Wisconsin Rapids mayor reflects on first year - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Wisconsin Rapids mayor reflects on first year


It's been one year since a 24-year-old was elected mayor of Wisconsin Rapids. Now, he's reflecting back on his term so far and where to go from here.

One year ago, Zach Vruwink was celebrating at his victory party. More than 60 percent of Wisconsin Rapids voters cast their ballots for him. Now, at just 25-years-old, he's sitting in his office as mayor.

"There's a lot of work to build a strong foundation and I feel that we're going to have long term change in this community; positive change," Vruwink told Newsline 9.

The mayor said his first year has been a whirlwind, but with one more to go, there's still work to be done.

"Building a stronger local economy is something every mayor is looking to do," Vruwink said.

Mayor Vruwink said he still sees a lot of possibilities for growth in Wisconsin Rapids. He said the river front is one of the underutilized parts of the city, and hopes he can make some changes there in his next year in office.

"I'm very excited about looking at ways that we can involve the community in deciding what the best use of the river front is for them," said Vruwink.

But his term has also seen several challenges. One of the city's biggest employers, NewPage, recently announced layoffs at its paper mill. Vruwink said that's one area he's focusing on.

"The paper industry is what it is, it's going to continue to decline, but to maintain that and to maintain the labor force," said Vruwink.

Vruwink claims there is growth expected during the next year, although he didn't have exact numbers to share.

"Our service sector in Wisconsin Rapids has gained some traction. The word I'm hearing, with companies that employ 5-35 are projecting growths," said Vruwink.

So far, ruin says he's learned a lot. And with one year in the books, one of the state's youngest mayors says he looks forward to what's to come.

Vruwink said while he will formally make the decision in the fall, he says he has every intention of running for re-election next year.

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