Westminster, Maryland-Paide, Estonia Partner City Program
The State of Maryland and the Republic of Estonia initiated a partnership in 1993 in the aftermath of the breakup of the Soviet Union. This ongoing partnership has included military, cultural, business, governmental, educational and other official exchanges.
One important initiative of this ongoing partnership is the partner city program, which pairs similar Maryland and Estonian municipalities to engage in mutual projects and initiatives.
Westminster, Maryland and Paide, Estonia were identified as excellent candidates to become partner cities in early 2002. There was strong interest by elected leaders of both municipalities to initiate a partnership and there were many similarities between Westminster and Paide.
After conducting official exchange visits between Westminster and Paide leaders in June and September, 2002, a Declaration of Understanding was approved and signed by Westminster Mayor Kevin Dayhoff and Paide Mayor Tonis Koiv on September 23, 2002 in Westminster City Hall.
The terms of the Declaration of Understanding were developed in a cooperative fashion between June and September, 2002 by leaders from Westminster and Paide to provide tangible benefits to both municipalities. This document outlines specific initiatives and objectives in the areas of culture, economic development, government, education and philanthrophy.
Exchange Activities to Date
1. Sponsored a partner city benefit concert on February 8, 2003 in Westminster with special performances by the Estonian Television Girls Choir and the Children’s Chorus of Carroll County to raise funds for the “Westminster-Paide Partner City Fund” to support exchange activities.
2. Westminster entertainers Audrey Cimino and the Eric Byrd Trio (a jazz group) performed in the Paide Shanty Festival on July 11 – 12, 2003 and the Haapsalu Sea Music Festival on July 13, 2003.
3. The Children’s Chorus of Carroll County performed in the Christmas program at the Baltimore Estonian House on December 13, 2003.
4. Finalizing plans for a partner city benefit concert on February 22, 2004 in Westminster with special performances by Rondellus, an Estonian ensemble that performs medieval and renaissance music on replicas of period instruments, and the Children’s Chorus of Carroll County to raise funds for the Westminster – Paide Partner City Fund” to support exchange activities.
5. Finalizing plans for the Children’s Chorus of Carroll County to travel to Estonia, Sweden and Finland from July 10 – 21, 2004 to perform in select events in Paide, Parnu, Poltsamaa, and Tallinn.
1. Working on plans for a business assistance visit to Paide and other Estonian municipalities. Key industry sectors were identified cooperatively by Paide officials and business leaders and Westminster officials in October, 2002 to include building materials, agriculture – dairy, lumber and wood processing, metal processing, industrial park and housing development, communications and transportation. Westminster resident Jacob Yingling has agreed to lead a team of approximately five Westminster business leaders from these key industry sectors to Paide to conduct economic development assessment, provide technical assistance and identify investment opportunities.
2. Working on plans for a Westminster business owner to travel to Paide in September, 2004 work in a similar business to exchange business ideas and practices. Also planning for a Paide business owner to travel to Westminster.
1. Conducted official exchange visits in October, 2002 and February, July and November, 2003. The February, 2003 visit included a conference in Paide at which time the Westminster-Paide Partner City Program was presented as a “model” for other participating Maryland and Estonian municipalities. Westminster Council President Damian Halstad also met Estonian President Arnold Ruutel in February, 2002.
2. Ronald Schroers, a Westminster employee, visited Paide from July 1 – 16, 2003 as Westminster’s first “swap” employee.
3. Kulliki Seire, a Paide employee, visited Westminster from September 18 – 29, 2003 as Paide’s first “swap” employee.
4. Paide Mayor Koiv and former Council Chairman Jalak met with staff of the Maryland Municipal League (MML) in September, 2002 to discuss the Maryland-Estonia partnership. MML agreed to sponsor a special Maryland – Estonian workshop at its 2004 Convention in Ocean City, Maryland. Westminster was asked to organize this workshop.
5. Continued good relations with the U.S. Embassy in Tallinn and the Estonian Embassy in Washington, D.C.
1. A Paide student will attend Carrroll Community College in the Spring, 2004. Westminster and Paide officials worked together on the selection process to identify highly qualified students. Paide sent two students to Helsinki to take TOEFL. One student was selected and Westminster officials developed a scholarship package with major funds from the two local Rotary clubs. Westminster officials are also coordinating sponsorship and support services such as housing and related items.
2. Completed the “American Corner” project to place English language books in libraries in each county in Estonia. Coordinated donation of 1,484 mixed children’s and other books from Random House, Inc. and shipped them to Estonian communities with funding from the U.S. Embassy Public Affairs Office in Tallinn.
3. Initiated a “pen pal” program between Westminster and Paide school children.
1. Pledged $1,000 toward the Paide skate park project.
2. The Westminster Fallfest Committee decided to provide some yearly financial support to the “Westminster – Paide Partner City Fund” by having local employees serve as “volunteers” during Fallfest and other events. First year support totaled $1,000.
3. Worked with the Community Foundation of Carroll County to develop the “Westminster-Paide Partner City Fund” and a 25 + member advisory board to guide the use of these funds. Over $25,000 has been raised since October, 2002 to support exchange activities.
4. Audrey Cimino, Executive Director of the Community Foundation of Carroll County, participated in a Community Foundation Workshop in Paide on July 10, 2003 for Paide and other Estonian communities.
5. Developed strong relationships with the two Westminster Rotary clubs in support of the Estonian student scholarship program.
1. Obtained a H1B1 visa for an Estonian citizen to work for Westminster as a full-time employee during the Summer, 2003.
2. Jointly developed a combined Westminster-Paide flag design into a lapel pin by Westminster and a sticker by Paide.
3. Westminster created a direct link on its new website to Paide’s website.
4. Westminster hosted the visit of an Estonian family in March, 2003.
5. Westminster installed a directional sign under a prominent “Downtown Westminster” sign that gives directions and the distance to Paide, Estonia, Westminster’s partner city, as 4,294 miles or 6,906 kilometers. Paide installed a similar directional sign to Westminster in the Paide Town Square.
6. Westminster created a wall in City Hall that displays memorabilia of Paide and other Estonian municipalities.
7. Westminster named a roadway in Westminster “Paide Way”.
Westminster Contact Person:
Mr. Thomas B. Beyard
Director of Planning and Public Works
City of Westminster
P.O. Box 710
Westminster, MD 21158
Paide Contact Person:
Ms. Aire Tamm
Paide Town Government
Republic of Estonia
372 38 38 615 (Office)
372 38 38 622 (Fax)
372 55 582 591 (Mobile)
Version: January 15, 2004