Miscellaneous Donations to Slovakia
During tours to Slovakia special projects were initiated. Clothing and
money were given annually to The Dietky Dom (Children's Home) in
Ružomberok. A $2000 donation was given to the Society of the Divine
Word, Nitra, Slovakia for purchase of state-of-the-art media equipment
for thier use in evangelization. 300 baseballs were given to the Košice
Knights Baseball team. Fifty boxes of clothing were either shipped or
hand-carried to Spišská Nová Ves, Levoča and Nitra. The boxes contained
sporting equipment and clothing purchased at the "end of summer sales"
at local stores. In 2011 Jim and Kay Bench hand-carried $5650 to the
mayor of SNV for assistance in purchasing a new pump for the fire truck
at the volunteer fire department. In 2012, an additional $3000 was
donated toward the purchase of the Information Systems of Civil
Protection - a warning siren system at the SNV winter stadium (ice
rink) in the SNV centrum.
Slovak Folk Groups
Youngstown Sister Cities, in conjunction with Pittsburgh and Cleveland
Sister Cities groups, has sponsored four folk groups to the United
States. These include: Sluk Dance Group, Funny Fellows, Raslavican Folk
Ensemble, Ivasta Father/Son Duo from Bratislava and the Cečinka Folk
Group. All concerts were "donation only" funded and were held at
local high school theater settings. YSC provided room and meals
with area slovak families while the performers were in
Youngstown Coat of Arms in Spišská Nová Ves
and Street Signs at Youngstown Entrances
At the entrance of the City Hall in Spišská Nová Ves, The Coat of Arms
for the towns in the Sister Cities family are displayed
prominently. The large Seal of the City of Youngstown is visible at the
top left of the group and represents our partnership with SNV.
At four prominent entrances to Youngstown, street signs have been
erected on major roads stating "Welcome to Youngstown - Sister City of
Spišská Nová Ves". The signs also feature flags of Slovakia, a Seal of
the City of Youngstown and the Coat of Arms of SNV.
New Sister City Signs Grace the Entrances to Youngstown
Sign in SNV Centrum showing all sister cities affiliations.
A good friend to Sister Cities - Lucia Kormošová standing in
SNV city hall entrance with Youngstown crest at upper left.
Board Director Brian Petruska Teaches in Bratislava
Director Board Director Brian Petruska spent one year in 2008 teaching
at the QSI International School in Bratislava, Slovakia. He and his
wife Kara traveled to Spišská Nová Ves to represent Youngstown Sister
Cities in the celebration of the 740th anniversary of the founding of
George Voinovich Sponsors
Visa Waiver Roundtable
George Voinovich (R-Ohio) hosted a luncheon
and roundtable discussion of the Visa Waiver Program, which would
the ninety-day visa
program to all nations that abide by strict
guidelines who assist the United States in the fight against
The event was held at Saints Cyril and Methodius Slovak
Church in Warren, Ohio. Invited guests included two or three
representatives of various nationalities that have expressed an
interest in extending visits by relatives from European countries.
Bernie Demechko, Secretary, and Steve Bacon, President Emeritus,
Youngstown Sister Cities, represented regional Slovak Americans.
Steve had visited Ambassador Rastislav in Washington the week before
and the Embassy emailed the Youngstown Sister Cities a list showing
of NATO and the United States in world affairs.
The email stated: 100
troops from Slovakia (Engineering Battalion) helped with mine removal
and had just returned home to Slovakia from Iraq….ten Slovak
military instructors are still in Iraq training their
troops…60 Slovak troops are in Afghanistan (Engineering) at
Kabul Airport. When they were recently asked to move to the more
dangerous site of Kandahar, they readily agreed to do so…4
Slovak soldiers have been killed in Iraq…40 Slovak troops
were killed in 2006 when the airplane that was bringing them home to
Slovakia from Kosovo crashed near Košice. The email further elaborated
Slovakia is a non-permanent member of the United Nations and
consistently votes with the United States. One military airport in
Slovakia is used for training purposes but there are no NATO airbases
The Visa Waiver Program is an amendment to the Homeland Security Bill
and would include stricter measures such as electronic passports with
biometric information chips for identification, stricter
passenger screening, and the exchange of lists of suspected terrorists
UPDATE (August 2007) A letter was received from Senator George
Voinovich informing Youngstown Sister Cities that on July 26 the full
Senate voted for passage of Senate Bill 4 which included the Visa
Waiver Legislation. This will permit citizens
deserving countries to visit the United States without severe
restrictions. Slovakia is included in this group. A
you email has been sent to the Senator from the YSC secretary
his intensive and extensive work on this bill.
Gigi Bacon and Bernie Demechko with Senator George Voinovich
Medical Equipment to Slovakia
In 1992, Governor George
Voinovich of Ohio issued a press release stating medical equpiment from
three closing veterans' hospitals would be made available to the
public. The Youngstown - Spišská Nová Ves Sister Cities Program
traveled to Rickenbacker Air Force Base and tagged items to be donated
to Slovakia. Thirteen containers of items (weighing 13 tons and valued
at $11 million dollars) were sent that year to the Spiš region. The
cost of transportation for the initial shipment, $13,000 , was assisted
by the Cleveland - Bratislava Sisiter Cities Program and the George
Soros Foundation and was transported by our US Air Force through the
Denton Program (U.S. Government) with assistance of Rotary District
Since 1992, $15,000,000
of medical equipment has been sent through our program including two
catscan machines, two magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines, two
mammogram machines, a Picker Dynamo II camera for cardiac surgery,
three portable x-ray machines, two EKG monitors, operating tables and
beds. The Youngstown - Spišská Nová Ves Sister Cities Program pays for
all electrical conversions for the medical equipment, as well as the
crating of equipment and transportation to destinations in Slovakia.
The U.S. Air Force base in Vienna, Ohio was responsible for
transporting CAT Scanners, MRI and various other medical equipment in
the late 1990's with Rotary clubs in Austria and Slovakia providing
English Teachers to Slovakia
1991 to 1998, Youngstown - Spišská Nová Ves Sister Cities sent 42
teachers to Slovakia to teach English at Spiš schools and seminaries
for a six-month period. Sister Cities recruited the teachers, and paid
for their airfare and medical expenses. The city of Spišská Nová Ves
provided a free apartment and monthly stipend for each teacher. In 1998
the Peace Corps and local teachers met the demand for English classes
so this program was discontinued. Teachers from across America and
Canada volunteered for this effort.
Computer Equipment to Slovakia
the early 1990s, The Youngstown - Spišská Nová Ves Sister Cities
Program shipped twenty personal computers, five printers, and two
microscopes to schools in Levoca, Slovakia. In 2000, computers were
shipped to Doctor Marian Kopecny, Bratislava Hospital, to be used for
inventory, scheduling, and patient information. In 2003, thirty
computers and printers were donated by the school board in the city of
Oregon, Ohio and shipped to Zilina in Central Slovakia.
Visits by Slovak Mayors and Businessmen
1994, the Youngstown - Spišská Nová Ves Sister Cities Program sponsored
a seminar at Youngstown State Univeristy for mayors from 25 cities from
Slovakia. A luncheon was held with the mayors which was attended by
Youngstown area businessmen, politicians, state officials, and
university administration. Tours of the Youngstown State School of
Engineering were arranged and communication was facilitated between the
Slovak visitors and the Youngstown research community.
similar visit by 20 Slovak businessmen was held, including tours of
Pittsburgh and surrounding cities. In Youngstown, they were given tours
of the local General Motors assembly plant and the Schwebel Baking
Company. Board member Rick Salata, of Mill Creek Homes, arranged for
the complete assembly of a home to be accomplished in one week, so the
mayors can observe modern construction practices.
Extended Visit by Karol Mitrik and Jan Hurny
2000, Sister Cities hosted the mayor of Spišská Nová Ves, Karol Mitrik,
and his commissioner, Jan Hurny. A meeting was held with George
McKelvey, Mayor of Youngstown, and keys to the city were exchanged.
Special guided tours of infrastructure, such as sewage treatment and
water distribution, were conducted. They also attended a Slovak Mass at St. Matthias
Church in Youngstown and visited the International Exhibit at the
Mahoning County Canfield Fair, the second largest county fair in the state of
Establishment of Rotary Club in Spišská Nová Ves
order to facilitate a high school student exchange program though
Rotary International, a Rotary Club was organized in Spišská Nová Ves.
There are now over two dozen Rotary Clubs in Slovakia, and any student
wishing to be a part of the student exchange program must submit their
applications to an established Rotary Club. To date, in cooperation
with Rotary District 6650, there have been 17
students involved in the program, two-thirds being Slovak students
studying in the United States, and the other third being American
studying in Slovakia. Sister Cities assists in paying for the airfare
and health care
premiums of the students. In addition, Sister Cities also
pays for American students in Rotary District 6650 to attend an
intensive Slovak Language class held at the University of Pittsburgh
(Pitt) during the summer prior to departure.
Hosting Students from Slovakia
Sister Cities treats the visiting students and their host families to
the Villija Dinner (Slovak Christmas Eve dinner/celebration) sponsored
by the American Slovak Cultural Association. A monetary gift is
presented to every student who attends and each student addresses the
group, mentioning their goals for the future.
Tours to Slovakia
have been planned with the Youngstown - Spišská Nová Ves Sister Cities
Program every year since 1992. Highlights of the tour include visiting
various sites throughout Slovakia and meeting the Mayor of Spišská Nová
Ves at City Hall. Every meeting with the Mayor includes brunch, chamber
music, signing of the guestbook, and a presentation of individual gifts
for each member of the tour. The crest of the City of Youngstown,
hand-carved in wood hangs on the wall of the entry to the City Hall in
Spišská Nová Ves. To date, over 300 tourists have visited Slovakia
through Sister Cities tours.
Work with Slovak Embassy in Washington, D.C.
2003, Slovak Ambassador Martin Butora welcomed representatives from
Sister Cities as they delivered $3000 in donations for flood relief
from recent flood damage problems in Slovakia. Ambassador Butora met
with the groups and gave them a tour of the new embassy.
In addition to the accomplishments listed above
the Youngstown - Spišská Nová Ves Sister Cities Program
continually raises funds for future projects
and brings Slovak entertainment from around the world
to people in Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley.