Community Update: Alexander Field closed, with more renovations and expansion in view; Step up your recycling and contribute to a “green” community



Alexander Field temporary closure, with more renovations and expansion in view

It was gratifying to join airport manager Jeremy Sickler, other governmental officials and area residents this past May in a groundbreaking ceremony that kicked off another round of improvements at Alexander Field- South Wood County Airport. As part of the improvements, Alexander Field-South Wood County Airport experienced a complete closure October 8 with anticipated re-opening around the 28th. During this time, air traffic will be temporarily diverted to surrounding airports.

Acknowledging the role that Alexander Field plays in area economic activity for area business and leisure travelers- a conduit for visitors to Sand Valley Golf Resort, both the State of Wisconsin Biennial Budget and the Federal government are supporting airport enhancements to promote safety and promote greater economic activity. Recently completed projects included partial construction of Parallel Taxiway B (east half of runway 12/30), to promote more efficient aircraft circulation and improve connectivity between hangars and runways; and reconstruction of runway 12/30 to build up its base for heavier aircraft and widen it from 50 to 60 feet.

The next phase involves tripling the size of the apron to increase parking and enhance circulation for more and larger aircraft, and overlaying primary Runway 02/20 (the long north-south runway) postponing very expensive reconstruction until far into the future. Apron expansion.jpg

To complete the enhancements, Parallel Taxiway A next spring will be expanded to the entire length of Runway 02/20, reducing the possibility of accidental aircraft encounters, promotes and improving efficiency and apron-runway connectivity.  Planning for the development of a corporate hangar area is also under consideration.

As business and leisure travelers associated with Sand Valley Golf Resort’s continued expansion, growing potential exists for investment and development in this area. The improvements, funded in large part by State and Federal resources, of Alexander Field-South Wood County Airport supports the vision of making ours a vibrant community in which to live, work and play.

Step up your recycling, and contribute to a “green” community

The updated recycling program introduced in January of 2017 has enabled Wisconsin Rapids residents to conveniently co-mingle all recyclable items inside single-stream recycling carts.  This program has greatly aided the City’s effort to collect recyclables in a safe and efficient manner, and to help ensure a sustainable future for our community.

Single-stream recycling collection has diverted a substantial amount of recyclables from our landfill. In fact, a comparison of the January to September period for 2018 indicates an increase in recycling participation (888.94 tons) over the same period in 2016 (615.99 tons) and 2017 (865.92 tons).

But let’s not rest on our laurels. Single-stream recycling is easy, and I personally encourage all our residents to take full advantage of this opportunity to enhance our city’s efforts to live “green.” For more information, please call 715-421-8218.

Thank you for reading my blog.

Mayor Zach Vruwink



Community Update: Ensure family safety during Fire Prevention Week, October 7-13, United Way offers teachable moment about workers in our community



Ensure family safety during Fire Prevention this week

File photo – Children learn about fire safety in the classroom.

During a fire, young children, teenagers, adults and the elderly can all be at risk, so it is important that every member of the community understand how to stay safe in case of a fire. That is the motivation behind Fire Prevention Week.

This year’s campaign theme is  “Look. Listen. Learn. Be aware. Fire can happen anywhere.” The focus is on three essential steps we all can take to reduce the risk of a fire – and to escape safely in the event of one:

  • LOOK around your home. Identify potential fire hazards, and take care of them.
  • LISTEN for the sound of the smoke alarm.
  • LEARN two ways out of every room, and make sure all doors and windows leading outside open easily and are free of clutter.

The Final Alarm and Roll Call Ceremony will begin at 3:33 p.m., at the Wisconsin State Firefighters Memorial Park on 2nd Street South in Wisconsin Rapids this Saturday, October 13.

In connection with Fire Prevention Week, members of the Wisconsin Rapids Fire Department have been taking their fire safety truck to our local public and parochial schools to give kindergarteners and third-graders lessons in fire safety. Our firefighters should be commended for engaging our young ones to think “safety first” in the event of a fire-related incident.

And, as we think this week about fire safety, join me to honor fallen firefighters who have made the ultimate sacrifice while serving their communities, during the annual Final Alarm and Roll Call Ceremony and the Final Alarm Procession, this Saturday, October 13.

The Final Alarm and Roll Call Ceremony will begin at 3:33 p.m., at the Wisconsin State Firefighters Memorial Park on 2nd Street South in Wisconsin Rapids. A memorial service will be held to commemorate the firefighters who have died in the line of duty in the State of Wisconsin. The names of all Fallen Firefighters listed on the Memorial Wall will be read from the previous 10 years, accompanied by the tolling of the Memorial Bell for each.

At 7 p.m., Fire Department drivers will lead the Final Alarm Procession, a winding tour through the streets of Wisconsin Rapids that ends with a drive-by of the Wisconsin State Firefighters Memorial Park.

Please take time this weekend to pay tribute to those who honor us with their service.

United Way offers teachable moment about workers in our community

Did you know that many hard-working adults in our community are just “getting by” – barely able to cover basic needs, such as housing, childcare, healthcare, transportation and food? It’s a problem known as underemployment, and a number of our area’s residents have to deal with it every day.

To help clarify the magnitude of this issue and how it affects all segments of our community, United Way of South Wood & Adams Counties will present the topic, “Understanding Underemployment,” at McMillan Library, (Tomorrow) Wednesday, October 10, from 1:00 – 3:30 p.m. and Thursday, October, 18 from 2:00 – 3:30pm.

The presentation will highlight statistics from the 2018 ALICE Report.  ALICE stands for “Asset Limited, Income Constrained Employed” – families, neighbors and colleagues who work hard and earn above the federal poverty level, but who struggle to make ends meet.

To attend this presentation, RSVP by calling 715-421-0390, or email

Thank you for reading my blog.

Mayor Zach Vruwink


Community Update: We need you to help beautification efforts gain national recognition, Dispose of unwanted items in a sustainable way: “Choose to Re-Use”, Support local businesses during Chamber of Commerce Month



We need you to help beautification efforts gain national recognition

The Mayor’s Beautification Council has taken its efforts to promote enhanced quality of life to the national level.

With the assistance of Tom Loucks from Wisconsin Rapids Community Media, the Council recently filmed and entered a video into the national “America in Bloom {AIB) program’s, People’s Choice YouTube Video Award competition – and is selected as one of five finalists.

Now it’s up to local residents to determine the winner. Voting will be available right up until the winner is announced on Saturday evening, September 29, during the AIB Symposium & Awards Celebration. So … vote now for Wisconsin Rapids, here.

Being selected as an awards finalist provides national exposure to the Beautification Council’s efforts, while opening the way for invaluable resources that can enhance our local activities. Founded in 2001, America in Bloom envisions communities across the country as welcoming and vibrant places that benefit from colorful plants and trees, and clean environments, through citizens moving and working together.

The program offers a national awards program for communities of all kinds, and provides on-site, one-on-one mentoring and coaching by a team of expert judges. America in Bloom also offers online, on-demand free webinars and an annual educational symposium. More than 240 cities in 41 states have participated.

I am proud to chair the Mayor’s Council on Beautification, and to view firsthand the many ways these volunteers nurture our city’s pride and enhance community attractiveness. The group meets monthly at City Hall and is always looking for new members. If you would like to take part, please call: 715-421-8216.

Dispose of unwanted items in a sustainable way: “Choose to Re-Use”

Photo by Clean Green Action Facebook page.

Residents from all area municipalities are invited this Saturday to help reduce the amount of solid waste in our landfills – while helping a fellow community member in the process.

The South Wood County’s semiannual “Choose to Re-use” event welcomes residents to bring items they want to discard, but that someone else can use. The activity takes place this Saturday, September 15, at the Grand Rapids Town Garage 2811 Two Mile Avenue in Wisconsin Rapids, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“Choose to Re-Use” offers free disposal of items such as appliances, lawn care items, household goods, bicycles, seasonal decorations, knick-knacks, office equipment, books, CDs/DVDs/VHS tapes/records, clothes, tools, electric motors, car batteries and more. A select number of items can be discarded for a modest fee.

For more information or to help with the event, contact Town of Grand Rapids Board Supervisors Patty Lumby at 715 423-2449 or Bill Clendenning at 715 423-2469.

Do your part to reduce landfill clutter, and to help one another.

Support local businesses during Chamber of Commerce Month

State of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has proclaimed September as Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce Month.  Throughout this month, the Heart of Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce is highlighting its vital role as an advocate and champion for local businesses, both large and small. In doing so, “the Heart” contributes to our drive to make the Wisconsin Rapids area a vibrant place in which to live, work and play.

As individual citizens, we too should have a share in the revitalization process, by following one basic principle – both this month and beyond: “Buy Local”. Keeping dollars in the community has a “multiplier” effect that girds our economic base, and bolsters opportunities for growth and development.

To celebrate Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce Month, Heart of Wisconsin is hosting community events and special programs. If you can, join in and show your support.

And, remember: When you “Buy Local,” you invest in making ours a more prosperous community, both now and in the future.

Thank you for reading my blog.

Mayor Zach Vruwink


Community Update: “Building the future” begins with YMCA/BGC groundbreaking Wednesday, Mayor’s Youth Council seeks members to shape community’s future



“Building the future” begins with YMCA/BAGC groundbreaking Wednesday

The John E Alexander South Wood County YMCA and the Boys & Girls Club of the Wisconsin Rapids Area will literally begin “building futures together” this Wednesday, August 29. That’s when they break ground on their new shared facility at the former Rapids Mall at 555 W. Grand Avenue, which begins at 10 a.m.

The ceremony will include a color guard, followed by brief remarks from organization, government and philanthropic leaders. I have the honor of sharing in this occasion as a speaker, and to “pitch in” on the groundbreaking. Light refreshments will be available at the close of the 45-minute event.

The announcement last August that the local South Wood County Y and Boys & Girls Club planned to buy the Rapids Mall and convert it into a community health and fitness center was welcome and exciting news for this community. This 70,000-square-foot facility will include an aquatic center with competitive swimming lanes, lazy river and splash pad; group exercise studios with member lounge areas; childcare area and kids adventure center; teaching kitchen and community garden; community gathering space; indoor walking/jogging track; and a sports field for football and soccer.

In short, this new initiative provides a resource that is accessible and welcoming to children, families and seniors through programs that support their healthy development.

In addition, the realization of this facility will create impact, traffic and fits in with our goals for a more revitalized Downtown area. The project will also improve our overall quality of life- families with children having a world class facility before and after school, improve our physical and social well-being and for local businesses attraction and retention of employees in the Wisconsin Rapids area.

I invite all to join us this Wednesday morning and help us celebrate this exciting milestone.  If you can’t make you can watch the program being streamed LIVE on or through the City’s Wisconsin Rapids Community Media Department website at or cable channels.

Mayor’s Youth Council seeks members to shape community’s future

Photo submitted by the LWM – The League of Wisconsin Municipalities has recognized the Wisconsin Rapids Mayor’s Youth Council as a unique force that engages young people and inspires solutions that enhance a community’s quality of life.

Since forming the Mayor’s Youth Council in 2014, I have been honored to see this initiate blossom as a model for tapping the intelligence and enthusiasm of future leaders. These young people actively contribute to policy, service and recreation initiatives that make our community a better place in which to live, work and play.

Guided by a Youth Council Advisory Team and chaired by me, the Mayor’s Youth Council presents its recommendations and findings to Common Council committees and the public, administers surveys, and produces content for broadcast and online media.

Over a few short years, Mayor’s Youth Council participants have been at the forefront of issues important to our City, such as: fund-raising for projects like the proposed Aquatic Park at Witter Field, youth-led design of the splash pad at Mead Field and the annual 4th of July fireworks show; taking the lead in developing recreational events and proposals such as Kids to Parks Day and the Municipal Zoo Master Plan; and pitching in on beautification programs such as neighborhood cleanups and tree plantings.

Now, the work of the Mayor’s Youth Council has been recognized statewide. During its recent Chief Executives Workshop, the League of Wisconsin Municipalities praised the Youth Council as a unique force that engages young people and inspires quality-of-life solutions.

I encourage high-school students from Wisconsin Rapids, Nekoosa, Port Edwards, Rudolph and Vesper to apply for membership. More information is available here. Get together, and help take ownership of our community’s future!

Please read the City of Wisconsin Rapids news release for more information about the award, here.

Thanks for reading!

Mayor Zach Vruwink


Community Update: Voter education opportunities and early voting enhance ballot access


Voter education opportunities and early voting enhance ballot access

On Tuesday, August 14, the State of Wisconsin will hold its Partisan Primary for governor; other statewide, legislative and county races; and for U.S. senator. Residents of Wood County are fortunate to have multiple opportunities to maximize the value of their precious right to vote.

Learn more about the candidates.

Arrive early to get a good seat for Tuesday, July 31 Voter Forum at WRCM. The event begins at 6:30pm.

Your invited to join us for the Wisconsin Rapids Area League of Women Voters (LWV) Voter Forum for Wood County candidates on Tuesday, July 31.  The forum begins at 6:30 p.m., at the Wisconsin Rapids Community Media (WRCM) studio, 220 3rd Avenue South, located in the Centralia Center or watch the forum via WRCM’s website, WRCM’s Facebook Page, Solarus high-definition cable channel 3, Charter Spectrum cable standard-definition channel 985, and on Roku devices by adding the WRCM’s channel through the web, here.

Candidates invited to participate are: Cindy Joosten and Brad Kremer for Wood County Clerk of Courts; Scott Brehm and Linda Stankey for Wood County Coroner; and Theodore Ashbeck Jr., Shawn Becker, Joel Flewellen and John Hiller for Wood County Sheriff.

You can call in questions for the candidates at 715-423-0441 beginning at 5:30pm on the evening of the forum.

In addition, you can find a wealth of Wisconsin election information, here

Get help registering.

The League of Women Voters invites citizens who need help with voter registration to stop by McMillan Memorial Library on Wednesday, August 1, anytime from 4:00-7:30 p.m. LWV volunteers will set up tables near the library’s first floor staircase, where they will provide assistance and answer questions about the registration process.

Cast your ballot before Election Day.

Through Friday, August 10, eligible residents of Wisconsin Rapids can cast an In-person absentee ballot (also known as early voting) at the City Clerk’s office in City Hall at 444 West Grand Avenue. Voting hours are 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays.

To vote in-person absentee, you must produce an acceptable photo ID. If you are not a registered voter, you must register at the Clerk’s Office before casting your ballot. For more information, call 715-421-8200.

Know where you should go.

If you plan to vote on Election Day, note that Wisconsin Rapids has two polling places. Eligible voters from Wards 1-10, 22, and 23 will vote at the Centralia Center, located at 220 3rd Avenue South. Eligible voters from Wards 11-21, and 24-29 vote at Crossview Church, located at 1000 East Riverview Expressway, Suite 120.

Taking part in selecting people to serve and represent your interests is one of our grandest privileges. Make sure you cast your ballot!

Thank you for reading.

Mayor Zach Vruwink


Community Update: Observe a special addition to our 4th of July celebration Wednesday


Observe a special addition to our 4th of July celebration Wednesday

Click on the photo to see a short video about the new event before the fireworks.

On Wednesday, July 4, families are invited to the shores of the beautiful Wisconsin River in downtown Wisconsin Rapids, for a triple-dose of patriotic pageantry and tribute.

First, the Wisconsin Rapids City Band performs it’s annual Fourth of July Show at 7 p.m. outside the Centralia Center.

Prior to our annual 4th of July Fireworks Show, Wisconsin Rapids invites residents and visitors to gather at 8 p.m. near the light pole in the center of Veterans Memorial Park, 112 2nd Avenue South, for our inaugural “Salute to our Heroes.”

Fireworks in Wisconsin Rapids are set for approximately 9:30 pm on the 4th of July.

This red-white-and-blue event honors the men and women who serve or have served in our nation’s defense. With gratitude, I personally invite all active duty, Guard, Reserve and retired military personnel, and their families, to participate. We encourage past and present military members to come decked out in their uniforms. Attendees to this event will receive a small American Flag while quantities last. The brief program will conclude with the singing of our National Anthem … and a special surprise you won’t want to miss- so keep your eyes to the sky!

Then, after 9:30 p.m., witness the annual Wisconsin Rapids Fireworks Display, one of central Wisconsin’s most dazzling fireworks displays, choreographed to lively music. Members of the Teen Fireworks Committee,  who fundraised all of the money to put on this great event, will kick off the show with the ceremonial lighting of the first shot. Donations are still being accepted here. 

The fireworks show may be viewed along most of the riverbank, except for the launch zone on the western bank of the river, from the foot of the Grand Avenue Bridge to south of the Moravian Church. Food and refreshment vendors will be located during the day on West Grand Avenue on the west side of the river, and south of East Grand Avenue on 2nd Street on the east side of the river. In the event of inclement weather, announcements will be made on WFHR AM 1320.

Please join us in Downtown Wisconsin Rapids for a combined commemoration of local heroes, and of our nation’s independence!

Thank you for reading and have a great and safe 4th of July.

Mayor Zach Vruwink


Community Update: Contribute to a grand tradition – the 4th of July Fireworks show; “Welcome!” to the City will get a much needed upgrade!


Contribute to a grand tradition – the City 4th of July fireworks show

Click on the image above to make a donation for the fireworks.

The City of Wisconsin Rapids annual 4th of July fireworks show has set a standard for holiday celebrations in central Wisconsin. This spectacular event along our Downtown’s riverfront brings together local residents and visitors from far and wide to witness an awesome display of bursting colors, choreographed to a lively music soundtrack.

The show goes on this year … but it comes at a cost. Members of the Mayor’s Youth Council have been busy fundraising, contacting local groups and municipalities, and asking individuals to contribute to this one-of-a-kind exhibition. Still, they need your help to close a $5,000 gap. 

Do your part to support our City’s thrilling tradition. Make your donation today, here.

City embraces updated “Welcome!” to the City


Wisconsin Rapids Common Council members recently voted to communicate our City’s sense of renewal and civic pride – approving the installation of new “Welcome” signs at various entry points to our City:

  • State Highway 13/34 near Bonow Avenue
  • State Highway 54 near Spring Street
  • Ben Hanson Park, near the Wisconsin State Firefighters’ Memorial

20180301_074230_resizedRecognizing the value of making an effective “first impression” on prospective employers, residents, and visitors, the City, the WR Convention & Visitors Bureau and a Leadership Class of the  Heart of Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce collaborated to put this updated signage in place. The project began well over a year ago and the Leadership group will be raising money for the 3rd sign. Donations can be directed to the Heart of Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce- Entrance Signs fund.

With some $100 million in new construction planned or taking place in Wisconsin Rapids, these new signs deliver a crucial message of renewed energy and revitalization,  Wisconsin Rapids a city on the upswing.

Thank you for reading and have a great weekend!

Mayor Zach Vruwink