On most days, about 4,790 miles separate Mayor Gerard Neugebauer from his counterpart in Green’s sister city of Beius, Romania.
On Sunday, it was a few feet of floor space at Community Hall in Central Park.
Beius’ Mayor Petru Mlendea-Calus and his wife, Gabriella, were in Green to soak in the city’s amenities, a favor returned from Neugebauer’s visit to Romania last summer.
While rain poured down outside, a band resolutely played polka music in the Central Park Amphitheater as about 50 determined umbrella-armed residents listened.
The visit has been enlightening, Mlendea-Calus said through translator Emil Cintoc, a Green resident and son of the Romanian Baptist Church minister who helped develop the idea of the sister-city relationship.
“You don’t have to be an expert to realize the people come first [in Green],” Mlendea-Calus said. In Europe, he said, cities often concentrate more on business. He compared Green to Cambridge or Stanford.
Green and the Romanian municipality of about 15,000 residents became sister cities in February 2018, when Green City Council approved the arrangement in a resolution.
In July of last year, Neugebauer traveled to Beius.
Last week was Mlendea-Calus’s turn to call on his sister mayor. It was his first tourist visit to the United States, he said.
He and his wife landed on July 1 and spent the week touring Green and surrounding sights.
Outside of his host city, there was the visit to the Cleveland Art Museum, a cruise on the Goodtime III, a trip to Akron Children’s Hospital, a RubberDucks game at Canal Park, and a concert by the Cleveland Orchestra at Blossom Music Center.
The RubberDucks game held special interest to Mlendea-Calus, who said a Romanian game is very similar to American baseball.
“To be honest,” Mlendea-Calus said, “[I think] baseball is inspired or comes from a Romanian sport.”
He said, however, that the scoring eluded him until later innings.
Neugebauer said there are similarities between the cities — they are both suburban in nature and similar in population density — but they have economic and cultural differences that can benefit each other.
During his visit, for instance, the Green mayor noticed that the Municipal Hospital Nicolae Popovici in Beius possessed only two TV screens for its patients. Neugebauer organized an effort to provide television screens to the hospital and 48 have been delivered to the hospital of the 60 goal. Neugebauer is confident the community will help with the other 12.
“It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you have a goal,” he said.
As ties between the two cities develop, both mayors believe practical results will follow.
Neugebauer, for example, said a business in Beius is in the preliminary stages of planning a location in his city.
“One group is looking to building a factory in Green down the road,” he said.
The Green mayor hopes to expand on his success with the televisions in Municipal Hospital Nicolae Popovici with tennis, which enjoys wide popularity in Romania.
Mlendea-Calus’ son, in fact, coached two of the world’s top female tennis players at various times, Simona Halep and Jelena Jankovic.
“I’m exploring an idea to expand tennis facilities in Beius, looking at finding an existing facility that would be renovated,” said Neugebauer.
As his trip to Green came near an end, Mlendea-Calus said one of the culinary highpoints was his visit to Menches Brothers Restaurant & Pub in Green, where he learned how different an American burger can be than the McDonald’s products offered in Romania.
The relationship between the two cities has fostered an understanding of American life he didn’t have before, the Beius mayor said, and the ties will endure.
“They have a friend they can count on,” Mlendea-Calus said.
Alan Ashworth can be reached at 330-996-3859 or email@example.com.