By Andrea Raby
Mason Times staff writer
MASON—It’s been almost four months since a crew of four took the retired fire truck from Mason to Vitina, Kosovo, but since then the bonds between the cities have continued to strengthen.
At a meeting on Nov. 7, city council unanimously approved the resolution to form a sister city alliance with Vitina. Vitina’s elected assembly had previously approved the measure.
City Administrator Martin Colburn said that the relationship stemmed from a humanitarian mission that turned diplomatic. After the delivery of the fire truck, both cities wished for a more concrete relationship.
“With this sister city alliance we hope to set up a cultural exchange between the two cities,” Colburn said. “This means exchanges between the two governments as well as a possible high school exchange student program.”
Colburn also said they hope to promote economic development in this unstable country.
Former mayor of Vitina, Jakup Jahiri, spoke at a city council meeting on Dec. 3 to thank Mason and its residents for everything they had done. According to the meeting notes, Jahiri said the Sister City relationship is a sign of honor for Vitina.
Sister city status is already causing more action. Mayor Leon Clark said a group of diplomats from Vitina are coming over from March 16-24 to explore Mason.
“I’m very anxious for them to come here,” Clark said. “They treated us like royalty and I’m really excited about them coming over and returning the hospitality.”
Clark went on to say he wanted to connect the representatives to Michigan State University or some local agencies to allow them to make contacts and network while here in the United States.
Colburn said he had heard quite a bit of positive feedback about the alliance and that we can continue to help Vitina.
Mason resident Harold Pitman said that a relationship between Vitina and Mason was definitely a good thing.
“It’s good to build this relationship. We can bring something to them and maybe they can even bring something to us,” Pitman said. “It’s a great way to bring people together.”