By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Tamazulans End Sister City Visit
A dozen residents of the Mexican city of Tamazula went home Sunday, Oct. 19 after a week learning about life in Riverbank and touring the area's attractions in an official 'sister city' visit sponsored by local government officials.

Their visit followed an excursion by Riverbank residents and officials to Tamazula de Gordiano in the state of Jalisco during September of 2007. It was marked by the exchange of gifts and proclamations declaring them sister cities seeking closer relationships in trade, culture, tourism and better ways of government.

"The most interesting visit for me was to the schools. They are very organized, very clean and the students show respect," said Tamazula Mayor Julio Cesar Ruiz Gonzalez of his visit here. "It was especially fascinating to meet the children of the Riverbank Language Academy where they learn both English and Spanish."

Both cities are largely agricultural, he noted through an interpreter, but Tamazula relies almost solely on sugar cane production whereas Riverbank has a variety of products and jobs.

"I congratulate you on your local government," he added. "It is a very practical organization, very efficient. We will take home what we have learned to incorporate it into our government."

There is a distinct difference in government of the two cities, he noted, in that being mayor of Tamazula is a fulltime position (whereas it is part-time in Riverbank) and Gonzalez has directors of different departments reporting to him all day long. The mayor is elected but only for a three-year term and he cannot seek reelection until after a three-year interval.

Riverbank City Manager Rich Holmer commented he has numerous department heads reporting to him also, but added the trick for a manager is to deputize and choose heads who are smarter than he and do not need to report all the time.

When not acting as mayor, Gonzalez is the owner of several furniture stores in the Tamazula area.

His wife Maria Guadalupe Chavez Barragan, who accompanied him, is president of Tamazula's social services department as is customary in small Mexican cities.

"I am very thankful for your attention, your hospitality," he concluded. "We have learned a great deal from you and will be waiting with open arms for another visit from you."

In one staff discussion, Holmer suggested the cities might arrange to exchange department heads for a short period. Sister City Coordinator Julio Cesar Perez Hernandez commented the Tamazula visitors were especially interested in borrowing Finance Director Marisela Hernandez. She both speaks Spanish and handles city finances at a time when Riverbank's reserve funds stand at their highest in its history.

A visit to Yosemite National Park was a favorite among the many excursions the visitors made, said Riverbank Personnel Director Alvaro Zamora. He with Social Services Director Norma Manriquez and Hernandez did most of the interpretation while City Clerk Linda Abid Cummings did the overall organization.

"They liked Yosemite a lot. It was a pity there was very little water in the falls," he said.

Their local trips included the Riverbank Cheese and Wine Expo, Del Rio Theatre, Crossroads Shopping Center. Rodin Farms, Riverbank High, Crossroads Elementary and Riverbank Language Academy schools, Don Francisco's cheese factory, a lavender growing farm, Army Ammunition Plant, Gilton's Solid Waste Plant in Modesto, Oak Valley Hospital, St. Frances of Rome Church, Modesto Junior College and El Concilio besides Merced University and Merced's former Air Force Base.