Polish natives visit HartsellePublished 3:12pm Tuesday, July 22, 2014
Hartselle Mayor Don Hall hosted a three-member delegation of Polish visitors on Monday as they sought information about governance in a small American city and answers to questions that might prove helpful to them in promoting democracy support and civil society building in Eastern Europe.
The visitors were Lukasz Byrski, coordinator for the Belarus Program, Strefan Batory Foundation; Justyna Janiszewska, chairman of the board, Education for Democracy Foundation; and Agnieszka Komorowska, chairwoman of the East European Democratic Center. All three reside in Warsaw, Poland.
During a 90-minute roundtable discussion, Hall gave an overview of the city’s operations and answered questions about its revenue base and the opportunities its citizens have to voice their opinions about local government issues. Council President Bill Smelser and City Clerk/Controller Rita Lee also participated in the question/answer segment of the roundtable.
In addition, Police Chief Ron Puckett spoke briefly about his department’s role in protecting the safety and welfare of the public, pointing out that Hartselle has one of the lowest crime rates in North Alabama.
To the question: “How do you protect the rights of immigrants?” he replied. “We don’t have many immigrants here, maybe two to three percent Hispanics. They are no problem for us.”
Hartselle Area Chamber of Commerce President Susan Hines talked about the Chamber’s role in promoting retail business activity and networking with city, county and state government to sustain and grow jobs.
“We work together as a team seeking opportunities to build a strong local economy,” Hines said.
Byrski noted that Hartselle was chosen as a small city for the group of visit because of its low crime rate, excellent schools and its listing in a national guidebook as one of the nation’s 100 Best Small towns.
The visitors were invited to the United States under the auspices of the Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program. Locally, they were sponsored by the International Services Council of Alabama in Huntsville.
The group toured the Hal Lee poultry farm west of Hartselle before their visit to town hall.