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A sister city for Prineville?

Volunteers hope to make Kupiskis, Lithuania, Prineville's sister city

by: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - The Church of Christ's Assumption in Kupiskis, Lithuania, towers over the surrounding buildings.

It all started with lumber.
   When Prineville-based Ochoco Lumber Co. opened a new processing plant in Kupiskis, Lithuania, 12 years ago, company president Bruce Daucsavage also opened the door to a new culture.
   Now, Prineville is on its way to establishing a sister city relationship with the city of around 25,000 on the Kupa River in northeast Lithuania.
   A group of residents got the ball rolling last summer at the Crook County Leadership program when Daucsavage revealed his interest in a sister city project with Kupiskis.
   "Initially, it started out as a feasibility study," said Seth Crawford, a Prineville real estate broker and project organizer. "Everyone was really positive about it, and from there we just moved on."
   They also signed on with Sister Cities International, and according to co-organizer Irene Busmalis, who hails from Twickingham, this has provided an excellent networking opportunity.
   "What's really great about Sister Cities International is you're part of a broader organization, so you're able to network with other sister cities around the U.S., so you can pass ideas through them," she said. "They send you planning guides on how you can get people involved and what kind of structures you should take on."
   Along with Crawford and Busmalis, Prineville residents Donna Barnes and Paul Priestly are also on board. Since the leadership program, the four of them have been making strides in bolstering the relationship between the two cities.
   "What we're doing is trying to take it slow and get everybody on board and everything," Crawford said. "Then eventually, we need to have each of our mayors sign a piece of paper. But we're moving right along and everybody supports us."
   Correspondence between the two cities has been informal in the past, including a wheelchair exchange organized by the Rotary Club, but Busmalis hopes that becoming official sister cities will "take it to the next level."
   The group's first gesture to Kupiskis was a video put together by Crook County High School students, along with a blanket and a signed copy of "Prineville" by Steve Lent from the Bowman Museum. Project organizers are also planning a conference call with Kupiskis that should take place later this month.
   Aside from the difference in size, Prineville and Kupiskis have much in common. Like Prineville, Kupiskis has experienced significant growth over the past 10 years, which Crawford credits to expansion of the European Union.
   The city also has thriving timber, agriculture and tourism industries in a rural setting, although Busmalis mentioned that Kupiskis has more of a big-city feel.
   Parhaps the most similar aspects are the cities' rich histories. According to Kupiskis's Web site, the city was first documented as a settlement in 1480 and by 1561 had become a rural center. Now, the city boasts classical architecture from that period, as well as more modern structures.
   As soon as the sister city project becomes official, which could be within a year, the organizers have big plans to bring Kupiskis's rich history and culture to Prineville.
   "Education is one of our main starting points, but we'd like to expand it to the whole community," Crawford said. "We'd like to have Lithuanian Day, maybe a cultural exchange...It's almost unlimited what we can do."
   Want to help?
   The organizers are looking to expand the project team and welcome any community members interested in making a sister city for Prineville a reality. For more information or to sign up, send an e-mail to prinevillesistercity To learn more about the sister city program, visit Sister Cities International's website at :
   www.sister-cities.org