Community Update: Observe “Work Zone Awareness” as construction season proceeds, Beautify your neighborhood through the Community Tree Sale, Arbor Day is near – plant a tree, leave a legacy



Observe “Work Zone Awareness” as construction season proceeds

Photo by Travis Plowman/WRCM – When driving locally or statewide, drivers are asked to stay alert in work areas.

Will Spring arrive so we can transition our Public Works activities?! Of course it will, but when?!

April 9 to 13 has been designated Work Zone Awareness Week in Wisconsin. This event is designed to prevent traffic crashes and injuries in construction and maintenance areas along Wisconsin’s roadways.

Whether driving locally or statewide, drivers are asked to stay alert in work areas.  As the spring thaw begins, our City’s Public Works department are out filling potholes, removing sand from city roads, picking up brush and more, so please slow down in the work areas to keep our workers safe.

The week long event includes awarenesses of local municipal projects, utility work and emergency response situations, as well as major highway construction and rolling maintenance operations.  

How can you help?

  • Be especially cautious while driving in areas where workers are present;
  • Eliminate distractions such as the temptation to grab your phone;
  • Obey posted speed limits; and
  • Be courteous and patient.

More tips and information are available here.

Whether we’re working, walking or driving in a work zone, everyone wants to make it home safe at night. Let’s work together to be safe!

Beautify your neighborhood through the Community Tree Sale

Spring is officially here despite the scene outside portraying a wintery look; and the Mayor’s Council on Beautification’s Annual Community Tree Sale is under way.

Through Monday, May 7, you can place an order for your property … or, you can generously donate a tree to spruce up city property. You can also order in honor of or remembrance of a special loved one – memorial plaques are available at additional cost. Money from the sale helps to fund more beautification projects for the city.

You can order from among four species of three- to ten-foot bare root trees for $65 apiece:

  • Autumn Blaze Maple – Rapid growth in an upright manner, drought tolerance and orange-red fall color; grows to 50’-60’x40’.
  • Donald Wyman Crabapple Upright in youth and rounds into maturity, with glossy green foliage and white flowers that give way to small, red fruit; 20’x20’.
  • Profusion Crabapple Upright, spreading crabapple features abundant, purple-red flowers with pink centers; purple foliage fades to bronze-green; 18’-24’x25’.
  • Whitespire Birch Displays chalk-white bark and a hardy nature that is tolerant of most soil conditions and considered pest resistant; grows to 30’-40’x20’.

Pick-up takes place at the City Garage in mid May.

For more information, or to place an order, call Sue Winch at 715-213-1747 or e-mail

Arbor Day is near – plant a tree, leave a legacy

City file photo- Celebrate Arbor Day by planting a tree.

It was in 1872, a Nebraska newspaper editor and, later, Secretary of Agriculture J. Sterling Morton suggested setting aside a special day for tree planting. That idea is now more important than ever. In addition to adding value to your home, trees regulate the temperature of your neighborhood, and provide food for wildlife.

Arbor Day takes place this year on Friday, April 27. Here are a few suggestions for commemorating the day:

  • Plant a tree;
  • Choose a public park or downtown area to clean up;
  • Hold an Arbor Day block party; and
  • Organize a Big Tree or Oldest Tree search within your community.

You can find other ideas by checking the Arbor Day Foundation website.

Together, let’s work to make our community cleaner and greener. Plant a tree, and watch it grow!

Thank you for reading.

Mayor Zach Vruwink



Community Update: HR director appointment offers potential for systems modernization, Public involvement meeting for East Grand Avenue reconstruction, Citizen input needed for County Open Spaces Plan Update



Public involvement meeting for Grand Avenue reconstruction project

On behalf of City leadership, I heartily invite area residents to participate in a public involvement meeting regarding ambitious reconstruction projects along East Grand Avenue. The meeting takes place next Tuesday, February 13, from 5 to 6:30 p.m., at City Hall, 444 West Grand Avenue.  

This informal open house is designed to facilitate dialogue and individual questions and comments about two project sites:

  • East Grand Avenue from the Grand Avenue Bridge to 8th Street South
  • 7th Street South from East Grand Avenue to Oak Street.

City officials, our design consultant and real estate acquisition/appraisal representatives will be on hand for a brief presentation beginning at 5:30 p.m., and to share project information, construction schedule and acquisition/assessment of adjacent real estate. Meeting attendees will also be able to view exhibits of the project design, traffic routing and right-of-way impacts to nearby properties.

The projects are currently in the final design phase, with design completion scheduled for this August. Construction is scheduled for 2019.

I strongly encourage all to attend this meeting. If you cannot attend or would like additional information, feel free to call 715-421-8251, or e-mail 

We look forward to talking with you!

Citizen input needed for County Open Spaces Plan Update

Wood County Parks and Forestry Department is giving you an opportunity to share your input on the future of outdoor recreation opportunities in our community.

The department is working with County Planning and Zoning to update the 2011 Wood County Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Plan.  This comprehensive study of public and private outdoor recreation opportunities in Wood County emphasizes the role the County is expected to play in meeting those demands.

How can you help? By taking a survey, regarding your current use of parks and forestry amenities, and what you might desire in terms of future offerings. This survey, along with future public comment sessions, will help to determine recommendations detailed in the final plan. For a hard copy of the survey, you can call 715-421-8422.

Your contribution to this update can have a real-world impact on our local community. In order to qualify for various Department of Natural Resources outdoor recreation grants, Wood County is required to have an up-to-date plan adopted by the County Board of Supervisors. Projects completed since the 2011 update include:

  • Construction of the Red Sands Beach Pavilion;
  • Completion of the Lake Wazeecha dredge project; and
  • Upgrades to numerous buildings.

Because these projects were identified in the 2011 plan, many of them were grant funded.

So, do your part to help create an enhanced quality of life for fellow residents and visitors alike. Take a few moments to complete the Wood County Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Plan survey!

New HR director appointment offers potential for systems innovations

When the position of Human Resources Director became vacant last summer, we as City leaders took some time to analyze this important role to determine what we really wanted in terms of service to City employees and service to prospective new-hires. After a search and screening process, I had the honor of presenting for approval at the January 16 Common Council meeting Dawn Urban as the new Human Resources Director for the City of Wisconsin Rapids.  Dawn began work on Monday, January 22.

Dawn comes to us with a degree in Business Administration and certification in Human Resources. Dawn previously worked in HR at Marshfield Clinic Information Systems(MCIS), which develops IT software for the healthcare provider. We feel that this background uniquely qualifies Dawn to play an important role in assessing, attracting and retaining employees who bring energy and new ideas to the work of City governance and service delivery.

We have long felt that our Finance and HR functions, in particular, need to be modernized to decrease the amount of time required to complete tasks, reduce potential for errors and offer a more inviting, user friendly hiring process. The timing is right to institute systems and procedures that will result in more efficient use of tax dollars, maximize the valuable time of our administrators, and optimize interdepartmental communications and collaboration, all for the benefit of our citizens.

Thank you for reading.

Mayor Zach Vruwink