Vice Mayor of Chandler welcomed at Town Hall

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Vice Mayor of Chandler welcomed at Town Hall thumbnail Kevin Hartke Vice Mayor receiving a presentation from the Cathaoirleach of Offaly County Concil Cllr Liam Quinn, to mark the occasion of Mr Harke's visit to Tullamore Municipal District offices.

THE Vice Mayor of Chandler, Arizona, Kevin Hartke was welcomed to the offices of Tullamore Municipal District last Monday afternoon by the Cathaoirleach of Offaly County Council, Councillor Liam Quinn and the Cathaoirleach of Tullamore Municipal District, Councillor Sinead Dooley.

Chandler is a sister city of Tullamore and there have been a number of exchanges, notably by students from the Sacred Heart School who regularly visit and attend Seaton High School, while students from there came here.

In his address, Cllr Quinn said: ''It has been a great experience for me to have you over here and I think the town twinning programme is a great idea.''

He said local businessman, Tony McCormack had done a lot of work on the project and he thanked him for that. He also paid tribute to the President of the Board of Trustees for Chandler-Tullamore Sister Cities project, Ellen Harrington and Camilla Cullen from Tullamore who he said have ''put in a huge effort into the project.''

''In Offaly we have to work that little bit harder to carve out our niche around the tourism brand and attract people to see what we have here, such as Clonmacnoise, Birr Castle the Slieve Bloom mountains. We work very hard to promote Offaly. We have it all developed around the notion of Ireland's hidden gem and when people come to the county they realise that there is more on offer than they would have experienced or thought before. Anything you can do to promote that, on your side of the pond is very welcome,'' he said.

''It has been an honour for me as cathaoirleach to welcome you. I want to wish you the very best of luck. This time next year you are hoping to be elected Mayor of Chandler and hopefully we will see you back in Offaly in the not too distant future.''

Cllr Sinead Dooley. told the visitors that she had been involved with the twinning and the whole sister cities project from the outset with Tony McCormack who was a councillor at the time.

''It was an idea which grew completely from Camilla Cullen and her husband David who was employed with Intel a wonderful company which I wish we had an outreach of in the Tullamore electoral area,'' stated Cllr Dooley.

''But when Dave moved to Chandler in Arizona, one can only imagine the huge upheaval and upset for the whole Cullen family. But Camilla being Camilla, did not take it sitting down and she created something wonderful. I'm very grateful that Camilla met up with Ellen Harrington and out of that we have the sister cities,''

''I know the chamber are very active as well and Tony McCormack has managed to foster some relationships with chambers and companies as well.

The exchange we have in the Sacred Heart School with Seaton High is a wonderful example of how it has been extended,'' she said.

Cllr Dooley said she hoped there would be more developments in the future especially opportunities for growing business in Tullamore.

Mr Tony McCormack said he wanted to clarify that the sister cities project was started by the Tullamore Chamber of Commerce who set up a sub-committee lead by Brian Garvin, about 8 years ago.

In his speech, Mr Hartke said he was thoroughly enjoying his trip to Tullamore.

''I understand why for economic reasons people might move to the United States, but this is truly a gem. Your community is a gem, the Midlands is a gem and your people are a gem. We enjoyed being at the Tullamore show and your hospitality is second to none, Your beauty as a country is outstanding, It's character is beyond our belief. We celebrated our 100th anniversary as a city. 100 years as a city seems very significant, but to come and walk in the shadows of buildings and ruins that make that a small child was outstanding. So I have thoroughly enjoyed this. I believe that relationships are where most things start and I would love to see some economic push that would be mutually beneficial,'' he added.

Mr Hartke was then presented with a book written by Heritage Officer, at Offaly County Council, Amanda Pedlow, called 101 Quirky Things about Offaly. He also received a local authority pin. His wife Lynne was presented with a scarf with the Offaly County Council logo.

In turn Mr Harke emptied a suitcase of gifts and items which he presented to Cllrs Quinn and Dooley before handing out smaller items to everyone present.

He and his wife Lynne then took some refreshments before departing for Down and are planning on visiting Dingle in Kerry later this week.


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