Community Update: Alexander Field breaks ground on latest improvements, City begins upgrade of West Side Lift Station/River Crossing



Alexander Field breaks ground on latest improvements May 10

Photo by Tom Loucks/WRCM – Alexander Field’s open house is set for Thursday, May 10, 2018.

The role that Alexander Field-South Wood County Airport can play in helping to spur economic growth continues to attract attention at both the State and Federal levels.

A demonstration of that recognition was celebrated yesterday, May 10th. Along with airport management and other governmental officials, residents attended a groundbreaking ceremony that formally kicks off the latest round of improvements to promote safety and greater economic activity at Alexander Field-South Wood County Airport. View the groundbreaking here.

With the support of nearly $4 million from the 2017-2019 State of Wisconsin Biennial Budget, upcoming improvements include: apron expansion and reconstruction to increase aircraft parking capacity and safety; parallel taxiways to promote safer access to and from active runways, while reducing congestion; runway lighting and surface upgrades; and planning for development of a future corporate hangar area.

In addition, the Federal government has weighed in with $5.65 million in funding for the fall 2017 Taxiway B stormwater mitigation project; the widening and reconstruction of Runway 12/30 this spring; and the construction of Runway A during the spring of 2019.

As Sand Valley Golf Resort continues to expand, people from around the world are coming to central Wisconsin, and can see the potential our area offers for investment and development. The upgrading of Alexander Field-South Wood County Airport offers additional incentive for visitors to invest in our workforce and the area.

The timing of the May 10 airport improvement groundbreaking ceremony perfectly links to another event that ties together the assets that make our area a prime locale for opportunity and growth. That very morning, I was honored to kick off the Central Wisconsin Economic Development Summit at Hotel Mead. Hosted by the City and Regional Economic Growth Initiative (REGI), supported by Incourage and MSTC, the summit featured discussion panels on workforce development, central place innovation and regional opportunities.

Investment is happening all around us and it is certainly securing our economic future!

City begins upgrade of West Side Lift Station/River Crossing

As the City of Wisconsin Rapids continues its march toward revitalization, we recognize the essential role that modern and sustainable infrastructure plays as a foundation of economic growth. That is why I, along with other municipal officials, eagerly anticipate construction on the new West Side Lift Station and the Wisconsin River Crossing force main, which began early this month. These upgrades will allow for the continued reliable transport and processing of wastewater, while protecting the environment.

Project update here.

Originally constructed as the City’s first wastewater treatment facility in 1936 and converted into a lift station in 1971, the lift station, at 1911 Gaynor Avenue, serves the wastewater needs of the entire west side of the City. The facility pumps sewage to the East Side located Wastewater Plant and processes more than 1.5 million gallons of wastewater per day.

Key upgrades will include: four pumps to provide redundancy in the event of a pump failure; new backup power generation; and five times more wet-well storage capacity to prevent backups should a failure occur. Just as now, the upgraded facility will pump wastewater at higher elevation, thus avoiding the excessive excavation depths and high sewer construction costs required by a traditional gravity conveyance.

The Wisconsin River Crossing force main carries water, sewage and other materials. This improvement places the main under the riverbed, which eliminates the need to dig trenches. This will avoid costlier excavation equipment and trench-shoring techniques.

The new overall infrastructure will result in life expectancies of 80-100 years for the river crossing force main, 50-80 years for the lift station structure and 20-40 years for lift station equipment. This ensures safe and reliable transport and processing of wastewater for generations to come.

The City received funding for this reconstruction project through a Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Clean Water Fund Loan, which includes $700,000 in principal forgiveness. City officials anticipated and included this project and its costs in the City’s 2016 wastewater rate study, identifying and spreading out the impacts on wastewater user rates. The entire project cost is $7.7 million! 

We are proud to see the beginning of these important projects, and look forward to their completion. For ongoing updates regarding these projects, we encourage citizens to visit, or call Wastewater Superintendent Ryan Giefer at 715-252-5123.

Thank you for reading,

Mayor Zach Vruwink



Community Update: Alexander Field Improvements Begin, Adult Volunteers Needed to Walk Kids to School, Join us for the Splash Pad Dedication Friday, Sept. 1



Join us for the Splash Pad Dedication Friday, Sept. 1


The Splash Pad is substantially complete and ready for late-Summer recreation. Tomorrow, we will formally dedicate the project with the Legacy Foundation of Central Wisconsin which funded $575,000 of the project. Officially, the Grand Opening will be held at the beginning of summer 2018!

Alexander Field Improvements are Underway!

This past Monday, August 28, Alexander Field/South Wood County Airport began to undergo a redevelopment of infrastructure, designed to improve the safety and overall experience of users flying in and out of the facility.  The renovations being undertaken reflect the increased importance of the airport to the economic well being of our community.

ISW Closure 2017

The $800,000-plus project will include reconstruction/realignment of a taxiway, storm sewer installation within the taxiway area and installation of new lighting along the edge of the taxiway. The project is funded primarily (95%) with Federal and State Dollars, with a small local cost-share. The work is scheduled to take nine to ten weeks, conducted in two phases.


Phase I (August 28 to September 10):

  • The access/egress point of Runway 30 (east end of the runway) will be closed.
  • Runway 12/30 will be closed as a runway during the entire project, but will continue to be useable as a taxiway.

Phase II (September 11 to late October or early November):

  • To eliminate a hazardous entrance point identified by the Federal Aviation Agency (FAA), existing Taxiway C will be demolished, then reconfigured and re-designated as Taxiway B, running parallel to short Runway 12/30. This will require closing access to the north terminal apron area and fuel system.
  • Long Runway 02/20 will be closed for up to 10 hours per day, for as many as non-consecutive 10 days. During these closures, the entire airport is considered closed.

Alexander Field/South Wood County Airport users have received detailed information from the Airport Commission regarding the closures and their effects on airport usage. As Commission chair, I will work with fellow commissioners and Airport Manager Jeremy Sickler 
to keep these valued customers updated on the progress of this project. For further information, please call 715-423-0330.

The airport has experienced an increased influx of traffic in recent months, and we can anticipate an even stronger surge with the ongoing development of Sand Valley Golf Resort. Improving our airport’s infrastructure is an encouraging sign that we continue to invest in our future and economic prospects for our area are looking up!

Adult Volunteers Needed to Walk Kids to School

File photo – Walking School Bus.

Can you help to ensure the safety of children in our local community? The Walking School Bus program at Howe and Mead elementary schools is in desperate need of adult volunteer walkers.

A walking school bus is a group of children who walk to school with one or more adults. Adult volunteers walk on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings, from 7:30 – 8:30 a.m., depending on the route. You can walk one, two or all three days. You can even form a group to get together and share a route.

For more information, please contact: Beverly Ghiloni at 715-459-5599.

Thanks for reading,

Mayor Zach Vruwink

Community Update: Fire Department Reaccreditation Affirms Commitment to Community Health, Alexander Field Prepares for Increased Economic Opportunities



Fire Department Re-accreditation Affirms Commitment to Community Health

I was proud to receive news from outgoing Chief David Kerkman that our Wisconsin Rapids Fire Department has reaffirmed its commitment to the health, safety and well being of our community.

WRFD recently earned reaccreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Ambulance Services  for its compliance with national standards of excellence. WRFD was the first ambulance service to be accredited in the State of Wisconsin and is just one of two fire departments in the State of Wisconsin to successfully complete this voluntary review process.


File photo submitted by the Fire Department.

To successfully meet these standards, WRFD had to complete a comprehensive application and on-site review by national experts in emergency medical services (EMS). Nationwide, only some 180 ambulance services in the country qualified for this accreditation.

The Commission on Accreditation of Ambulance Services is a non-profit organization that was established to encourage and promote quality patient care in America’s standard medical transportation system. This mission is realized by establishing standards that address not only the delivery of patient care, but also the ambulance service’s total operation, and its relationship with other agencies, the general public and the medical community.

Each staff member of the WRFD deserves praise for contributing to this recognition. Having accredited EMS capability demonstrates a commitment to excellence that affirms the status of the Wisconsin Rapids area as a desirable community in which to live, work and play.

Alexander Field Prepares for Increased Economic Opportunities

With the emergence of Sand Valley Golf Resort as a major destination and the promise of our City’s revitalization efforts, the South Wood County Airport Commission, of which I am proud to Chair, continues to take steps to enable Alexander Field to meet the needs of an expanding regional, national and even international user base.

A fueling truck was purchased by the airport making it more attractive to pilots to refuel their aircraft in Wisconsin Rapids.

For example, the Commission approved in December of 2016 the purchase of a 3,000-gallon-capacity fueling truck, which was delivered on May 20. This fueling truck enhances our services to more aircraft who cannot access our stationary fueling facilities; improves safety; and offers staff and aircraft operators more landing, taxiing and parking flexibility.

Features include three separate fueling hoses, which allow separate planes to be fueled at the same time, or for two separate tanks on the same plane to be fueled simultaneously. A state-of-the-art water monitor filtration system helps to assure that clean fuel is being delivered to the aircraft.

A view from the back of the truck showing a closer view of the levers and hoses used in the fueling process.

Offering aircraft operators a mobile fueling option upgrades the experience of traveling through our area. Making Alexander Field a more attractive refueling stop for aircraft operators will result in increased fuel sales and profits to further enhance the Airport.

From new equipment, to facility improvement grants from the State of Wisconsin, to active leadership engagement and collaboration, your South Wood County Airport Commission is working to ensure that Alexander Field provides services that go “above and beyond.”

Thanks for reading,

Mayor Zach Vruwink

Community Update: Alexander Field Hosts Events to Promote Aviation Awareness, Youth Lead Community in 4th of July Fireworks Fundraising



Alexander Field Hosts Events to Promote Aviation Awareness

The local Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) chapter invites area residents and aviation buffs to its two annual “Flying Hamburger Socials”, on July 12 and August 9, at our South Wood County Airport-Alexander Field .

The Social travels throughout participating states each week between the months of June to August to promote aviation, increase public awareness of airport facilities and raise funds for the local EAA chapter. This marks the fifth year for “Flying Hamburger Socials” in Wisconsin, and the second year that the event has extended its reach to the states of Michigan and Minnesota.

In addition to potentially seeing an array of small aircraft descend upon Alexander Field, attendees can enjoy a meal that includes hamburgers, fixings, sides, salads, snacks and and drinks. The meal is usually served between 5:00 and 7:00 p.m., and donations are appreciated.

As our community attracts more travelers with attractions such as Sand Valley Golf Resort and special events like the Wisconsin State Water Ski Show Championship and Cranberry Harvest tours we value more and more the importance of having a facility such as Alexander Field right in our own backyard.

Show your appreciation, by being on hand for an evening of fun, food and flying!

Youth Lead Community in 4th of July Fireworks Fundraising

Photo by Jen Clark/Mayor’s Office – This group of students from the four area high schools contacted local groups and municipalities, asking individuals to contribute to help cover the fireworks cost of $18,000. They also raised another $2,000 during the fireworks event this year.

The call went out last month for donations to our annual Wisconsin Rapids Fourth of July fireworks spectacular … and our City responded with flying colors. This year, both residents and visitors from throughout the region were treated to a celebration of our nation’s freedoms, highlighted by an awesome display of pyrotechnics.

This is a tribute to our community as a whole, and to the tireless efforts of the Teen Fireworks CommitteeThis group of students from the four area high schools contacted local groups and municipalities, asking individuals to contribute to help cover the fireworks cost of $18,000. These young people never stopped – they even raised over $2,000 from the crowd on the night of the 4th!

As your Mayor, I am proud to be part of a community that generously gives of itself for a glorious  local tradition.  Many thanks to all those who were ‘on-duty’ working the event as well as those who volunteered their time!

Thanks for reading,

Mayor Zach Vruwink