Maui County and Stevens Point Now “Connected Communities” | News, Sports, Jobs

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Stevens Point, Wisconsin, and Maui County are 4,099 miles as the crow flies. Now, however, the two communities are officially linked.

After more than a year of bonding through conversation, Maui County and Stevens Point Mayors Mike Victorino and Mike Wiza formalize a relationship between their communities in hopes of building relationships that will last for years to come. to come.

“I think this can do a lot of good for County Maui”, Victorino said Tuesday. “This is a multi-faceted approach to connecting our communities – culture, art, education, business, agriculture. I mean, you name it, we kind of encompass the whole community and many segments of our community that, first of all, Mayor Wiza and I agree, are the same.

“We’re small communities, a small town, we think in that ohana feeling of always taking care of each other, of taking care of each other when things go wrong.”

On Tuesday, each mayor signed a proclamation declaring January as Maui-Stevens Point’s Connected Communities Month, which will become an annual celebration.

Sentry Insurance, based out of Stevens Point, laid the groundwork for the proclamation ahead of the 2022 Sentry Tournament of Champions PGA Tour golf tournament, which kicks off Thursday at the Kapalua Plantation Course.

During its five years as the title sponsor of the Sentry Tournament of Champions, the Stevens Point mutual insurance group has improved its charitable giving to the local community each year, including creating a scholarship program for graduates. public high schools in Maui County, providing financial support for COVID-19 pandemic relief efforts on the island and, more recently, providing financial support to help fight child hunger here.

The Connected Communities initiative will serve to connect similar organizations in these and other areas to exchange ideas and best practices for the benefit of both communities.

Sentry initiated conversations between the University of Hawaii Maui College and the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, the Maui and Portage County United Ways, and the Maui Arts League and Karen Ann Hoffman, an artist from Stevens Point.

Chris Richards, Vice Chancellor for Academic Advancement at Wisconsin-Stevens Point, and Jocelyn Romero Demirbag, Director of Development at the University of Hawai’i Foundation, and their chancellors discuss student and faculty exchanges .

“It is essential for an institution like ours that is not in a metropolitan center of activity to have these experiences for our faculty, our staff and our students – to have conversations with people who share values. , but who approach life in a totally different way. “ Richards said in a press release.

Pete McPartland, Chairman of the Board of Sentry, President and CEO, is excited about the possibilities of the new partnership between communities.

“The idea here is to connect communities in all possible ways”, he said. “And learn from each other and solve common problems about things that affect both communities. It’s only just getting started, but it’s happening. “

Wiza said there are a surprising number of similarities between the two communities.

“The other thing I realized was how much the same we are – that’s really the thing that really amazed me. “ said Wiza. “We have a pretty good culture of sustainability here in Wisconsin. … We’re also a pretty big tourism industry here in northern Wisconsin. We realize the economic value of the water and the natural resources we own, the value it gives to life, of course.

“In Maui, it’s exactly the same. You are heavily (dependent on) tourism so you understand the need to conserve natural resources as you are literally an island. You can’t drive across the state border and get a truck full of water, for example. What you have is what you have.

Agriculture will be one of the first benefits of community partnership.

“One of our main industries is the potato”, said Wiza. “You have industrial commercial agriculture that does the same sort of thing. Potatoes might not grow very well in Maui, but coffee and pineapples do. The science behind farming is the same whether you grow potatoes in central Wisconsin or coffee in Maui.

“The challenges are the same too. So by sharing these agricultural resources, we have a pretty strong farm-to-table initiative. Many of our local restaurants are supplied by local farmers. Your Mahi Pono farms do just that, and then 4000 miles away they do the same. … All of this greatly helps both communities.

* Robert Collias can be reached at [email protected]

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