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Plans made for changes in sister partnership

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

Special Ambassador Elenora Dugosh Goodley of the Bandera County Sister Partnership discussed with city council the cost-cutting measures the organization has implemented. During the Thursday, Feb. 7, meeting, she also requested council's approval for a new partnership with "The Cowboy Capital of France and Europe."
Dugosh proposed to downsize the official delegations to sister cities, Strzelce Opolskie and Rozmierz, Poland, by limiting the visits to only six official members. Additionally, beginning this year, the length of the visits would be reduced to one week. Increasingly limited resources of the city and county - on both sides of the ocean - necessitated the changes.
The six-member delegation will include city and county representatives, teachers and business owners, but no students. Spouses of official delegates may also be included. The partnership school exchange program with Poland will be turned over to the Bandera Independent School District.
In addition, due to liability concerns, affidavits of support will be limited to only official delegates. Because the Bandera Sister Partnership receives city and county funds, that monetary support must be used strictly for official delegates of the exchange program.
Goodley said that County Judge Richard noted that the modifications would make the exchange program "more efficient." "The Polish representatives also agreed with the changes as their resources are more limited, too," Dugosh said.
During a recent meeting with Evans and Precinct 4 Commissioner Doug King, who serves as county liaison for the project, the legal mission and by-laws supported by Sister Cities International were adopted for a "more structured" local organization.
Goodley urged council to appoint a member to the board, which would offer the city an opportunity to "be a part of what's going on."
In addition, she asked council to approve a Sister Partnership request from towns in the Camargue region of southern France, the walled city of Aigue Mortes and San Marie De La Mar, a famous gypsy village. The request, she said, had come through the Fort Worth Sister Cities International (SCI), which pairs up like cities in Texas and Europe.
SCI Representative Mary Palko suggested that Bandera officials invite representatives from Aigue Mortes and San Marie De La Mar to Bandera while they are attending an annual conference in San Antonio this July.
Located on the delta of the Rhone River, Camargue features water access, marshes, flamingos, Camargue bulls and horses specific to the region.
Goodley assured council that the addition of the two French cities would not require the use of public funds. She added that grants are available to support sister city projects.
She also dispelled rumors that delegates to Poland travel there at taxpayer expense. "We pay for everything out of our own pockets," she said. As a matter of protocol, funds from the Bandera Economic Development Corporation are used only for the official banquet, transportation and gifts. "Last year, we received less than $3,000," Goodley said, adding that future support would come from the hotel-motel taxes paid by out-of-county tourists. Councilman Binky Archer noted that HOT funds are subject to availability.
Hegemier made a motion to accept Goodley's proposal and it passed unanimously.
In related business, during their meeting on Thursday, Feb. 14, Bandera County Commissoners also supported pursuit of a possible partnership with the Camargue region of France. In addition, they reappointed Goodley as special ambassador to the partnership program for a second four-year term, ending Dec. 31, 2016.