Community Update: Alexander Field Improvements Begin, Adult Volunteers Needed to Walk Kids to School, Join us for the Splash Pad Dedication Friday, Sept. 1



Join us for the Splash Pad Dedication Friday, Sept. 1


The Splash Pad is substantially complete and ready for late-Summer recreation. Tomorrow, we will formally dedicate the project with the Legacy Foundation of Central Wisconsin which funded $575,000 of the project. Officially, the Grand Opening will be held at the beginning of summer 2018!

Alexander Field Improvements are Underway!

This past Monday, August 28, Alexander Field/South Wood County Airport began to undergo a redevelopment of infrastructure, designed to improve the safety and overall experience of users flying in and out of the facility.  The renovations being undertaken reflect the increased importance of the airport to the economic well being of our community.

ISW Closure 2017

The $800,000-plus project will include reconstruction/realignment of a taxiway, storm sewer installation within the taxiway area and installation of new lighting along the edge of the taxiway. The project is funded primarily (95%) with Federal and State Dollars, with a small local cost-share. The work is scheduled to take nine to ten weeks, conducted in two phases.


Phase I (August 28 to September 10):

  • The access/egress point of Runway 30 (east end of the runway) will be closed.
  • Runway 12/30 will be closed as a runway during the entire project, but will continue to be useable as a taxiway.

Phase II (September 11 to late October or early November):

  • To eliminate a hazardous entrance point identified by the Federal Aviation Agency (FAA), existing Taxiway C will be demolished, then reconfigured and re-designated as Taxiway B, running parallel to short Runway 12/30. This will require closing access to the north terminal apron area and fuel system.
  • Long Runway 02/20 will be closed for up to 10 hours per day, for as many as non-consecutive 10 days. During these closures, the entire airport is considered closed.

Alexander Field/South Wood County Airport users have received detailed information from the Airport Commission regarding the closures and their effects on airport usage. As Commission chair, I will work with fellow commissioners and Airport Manager Jeremy Sickler 
to keep these valued customers updated on the progress of this project. For further information, please call 715-423-0330.

The airport has experienced an increased influx of traffic in recent months, and we can anticipate an even stronger surge with the ongoing development of Sand Valley Golf Resort. Improving our airport’s infrastructure is an encouraging sign that we continue to invest in our future and economic prospects for our area are looking up!

Adult Volunteers Needed to Walk Kids to School

File photo – Walking School Bus.

Can you help to ensure the safety of children in our local community? The Walking School Bus program at Howe and Mead elementary schools is in desperate need of adult volunteer walkers.

A walking school bus is a group of children who walk to school with one or more adults. Adult volunteers walk on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings, from 7:30 – 8:30 a.m., depending on the route. You can walk one, two or all three days. You can even form a group to get together and share a route.

For more information, please contact: Beverly Ghiloni at 715-459-5599.

Thanks for reading,

Mayor Zach Vruwink


Community Update: Splash Pad Dedication at Mead Field Friday, Sept. 1



Splash Pad Dedication at Mead Field Friday, Sept. 1

Wisconsin Rapids is proud to mark the achievement of renewed family-friendly outdoor recreational amenities at Mead Field built on the west-side of the city. City leaders are planning to celebrate a soft opening and dedication at the newly constructed Mead Splash Pad on Friday, Sept. 1 at Noon.  A ribbon cutting and brief remarks will also take place during the event.

This is the first in many steps in providing family-friendly outdoor recreational facilities for residents, visitors and for future generations to come. We are also “Taking the Plunge” by fundraising for the Regional Aquatic Center at Witter Field. Our goal is to raise $7 million with corporate, individual and philanthropic donations in order to reach our $12 million goal for a 2019 opening. We encourage you to follow our progress at and make a donation to the project.

Earlier in this year, students from Mead Elementary Charter School held a planning session with City staff and the Mayor’s Youth Council to brainstorm and create the splash pads artistic design features .  The outcome of that session spurred the creations of a giant spider, flower, plant and a bullfrog, which is now placed in the center of the splash pad.

This project wouldn’t have come to fruition if it wasn’t for co-investment between the City and Legacy Foundation of Central Wisconsin who funded the $575,000 for the project.  We are grateful for their contribution and honored for their commitment to help make Wisconsin Rapids a fun destination for families to visit, and pleased that residents and visitors will be able to enjoy this new recreational experience free of charge.

While finishing touches and final testing is ongoing, a soft opening will occur next Friday. The aesthetic features like plantings, grass and other landscaping amenities around the site won’t be complete until later this fall, so we plan to hold a grand opening at the 2018 season opener.

Thanks for reading,

Mayor Zach Vruwink

Community Update: Splash Pad Groundbreaking Brings Us Closer to Summer Fun, Support Local Businesses – beyond small business week, Celebrate Creative Economy Week



Mead Splash Pad Groundbreaking Brings Us Closer to Summer Fun

A groundbreaking ceremony took place on Wednesday, May 3, 2017 for the new Splash Pad Park. Photos by Tom Loucks/WRCM

Wisconsin Rapids took another step toward restoring family-friendly aquatics opportunities to our citizens last Wednesday. That’s when student leaders from Mead Elementary Charter School gathered with City leaders, and design firm MSA and Legacy Foundation representatives to turn up the first spades-full of dirt to break ground on the Mead Field splash pad.

Mayor Zach Vruwink gives high-fives to students from Mead School at the groundbreaking ceremony.

I was honored to attend this occasion with Alderpersons Todd Ferkey, Scott Kellogg and Tom Rayome, Terry Dolan and city staff, each of whom has played a major role in the development of this initiative.

We were joined by Michael Bovee, executive director of Legacy Foundation, which has generously donated $575,000 to finance the project. Bovee expressed the foundation’s objective to promote the health and wellbeing of neighborhoods and local residents.

It was a special treat to have on hand the Mead School students, who supplied splash pad design company Vortex Aquatic Structures with their comments, suggestions and drawings to determine the features, colors & styles they wanted in a splash pad.Spider Splash Park

 We look forward to opening the Mead Field splash pad to the public this summer, possibly as soon as late July, and are pleased that residents and visitors will be able to enjoy this new summer recreational experience free of charge.



  • Video of the groundbreaking event, here.


Support Local Businesses – beyond Small Business Week

Last week’s annual observance of National Small Business Week again recognized the critical contributions of America’s entrepreneurs and small business owners. As the U.S. Small Business Administration points out, more than half of Americans either own or work for a small business, and they create about two out of every three new jobs in the United States each year.

Keep jobs in the Heart of Wisconsin; Buy Local! Image courtesy of Mark’s MediaWorks.

Here in our hometown of Wisconsin Rapids, we directly benefit from the businesses that employ 20 or fewer employees. These businesses help to diversify our economy, across a range of industries. Every day, they’re working to grow our financial base, create jobs and increase our competitiveness.

So, while this year’s recognition of Small Business Week is past, the reasons to shop local and with small business remain. With the recent trend we have experienced in central Wisconsin of national and regional retailers shifting focus and priorities, local small businesses remain steadfast in supporting community causes and consumer preferences.

These local businesses deserve our support!

Celebrate Creative Economy Week

It is my pleasure to be among a number of mayors throughout the State of Wisconsin proclaiming May 13-20 as Creative Economy Week. This celebration of the arts and creativity, and their impact on economic, educational and civic success,

Is hosted by Arts Wisconsin and the League of Wisconsin Municipalities (LWM).

This is an opportunity for us to take an inventory of our local cultural resources, and make linkages and partnerships to engage all our citizens in magnifying the role that the arts play in our community. Research shows that a high concentration of the arts in a community leads to higher civic engagement, more social cohesion, higher child welfare, lower crime and poverty rates.

Just as important, arts and cultural experiences account for a significant number of small businesses that broaden the tax base and attract tourists, as well as create community assets that improve quality-of-life measures valued by businesses and their employees.

This free-standing mural commemorates the historic
Wisconsin Rapids municipal swimming pool and shows the hydroelectric dam and paper mill which still stand on the opposite shore of the Wisconsin River.

In line with this concept of citizen engagement, the theme for this year’s Creative Economy Week is murals. Event sponsors want to show off public art from as many Wisconsin municipalities as possible – including ours: Residents are invited to submit high-resolution photos of our city’s murals with a caption and photo credit. The LWM will publish as many photos as possible on the Municipalities Facebook photo album. Please send those photos to  Check out the The Municipality Magazine.  

Creative Economy Week is also highlighted by the statewide Downtown Open House.  Supported by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, Wisconsin Main Street and Wisconsin Downtown Action Council, Downtown Open House offers community members throughout the state opportunities to see exhibits, performances and other activities, and to see what our state’s downtown areas have to offer.

Investment in the arts and creativity is our state’s – and our city’s – ticket to economic, educational and civic success. Let’s celebrate our creative economy during Creative Economy Week … and every week.  

Thanks for reading,

Mayor Zach Vruwink