Community Update: Aquatics Fundraising Kick-off Continues- Brat Fry & Root Beer Floats Friday, City Taking Action Against Emerald Ash Borer



Take the Plunge; Brat Fry & Root Beer Floats Friday

Our week of taking the “Plunge” for aquatics is almost over, but you still have the chance in our kick-off fundraising event for the Regional Aquatic Center Friday, with a Brat Fry and Root Beer Float Social.

I invite you to join me and City Staff at City Hall from 11am -1pm for a cheery meet-and-greet. Brats, Burgers and Root Beer Floats are available for purchase. Donations are also welcomed!

City Taking Action Against Emerald Ash Borer

City of Wisconsin Rapids crews have been diligently treating trees along our expressway to combat the emerald ash borer (EAB) infestation that was first detected during April of 2016. Due to the treatment process, travel lanes along the expressway have been partially closed.

Wisconsin Rapids crews expect to treat between 100 and 140 public trees this year, with the balance of such trees slated for treatment during 2018. Treatment against EAB is generally effective for about two or three years, at which time another treatment can be applied.

As I related back in March of this year, our goals are to:

  • Delay devastation of current tree stock;
  • Allow time to take down infected trees; and
  • Replant more diverse species of trees. To assist us with this effort – consider a tree sponsorship at

Tom Loucks/WRCM – New trees have been planted along the Expressway to replace the ones that were to heavily infested with EAB.

A State of Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources matching grant enabled us to prepare a tree inventory and urban forestry management plan, which has allowed us to set proper priorities in dealing with this problem as effectively as possible.

For more general information on EAB, residents can refer to the City website.

If you are interested in finding treatment options for the trees on your property, you can go, here or check out these two links below:

To find further information and guidance regarding options for your property and businesses, call the Department of Public Works at 715-421-8255.

Thanks for reading,

Mayor Zach Vruwink

Community Update: Aquatics Center Fundraising Kicks Off with a Splash



Aquatic Center Fundraising Kicks Off with a Splash

Formally our community began its “plunge” into a new era in Wisconsin Rapids history: We celebrated the kick-off of fundraising for the Regional Aquatics Park at Witter Field with a float at the Cranberry Blossom Fest Parade.

Our theme is, ”Learn, Give, Make a Splash!” – and to that end, we have put together a week’s worth of fun events designed to publicize this effort and spur support:

  • Monday, June 19, 1:30
    & 7:00 p.m.:
    The “Monday Movie @ McMillan Library” presents The Eagle Huntress, an inspiring family film that documents the story of a 13-years-old girl who, with the coaching of her father, tries to become the first girl from her nomadic Mongolian culture to learn to hunt with a trained eagle.
  • Tuesday, June 20, 6:00 p.m.: “City Council takes the Plunge!” City Hall Council Chambers will take on a festive atmosphere, as Council members show up in their finest beach attire to acknowledge their colleagues who have played significant leading roles in making the aquatics plans a reality.
  • Wednesday, June 21, 10:00-11:00 a.m.: The Aquatics Park Fundraising Marathon will be conducted during my monthly “Morning Magazine” broadcast with WFHR AM1320 radio host Carl Hilke. You can donate during the live Facebook, radio and Charter Ch. 985/Solarus 3 simulcasts.
  • Thursday, June 22, 11:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m.: Lunch By The River – Join members of the Mayor’s Youth Council to “Give and Learn” more about the project.
  • Friday, June 23, 11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.: Brat Fry and Root Beer Float Social – I invite you to join me and City Staff at City Hall for a cheery meet-and-greet. Donations are welcomed and will be accepted!

This is the time for all citizens to step forward and contribute to making our long-held vision of a modern, high-quality aquatics facility a resoundingly successful dream-come-true!

Thanks for reading,

Mayor Zach Vruwink

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



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:

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

Community Update: WRPD on the Lookout for Kids “Caught Being Safe”



WRPD on the Lookout for Kids “Caught Being Safe”

The WRPD has joined forces with Safe Kids Wood County and local businesses to launch “Caught Being Safe.” This fun, summer-long program rewards children who make safe choices.

If you know any children in the Wisconsin Rapids area, remind them that the Wisconsin Rapids Police Department (WRPD) will be keeping an eye on them this summer.

The WRPD has joined forces with Safe Kids Wood County and local businesses to launch “Caught Being Safe.” This fun, summer-long program rewards children who make safe choices.

Safety Officer Eric J. Daven of the 
Wisconsin Rapids Police Department and Tom Loucks – WRCM Multimedia Coordinator talk about the new program.

During the campaign, WRPD officers will be on the lookout for children who make wise decisions, such as wearing their bike helmet, using bike lights, crossing the street in the crosswalk or wearing a life jacket while swimming. These smart kids will receive coupons from the officers, redeemable for various treats.

In addition, WRPD officers will carry bike helmets in their vehicles to hand out to community youth who are in need.

We are grateful to community business sponsors who are supporting “Caught Being Safe”: Culver’s, Dairy Queen, Dairy Treat, McDonald’s, Rocky Rococo and Salt & Peppa’s Drive-in. Their generosity works hand in glove with the goals of WRPD and Safe Kids Wood County to help keep our young ones free from injury.

Thanks for reading,

Mayor Zach Vruwink


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



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

File photo

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

Community Update: Crews to Begin Intersection Upgrade Monday, Help Us Celebrate Fourth of July 2017 – Contribute to City Fireworks



City Crews to Begin Intersection Upgrade Next Monday

Photo by Tom Loucks/WRCM – State of Wisconsin construction crews will begin work on Monday closing off the 8th Street and Grand intersection.

Responding to a history of motorist safety issues, construction crews will begin work next week to modernize infrastructure quality, and motorist and pedestrian safety, at one of our busier traffic sites in our community.

Beginning Monday, May 22, the intersection of 8th Street South and East Grand Avenue will be closed for a variety of modifications, including:

  • Dedicated left-turn lanes and improved traffic signals;
  • Upgraded water main and sanitary sewer; and
  • Enhanced pedestrian access and pavement markings

Assuming favorable weather conditions and scheduling factors, we anticipate that our crews will complete this project some time during September 2017.

The intersection of 8th Street South and East Grand Avenue will be closed for the duration of the project. Roadway closures will initially begin at Peach (northbound), 9th (westbound), Oak (southbound) and 7th (eastbound) streets.

A marked route will be provided for motorist traffic, which will be detoured away from 8th Street South onto Chestnut, Lincoln, Jackson, Market and Baker streets. Although pedestrians will be detoured away from crossing 8th Street South and East Grand Avenue, access to walkways adjacent to the construction site will be maintained.

This project will also slightly affect the route for the Cranberry Blossom Festival Parade, on Sunday, June 18. Instead of the parade coming down East Grand Avenue from 8th Street South to East Jackson Street, the route will proceed from Oak Street to 6th Street South, then back onto East Grand Avenue.

We are fortunate to have this project funded by the Highway Safety Improvement Program, a Federal-aid program designed to achieve significant reductions in traffic fatalities and serious injuries on public roads.

For more information regarding the status of this project, please contact Joe Eichsteadt, City Engineer, at 715-421-8251

Help Us Celebrate Fourth of July 2017 – Contribute to City Fireworks


Video by David Ballerstein/WRCM Volunteer – Watch the 4th of July, 2016 fireworks presentation.

We want you … to donate to Wisconsin Rapids Fourth of July fireworks.

If you have attended previous years’ fireworks celebrations in Downtown Wisconsin Rapids, you know this gala event brings together residents, as well as visitors from throughout the region, to celebrate our nation’s freedoms with an awesome pyrotechnic display.

But this dazzling spectacle costs $18,000. So, members of the Teen Fireworks Committee, a group of students from the four area high schools, have been contacting local groups and municipalities, and asking individuals to contribute to the fireworks – but our community needs your help, too.

To donate, visit or send your contribution to:

Wisconsin Rapids Finance Department                                                                                                   c/o The Fireworks Campaign                                                                                                                   444 W. Grand Avenue                                                                                                                   Wisconsin Rapids, WI 54495

And, to sweeten the deal: One dollar will be donated to Fourth of July fireworks every time you purchase cotton candy at a Rafters baseball game.

Do your part to continue our City’s glorious tradition. Make your contribution today for Wisconsin Rapids Fourth of July fireworks!

Thanks for reading,

Mayor Zach Vruwink

$25,000 from CN will ‘seed’ Mayor’s Beautification Initiative


I am thrilled to announce that the City of Wisconsin Rapids was successful in it’s pursuit of $25,000 from CN. The money will be used to purchase trees and related shrubbery for the City’s public spaces, as part of the Mayor’s Council on Beautification Initiative, first announced at my 2014 State of the City Address, with an initial meeting on March 25th at 4:30pm.

Kevin Soucie, CN US Government Affairs presents the check to the city March 18th, 2014

Kevin Soucie, CN US Government Affairs presents the check to the city March 18th, 2014

CN’s funding opportunity aligned well with my community initiative on beautification and sustainability. CN focuses its funding by supporting three main areas in municipalities: safety and sustainability; transportation education; and diversity. The funding received for the City’s beautification initiative falls under the safety and sustainability category.

The City applied for the grant because of the desire for Wisconsin Rapids to remain a Tree City, along with the desire of residents to plant trees and shrubbery for beautification and environmental purposes.  I felt this funding opportunity was a perfect match to ‘seed’ our Mayor’s Council on Beautification.

We are constantly looking for ways to enhance the City’s ‘living environment’ for residents as it relates to a place where people want to start or grow a business. Often times, the two priorities are interconnected.Mayor Vruwink Accepts the Check on behalf of the city

By enhancing our living environment and building on our assets, the quality of life for residents and visitors increases, leading to greater satisfaction and pride in our community. For this reason, we recognize that an emphasis on beautification can provide tangible results with positive impacts on the community.

The Mayor’s Council on Beautification serves as another opportunity for residents to get involved. Residents have told me they would like the city to consider beautification as a means to be more attractive. This group will do just that. It is through grant opportunities such as this one from CN the group will have financial resources to accomplish their goal of a more beautiful city.

All residents and visitors will benefit from the beautification initiative. The contribution compliments future Love your Block neighborhood revitalization efforts building pride residents have in their neighborhoods.

Residents wishing to participate in the Mayor’s Council on Beautification and Sustainability may contact the me directly at  The initial meeting will take place on Tuesday March 25th in the City Hall First Floor Conference room at 4:30pm. Questions about this grant can be directed to the Mayor’s office by phone (715-421-8216) or email (  Please visit for more information.

In closing, the success of this funding opportunity demonstrates the importance for the mayor and city to continue to build relationships and partnerships outside the city to improve our city.  I appreciate the City Council’s willingness to support our pursuit of this funding opportunity requiring no additional expenses to the city.

Mayor Zach Vruwink