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Wilsonville government to take control of sister city program with Kitakata

COURTESY PHOTO - Wilsonville citizens visited sister city Kitakata, Japan, in 2019.

The Wilsonville government is on the verge of establishing a board that would manage the sister-city relationship with Kitakata, Japan.

The relationship between the two cities has lasted for over 30 years. During that time, delegations of students and sometimes elected officials visit their sister-city counterparts annually to experience a culture different from their own.

The Wilsonville Sister City Association formerly managed the program but struggled to attract enough volunteers or garner enough donations. This is why it requested that the city take ownership in 2019.

During a work session Monday, Nov. 16, Wilsonville City Council discussed the establishment of a board and will vote soon to formalize it.

The board will consist of between five and nine members and will make recommendations about potential tweaks to the program to the council, which will have the final say. The city may add $15,000 to the current fiscal budget to facilitate the program.

Mayor Tim Knapp said the hospitality he and the Wilsonville delegation received when they visited Kitakata was astounding. And he's hoping that the city taking over the program will allow Wilsonville to offer a better experience for the Kitakata residents and create more support for the program locally.

"I would hope that this program can benefit over time from having a more formalized structure in the city that brings more opportunity for people to participate," he said.

Zoe Monahan, the assistant to the city manager, said the Kitakata sister-city representatives also would like to see the two sides develop more of an avenue for exchanging ideas.

Applications to join the board are slated to be due Jan. 29.

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