Kettering delays severing 45-year sister city link despite British boundary change

Credit: Tom Gilliam

Credit: Tom Gilliam

KETTERING — The city was ready to end its 45-year sister city alliance with Kettering, England, but is holding off on the move.

Citing European boundary changes, the Montgomery County suburb was set last month to officially sever ties with the Great Britain borough after it merged with other jurisdictions.

But Kettering City Council withdrew a resolution, allowing talks to continue.

Last year, the local sister cities group was told by its British counterparts that the European group had folded, said Tony Klepacz, Kettering council’s liaison on the sister cities committee.

“Our committee here would hope that we would be able to re-establish” the relationship with Kettering, England that started in 1978, he said.

It has been one of two Kettering sister city alliances with European jurisdictions. The other, which began in 1970, is with Steyr, Austria.

The borough of Kettering, England, is almost 70 miles north of London, and has a population just over 60,000, very similar to Kettering, Ohio. But the borough has merged into the Northamptonshire council along with Corby, East Northampton and Wellingtonborough, according to city records.

Three years ago, that area of England had eight different government agencies, said Al Fullenkamp, chair of the local sister cities committee.

“They have consolidated those and created two new government agencies,” Fullenkamp said. “Kettering England still exists, but I don’t think it has totally functioning government like they had before.”

Local Kettering Sister City Association members are communicating with British officials, he added.

“We’re talking. And there’s no timeline set,” Fullenkamp said. “It’s a matter of, can we find commonality into the future and we’re all for that. No one’s getting hurt by us delaying this. … They’ve expressed a desire to continue discussions and we’re fine with that.”

The Kettering Sister Cities Association, which has about 40 paying members, seeks to build people-to-people relationships based on youth and adult exchanges, and social and cultural gatherings with sister cities, Fullenkamp said.

The youth trips happened annually until 2020 but stalled due to the pandemic, he said. They will be revived this summer as both youth and adult members plan to travel to Steyr.

Fullenkamp said he expects about 20 or so to make the trip. Adults pay their own way while expenses for youth travelers are supplemented by funds raised by association.

The group’s largest fundraiser is Spass Nacht, which is scheduled at Lincoln Park Civic Commons in June.

About the Author