Community Update: Dispose of outdated/unwanted medications at Drug Take-Back Event, Healthy Family Fun Night, Dispatch Center telecommunication on front line of keeping citizens safe




Dispose of outdated/unwanted medications at Drug Take-Back Event

Do you have prescription drugs that are outdated, no longer needed and/or could be abused by someone in your home?

Bag up your unneeded medications, and bring them to the Prescription Drug Take-Back Event, this Friday, April 20, at the Wisconsin Rapids Copps, 900 E. Riverview Expressway.

From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., you can dispose of a wide variety of controlled and non-controlled prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, creams, inhalers, liquids, non-aerosol sprays, ointments, patches, pet medications and vials.

For more information, call the Wood County Health Department at 715-421-8923.

And, don’t forget to join thousands of other Wisconsinites next week in the battle against substance abuse, during Dose of Reality Week, April 22-29. Together, as a community, let’s learn how we help to prevent opioid, narcotic, and prescription painkiller abuse and addiction.

Healthy Family Fun Night

Recognizing and encouraging our local efforts to improve overall community health and well-being is very important for our community to prosper.  Please join the Healthy People Wood County, the Boys and Girls Club of Wisconsin Rapids, and UW-Stevens Point who are hosting a community “Healthy Family Night” Thursday, April 19 from 5-6:30pm held at the former Pitsch Elementary School site.

There is no cost to attend the event and a free meal is provided to families who attend the event along with fun activities and a raffle to win a prize!

The night will include activities such as:

  • Family Fun Boot Camp
  • Mushroom Tag
  • Family Fun Yoga
  • Healthy Family Dinners on a Budget
  • How to Read a Nutrition Label

In addition to offering a fun night of programming, the group is looking for input through a short survey questions

Please help spread the word about this  event to parents, organizational staff, and other stakeholders, it would be much appreciated.   For more information visit their Facebook Event Page.

Dispatch Center telecommunication on front line of keeping citizens safe

Photo submitted – Wood County Dispatch Center workers take calls.

This past week has been highlighted by the observance of National Public Safety Telecommunications Week. The City of Wisconsin Rapids recognizes all the highly skilled professionals who provide life-saving assistance to citizens and emergency responders 24/7, and throughout the year.

Our law enforcement and other emergency dispatchers work behind the scenes to help police, firefighters and medical professionals coordinate timely responses to an array of urgent – and sometimes, life-threatening  – situations. Employing advanced training and cutting-edge technologies, these dedicated individuals help to alleviate injuries, minimize property damage and save lives.

Since last August, the Wood County Dispatch Center has operated out of renovated facilities on the second floor of the County Courthouse here in Wisconsin Rapids. Twenty employees rotate on two-hour shifts across six terminals, taking calls from all over Wood County. Calls from residents of Wisconsin Rapids total some 25,000 per year – a number that indicates the crucial role safety telecommunicators play in our daily lives.

Dispatch Center Supervisor Lori Heideman invites the public to come in to see the new, upgraded facility. For more information about how Wood County Dispatch works for you, contact Lori at 715-421-8668.

Thanks for reading!

Mayor Zach Vruwink



Community Update: Observe “Work Zone Awareness” as construction season proceeds, Beautify your neighborhood through the Community Tree Sale, Arbor Day is near – plant a tree, leave a legacy



Observe “Work Zone Awareness” as construction season proceeds

Photo by Travis Plowman/WRCM – When driving locally or statewide, drivers are asked to stay alert in work areas.

Will Spring arrive so we can transition our Public Works activities?! Of course it will, but when?!

April 9 to 13 has been designated Work Zone Awareness Week in Wisconsin. This event is designed to prevent traffic crashes and injuries in construction and maintenance areas along Wisconsin’s roadways.

Whether driving locally or statewide, drivers are asked to stay alert in work areas.  As the spring thaw begins, our City’s Public Works department are out filling potholes, removing sand from city roads, picking up brush and more, so please slow down in the work areas to keep our workers safe.

The week long event includes awarenesses of local municipal projects, utility work and emergency response situations, as well as major highway construction and rolling maintenance operations.  

How can you help?

  • Be especially cautious while driving in areas where workers are present;
  • Eliminate distractions such as the temptation to grab your phone;
  • Obey posted speed limits; and
  • Be courteous and patient.

More tips and information are available here.

Whether we’re working, walking or driving in a work zone, everyone wants to make it home safe at night. Let’s work together to be safe!

Beautify your neighborhood through the Community Tree Sale

Spring is officially here despite the scene outside portraying a wintery look; and the Mayor’s Council on Beautification’s Annual Community Tree Sale is under way.

Through Monday, May 7, you can place an order for your property … or, you can generously donate a tree to spruce up city property. You can also order in honor of or remembrance of a special loved one – memorial plaques are available at additional cost. Money from the sale helps to fund more beautification projects for the city.

You can order from among four species of three- to ten-foot bare root trees for $65 apiece:

  • Autumn Blaze Maple – Rapid growth in an upright manner, drought tolerance and orange-red fall color; grows to 50’-60’x40’.
  • Donald Wyman Crabapple Upright in youth and rounds into maturity, with glossy green foliage and white flowers that give way to small, red fruit; 20’x20’.
  • Profusion Crabapple Upright, spreading crabapple features abundant, purple-red flowers with pink centers; purple foliage fades to bronze-green; 18’-24’x25’.
  • Whitespire Birch Displays chalk-white bark and a hardy nature that is tolerant of most soil conditions and considered pest resistant; grows to 30’-40’x20’.

Pick-up takes place at the City Garage in mid May.

For more information, or to place an order, call Sue Winch at 715-213-1747 or e-mail

Arbor Day is near – plant a tree, leave a legacy

City file photo- Celebrate Arbor Day by planting a tree.

It was in 1872, a Nebraska newspaper editor and, later, Secretary of Agriculture J. Sterling Morton suggested setting aside a special day for tree planting. That idea is now more important than ever. In addition to adding value to your home, trees regulate the temperature of your neighborhood, and provide food for wildlife.

Arbor Day takes place this year on Friday, April 27. Here are a few suggestions for commemorating the day:

  • Plant a tree;
  • Choose a public park or downtown area to clean up;
  • Hold an Arbor Day block party; and
  • Organize a Big Tree or Oldest Tree search within your community.

You can find other ideas by checking the Arbor Day Foundation website.

Together, let’s work to make our community cleaner and greener. Plant a tree, and watch it grow!

Thank you for reading.

Mayor Zach Vruwink


Community Update: Thank you; Support your community – be a volunteer; Opportunity Zone designation offers investment potential



Thank you!

Despite a historic snowfall strongly impacting voter turnout, a core number of voters were undeterred in exercising their right to vote Tuesday. I am deeply grateful to be able to continue serving you- the residents for another term! Our work continues in supporting a pro-business environment to promote new investments in business and job growth, to improve neighborhoods, and to bring about world-class community facilities. I look forward to working with residents, Staff and the City Council to ‘make it happen’.

Support your community – be a volunteer

One of the rewards of being Mayor of Wisconsin Rapids is the opportunity to see firsthand the active engagement of our residents in activities and initiatives designed to make our city a better place in which to live, work and play. “Right now” is always the ideal time to share your talent and support as a volunteer.

If you’re looking to volunteer check out the current opportunities, here.

To find your volunteer match, call 715-421-0390 or search, here.

Volunteering is great way to become engaged in our community and help others in need.

In recognition of volunteers, I will be attending the Volunteer Recognition Breakfast at the Hotel Mead on Tuesday, April, 17.  If you would like to attend please register by April 10, 2018, here, or call 715-421-0390.

In addition, opportunities abound for civic-minded individuals as part of a Mayor’s Council. Members of he Mayor’s Beautification Council, for example, currently are putting together working with City officials on the Streetscape proposal incorporated into the East Grand Avenue reconstruction plan; and planning for the summer hanging basket program.

Also, Youth Council members have solicited community input contributing to the Municipal Zoo Master Plan and maintaining their fundraising efforts for the Regional Aquatic Center at Witter Field.

Again, the time is always right help build a stronger and more vibrant community. Step forward as an individual, or enlist your family, friends, co-workers or social group. However you choose to take action, you inspire and create change for the better.

Opportunity Zone approval offers investor potential for City


A portion of the area designated (River-west; W. Grand Ave- south)

Thanks to Governor Walker and State of Wisconsin economic development officials, the City of Wisconsin Rapids has an enhanced opportunity to secure redevelopment investments.

After a thorough review process, the State on March 21st, selected a low-income census tract in the Wisconsin Rapids area to be designated as an “Opportunity Zone.” The local tract was included in a list of areas statewide that the Governor sent to U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

This new economic development initiative was included in the federal Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2017 to encourage economic growth in low-income census tracts across the country. The Opportunity Zones program gives investors the chance to reduce their capital gains tax when they invest in distressed parts of the country.

Once approved, the Opportunity Zone designation will remain in place for 10 years, if necessary.

The Department of Treasury must complete certification of Opportunity Zones within 30 days of receipt of a nomination from a governor. Thus, implementation of the program could begin as early as the fourth quarter of 2018 or the first quarter of 2019.

We express gratitude to State officials for working with us to designate a qualifying area of Wisconsin Rapids for this exciting investment opportunity. Special recognition also goes to U.S. Representative Ron Kind, who co-sponsored the Opportunity Zone concept in Congress.

We continue to pursue every available investment tool available to grow our economy and create jobs for our residents.

Thank you for reading.

Mayor Zach Vruwink


Community Update: Youth Council unveils Municipal Zoo Master Plan, survey results, City hosting open house for Zoning Rewrite, County Drug Task Force invites you to “A Path Towards Progress” 



Youth Council unveils Municipal Zoo Master Plan, survey results

Community Development Specialist Madelin Petz shares information along with the Mayor’s Youth Council on the Wisconsin Rapids Municipal Zoo master plan during a Parks and Recreation meeting on March 14.

When a generous benefactor last year provided $300,000 toward improvements to the Wisconsin Rapids Municipal Zoo, members of the Mayor’s Youth Council, led by Community Development Specialist Madelin Petz, put their energy into helping to develop a formal master plan process to guide future investments and improvements.

To help shape that process, they wanted to hear the thoughts of families in the community to prioritize future projects and programming at the Zoo. So, last month, the Youth Council helped create a brief survey to gather feedback and thoughts from local residents. With survey results in hand, Madelin and members of the Youth Council at the March 14 meeting of the Parks & Recreation Commission.

I am pleased to say that the community responded in grand fashion: In just 3 weeks, the survey yielded 638 responses, with 68 percent of respondents saying that they had visited the Zoo some time during 2017. Respondents also offered their ideas for improvements in animal exhibits, play/exhibit features and programmed activities. This input was invaluable, as was evident from the Master Plan elements the Youth Council presented to Commission members.

Many thanks to Madeline and the Mayor’s Youth Council for their ongoing efforts to create and enact an enhanced and advanced vision for a true community treasure. And thank you, our citizens, for making your voices heard!

City hosting open house for Zoning Rewrite Monday, March 19th

Click on the photo above to learn more about the zoning code project.

The City of Wisconsin Rapids invites residents, business owners and other interested persons to learn more about the new proposed zoning code and potential amendments to the City’s comprehensive plan, during an open house on Monday, March 19.

People can drop in at the All Purpose Room of McMillan Memorial Library, 490 E. Grand Avenue, anytime from 3 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

The Planning Commission will use the input received at the open house to prepare a final draft. A public hearing will likely be scheduled in April or May to accept formal input on the final drafts.

When completed, the new zoning code will be integrated into other land-use regulations as outlined in the City’s comprehensive plan and be internally consistent, with no overlapping or contradictory provisions. The comprehensive plan will provide a 20-year vision and rational basis for local land use and economic development decisions.

You can find the proposed zoning code here. For more information, contact Adam Tegen, Director of Community Development, at 715-421-8225.

We look forward to seeing you!

County Drug Task Force invites you to “A Path Towards Progress”

The Wood County Drug Task Force invites all concerned residents and their young ones to attend “A Path Towards Progress: What’s been happening in our community to address the drug epidemic?”. This special program takes place on Wednesday, March 21 at McMillan Memorial Library, 490 W. Grand Avenue, in Wisconsin Rapids.

Law enforcement officials will be on hand to discuss and answer questions about local drug trends; efforts to support individuals and families affected by substance abuse; and community resources available for local residents who need help.  

The event includes a free meal and childcare.

You can register, here. For more information, contact Ashley at 715-421-8923

Thank you for reading.

Mayor Zach Vruwink


Community Update: Exercise your right to vote this spring, Community survey results in, Nominate a volunteer!



Exercise your right to vote this spring

Beginning Monday, March 12, 2018  you have the opportunity to help select your governmental leaders by exercising your right to vote in “Early Voting” at City Hall, which last until March 30, 2018.  Eligible residents can cast their ballots in person at City Hall, Monday through Friday, between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.  You can also wait until election day on April 3, 2018 to vote too.

Take advantage of this uniquely American opportunity to make your voice heard. Exercise your precious right to choose your elected representatives this spring!

City of Wisconsin Rapids:

Elections for Mayor, Clerk, City Attorney, and Alderpersons from even-numbered wards are held in April. School District, County and nominees for State offices also are elected.

If you’re interested in learning more about the City candidates running in the spring election you can watch a forum scheduled for March 14 at 6:30 pm at the Community Theater located in the Centralia Center.  The forum is also broadcasted ‘LIVE’ on  Wisconsin Rapids Community Media’s (WRCM) website at’s Facebook Page, Solarus Cable Ch. 3 or Charter Spectrum Ch. 985.  You can also engage in the event by calling in a question for the candidates to answer at 715-423-0443 during the forum.

LWVWR School Board candidate forum Wednesday, March 14th at 6:00pm  – Community Theater

LWVWR County Board candidate forum Tuesday, March 13th at 6:30pm – Wisconsin Rapids Community Media studio

Absentee Ballots:

Voters who are confined to home by illness or age, or who cannot get to the polls on Election Day may obtain absentee ballots at the City Clerk’s office. Absentee ballots must be applied for in writing, and can be cast only at the clerk’s office.

City of Wisconsin Rapids voting sites are located at:

  1. Wards 1-10, 22 and 23 – Centralia Center – 220 3rd Avenue South
  2. Wards 11-21 and 24 – Crossview Church – 1000 East Riverview Expressway – Suite 120

Polling places will be open from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. To locate your ward, contact the City Clerk’s office at 715-421-8200, or visit and click the “Find My Polling Place” tab.

Registration Required:

To register, you must have a Wisconsin driver’s license or a photo ID with your current address. Residents may register at the City Clerk’s office in City Hall at 444 W. Grand Avenue, any time, or at the polls on Election Day. Eligibility requirements for voter registration and additional voter information are available here.

Community survey results to be shared!

With your help, nearly 4,000 residents took part in Incourage Community Survey.  The survey results give us an outlook on what’s on community members’ minds, their desires.   Next week, Incourage will be hosting a public event to learn the results of the survey and where residents see challenges and opportunities. Please join in to be a part of planning a path forward for our community on Tuesday, March 13, 6pm at the Wisconsin Rapids Performing Arts Center.

If you have any questions please contact Incourage at 715-423-3863.

Nominate a volunteer!

Do you know a volunteer who goes above and beyond the call of duty?  Nominate them!  During the United Way’s Volunteer Breakfast on April 17, 2018 volunteers who have been nominated will be honored.  This is a great opportunity to spend quality time with volunteers, let them know how much you appreciate them and educate the community.

But the deadline is FRIDAY, March 9, at 4:00 pm!  Nominations either need to be mailed – and postmarked – by March 9th or submitted electronically by March 9th at 4:00 pm.

Nominate a volunteer, here.

Visit an online database of volunteer opportunities at!

Thank you for reading.

Mayor Zach Vruwink


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



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


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



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.

zoo character images

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