Community Update: Let’s Celebrate! 10th Annual Cranberry Blossom Festival 

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Come Out and Celebrate our Blossoming Area! 10th Annual Cranberry Blossom Festival 

I warmly welcome one and all this week to help celebrate the start of our City’s summer season: the 10th Annual Cranberry Blossom Festival, Thursday through Sunday, June 15-18. More than 20 events offer residents and visitors of all ages a choice of live music, colorful pageantry, games, exhibits and foods from local vendors, to name a few. It’s all climaxed by:

Our grand Cranberry Blossom Festival Parade 

In addition, I personally invite families and their young ones to take in Kids to Park Day, on Saturday June 17, at Robinson Park.  From 1 to 3 p.m., the Mayor’s Youth Council will host a series of fun activities such as kick ball, disc golf, arts & crafts, and more. Check out the video by Travis Plowman/WRCM with our Youth Council to get a preview of the upcoming Kids to Parks Day.

Also, Youth Council members will be accepting donations to raise funds for the Regional Aquatics Park, to be located at Witter Field. It’s an opportunity for you to combine good times with the good feeling that comes from contributing to a lasting community legacy.

To find out how you can make a donation to the Regional Aquatics Park click, here.

A complete schedule and description of Festival highlights is right here: blossomfest.com.

Make plans to join family and friends for all the fun at this year’s 10th Annual Cranberry Blossom Festival!

Thanks for reading,

Mayor Zach Vruwink
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Community Update: Wheelers Chevrolet Expansion Reaffirms Commitment to Wisconsin Rapids, Pitch In and Support Recycling Rangers

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Wheelers Chevrolet Expansion Reaffirms Commitment to Wisconsin Rapids

img_2805.jpgAnother major business expansion signals that our vision of Wisconsin Rapids as a place for renewed investment and prosperity is becoming a reality.

This past Thursday, Wheelers Chevrolet of Wisconsin Rapids broke ground on a new facility, to be located on the northwest corner of West Grand Avenue and 25th Avenue North. This state-of-the-art site will be an expansion of its current business, at 2250 W. Grand Avenue, and will offer new-vehicle sales, service and parts.

The project covers just over 22,000 square feet, with an estimated budget of more than two million dollars. Even more exciting is that this is just the first of three building projects the Wheelers Family Auto group has planned for the West Grand Avenue corridor of Rapids. A new body shop is going up during the spring of 2018, and a new Buick GMC store will be constructed in 2019. This expansion will add jobs and increased tax base to our community.

The Wheelers Group worked to bring Chevrolet back to the Wisconsin Rapids market in June of 2015, after that auto brand had been absent from our new-car market for some seven years. This was a huge risk, but family matriarch Ann Wheeler truly believed in Wisconsin Rapids and its potential to successfully support an enterprise of this magnitude. In participating in the groundbreaking, I can confidently state her vision shined down on the occasion.

Speaking on behalf of our entire community, I welcome this latest expression of confidence and investment by the Wheeler family.

Welcome to Wisconsin Rapids!

Pitch In and Support Recycling Rangers

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The Recycling Rangers need your help!

This dedicated group of residents volunteers to help clean up before, during and after civic events. This summer, the Recycling Rangers ask you to join in several opportunities to enhance our City’s eye appeal to visitors from far and wide. For your efforts, you’ll be rewarded with a t-shirt, plastic gloves and a lighten-the-load tool!

Special summer events we need you to volunteer for:

  • Cinema Under the Stars – Thursday, June 15
  • Friends of Rapids Musical Festival – Saturday, June 17
  • Wisconsin Rapids 4th of July Fireworks – Tuesday, July 4
  • Wisconsin State Waterski Show – Thursday-Sunday, July 20-23
  • Labor Day Celebration – Monday, September 4
  • Grand Affair – Sunday, September 10

For more information on how you can volunteer, contact Carol Davis at 715-459-6642, or Bill Clendenning at 715-423-2469. Or, you can sign up now, right here. Tell family, friends and associates about Recycling Rangers, too.

Our City thanks you for your help.

Thanks for reading,

Mayor Zach Vruwink
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Community Update – State Recognition/Assistance for City’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative

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Wisconsin Rapids Welcomed into State’s Downtown Revitalization Program

wedcBack in January of 2014, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) took note of the important role that downtowns and historic commercial districts play in their communities, and in Wisconsin’s overall economy. They also understood the significance the “Main Street” program has played in Wisconsin communities since its inception in 1987. But in our case and others, taking on the full fledged responsibilities of the Main Street program is a feat. As a result, WEDC developed the Connect Communities Program as way to provide local civic leaders with access to resources and networking opportunities to start and maintain a district revitalization effort. A pathway, of sorts, to becoming primed for participation in the Main Street program. Since the program launched, participating communities have reported adding 175 net new businesses and more than 500 jobs, as well as $30 million in private investment.

I am pleased to report that WEDC today officially recognized the City of Wisconsin Rapids as just one of 18 communities around the state to be accepted into the Connect Communities Program this year. Applicants for this recognition were tasked with explaining the type of activities or assistance that they hope to undertake, as well as identify a local team that will be responsible for carrying out activities and participating in program events and training.

Among items presented to WEDC, Wisconsin Rapids shared details of the initiative under way LBTRto develop preliminary designs for enhancements to public spaces along the urban section of Riverbank. Residents were able to view early design concepts and alternatives at Lunch by the River on July 2.

The Connect Communities initiative goes beyond mere lip service. It provides Wisconsin Rapids with access to a variety of resources and training, including:

  • A Network to get new ideas from staff and other participating Connect Communities;
  • On-site visits from WEDC Community Development staff to assist in identifying needs and offering assistance;
  • Training opportunities for leadership and staff; and
  • Access to WEDC’s downtown development online library, and to specially developed resources and training materials.

We are proud that Wisconsin Rapids has been selected by the Connect Communities Program. This designation validates the vision shaped by years of local support – from the planning of civic leaders from years past down to our present day, to the interest and suggestions of everyday community residents. With continued engagement from our citizens, our involvement with Connect Communities will help us to leverage the unique assets of our Downtown Riverbank district.

Reinventing Our Future – The Time Is Now

Our City’s selection for inclusion in the State’s Connect Communities Program reaffirms points I made in an op-ed Column published last Saturday in the Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune, regarding the importance of reinvigorating our City’s Riverbank area. (The Column will also appear in this weekend’s edition of the Wisconsin Rapids City Times).

In this article, I detailed the ways in which Wisconsin Rapids has begun a public effort to river2recognize and identify the potential return on public investments in one of our most precious resources – the Wisconsin River.  These initiatives included developing preliminary designs for enhancements to our public spaces along the urban section of Riverbank; and developing specifications and attaching cost estimates to some of the already identified. planned and resident-inspired improvements.  In a few short weeks, we will again engage with our consultant as they further define the preliminary designs of the public waterfront.

As mentioned in my 2015 State of the City Address this past February, the time is now for the city to reinvent the place we live, work, dine and entertain … and to reimagine and transform our local economy into one that is more diverse, and continuously attracts investment and talented, entrepreneurial people.

To read the full text of my op-ed piece, please follow this link

Thanks for reading,

Mayor Zach Vruwink

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Community Update – NightSeeing, Cranberry Blossom Festival and WSAW-TV’s “Your Town”

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NightSeeing Event

Thanks to the impressive spirit of commitment by residents, property owners and investors- and the kickoff of our Riverbank Green Space and Recreation Preliminary Design project, our City stands ready to make the Wisconsin Rapids Downtown area truly a centerpiece of which will activate the spaces surrounding it.  In order to ensure continued success, this process requires imaginative thinking and citizen participation.

DSC_0027On Wednesday, June 3, we invited residents to hear and share ideas about revitalizing our Downtown riverfront environment during the nighttime hours – and then, experience an up-close look at the possibilities, during an evening walk along the river.

“NightSeeing” was conducted by Leni Schwendinger, a lighting designer/artist with Arup, an international firm of designers, planners, engineers, and technical specialists. During the NightSeeing walk, Ms. Schwendinger and her design team offered insights on the impact of lighting by pointing out the effects of existing lighting choices; envisioning the opportunities for enhancements; and inviting residents to take a critical look at lighting options and to express their preferences.

A video recap of the event can be found here:

Designed to spark community engagement and open minds to new approaches and imaginative DSC_5235ideas, NightSeeing programs have been held in the United States, Colombia, London and Australia. As Mayor of Wisconsin Rapids, I feel it is important that our public spaces be activated beyond the hours of daylight. We light our streets, how about our public spaces, too?  A vital element in realizing that vision includes creative lighting.

The “NightSeeing” event ties into the Riverbank Green Space and Recreation Plan, which will incorporate improvements along the east and west banks of the river within the City limits. Supermass Studios, the company hired for the plan, sub-contracted Arup for structural engineering and lighting design.

There will be further engagement opportunities for your participation in the coming months. We expect to have recommendations on the Riverbank Green Space in late summer.  In the meantime, we continue to act to reinvigorate a critical piece of our community- our core central business district.

Blossom Fest

blossomfestThis week marked the start of the 2015 Cranberry Blossom Festival!  This year’s Fest runs through
Sunday, and features something for every member of the family – a total of nearly 20 events, including live music, arts and crafts, exhibits, a variety of foods from local vendors, and our annual grand parade.  See a brief recap at River Cities Community Access Media.

Some of the featured events include:

  • Arts, Crafts and Cranberries Fair
    Saturday, June 20, from 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. at Witter Field
    You’ll find a treasure trove of crafts, framed art, pottery and cranberry-themed products.
  • Cranberry Blossom Festival Carnival
    Friday-Sunday, June 19-21, at Witter Field
    Families can enjoy carnival rides, games and food throughout the weekend.
  • Cranberry Blossom Fest Parade
    Sunday, June 21 at 12:00 noon, Downtown
    Our colorful parade along Grand Avenue this year features members of the University of Wisconsin Marching Band, who will follow up at 3 p.m. with a performance at Witter Field.

For full details on all the events, Blossomfest.com.  Look forward to seeing you at the events!

600x-YTown-Road-SignWSAW Promotes “Our Town”!

This week, WSAW-Channel 7 news anchors and reporters have created stories throughout the community, for its week-long “Your Town” feature. The feature included live broadcasts for its 5:00 and 6:00PM newscasts at locations around our community highlighting much of what Wisconsin Rapids has to offer!

View the great exposure WSAW and area businesses provided Wisconsin Rapids right here.  I had a good time closing out the Live 6pm broadcast from Witter Field last night with news anchors Jeff Thelen, Heather Sahr and Director of Meteorology, Chris Nelson- Thanks Guys!

I hope to see you around this weekend! 

Thanks for reading,

Mayor Zach Vruwink

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