UWSP 8th Street Renewal Planning Session Yields Creative Solutions
University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point students shared imaginative visions of redevelopment in the Wisconsin Rapids community Friday, February 22. That’s when enrollees in natural resource planning and sustainable design programs presented initial proposals on the City’s 8th Street corridor. The three-hour session at the UWSP College of Professional Studies also brought together Wisconsin Rapids staff and elected officials and other local stakeholders to help clarify and resolve issues, and to map solutions.
The genesis for this unique classroom/real-world development project began during autumn of last year, when the City began communicating with Wood County Community Development Extension Educator Nancy Turyk to learn more about ways to work with UWSP students.
Dr. Anna Haines, Director of the Center for Land Use Education at UWSP, subsequently enlisted five teams of students to concentrate on a “first impressions” assessment of Wisconsin Rapids, and to analyze challenges and revitalization opportunities along the City’s 8th Street corridor.
Led by Dr. Haines and Professor Aaron Kadoch, the meeting on Friday was highlighted by colorful graphics prepared by the students to illustrate their initial impressions; followed by the formation of working groups to brainstorm and sketch out concepts to emphasize urban planning, systems and infrastructure, and sustainable development.
The next step will be the further development of the concepts by the students from the natural resource planning class and will ultimately conclude with a formal presentation of final concepts by the students to City officials, possibly in early May.
We are proud to be engaged in this exciting opportunity to bring classroom concepts to life, right here in our very own community. And we thank UWSP faculty, staff and students for immersing themselves so fully into this project.
City Praised For An “Engaged And Responsive Local Government”
Local government engagement and responsiveness was on the upswing in 2018, based upon analysis of citizen request data from our City of Wisconsin Rapids App. Based on the results, our technology partner included Wisconsin Rapids among its top 20 most engaged and most responsive local governments.
The City of Wisconsin Rapids App is a fast and easy way to report and track quality-of-life neighborhood issues through online and mobile devices. Residents can easily submit neighborhood concerns from their Smartphone, the Wisconsin Rapids website or over the phone. These concerns are then sent automatically to the right official, with the right information, to get the job done – while keeping citizens in the loop all the way with clear, understandable information.
The value of the City of Wisconsin App is validated by another finding from our tech partner: Wisconsin Rapids is Number Four in the country in responding to and fixing requests from citizens.
A recent MIT study showed that citizens who use tools such as the City of Wisconsin Rapids App to report community issues felt that they can make an impact, which resulted in their having greater trust in their local government. Thus, the relationship between local residents and their local government is a tie well worth strengthening.
We tip our hats to our residents who keep an eagle eye open for quality-of-life issues in their neighborhoods; and to workers and staff from multiple City departments, who quickly respond to help improve our community, one solution at a time.
Heart of Wisconsin Honors Our Community Leaders
Thursday February 27 provided an opportunity to pay tribute to the accomplishments of individuals and organizations who represent and contribute to our community in substantial ways, as the Heart of Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce held its 71st Annual Meeting & Awards Night. These honorees demonstrate that our area continues to move forward toward becoming an ideal place in which to live, work and play:
Community Spirit – Central Wisconsin Gift of Life, for its passionate promotion of life-saving gift organ and tissue donation, and fundraising support for University of Wisconsin Organ and Tissue Donation, and Restoring Hope Transplant House in Middleton.
Chamber Champion – Dade “Big Pipes” Grode, for donating his musical and vocal talents to a wide variety of Heart of Wisconsin events throughout the year.
Ambassador of the Year – Carrie Nikolai, for going “above and beyond” in support of our local business community, by bringing her reliable presence and lively personality to ribbon-cutting ceremonies, Business After Hours and other Chamber events.
Shining Star Non-Profit of the Year – Wisconsin Rapids Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks Lodge #693, for caring for, and sharing with, community members through innovative service programs, scholarship awards, fundraising events, and initiatives focusing on support for military veterans, youth drug awareness, infant care and patriotic pride.
Entrepreneur of the Year – Crockett Septic LLC, for its growth through strategic acquisitions, superior customer service and innovative adjustments to changing market conditions, and for its contributions to non-profits and charitable organizations.
Innovative Business of the Year – Verso Corporation-Wisconsin Rapids Mill, for a commitment to facility retooling, ongoing business investment, innovations inefficient energy use, and expansion of its market through new product and service development.
Regional Economic Impact of the Year – Alexander Field-South Wood County Airport, for significant regional growth and expansion in its business operations, community service and leadership, and innovative processes to accommodate increased traffic demand.
Business of the Year – Quality Foods Hometown Market, for positive economic impact on the community, business growth, dedication to customer service, community service and innovation to adapt to marketplace change.
In the midst of these acknowledgments, I was surprised and delighted to be honored at the Heart’s Citizen of the Year. While the City of Wisconsin Rapids advanced its profile at regional, state and national levels during the past year, I humbly accept this recognition with a nod to City staff, to elected officials, and to you, our residents. Without multi-faceted community support and engagement, civic progress is impossible.
As evidenced by this year’s impressive roster of Awards Night honorees, we can continue to be grateful for the leadership, innovation and pride that help to drive economic and social success in our community.
Thanks for ready,