Community Update: Registration for Parks and Rec. T-ball begins Thursday, March 1, Sand available to help with ice control, Wisconsin Rapids honored for leadership in promoting solar energy

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Registration for Parks & Rec. T-Ball begins Thursday, March 1

Photo by Travis Plowman/WRCM – T-ball registration begins Thursday, March 1, 2018.

The fun will soon begin – thanks to the City of Wisconsin Rapids Parks & Recreation Department. Starting this spring and into early summer, area residents, young and older, can experience an array of arts and athletics opportunities Check out the recreational programs available this spring, here.

Registration has already begun for spring activities except for T-ball, on Thursday, March 1, register online, or come in person to City Hall. For more information, call 715-421-8240.

Let the Parks & Recreation Department get you into the swing of spring!

Video: Sand available on the corners of intersections to help with ice

Wisconsin Rapids honored for leadership in promoting solar energy

I am proud that our City has received national recognition for its leadership in pursuing a cost-efficient future fueled by sustainable energy.

Solsmart achievements by cities around the United States.

SolSmart, a U.S. Department of Energy-funded recognition program, has awarded Wisconsin Rapids its highest “Gold” designation to commemorate our commitment to making it faster, cheaper and easier for homes and businesses to go solar.SolSmart is a national designation program designed to spotlight communities that have taken key steps to reduce solar costs and barriers, and promote the growth of a mature local solar market. More than 180 cities, counties and small towns have achieved SolSmart designation since the program launched in 2016.

“This designation is in recognition of all the hard work and leadership your community has shown to reduce soft costs and barriers to going solar,“ noted Marcia Travis of the International City/County Management Association, a SolSmart partner, in informing Wisconsin Rapids officials of the honor.

Wisconsin Rapids officials worked in conjunction with the Midwest Renewable Energy Association, a SolSmart advisor, to update and better round out our application, which was geared toward reviewing our policies and procedures related to promoting solar energy.

To earn SolSmart Gold designation, the City demonstrated:

  •  A clear procedure for individuals and businesses applying for and receiving a building permit to install a solar power system;
  •  A review of zoning regulations to make sure they are not overly burdensome in regulating solar power systems;
  •  A process for cross-training City inspectors to properly assess installed solar systems; and
  •  An online presence that displays the City’s commitment to solar power , which can be viewed at the City of Wisconsin Rapids website.

Photo by Travis Plowman/WRCM – Solar panels on the roof at McMillan Memorial Library.

We were excited by the opportunity to include in our application submission the installation of McMillan Memorial Library’s 235 kW rooftop solar array – the largest solar power production unit in central Wisconsin, as well as model projects installed at Assumption and Lincoln high schools a few years ago.

Having received “Gold” recognition, Wisconsin Rapids now is eligible for no-cost technical assistance from SolSmart’s team of national and local experts. Such assistance can include: in-person presentations on local or regional solar challenges and opportunities; site visits focusing on specific criteria, categories, or projects; webinars and online catalog resources; access to a network of local government elected officials or staff who have applied best practices in their own communities; workshops; and program-funded and -trained staff who will work in a community or region for engagements lasting for as long as six months.

As we pursue our plans on multiple fronts to promote economic development, our initiatives to foster a more progressive energy economy sends a signal that Wisconsin Rapids is a welcoming and inviting community in which businesses can grow and expand.

Thanks for reading,

Mayor Zach Vruwink

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Community Update: Help guide future City Zoo improvements by sharing your opinion!

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Let us hear from you – complete the Municipal Zoo Master Plan Survey

The Wisconsin Rapids Municipal Zoo remains one of Wisconsin Rapids’ most popular summer attractions. Recognizing the value of this “jewel” to our community, the City recently completed renovation projects to create new parking areas and provide easier, safer access.

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Zoo Character Images- See more here.

When a generous benefactor last year provided $300,000 toward Zoo improvements, it became clear that the Zoo needed a formal master plan to guide future investments and improvements. To that end, the Mayor’s Youth Council is participating in the master plan process and wants to hear your thoughts. 

The Youth Council helped create a brief survey to gather feedback and thoughts from families in the community. Results from the survey will help us shape the final master plan, and prioritize future projects and programming at the Zoo.

I strongly encourage you to take just a few minutes to complete this survey. Make your voice heard!

Thanks for reading,

 

 

Mayor Zach Vruwink

 

 

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Community Update: HR director appointment offers potential for systems modernization, Public involvement meeting for East Grand Avenue reconstruction, Citizen input needed for County Open Spaces Plan Update

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Public involvement meeting for Grand Avenue reconstruction project

On behalf of City leadership, I heartily invite area residents to participate in a public involvement meeting regarding ambitious reconstruction projects along East Grand Avenue. The meeting takes place next Tuesday, February 13, from 5 to 6:30 p.m., at City Hall, 444 West Grand Avenue.  

This informal open house is designed to facilitate dialogue and individual questions and comments about two project sites:

  • East Grand Avenue from the Grand Avenue Bridge to 8th Street South
  • 7th Street South from East Grand Avenue to Oak Street.

City officials, our design consultant and real estate acquisition/appraisal representatives will be on hand for a brief presentation beginning at 5:30 p.m., and to share project information, construction schedule and acquisition/assessment of adjacent real estate. Meeting attendees will also be able to view exhibits of the project design, traffic routing and right-of-way impacts to nearby properties.

The projects are currently in the final design phase, with design completion scheduled for this August. Construction is scheduled for 2019.

I strongly encourage all to attend this meeting. If you cannot attend or would like additional information, feel free to call 715-421-8251, or e-mail jeichsteadt@wirapids.org. 

We look forward to talking with you!

Citizen input needed for County Open Spaces Plan Update

Wood County Parks and Forestry Department is giving you an opportunity to share your input on the future of outdoor recreation opportunities in our community.

The department is working with County Planning and Zoning to update the 2011 Wood County Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Plan.  This comprehensive study of public and private outdoor recreation opportunities in Wood County emphasizes the role the County is expected to play in meeting those demands.

How can you help? By taking a survey, regarding your current use of parks and forestry amenities, and what you might desire in terms of future offerings. This survey, along with future public comment sessions, will help to determine recommendations detailed in the final plan. For a hard copy of the survey, you can call 715-421-8422.

Your contribution to this update can have a real-world impact on our local community. In order to qualify for various Department of Natural Resources outdoor recreation grants, Wood County is required to have an up-to-date plan adopted by the County Board of Supervisors. Projects completed since the 2011 update include:

  • Construction of the Red Sands Beach Pavilion;
  • Completion of the Lake Wazeecha dredge project; and
  • Upgrades to numerous buildings.

Because these projects were identified in the 2011 plan, many of them were grant funded.

So, do your part to help create an enhanced quality of life for fellow residents and visitors alike. Take a few moments to complete the Wood County Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Plan survey!

New HR director appointment offers potential for systems innovations

When the position of Human Resources Director became vacant last summer, we as City leaders took some time to analyze this important role to determine what we really wanted in terms of service to City employees and service to prospective new-hires. After a search and screening process, I had the honor of presenting for approval at the January 16 Common Council meeting Dawn Urban as the new Human Resources Director for the City of Wisconsin Rapids.  Dawn began work on Monday, January 22.

Dawn comes to us with a degree in Business Administration and certification in Human Resources. Dawn previously worked in HR at Marshfield Clinic Information Systems(MCIS), which develops IT software for the healthcare provider. We feel that this background uniquely qualifies Dawn to play an important role in assessing, attracting and retaining employees who bring energy and new ideas to the work of City governance and service delivery.

We have long felt that our Finance and HR functions, in particular, need to be modernized to decrease the amount of time required to complete tasks, reduce potential for errors and offer a more inviting, user friendly hiring process. The timing is right to institute systems and procedures that will result in more efficient use of tax dollars, maximize the valuable time of our administrators, and optimize interdepartmental communications and collaboration, all for the benefit of our citizens.

Thank you for reading.

Mayor Zach Vruwink

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