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Group seeks Swiss sister city
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MONROE - An ad hoc group of citizens is looking into the possibilities of finding a sister city for the city of Monroe.

Karen Fowdy, Lisa Hendrickson, Bobbie and Hans Bernet, and Pam Christopher met Sunday at the home of Mayor Bill and Marilyn Ross.

"I asked about doing this about 20 years ago," Mayor Ross said. At that time, not many people seemed interested, he added.

Times have changed, said several members of the group, and international exchanges in culture, tourism, trades and agriculture are now commonplace. They see Monroe as an "international flavor community."

For many years, Fowdy, Hendrickson and the Bernets have played large parts in foreign student and teacher exchanges, especially in Monroe School District. They now intend to expand those experiences into community exchanges.

Fowdy, a retired teacher, said the fun of having exchange students in her German classes made her wish for the same opportunities.

"Where are the adult exchange programs?" she said, smiling.

The student exchange programs tend to concentrate on education, so the Monroe group is focusing on developing cultural, people-to-people relationships as well as economic exchanges in trade, agriculture and tourism.

Through their acquaintances in chambers of commerce, Kiwanis Clubs and mayors of other Wisconsin cities, members of the Monroe group plan to investigate how other area sister cities are set up and how some local businesses operate in the international world.

Later, they will investigate prospective sister cities, turning to Switzerland as one of the top counties to explore.

Bill and Marilyn Ross are also planning a trip to Switzerland before the end of next year. While there, they would like to connect with Monroe's sister city, make the proper introductions and start the exchanges rolling.

The group would like to compile a list of ties that Monroe already has with Switzerland. Anyone with close personal or business connections to that country is encouraged to contact the Monroe Chamber of Commerce at (608) 325-7649.