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Published: Thursday, 5/25/2006

Ludeman leading delegation to Spain

A 20-member delegation leaves from Toledo today and the next two days for Toledo, Spain, to mark the 75th anniversary of their Sister Cities relationship.

City Council President Rob Ludeman is leading the delegation, which will include members of the Toledo Board of Education and the University of Toledo board of trustees.

"It's the longest and oldest Sister Cities relationship in the world, and we should be proud of that," Mr. Ludeman said.

The city of Toledo will pay Mr. Ludeman's air fare from Detroit, about $1,500, while Toledo, Spain, will pay for his hotel accommodations, he said.

In addition, the city will pay the tab for a formal dinner being hosted by the U.S. Toledo on Monday, an estimated $1,500, Mr. Ludeman said.

Mayor Carty Finkbeiner declined to make the trip, saying in a letter of apology to his Spanish counterpart that he couldn't justify the added expense given Toledo's economic conditions.

The delegation includes John Henry Fullen, executive director of Toledo Sister Cities International; Duane Ray Hixon, professor, University of Toledo; Clarence Jones, Bowling Green State University; Lee Murray, president of the Association of Two Toledos; Steven Steel, Toledo school board member; Hernan Vasquez, UT board of trustees member, and Lee Woldenberg, chairman of the radiology department, Medical University of Ohio.

The invitation was from Toledo, Spain, Mayor Jos Manuel Molina Garcia.

The visit, which ends Wednesday, will include meetings with the representatives of Castilla La Mancha University, Castilla La Mancha public schools system, the local chamber of commerce, the TSCI International Youth Academy, and the U.S. Department of State, city officials said.

Since forging the Sister Cities relationship with Spain in 1931, Toledo has signed similar agreements with seven other international cities.

Mr. Fullen said that Toledo, Spain, also will pay for Ms. Murray's hotel accommodations. Other delegation members are getting sponsorship support for their travel costs, he said.

He said the mayor of Toledo, Spain, is expected to travel to Toledo later this year.

Mr. Ludeman said the delegation will promote educational, economic, and cultural exchanges between the two cities. He said Toledo, Spain, boasts some expertise in wind turbines, a subject of interest in northwest Ohio.

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