Friday, August 15, 2014

Judge Executive Townsend pays visit to Czech Republic

J-E News Editor
You might think that Webster County, Kentucky doesn’t even qualify for a dot on the international road map, but you might be surprised to learn that one county leader just returned from a conference in the Czech Republic.

Judge Executive Jim Townsend and a team from the Green River Area Development District (GRADD) spent nearly two weeks in the former Soviet republic, sharing ideas on topics such as governmental and economic development.
Since 2007 the GRADD area of Kentucky and the Olomouc Region (Olomoucký kraj) of the Czech Republic have officially been ‘Sister Regions’.
“It’s a lot like a sister city program, but it covers the entire region,” said Woody Maglinger, Community Relations Coordinator for GRADD. “We try to do a trip every two years, and they send someone here in the odd number years.”
Although the partnership has been in place since 2007, the relationship between the two regions goes back much further. The city of Owensboro and the Olomoucký kraj capital city of Olomouc have been sister cities since 1993.
“The region is very much like Kentucky as far as weather and agriculture,” Judge Townsend said. “We took a trip into the country and saw them growing corn, hops and barley.”
Czech farmers used much of the same equipment we see locally, including several Catepillar tractors. He added that it appeared to be an exceptionally good year for the Olomouc wheat crop.
“The region has a very old history,” Townsend said. “They are built on history, and their federal government spends billion improving their communities.”
The city of Olomouc is said to occupy the site of a Roman fort, and although there is no documentation of that, archeologists have uncovered the remains of a Roman military camp dating from the time of the Marcomannic Wars of the late 2nd century.
“The city has fortresses around it that were built in the 13th or 14th century,” he added. “They were basically a castle surrounded by a mote.”
The group spent much of their trip meeting with local government officials, including Ing. Jirí Rozboril, the governor of the Olomouc Region, who Townsend described as a young, progressive leader.
Next year the Olomouc Region is scheduled to send a delegation to the GRADD area for a visit. While they are here Judge Townsend said he hopes to get them to Webster County. He would particularly like to show the visitors the local coal mining industry, as their region of the Czech Republic is also a coal producing region.

J-E photos provided by GRADD.

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