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Arlington to consider sister city partnership with Ecuadorian city as firefighter group sends aid

From left to right: Arlington Mayor Jim Ross; Mayor Wilson Erazo Argoti of Santo Domingo, Ecuador; and Arlington District 2 Council member Raul Gonzalez exchange gifts during a meet and greet at City Hall May 6, 2022.
Kailey Broussard
/
KERA News
Arlington Mayor Jim Ross, left, and District 2 Council member Raul Gonzalez, right, exchange gifts and greetings with Wilson Erazo Argoti, mayor of Santo Domingo, Ecuador, during a meet and greet May 6, 2022.

An Arlington organization that helps firefighters in Central and South America may soon have an easier time sending supplies abroad.

Mayor Jim Ross told members of the Lone Star Bomberos, a nonprofit composed of Arlington firefighters that sends donations and hosts trainings abroad, as well as members of the Association of Ecuadorians of DFW and officials from Santo Domingo, Ecuador, that he would consider forming a sister city relationship between the two cities during a meet and greet Friday.

The Bomberos have helped municipalities in Mexico since 2019 by bringing old equipment, donations and trainings to agencies in need. Their trip to Santo Domingo marked their first visit outside of Mexico. But it came with hurdles, says Pedro Arevalo, the organization’s president.

“With Mexico … they can drive up here, we can meet them at the border and it’s easier to get that paperwork done,” Arevalo said.

The group must either have the approval of the Ecuadorian Consulate or a sister cities designation to deliver supplies, Arevalo said. The Bomberos received consulate approval, but they believe becoming a sister city with Santo Domingo would make the process even smoother.

“We’ve learned with that sister cities contract, everything is so much easier to help with anything,” Arevalo told Ross on Friday. “We’d love for you to go visit and we can start planting those seeds for the future.”

Obtaining sister cities designation can take a while, Ross explained. Officials from each city must be on the same page about the partnership, visit one another’s towns and finalize a partnership agreement, according to Sister Cities International. Ross wants to expedite the process.

“I’ll go there this summer,” Ross said. “Let’s make it happen.”

Santo Domingo is one of the most populous cities in Ecuador. The city's mayor, Wilson Erazo Argoti, said the city is working on establishing a university in hopes of retaining some of the roughly 11,000 students who graduate per year. The city also wishes to establish a fire academy. Arevalo said Erazo and Parra discussed possible partnerships with Tarrant County College officials over the weekend.

Partnering with Santo Domingo will also help Lone Star Bomberos broaden its efforts in the province, Arevalo said.

“The plan is to help the smaller cities around the area that don’t have the infrastructure or the support from the government to be able to purchase equipment."

Lone Star Bomberos will visit Santo Domingo in June and also to launch efforts in Peru. They’ve partnered with the Association of Ecuadorians to facilitate donations and visits to the country.

“For us, those are the heroes,” said association president Sandra Suarez Normand. “Those are the ones coming to our country helping us.”

If finalized, Santo Domingo would become Arlington’s second sister city. Arlington city and chamber of commerce leaders adopted the German town of Bad Königshofen in 1951, when the city fielded refugees fleeing communist rule in East Germany. Arlingtonites donated food, clothes and gifts. People in Arlington have donated more than $32,000 to aid Ukrainians refugees who have sought refuge in Bad Konigshofen.

Got a tip? Email Kailey Broussard at kbroussard@kera.org. You can follow Kailey on Twitter @KaileyBroussard.

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