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Tuesday, March 15th, 2011
By Amy Kronenberger
St. Marys reaches out to sister city
  ST. MARYS - St. Marys residents have been reaching out to those in their sister city, Awaji City, Japan, ready to offer aid following Friday's devastating earthquake and tsunami.
Awaji City is a small island located on the southeastern side of Japan. It's approximately 500 miles from the earthquake's epicenter and so far has reported no damage.
Rita Daugherty, president of the sister cities program, said local residents were finally able to establish contact with their friends in Awaji on Monday. She said they are thankful for everyone's concerns and prayers.
"It is so sad when you watch the devastation on the news, but I'm so thankful everyone in Awaji is alright," Daugherty said.
Awaji City has been a sister city of St. Marys since 1985. The cities have shared a close relationship, including visiting delegations and youth, teacher and healthcare professionals exchange programs.
After the 6.9 magnitude earthquake hit Kobe, Japan, in 1995, two St. Marys carpenters traveled to Awaji to assist in rebuilding. Awaji is located only a few dozen miles from Kobe. During their visit, they constructed two American-style homes with Ohio materials. One of the homes is used as a medical clinic. Midmark Corp., Versailles, donated a medical examining table and a sterilizer for use in the clinic.
In 1987, company officials from Hitachi Metals and Tachi-S came to St. Marys in the first official adult visit. It was then that they chose St. Marys as the site for new industries. Construction began soon after for AAP St. Marys and Setex, Inc.
Koji Tagawa, of AAP St. Marys, said he received an e-mail from his parents in Japan after the earthquake and they were fine. He said the other employees with family in Japan learned their families also are OK.
The sister cities program will be celebrating its 25th anniversary this spring with a visit from an Awaji delegation. Daugherty said as far as she knows the trip will go on as planned.
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