Archive for Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Baldwin City looking for sister city matches

Baldwin City Hall

Baldwin City Hall

April 2, 2013

Although it has its eye on a couple of attractive candidates, Baldwin City will be looking for a match or two on the Internet.

The Baldwin Council agreed Monday to join the Sister Cities International Program at the cost of $150 annually. The action stemmed from Robin Goff’s request that the city adopt Riviersonderend, South Africa, as its sister city.

Goff, the owner of The Light Center in southwestern Douglas County, travels often to the South African farming community to help AIDS orphans and their caretaker grandmothers, including a project that enlisted Quilters’ Paradise to help finish quilts the South African grandmothers started.

Goff noted Baldwin City and Riviersonderend were both farming communities and of similar size.

On a report Monday, City Clerk Collin Bielser said if Baldwin City joined the Sister Cities International Program, it could pursue the arrangement with Riviersonderend and adopt other sister cities without an increase in the annual fee.

One way to find good candidates was to use the organization’s online Cities Seeking Cities matchmaker online profile, which Bielser characterized as much like online dating services. Baldwin City would put its profile on the site for those in other cities to review while doing the same with other foreign municipalities.

Bielser reported Lawrence Assistant City Manager Cynthia Wagner informed him all three of that city’s sister city arrangements grew from existing Kansas University exchange programs. Baker University had such arrangement with Harlaxton College near Grantham, England, he said. Harlaxton is 7 miles from the original location of Osborne Chapel.

Bielser said Grantham or another village in its vicinity could be sister city candidates, a suggestion council members embraced.

The benefit for Baldwin City would be cultural and educational exchanges with sister cities, Bielser said. Among the possibilities he suggested were an international high school club with a pen-pal exchange and an art show from a sister city at the Lumberyard Arts Center.

At Bielser’s suggestion, the council voted to join the Sister Cities International Program and designate the council’s community development committee as the local advisory board the program requires. Council candidates Christi Darnell and Kathy Gerstner, who have experience on school district’s PTO and site council, requested representation on the board. It was also suggested members of the Lumberyard Arts Center board, the school district and Baker University join the group.

The council also reviewed plans Baldwin City residents submitted for a statue the Kansas Sculptors Association is to carve. The council has budget $10,000 to bring association members to Baldwin City at a yet undetermined date this spring to conduct a workshop.

As part of that arrangement, artists from the association will carve a piece of public art to leave in Baldwin City. City Administrator Chris Lowe said the assumption was that it would be placed near the City Hall flower box because of the prominence and security of the position. A smaller work could be place on another corner of the intersection to tie it together, he said.

Lowe asked council members to look over the submitted drawings and models for details that could be part of the final design, which they will approve. Design elements present in most of the submittals were references to the community’s Bleeding Kansas and Santa Fe Trail history and the maple leaf.

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