By Brandi Makuski
City officials this week departed on a goodwill mission to Rostov Veliky, Russia.
Rostov is one of two sister cities to Stevens Point, the other being Gulcz, Poland. Officials from Rostov visited the area last year and toured local parks and buildings, and learned about municipal infrastructure in the city.
Mayor Mike Wiza and Utilities Director Joel Lemke left on Aug. 9 along with Maia Johnson, who represents the city’s Sister City organization, and Ron and Donna Zimmerman. Ron Zimmerman was previously director of the Schmeekle Reserve, and goes in place of Parks Director Tom Schrader, who Wiza said was unable to make two-week the trip.
“Environmental issues and green space were a big concern of their’s when they visited us,” Wiza said. “They were amazed by our Green Circle Trail, so we wanted someone familiar with our green space here to go to Russian with us.”
Donna Zimmerman is a retired interior design professor and is involved with the new Cultural Commons slated for construction in Pfiffner Pioneer Park. She’s helping arrange the design of a bell — “it’s an actual bell that works,” Wiza said — that Rostov officials plan to donate for the new city space at a later time.
Johnson said she planned to meet with a student at Rostov who will eventually travel to Stevens Point.
“Since 9/11 the cost of a visa has gone up so much, but we had an anonymous donor give the $3,000 to pay for her visa,” Johnson said. “She won a scholarship and was best in her class in English, and we’re going to discuss her trip here.”
The group returns on Aug. 24.