Our History

.: 2001

January, 2001
The month is officially designated Sister City Awareness Month, with a photo opportunity for members of the OPEN Board to appear with Mayor Dave Aldridge while signing the proclamation in the Council Chamber of Newton's City Hall.
Discussion continues while the Board moves forward with its Year of Ukraine programming for the DMACC campuses. Marvin Campbell has received approval from DMACC for a project revolving around Food, Music and Culture. Because 2001 is the 10th anniversary of Ukraine's independence from the Soviet Union, plans are being considered to make OPEN's annual meeting in November a more special event than usual.
OPEN requested a $500 contribution, from the Newton Noon Kiwanis Club's International Relations Committee to be taken to Smila's Children's Therapeutic Hospital later this spring. A contingent of Board members (Maurice Phillips, Vladimir Bassis and Barry Hurto) is planning to visit Smila in May. At that time, they will also approach Mayor Vasil Bibik about an official visit to Newton either late in 2001 or early in 2002 as part of the Year of Ukraine celebration.

February, 2001
Russian business interns from Saratov region come to Central Iowa to mentor with local businesspeople through the auspices of IRIS. Those hosted in Jasper County include Mikhail Sokolovski (Cline Tool & Service), Ludmila Koltyrina (Hy-Vee East), Denis Krouglov (McDonald's and Burger King), and Julia Gvozdkova (Century 21 and ReMax).

March, 2001
Rita Baker joins the OPEN Board. Rita has been an active and valuable volunteer in many areas of the Newton community's organizational life.
OPEN votes to provide financial aid to Smila's Lyceum for Mathematics and Sciences for repairs on its building (specifically, the roof), and additional aid to the Regional Hospital's Obstetrics and Gynecology Department to supplement the Newton Noon Kiwanis gift. This will be delivered when the OPEN contingent visits in May. An outline for the visit is proposed. Larry Hurto, an ex-officio representative from Newton, will also accompany the group.
More Russian business interns visit Jasper County through the IRIS mentoring program. As always, OPEN assists with home stays. The group includes Viatcheslav Levanov, Aleksei Lugovskoy, Vadim Nikolayev, Aleksandr Soloviev, and Aline Kalashnikova.
A contingent of teachers and principals from the Tambov area of Russia arrive to mentor with Jasper County schools, arranged through IRIS. They include Roman Nazarov, history teacher; Valeriy Petrov, principal; Tatiana Sadchikova and Irina Druzhkina (Newton Community Schools), Irina Starovoitova (PCM Community Schools), Irina Potemina (Baxter Community Schools), and Irina Grigoriyeva (Colfax-Mingo Community Schools).
A group of business interns from Batumi, Republic of Georgia, come to Jasper County and IRIS for mentoring. Participants include Archil Mamulaishvili (partnered with Maytag Dairy Farms and Wal-Mart), Irina Dolidze (Iowa Interstate InterModal), Ketevan Oragvelidze (Jacob North Printing and Riggs Printing), Irakli Goradze (Neal Smith Prairie Learning Center near Prairie City and Keystone Labs), and Irakli Gogichaishvili (Jerry Koons, CPA and Town Square Travel).

May, 2001
A group of nine businessmen and women from Rustavi, Georgia arrives to participate in IRIS programming in Central Iowa. Jasper County interns include Paata Devdarian (working at First Federal and F & M Savings Banks), Nodar Eloshvili (Newton Clinic and Skiff Medical Center), Kakha Katsadza (Iowa TeleCom) and Nino Rekhviashvili (Country Kitchen, Diamond Dave's, Salvation Army, The Dressing Room and Headliners).
Viktoria Prudskaya, a former OPEN exchange student at Newton High School, is graduated from the University of Northern Iowa. She is married to Michael Powelka and the couple is living in Cedar Rapids, IA.
An official delegation representing OPEN departs for Ukraine on 22 May by way of Des Moines/Chicago/Warsaw/Kiev via LOT Polish Airlines. The Newton group, accompanied by five representatives of Friendship Force from Cedar Rapids (which includes host families of former IRIS participants), includes Maurice Phillips, Barry Hurto and Larry Hurto. The group stays overnight in Warsaw at Hotel Gromada and tours Old Town, departing the following morning for Boryspil Airport near Kiev, where Vladimir Bassis, Yelena Derzhayeva and Kolya Usenko are there to meet the delegation. The group spends several days at a sports hostel in Kiev, touring points of interest in the capital of Ukraine, including Pecherska Lavra, the Golden Gate of Kiev, the World War II museum, shopping at open markets, and joining former IRIS participants from Kiev for a reunion meeting. On 27 May the Cedar Rapids group leaves by train for Ternopil, and the Newton group by van for Smila. During their stay in Newton's sister city, Maury Phillips is hosted by Olga and Nikolai Maslyuk and their daughter, Irina; Barry Hurto by Valentina and Valeriy Krainikov; and Larry Hurto by Tatiana and Volodya Yarmish. One of the enjoyable highlights of the visit is a birthday celebration in Maury's honor at Krishchatyk Restaurant with the Maslyuk family and Yelena Malovichko. The group begins the official portion of their visit at the office of Smila's Mayor Vasil Bibik and other regional government officials, inviting Mayor Bibik on behalf of Newton's Mayor Dave Aldridge to visit Newton in January 2002.

June, 2001
The Newton contingent from OPEN continues its official visit in Smila, making a stop at the Regional Hospital's Obstetrics and Gynecology Department and delivering a gift of financial aid to the Chief of Staff. Other points of interest for the group include the Children's Home (Boy's Orphanage), where they enjoy a music and cultural dance program involving resident youth prepared for Ukrainian Children's Day on 1 June under the direction of Vladimir Milovanov; visits to a resident home for the mentally ill and a children's therapeutic hospital; and two trips to the Lyceum of Mathematics and Sciences for gifted and talented students in Smila. The first visit includes two opportunities to see English language classes in session, as well as meetings with Principal Sofia Anatoliyevna Hnida, and presenting financial aid from OPEN for building repairs. The second visit for the Hurto brothers is participating in a graduation ceremony for the first graduating class of Smila's newest school; at this ceremony, traditionally called The Last Bell in Ukraine, Barry Hurto is asked to make a speech to the students on behalf of OPEN and Newton. The speech is translated for students, staff and guests by Marina Mazurenko, another alumni of OPEN's exchange student program at PCM High School in Monroe. Maury attends The Last Bell ceremony at School No. 3. Finally, the Newton contingent also meets with Marina Yaroshchuk who, like Irina Maslyuk, will be a student at Newton High School, during the 2001-2002 school year.
The Newton group visits the Village Council at Kostiantinivka, two kilometers from Smila, and the village school, which was constructed in 1988. The participants meet with several members of the staff they met in 1995 and speak about OPEN exchange student alumni Inna Trikiz, who was graduated from this school. Later, they visit the former Serp I Molot Collective Farm, which encompasses Kostiantinivka and two other villages, which has been privatized since OPEN's 1998 visit. Vladimir Tarakhtiy, the director, tells the group the farm has been renamed Lan and that former director Ivan Pichkur has died.
The last leg of the visit is to the city of Cherkasy, half-an-hour's drive by car from Smila and former home of Vladimir and Irina Bassis. A reunion with Cherkasy IRIS interns is held, a picnic at the country home of Yefim and Yestella Verlinskiy, parents of Yelena Dershayeva, one of the participants. The Cedar Rapids group reunites with the Newton group and visit private businesses owned by the Verlinskiy family, including a sunflower seed snack company and Office 2000, a wholesale office supply outlet owned by Dershayeva's brother Vladimir. The groups stay in Cherkasy at the newly-remodeled Hotel Ukraina, and visit local points of interest including Kholodniy Yar (Cold Valley), the village of Buda, the Maksim Zaliznyak Oak (the oldest tree in Ukraine, 1000 years old), and several places of interest in Chigirin region, including churches where the Ukrainian national hero and poet, Taras Shevchenko, once visited. Tour guides include Nikita Seliverstov and Mariya Dovganyuk, both of whom have visited Newton; Dovganyuk's daughter Alla Smothers is married to a Newton resident and currently lives in Mingo, IA.
The trip includes many memorable moments with friends both old and new and too numerous to name here, but whom all played important roles in making the travelers feel welcome. All the participants agree that it has been an experience that won't soon be forgotten, and they are proud to have made the decision to go. At this time, Vladimir, Maury, Barry and Larry would like to wish all their friends in Ukraine congratulations on the occasion of their country's 10th anniversary of independence, which will be celebrated on 24 August. The official visit ends in Newton on 6 June.
Marvin Campbell returns from Ukraine and announces that he has met with a prodigious film director named Oles Yanchuk, renowned for his important works Famine-33 and Undefeated, a World War II story. Marvin has made arrangements for Mr. Yanchuk to participate in DMACC's Year of Ukraine celebration, which will include a screening of Undefeated on more than one of the campuses. Barry Hurto is also investigating other film possibilities for the project.
Barry Hurto presents programs about the 2001 trip to Ukraine for Newton Noon Kiwanis, Golden K Kiwanis, and St. Stephen's Episcopal Church, as well as for residents at Park Centre, where he is employed.

August, 2001
Maury Phillips presents a program to Jasper County and Poweshiek County Retired Federal Employees about Newton's sister city organization and its relationships with Smila and Wu Chi, and about the official visits to Smila.
Planned arrival of the two foreign exchange students will take place on 15 August. Maury Phillips and John McNeer will meet Irina Maslyuk and Marina Yaroshchuk in Chicago. Irina, or Ira, will be staying in the home of Ken and Jody Smith. Marina will be living with Jerry and Jamie Sawin and their family. Both will be sophomores at Newton High School.

September, 2001
Rita Baker reported on the OPEN insert to the City of Newton City Report. Seven board members will travel to Chicago to attend the 10th Anniversary celebration of the Ukrainian Independence. A potluck was held to welcome the new students from Ukraine. On September 24th, 2001 Smila, Ukraine will celebrate its 469th anniversary of it's founding. OPEN will host business interns at a reception on September 29th at the Radisson Hotel.

October, 2001
OPEN assisted Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) on the Year Of Ukraine project. All of the DMACC campuses had an opening celebration. Also, as part of the Year Of Ukraine project we obtained and did show the Ukrainian film The Undefeated.

November, 2001
OPEN's Annual Meeting was held at the Congregational U.C.C. Church here in Newton. The Consul General was invited, as was the Taiwan Consul General.

December, 2001
Both exchange students from Smila are continuing to do very well. Airline security, as a result of the September 11th event has created more difficulties when flying on commercial carriers. We are now able to communicate with the Smila Lyceum using E-Mail. We will have a reception for the interns from the Republic of Georgia. Funding for the Cherkasy art project was approved for another year.