Scottish visitors to tour Athens and sign Sister City agreement
Visitors from across the pond will be in Athens to tour the city and formalize a Sister City agreement between Stonehaven, Scotland, and Athens, Ala.
On Wednesday, May 22, Richard Holman-Baird and Philip Mills-Bishop will fly into Huntsville International Airport and meet their host families. The pair will spend...
... Thursday, May 23, resting and getting to know their host families and will explore Athens and the area on Friday, May 24, through Wednesday, May 29.
Holman-Baird is the Baird of Ury, Rickarton and Lochwood, and is the Clain Baird Chieftain. Mills-Bishop is the chair of the Stonehaven and North East Scotland Twinning Council. During their visit, they will join Mayor Ronnie Marks to sign an agreement with Athens for it to be a Sister City with Stonehaven.
Athens State University Religious Studies Professor Debra Baird is overseeing the Sister City project for the Athens partners. She said the project goal is to encourage student exchanges and opportunities to explore partnerships in business, the arts, sporting events and tourism.
Mills-Bishop said in an article in Scotland-based Evening Express that twinning, or sister cities, foster “greater understanding between respective communities that is no bad thing in an unstable world.”
Marks said Athens is home to industries from other countries, and encouraging international relationships promotes a better understanding of different cultures and an opportunity to share ideas.
As part of their Athens visit, Holman-Baird and Mills-Bishop will attend Singing on The Square, tour Downtown Athens, take a private plane ride over the area and participate in an Athens Haunts Walk to learn about our city’s spooky tales.
They will attend the Memorial Day ceremony at the Limestone County Event Center. The Alabama Veterans Museum and Archives hosts this annual event. Following the ceremony, they will join those in attendance to stand in tribute along Pryor Street as Limestone Chapel and Athens Police escort the remains of Water Tender 2nd Class Edgar D. Gross, 39, of Athens, by the museum on the way to the cemetery. Gross has been nameless for 77 years, buried as an unknown at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. His remains had gone unidentified since he died during the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. Authorities identified in September 2018.
“Richard and I are honored to be invited as guests,” Mills-Bishop said of the Memorial Day program. “They gave their todays for our tomorrows.”
Their visit will include tours of Athens State University and the new Athens High School, and they will end their trip at Athens City Hall on May 29 with the Sister City agreement ceremony. An Athens delegation will visit Stonehaven later this summer and participate in an agreement ceremony there.
The two cities have already participated in their own local projects to celebrate the Sister City bond. Stonehaven held a birthday party at Fraser Castle in November 2018 to celebrate the 200th birthday of the City of Athens. They flew the American and Alabama flags from the castle, enjoyed birthday cake and utilized Skype to show the Athens group the party and a bagpipe player performing “Happy Birthday.”
The Athens Mayor’s Youth Commission held its most recent City Hall Art Corner contest with the theme “Sister Cities.” Youth Commissioners asked local students to create art that demonstrated the new relationship between Athens and Stonehaven. The art students studied Stonehaven online, and created landscapes, castles and bridges to depict the relationship.
The Youth Commissioners chose nine entries to display in Athens City Hall’s Art Corner. Bree Higginbotham of Athens High School created the winning entry. Her creation depicts the Limestone County Courthouse flying an Alabama and Scottish flag and surrounded by cliffs and castles overlooking the North Sea.
Additional entries from students are on display in the TRAIL Student Studio at High Cotton Arts in Downtown Athens.