Sister City Partnership Bitburg and Shelbyville
In September 1960, Brigadier General and Air Base Commander Robert Delashaw wrote a letter to Dr. Heinz Villinger, then Mayor of Bitburg, recommending the establishment of a sister city partnership with an American city. The justification for recommendation was the warm relationship between the citizens of Bitburg and the American soldiers and their family members stationed there. Following the letter from the airport commander, contact was established with the city of Shelbyville in Kentucky.
Some soldiers stationed in Bitburg, who came from Shelbyville, were received by Mayor Dr. Villinger in the town hall.
On December 20, 1961, the Bitburg City Council unanimously decided to enter into a partnership with Shelbyville. The Shelbyville City Council made the same decision on May 4, 1962, although both sides were well aware that the new partnership would initially be limited. The distance across the big pond and the associated costs were too great. So it remained with some loose contact between the cities, and with the years the partnership fell into oblivion.
With the rise of the internet in the mid-1990s, members of the “Bitburger Mailbox” resumed contact with citizens in Shelbyville. In 1998, Mayor David B. Eaton and City Councilor Mary Simmons again established the connection on the official side. Mrs. Simmons is the daughter of Jesse L. Pucket, who was mayor of Shelbyville in 1962.
After publishing an article in the citizen newspaper, the city administration of Bitburg established an exchange between local amateur radio operators and radio operators in Shelbyville. Soon there were regular contacts, joint radio parties and similar activities. As sister city partnerships are very important in the United States - each president reaffirms the existing partnerships when he takes office - the government of the 10,000-inhabitant city of Shelbyville in northern Kentucky soon addressed the issue. Mayor Eaton and his six council members unanimously decided to revive the connection with Bitburg in 1999.
Hannetraude Wainscott, of German descent, was commissioned to hand over the two resolutions to the Bitburg City Hall Chief. She and her two sons stayed in Bitburg for a few days during their stay in Germany in November 1999. The three were looked after by members of the radio amateurs.
In the summer of 2001, Bitburg's mayor Dr. Joachim Streit visited the Shelbyville for the first time. During a one-week stay the friends from the USA presented him all the facets of the city.
Another highlight of the partnership was in November 2001, when Mayor David B. Eaton and a delegation from Shelbyville visited Bitburg for a week. With his entry in the Golden Book he confirmed the friendship of both cities. On this occasion, the first participation of the Kentucky Blue band from Shelbyville at the European Foklore-Festival 2002 was agreed upon.
Since then there has been a regular exchange between both cities. Today's mayor Thomas Hardesty has also been to Bitburg. And in the historic meeting room of the town hall of Bitburg the coat of arms of the town of Shelbyville is on display.
In summer 2017 there was a nice meeting in Bitburg when the music band “Kentucky Blue” sponsored by “Old Folks Country Sausage” from Simpsonville and a delegation from Shelbyville visited Bitburg.
For more on Bitburg visit https://www.bitburg.de/.
For more in Shelbyville see http://www.shelbyvillekentucky.com/.