November 27, 2022

Council asked to pass resolution supporting Ukraine

Local historian Larry Hurto requests city to condemn the aggression from Russia

Larry Hurto

Frustrated by the lack of options to support the people of Newton’s sister city during times of war, resident and local historian Larry Hurto on March 7 urged the city council to pass a resolution condemning the Russian aggression and declaring that the city stands with its brothers and sisters of Smila, Ukraine.

“I was shocked to hear on Thursday morning, Feb. 24, that bombing on the part of the 150,000 Russian troops, which had been encamped on the country’s borders for weeks, had commenced in Ukraine,” Hurto said. “…I am informed that air raid sirens are frequently heard in our sister city.”

Hurto reinforced Newton’s 30-year sister city relationship with Smila, which he said has largely been fostered by board members of the Organization Promoting Everlasting Neighbors (OPEN). The group sent its first delegation to Ukraine in 1993. The last time a delegationvisited the country was in 2019.

Located in the Cherkasy region of Ukraine, Smila has a population of about 67,000 people, almost twice the amount of people living in Jasper County. Several exchange students from Smila have been the guests of host families in Newton, often alternating with the city’s other sister city of Wu Chi, Taiwan.

The Lyceum Leader school that the City of Newton has lent support to in the past is not in session, Hurto reported to council. Hurto still keeps in contact with many of the Ukrainian students, along with other contacts he has made in the country through Newton’s sister city designation.

Ever since Russian forces attacked Ukraine, Hurto has frequently contacted the former students to check on their welfare. Newton News has published a few of Hurto’s articles, which reflect on the struggles of the Ukrainian people and further emphasize the friendships built through a sister city partnership.

Contact Christopher Braunschweig at 641-792-3121 ext. 6560 or

Christopher Braunschweig

Christopher Braunschweig

Christopher Braunschweig has a strong passion for community journalism and covers city council, school board, politics and general news in Newton, Iowa and Jasper County.