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: Sand Valley Golf Resort holds “Community Day”, Creates Economic Growth; Splash Pad Groundbreaking Wednesday



Splash Park Groundbreaking Wednesday

I invite community residents to join me tomorrow for a special event that takes  Wisconsin Rapids another step toward restoring family friendly aquatics opportunities to our citizens.

City leaders and representatives from MSA Professional Services, Inc. and the Legacy Foundation of Central Wisconsin will host a groundbreaking ceremony for the new Mead Field splash pad, on Wednesday, May 3, at 12:00 noon, at 311 17th Avenue South. Also on hand will be some of the student leaders from Mead Elementary Charter School Youth who participated in the design process.

Attendees will be able to view display boards depicting the facility’s bright colors, and interactive learning and game-playing features. We anticipate the splash pad being up and running by midsummer.

The Legacy Foundation, based here in Wisconsin Rapids, deserves our deep gratitude for providing a major gift of financing for the splash pad.

Look forward to an enthusiastic turnout by residents tomorrow.

Sand Valley Golf Resort held “Community Day” before today’s opening!

A stunningly beautiful property.  Photo submitted by Sand Valley Golf Resort

In a much anticipated occasion, Sand Valley Golf Resort held a preview of its facility Monday, May 1. This special “Community Day” took place a day before the official opening of the resort’s world-class golf course on May 2.

The event featured managing partner Michael Keiser, who provided a development update for the benefit of community members.


Sand Valley Golf Resort Offers Promise of Area Economic Growth

Photo submitted by Sand Valley Golf Resort : A sunset view.

The potential benefits of the Sand Valley Golf Course for our area are exciting and will no doubt spur economic impact in our region. My recent visit to Bandon Dunes Golf Resort in Bandon, OR., with our Central WI Economic Development delegation has given me and our group an enlightening experience.(I will share more on this visit in a future post!)

As evidenced by the interest the property has already gained from visitors and the news media, the expansion of golfing opportunities will bring an expansion of overnight accommodations at Sand Valley, as well as a significant increase in traffic at our South Wood County Airport. Sand Valley General Manager Glen Murray estimates that the resort will host some 200,000 golfers this year.

That number will only increase: Starting this June, Sand Valley will welcome visitors for preview play on its Mammoth Dunes course, due to open in 2018 (along with a three-par course). This is significant news, because Murray pointed out that when the first golf course opened just for preview play during September of 2016, Alexander Field traffic was three times the volume during September of 2015; Sand Valley welcomed golfers from 10 different nations and from more than 40 states across this country. In all, Murray said, the first course garnered some 9,000 rounds of preview play during 2016.

As last year’s World Water Ski Tournament demonstrated, attractions such as Sand Valley Golf Resort generate increased out-of-town traffic and extended-stay tourist visits. These, in turn, produce a multiplier-dollar effect for our South Wood County Airport- Alexander Field and local businesses.

As he did earlier this year during the Heart of Wisconsin Annual Meeting & Awards, Murray praised the virtues of heartland American hospitality and friendliness. These uniquely central Wisconsin characteristics have already made an impression on national and international visitors, and will be crucial to our area’s ongoing economic growth.

Additional ideas:

  • Sand Valley to employ 300+ in 2017
  • 2016 preview golf welcomed golfers from 10 different countries and over 40 states across USA
  • Alexander Field Airport traffic tripled its previous year’s traffic the month of September in 2016 when 18 holes opened for preview play

Thank you for reading,

Mayor Zach Vruwink


Community Update: Anticipation Grows as Sand Valley Golf Resort Nears Opening



Anticipation Grows as Sand Valley Golf Resort Nears Opening

Mayor Zach Vruwink, right and Community Development Director Adam Tegen, middle, tour Sand Valley. Photos by Jesse Austin/WRCM. See more photos here.

A view of one of the fairways on the Sand Valley Course.

I recently had the pleasure of taking in a construction tour of Sand Valley Golf Resort with the City’s Director of Community Development Adam Tegen and the media. Our preview ramped up anticipation for the opening of Sand Valley’s first golf course in just two weeks, on May 2. Mark your calendars for Community Day, May 1st! See more photos here.

Glen Murray, Sand Valley general manager, and construction lead Frank Cauger, led us on a detailed journey into founder Mike Keiser’s vision of bringing to the United States the golf experience one would expect of Scottish seaside links: sand dunes, windy playing conditions, unusual bounces from firm fairways and a variety of strategic playing options. He and Cauger also brought to life in vivid terms the large, elegantly designed clubhouse, lodge, bar and overnight accommodations that are now in the final stages of construction, but will be up and in operation in June.

A few fun facts we picked up along the way:

  • 2016 preview golf welcomed golfers from 10 different countries and over 40 states across USA;
  • Sand Valley is partnering with Aspirus to offer sports massage services to guests;
  • It is expected that 70 percent of the estimated 300 employees will be local residents and,
  • The Sand Valley team “dares” visitors to find essential infrastructure such as power generators – such support is being subtly incorporated into the landscape design to maximize the unique golfing experience.

A second course, Mammoth Dunes, crafted by renowned Scottish designer David Kidd, is already under construction, and will open in 2018. In addition, the Keiser organization already has begun planning for a third, par-three course at the resort, as a “gateway” venue for beginning and casual golfers, also scheduled to open in 2018.

Of course, a major element of the excitement surrounding this 1,700-acre project is the economic benefits it may to bring to our area. Fortunately, with other Keiser-family led golf resort properties in existence, we have the opportunity to learn from any economic growth elements of them. It would be our objective to have economic impact reach the Wisconsin Rapids community which I will address in my next Community Update, next week.

Thanks for reading!

Mayor Zach Vruwink