SANFORD: Council considering exploratory committee for Chinese sister city

Jun. 13, 2013 @ 05:02 AM

Community leaders urged Sanford City Council to consider Yixing, China, as a possible sister city and establish an exploratory committee to bridge the two municipalities Wednesday.

Central Carolina Community College President Bud Marchant, CCCC Confucius Classroom Professor Ling Huang and Herald Publisher Bill Horner III advocated for the sister city relationship — a program that pairs international cities for the purposes of diplomacy, culture, student exchanges and shared programs — during the council's 1 p.m. Law and Finance Committee meeting.

According to Marchant, the exploratory committee's tentative goals would include:

* Generating community interest and presenting Yixing as a possible sister city candidate.

* Devising projects to garner "enthusiastic community support."

* Forming a delegation to visit Yixing. A "letter of intent" could be signed by Chinese officials.

* Organizing a reciprocal visit from Yixing, and a formal sister city agreement would be signed.

* Establishing a formal Sanford-Yixing Sister City Committee to sustain the relationship. 

The objectives could be altered, Marchant said, and CCCC would be able to facilitate the meetings. Both of the municpalities would have to approve the relationship, and the decision, he said, is "by no means final."

Yixing is very similar to Sanford because of its central location, Huang said — in addition to being environmentally friendly and known for its pottery.

Sanford Mayor Cornelia Olive said she believes the council will accept the request to form the exploratory committee during its 7 p.m. Tuesday meeting.

"I would love for us to accomplish that," she said. "It would be so much fun to share ourselves with a city and country whose culture is so different from our own."

Horner traveled to China earlier this month to discuss and share the idea of community with Chinese journalists. The Chinese culture doesn't foster a sense of community, he said, and a sister city relationship could spur that international dialogue.

Olive said a sense of community is deeply rooted within Sanford and worth sharing.

"We have neighbors helping neighbors," she said. "And not just in an emergency, but as a way of life."

In other matters, council considered:

* A presentation concerning the physical space needs of city staff within the Sanford Municipal Center, including the police department facility.

* A presentation of a proposed bike plan for the city that will be made available online.

* A resolution stating the "worst-case" impact of the proposed bond referendum on the property tax rate. The referendum includes several "community defining" projects. If all of the programs began construction at the same time, the city would have to raise the property tax rate by 5.25 cents, according to Sanford Finance Director Melissa Cardinali. 

* Comments from Councilman Rebecca Wyhof on constituents' positive reception of the pedestrian crossing and lighting in Jonesboro.

* Comments from Councilman Charles Taylor concerning his dissatisfaction in the lack of budget sessions for the 2013-2014 budget. The council is set to vote on the budget during its meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday.