, Capture the Police Experience – Join the Citizens Police Academy



Refurbished Bell Tower Clock a “Timely” Symbol of our History and Future

On behalf of the City of Wisconsin Rapids, I extend a warm invitation for area residents to experience the restoration of a special part of our City’s proud history. 

Tomorrow, Thursday, September 28, the City will host a Rededication Ceremony the refurbished Wisconsin Rapids Memorial Clock and Bell Tower. We will mark the occasion with a reception from 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. at the Triangle Area site across the street from the Bell Tower, with remarks acknowledging involved citizens, vendors and donors at 5:30 p.m.

This large brass mechanism is a clock. In 1892, it was installed in the tower of the Grand Rapids City Hall, which was also home to the T.B. Scott Free Library.

All who share this occasion with us will appreciate that the clock mechanism has undergone a complete renovation, funded by the Mead Witter Foundation. This restoration project enables more operation of the dials and the installation of remote electronic controls to allow repairs during the winter months. The hands of the clock are virtually identical in design to the original hands, but will be easier to read.

This large brass mechanism first was installed in 1892, in the tower of the Grand Rapids City Hall, which was then located on the corner of First Street North and Baker Street. Just before the old building was demolished in 1957, the clock mechanism was saved when longtime business leader Paul Gross, along with some friends, helped to move the clock to the city garage, where it was stored for many years.

During the 1980s, jeweler and historian Paul Gross led a group of volunteers to raise money to restore the Memorial

File Photo – During the 1980’s, a group of civic-minded citizens organized a campaign to build the Memorial Clock and Bell Tower, located on the east bank of the river upstream of the Jackson Street bridge.

Clock, as well as construct the Mead Rapids View Park Bell Tower. Historian Phil Brown joined architect Jerry Feith of Wisconsin Rapids, who drew up the plans, and work began in 1990, with a dedication in 1991 to the early settlers and the Mead families for their commitment to the beautification of local riverbanks and parks.

In 2014, a committee was formed to address restoring the tower and clock to their original condition. After almost two years of work, the exterior and interior of the tower have been extensively reconditioned. Now, on September 28, the Memorial Clock will re-assume its place as a part of this distinctive 55-foot-tall structure.

During the ceremony, the tower and clock will be rededicated in honor of Paul Gross. This is fitting recognition, not only for Paul’s immeasurable guidance and perseverance in jumpstarting and overseeing these projects, but also for his devotion to telling our City’s history in so many ways.

The Mead Rapids View Park Bell Tower is a symbol of where we started and where we’ve been. But the tower also symbolizes the future our citizens visualize as we enter another chapter to revitalize our riverfront district. It is easy to envision this landmark becoming an iconic gathering place for both residents and tourists, while they enjoy our City’s natural beauty and the recreational trail that courses through the park.  

I am proud to see the Memorial Clock and Bell Tower and make an energetic reappearance on our City’s riverfront, and I look forward to seeing all of you next Thursday evening.

Capture the Police Experience – Join the Citizens Police Academy

File photo- A tactical shield is displayed during the 2013 academy.

Experiencing local government – the level that is closest to our residents – is why I offer Mayor’s Councils in areas such as Youth, Beautification and Sustainability. Other City Departments offer ways, as well.

For example, the Wisconsin Rapids Police Department (WRPD) has long committed itself to building positive relationships with the citizens of our community.

That is why the WRPD invites eligible residents to experience life in the shoes of a law enforcement officer, as part of its Citizens Police Academy. The program runs for 10 weeks on consecutive Mondays, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., beginning on October 9.

Selected participants have the opportunity to drive squad cars, fire police-issued weapons, observe a demonstration from the WRPD Special Response Team, learn about sensitive crimes and drug investigations, and more.

City residents 21 years of age or older can obtain an application by going to the City website], or by calling Detective Andy Dewitt at 715-421-6217.

More than 300 participants have graduated from the Citizens Police Academy. Now, you can share in this unique opportunity. Apply today!

Thank you for reading!

Mayor Zach Vruwink