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: Rekindle the Spirit brings joy and color to the holiday season; A time to be thankful



Rekindle the Spirit brings joy and color to the holiday season

I invite all residents to gather Downtown on Wednesday, November 22. That is when the Heart of Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce gets everyone into the holiday spirit, with its annual Rekindle the Spirit Holiday Parade and Celebration.

The festivities begin at 5:45 p.m., with the lighting of decorations in Veteran’s Park, and then rolls into high gear with a colorful, musical parade that starts at the Rapids Mall parking lot and makes its way across Grand Avenue Bridge to 4th Street. After the parade, we invite all to make their way to Hotel Mead for a visit with Santa, live music, and hot chocolate and cookies.

Rekindle the Spirit offers fun for the entire family, so make plans to be on hand.

A time to be thankful

I want to personally thank all the volunteers and public servants throughout our community who have graciously devoted their time, expertise and generosity throughout the year to make Wisconsin Rapids a special place. Thanksgiving is a time to reflect and share compassion for all the little things in life that truly make a difference.  I am personally grateful.

For those who don’t have a thanksgiving meal, St Luke’s Lutheran Church will be serving a Thanksgiving dinner from noon to 1:00 pm on Thursday, November 23rd in its fellowship hall. The meal will be served at no charge to anyone in the community who is alone or who is not able to prepare the traditional meal for themselves.

Thanks for reading my blog,

Mayor Zach Vruwink