Community Update: Discuss Triangle Project with prospective redevelopment partner, Police Department “Trunk or Treat” Offers Halloween Fun and Games

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All invited to discuss Triangle Project with prospective redevelopment partner

Area residents and business owners are invited to learn about and discuss the residential/commercial space redevelopment opportunities at the Downtown Triangle site. Representatives from prospective developer Gorman & Company, Inc.  will join City officials to lead the conversation.

The event takes place today, Monday, October 23, from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., at Karen’s Wines and Steins, 160 1st Street North.

Headquartered in the Madison-area Village of Oregon, Gorman & Company has worked since 1984 to specialize in downtown revitalization, the preservation of affordable housing, workforce housing and the adaptive reuse of significant historic buildings. Gorman redevelopment projects include partnerships with Milwaukee, Racine, Kenosha, Madison, Portage, Sheboygan, Fond du Lac, Janesville and Wisconsin Dells.

The Triangle Area – located on the block bounded by 1st Street North (west and north), East Jackson Street (south) and Market Street (east) – serves as the northeast gateway to the Downtown Riverfront area, overlooking the Wisconsin River and our public park spaces. The initiative to redevelop this area was jumpstarted when the City purchased the former Spath and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) buildings, along with land on the other side of the block that included the former Labor Temple/Good Time Charlie’s Sports Bar, and cleared the buildings. The resulting space is ideally suited for a mixed-use development with underground parking. The potential exists for residential, office, retail, restaurant and other uses.

We are excited by this partnership opportunity with an experienced community revitalization partner. We welcome your presence and input regarding our shared vision of sustainable residential, commercial and retail redevelopment.

Police Department “Trunk or Treat” Offers Halloween Fun and Games

I encourage individuals, businesses and organizations to enjoy an evening of family fun, while also engaging with our local law enforcement community.

Wisconsin Rapids Police Department’s (WRPD) first “Trunk or Treat” event takes place on Tuesday, October 31, from 4:30 to 7:00 p.m., at the Rapids Mall Parking Lot (Farmers Market location).

Trunk or Treat is a way for “kids” of all ages to celebrate a safe Halloween, with games, contests and assorted treats handed out by participants who fill the trunks of their vehicles, decorated in fall splendor.

All are invited to show up in costume to share in the festive gathering, and there will be free hot dogs and chips for kids in costume. Awards will be given for best decorated car and best costume.

We also advise citizens to check out helpful tips for safe trick-or-treating from the WRPD Facebook page  and watch this video from Wisconsin Rapids Community Media (WRCM).

Halloween is a colorful and enjoyable occasion. Let’s work together to keep it safe.

Thanks for reading,

Mayor Zach Vruwink

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Community Update: Senate Budget Plan Includes $4 Million Dollar Airport Investment, AmeriCorps Needs A Leader to Serve Local Community Health Needs

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Senate Budget Plan Includes $4 Million Dollar Airport Investment

Photo by Tom Loucks/WRCM – The State Senate budget transportation plan includes an investment of four million dollars for infrastructure enhancement and expansion at Alexander Field-South Wood County Airport.

Recently I had the privilege of joining State Senator Patrick Testin to announce a proposal that could very well usher in an era of renewed prosperity in our local community: The State Senate budget plan includes an investment of four million dollars for infrastructure enhancement and expansion at Alexander Field-South Wood County Airport.

Airport expansion would establish Alexander Field as a reliable transportation hub with convenient access to anywhere!. The accompanying increased traffic offers more opportunities for:

  • Potential investors to view our assets of natural beauty, affordable living and highly skilled labor force as solid reasons to build in the area;
  • Existing businesses to expand their operations;
  • Event planners to value our area as a prime venue for meetings and special activities; and
  • Stay-over tourists to visit for special events – such as the State Water Ski Show Championships, among many other opportunities.

Making a positive and lasting first impression on these visitors will help to ensure they want to continue to visit the area and patronize regional businesses, resulting in a considerable contribution to the regional economy.

Indeed, Sand Valley Golf Resort General Manager Glen Murray noted, “This is great news that our state officials see the significant value in continued infrastructure investment in Central Wisconsin and the airport. We are grateful for the partnership with Alexander Field and all those that are involved in this community asset.”

As chairman of the South Wood County Airport Commission, I have worked with fellow Commission members Arne Nystrom (Grand Rapids), Katie Martinson (Port Edwards) and Brad Hamilton (Nekoosa) for some time to seek funding for the airport. In the funding request submitted to the State in December of 2016, we emphasized the increased volume and size of aircraft we could expect in the near future and for some time to come from Sand Valley clients choosing private air travel as their means of access to central Wisconsin.

We also pointed out that, through thick and through thin, our community has made substantial investment over the years to support operation, maintenance and development of Alexander Field, viewing the airport as an essential feature for regional tourism, industry, public relations and economic development. The inclusion in the Senate’s budget plan of four million dollars for infrastructure improvements and expansion is a most positive step.

As Senator Testin observed, “This funding will help improve our infrastructure here in Wisconsin Rapids, and will be helpful for businesses and individuals in the region.”

I have enjoyed working with Senator Testin and Representative Scott Krug on this proposal. This project holds a lot of potential for central Wisconsin, and I am confident that the State Legislature and Governor Walker understand the importance of Alexander Field to our region and to the State’s economy as a whole.

AmeriCorps Needs A Leader to Serve Local Community Health Needs

AmeriCorps is seeking a very special person to improve the overall health of her/his community … while also gaining valuable work experience, developing sought-after job skills and enjoying career-building networking relationships.

As an AmeriCorps member, this individual will receive volunteer management training to recruit, train and supervise volunteers for Wood County Community Health Improvement Plan initiatives. Plan priorities include mental health, alcohol and other drugs, food systems, and achieving optimal health for youth and families.

The successful applicant will also create volunteer handbooks, application forms, and brochures; write position descriptions; and update website content and coordinate social media. The service period for this position extends from September 11, 2017 to August 31, 2018.

This is an opening for a person of college age, in particular, to create a record of community service and a vocational background coveted by potential employers.

Often viewed as a domestic Peace Corps, AmeriCorps places individuals with a wide range of local service programs that meet critical community needs. Marshfield Clinic Center for Community Outreach is a national service grantee, through which individuals are placed with nonprofits across Wisconsin. Nationwide, the program is supported by the U.S. federal government, foundations, corporations and other donors.

Find more application information here. You can also e-mail krauter-egge@co.wood.wi.us or anormington@co.wood.wi.us, or call 715-421-8911.

Check out this opportunity today!

Thanks for reading,

Mayor Zach Vruwink

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

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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

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

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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 www.invest.wirapids.org 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
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Mayor’s Youth Council Aquatics Survey Results, New Media Studio opens at McMillan Memorial Library

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Mayor’s Youth Council Aquatics Survey Results

Screen Shot 2016-06-25 at 5.45.30 AMOne of my proudest moments as Mayor of Wisconsin Rapids was the formation of the Mayor’s Youth Council in 2015. The Youth Council is a way to get young people from Lincoln, Assumption, and East Junior high schools to take ownership of their community’s future by getting involved in City government and planning neighborhood projects, such as the ”Kids to Park Day” event held this past June 18. Kids to Park Day, associated with National Park Trust and the First Lady’s “Let’s Move” initiative, was an event held to encourage kids and families to get out to local or national parks and play. This year was record breaking with over 1,100 events taking place across all 50 states.

Screen Shot 2016-06-24 at 2.59.07 PMThe Mayor’s Youth Council also recently reached out to area youth  with a survey to get their perspective on a pressing community issue: aquatics. The survey reached a total of 515 students, ranging from 13 to 18 years of age and from ninth to twelfth grades.

Major findings show:

  • 87 percent of survey respondents thought it was an “excellent” or “very good” idea to build a new pool to replace Mead Pool.
  • 87 percent thought is was “very likely “ or “somewhat likely” they would use an indoor aquatics facility.
  • 81 percent felt that way about an outdoor facility; and• Given a choice of facility locations, a substantial majority of 63 percent chose a location at Witter Field.

In addition, the young respondents voted by percentages of more than 70 percent in favor of facility features such as a wave pool/machine, slides, diving boards and concessions. By conducting this survey of their peers, the Mayor’s Youth Council has again demonstrated how our area’s young people can play a vital role in shaping a vibrant future for our community.

Survey results here.

New Media Studio opens at McMillan Memorial Library with Ribbon Cutting

Digital Lab

Libraries are more than just a place to read books and magazines, they provide for new and exciting technical opportunities for all ages.  McMillan Memorial Library, recently opened their new Media Lab, that represents a huge leap forward in inspiring area residents of all ages to become more familiar with technology and, ultimately, more creative in using its tools for personal expression, career development and community involvement.

Ribbon Cuttling libraryResidents celebrated the grand opening at a ribbon cutting celebration that took place on on June 15. The Media Lab is a “geek’s” paradise, with digital video and photography equipment, 3-D printers, scanners, a green screen, and a sound studio, among many other state-of-the-art features for creative expression. The space is free to use and open to the public. The only charges are
costs for anything printed through the photo printer, 3-D printing or film.

McMillan Memorial Library Assistant Director Brian Kopetsky has been a prime influence on conception and ongoing growth of the studio; he applied for and received partial funding from a Library Services and Technology Act grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and oversees its operation.

In addition, Tom Loucks, coordinator for River Cities Community Access Media, a Department  of the City, is on the steering committee for the Lab, and has signed on as an instructor for children, teens and adults who are willing to learn more about video and post-production techniques. One goal is to encourage more people to get involved in their community by getting out and possibly filming these events.  

The McMillan Memorial Library Media Lab provides a source of expression that is unique so be sure to check it out!

Thanks for reading,

Mayor Zach Vruwink

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Kick-off Wisconsin Rapids’ selection for Wisconsin Connect Communities program; Wood County Clean Sweep this Saturday; Mayor’s Youth and Beautification Councils collaborate on planting

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Community Update

Save the Date: Celebrate Wisconsin Rapids’ selection for Wisconsin economic development program

In July I shared Wisconsin Rapids had been selected to participate in the Connect Communities program. The Wisconsin Economic Development Corp’s (WEDC) selection is a result of the collaborative contributions of local residents, business people, government leaders, and nonprofit organizations to our Downtown revitalization effort.

wedcConnect Communities helps local stakeholders leverage the unique assets of their downtown and commercial districts, providing access to resources and networking opportunities to assist and enhance downtown district revitalization efforts.

To celebrate this latest phase in our Downtown redevelopment process, I invite you to join us for a formal announcement and participation session on Wednesday, October 14, from 4:30-6:30 p.m., at Wood County Courthouse, 400 Market Street. More details to follow

Wood County Clean Sweep this Saturday

This weekend, local households, businesses and farms can dispose of hazardous wastes in a safe, convenient and legal manner – at the annual Wood County Agricultural and Household Clean Sweep, Saturday, October 3, from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon, at the Saratoga Town Hall, 1116 State Highway 73.Screen Shot 2015-09-30 at 8.28.03 PM

Each household and farm may bring up to a combination of five gallons of liquid or 50 pounds of solid waste at no charge; or make special arrangements for larger quantities with the Wood County Health Department. Businesses and schools can get no-obligation estimates on low-cost chemical disposal by calling 715-295-2623.

You’ll also have the opportunity to exchange your mercury thermometer for a mercury-free digital thermometer.

Take time to rid your residence or business of potentially hazardous wastes. For more information, call the Wood County Health Department at 715-421-8911 or 715-387-8646

Mayor’s Youth & Beautification Councils collaborate on planting

This past February, I announced during my State of the City address the formation of the Mayor’s Youth Council. This council gives area youth an opportunity to be engaged and participate in IMG_6743meaningful, change-making efforts such as policy development, service and recreation.

This past week, members of the Youth Council along with the Mayor’s Council on Beautification planted new shrubbery near the Hwy. 54 Wisconsin Rapids/Biron boundary. Their active participation gives real hope for what we can accomplish when our younger citizens are involved. This project will greet our many visitors upon their entrance from the east. Please join me in thanking these young and dedicated citizens for doing their share to help ensure a healthier, more attractive community, both now and for future generations.

Thank you for reading,

Mayor Zach Vruwink

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Community Update – Summer fun coming to a close

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Park & Recreation summer fun coming to a close, with fall programs just around the corner;

The City of Wisconsin Rapids Park & Recreation Department’s summer season is quickly winding down, as Mead Pool closes Thursday, August 20, while the Municipal Zoo closes Sunday, August 23.

But if one (or more!) of your “family members” is a canine, you can still experience Mead Pool this Friday, August 21, for Doggie Daze. Residents can bring their dogs – with up-to-date vaccinations and who meet other requirements – to romp in the pool for one final family-oriented splash.

But even as the summer season comes to an end, Park & Rec offers a full slate of activities for the fall, with registration beginning online or in person on August 24.

Register online for fall Parks and Recreation programs.Screen Shot 2015-08-18 at 1.44.41 PM

Programs include tumbling classes for children ages 2-9, soccer for children ages 3-7 and tennis lessons for children ages 4-10; along with co-recreational adult and men’s volleyball leagues.

Two unique programs that promise to be a lot of fun are Nerf Wars, a “soft” combat competition for young people ages 7-14; and Pickleball, a fast-growing – and fast-moving – sport that combines, badminton, ping-pong and racquetball.

Residents can also look forward to two special events: the Great Pumpkin Hunt on October 29; and, just in time for the holidays, cupcake decorating classes for all “kids” ages 7 through adult.

Park & Recreation programs are also about promoting youth-development skills. The always-popular Red Cross babysitting certification classes for young people ages 11 and older return in October.

Take time to visit the Park & Recreation website www.wirapids.org or call 715-421-8240, starting August 24, to get full details on how you can register for these activities!

Thanks for reading,

Mayor Zach Vruwink

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