Mankato may soon have a new sister city: Ungheni, an eastern European city in the Republic of Moldova best known as a transportation hub and a maker of wines, carpet and sculpture.
The relationship was suggested by Ungheni (pronounced oon-GHEN) native Liliana Tincu, who is finishing an internship at the city of Mankato as well as a one-year program at Minnesota State University. Tincu was a clerk for her hometown, where she organized meetings of the 27-member City Council.
She was struck by the similarities between the cities, in population (Ungheni has 32,700 residents) and disposition (both cities style themselves as environmentally friendly regional centers).
Moldova, a former Soviet republic, will celebrate 20 years of independence next month.
The relationship need not cost any money, Mankato City Manager Pat Hentges told the council, as it would be an informal arrangement between the two cities rather than dues-paying participation in an international body.
Tincu said the benefits of sister cities include strengthening cooperation in culture, sports, business and health.
Mankato would be Ungheni’s seventh sister city; most are in Europe and its only other American sibling is Winston-Salem, N.C.
Mankato has had a sister city before, but that relationship appears to have fizzled.
According to council minutes from Nov. 13, 1978, Mankato started a relationship with Tamsui, Taiwan, an island nation off the coast of China.
The last mention of Tamsui, at least in the minutes, comes from 1987, when the Sister Cities Committee asked for $2,700, one-half of the cost of a Taiwanese exchange student. The expense, however, wasn’t in the budget and the council asked staff to “see if there was ever a resolution adopted by the council indicating their relationship with the Sister Cities Committee.”