The city of Tulare just may get a third Sister City thanks to one councilman’s heritage. Jose Sigala has asked other council members to support the possibility of partnering up with a city from the state of Jalisco in Mexico.
“In my district, there are a lot of people who immigrated from, or who have descended from relatives from the state of Jalisco,” Sigala said. Those people include Sigala, whose parents came from there.
Sigala said he believed that Tulare had not had any activity with its existing Sister Cities since 1996.
He came up with the idea of adding a Jalisco city last year and has been working on learning all of the criteria involved. He has talked with the consul at the Consulate of Mexico in Fresno, who was excited about the possibility, but who also suggested Tulare wait until after the July national elections in Mexico, so there wouldn’t be an interruption in the process.
Current Sister Cities
Actually, Tulare had a visit from Raquel Ferreira, a city council member and director of cultural affairs from Angra do Heroismo in January, 2016.
Angra do Heroismo is a city on the Azorean island of Terceira in Portugal – an island from which many involved in the Tulare dairy industry have descended.
Ferreria’s visit proceeded a celebration the 50th anniversary of Sister City relationship, and she came bearing Portuguese books gifted to Tulare’s library.
The April, 2016 anniversary celebration was attended by Angra Mayor Dr. Alamo Meneses and a delegation from the city.
Tulare’s second Sister City is Inverell in New South Wales, Australia. It, too, was a relationship started in the 1960’s with former Tulare Mayor Willard Glass and family having hosted an Australian foreign exchange student from Inverell, said Tulare historian Chris Harrell, manager of the Tulare Historical Museum.
The last formal visit to Inverell by a Tulare representative was by former Tulare mayor, Claude Retherford and his wife, in November of 1996.
A letter of condolence for the passing of former Inverell mayor, Jerry Bottrell, was sent by former Tulare mayor, Richard Ortega, in October, 2005, a copy of which is the last formal correspondence in Tulare’s records.
While there has been little connection with Inverell in recent years, the ties between Tulare and the island of Terceira remain strong. The Tulare-Angra do Heroismo Sister City Foundation remains active with regular meetings and a Facebook page with 600 likes.
The page stays current with Portuguese-American activities and posts including that honoring foundation members Mario and Joe Simoes having been named Dairy Family of the Year by Tulare County Dairy Women and the Tulare Chamber of Commerce. The Simoes, twin brothers, emigrated with from the Azores as teenagers, in the early 1950’s.
“I think the Sister City program, itself, is a good one,” Harrell said. “Towns can have a lot of Sister Cities. I think the one he [Sigala] is thinking about makes perfect sense. And, because of so many people in Tulare from the Azores, Angra was a good fit as well.”
Honoring Angra do Heroismo
There is a display representing Angra do Heroismo in the Tulare Historical Museum.
There is even a larger appreciation for the Portuguese city in downtown’s Tower Square, built in the early 1970’s featuring 18th century Portuguese architecture. The centerpiece of the design is a clock tower, known as the Angra Tower.
In the museum, there is a medal awarded to the late Joseph L. Soares, who played an integral role between the Sister Cities.
The medal signifies the order of Prince Henry, the Navigator, and is the highest award given to a civilian from the Portuguese government.
While the connection between Tulare and Angra do Heroismo remains active, another Sister City could be a welcomed edition by both Tulare and a new sister.
Sigala said he will pursue the issue further after the Mexican elections.
For now, he has the blessing of the council to continue his research and it will be brought back for further discussion by the city council once more is known and a potential city is named.
Sigala is pleased that Harrell and the museum are also excited about the project, and he hopes to earn more support for the project through the Tulare Chamber and the Tulare Kings Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.