Latrobe, similarly named city in Australia could be sisters
By Joe Napsha
Published: Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013, 8:51 p.m.
Mister Rogers and golfing legend Arnold Palmer helped give Latrobe a global presence the city hopes to use to forge ties with another Latrobe — about 10,000 miles away.
Latrobe City Manager Alex Graziani said he has contacted the city manager in Latrobe, Australia, and would like to set up a sister city relationship.
“The world is getting smaller. Kennametal is a global company, and St. Vincent College is attracting international students,” Graziani said.
Deputy Mayor Kenneth Baldonieri quipped that he has a passport and volunteered to travel to Australia, if necessary, to cement the sister city relationship.
“I'm willing to travel anywhere on city business, even to the other Latrobe, on Latrobe's dime,” Baldonieri joked.
Graziani said he plans to send a box of Latrobe memorabilia to an official in Latrobe, Australia. The box includes a wooden trolley made famous by Latrobe native Fred Rogers of “Mister Rogers Neighborhood” fame, a Latrobe textbook used in the Greater Latrobe School District, pens bearing the name of Latrobe, Pa., and some pamphlets about the city.
If Latrobe is successful in establishing a relationship with the Australian city, Latrobe would be among the 450 cities in the United States to forge sister city relationships with 1,800 cities around the world, said Megha Swamy, communications director for Sister Cities International Inc.
The Washington-based nonprofit was created by President Dwight Eisenhower in 1956 to forge bonds between people in the United States and those in different cities around the world.
Latrobe would join other Western Pennsylvania communities that are members: Beaver, Johnstown, Pittsburgh and Saxonburg.
The officials of the two cities traditionally exchange gifts as a show of friendship, Swamy said.
Attempts to get a comment from an official of Latrobe, Australia, were not successful.
The city with which Latrobe wants to connect has a population of more than 75,000 residents living in 883 square miles in Latrobe Valley, about 93 miles east of Melbourne. It is one of the state of Victoria's major regional centers, according to its website.
Latrobe “boasts all of the recreational and cultural facilities of a large diverse regional centre with the added benefit of being nestled amongst some of the best tourist attractions in the state,” the city's website states.
Westmoreland County's Latrobe is about 48 miles east of Pittsburgh and has a population of 8,995 residents in 2.3 square miles, according to the 2010 census.
Latrobe, Australia, was formed through a combination of three neighboring cities and three government areas in March 2000. It takes its name from London-born Charles La Trobe, the first lieutenant governor of the colony of Victoria, who died in 1875.
Latrobe Borough, formed in 1854, was named by a Pennsylvania Railroad engineer in honor of his college friend, Benjamin Latrobe, who was a civil engineer for the competing Baltimore & Ohio Railroad.
Just as the local Latrobe is close to a regional airport in Unity, Australia's Latrobe has a regional airport that officials say will create opportunities for aviation-related businesses to establish and expand. In Westmoreland County, its industrial development corporation has spurred economic development by creating a 19-lot industrial park near the airport and plans to build a 12-lot airpark in a second phase of development.
Artists in Latrobe, Australia, can exhibit their works in the Latrobe Regional Gallery, which offers eight gallery spaces and a sculpture courtyard that showcases traveling exhibitions, exclusive curated exhibitions, local artists and the permanent collection. Artists in the local city have the Latrobe Art Center in which to display their paintings, photographs, sculptures and other artwork.
One of Latrobe, Australia's major projects last year was the replacement of a bridge to reduce flooding so normal traffic flow could be maintained during most floods. Latrobe is facing the replacement of the Lloyd Avenue Bridge over Loyalhanna Creek, although that can be attributed to deterioration and not flooding from the creek.
To attract workers, Latrobe, Australia's website brags that Latrobe's City Council has a “reputation as one of the best councils to work for in Victoria!”
Maybe one of the reasons is the pay scale for Latrobe, Australia. The pay for city workers in the “other” Latrobe ranges from $21.58 an hour to $50.74, or annual salaries ranging from $42,653 to $100,270.
In the local Latrobe, the city police department's new contract has a base pay scale ranging from $44,425 to $59,234 for this year. Graziani, the city's top administrator, will earn $81,674 this year.
One Australian dollar is worth $1.02 in U.S. currency, according to exchange rates on Friday.
Joe Napsha is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-5252 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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