On Monday, April 30th, Governor Gary R. Herbert signed a Statement of Friendship between the State of Utah and the Mexican border town of Piedras Negras. The Governor recognized the long standing relationship that Utah has maintained with the small town beginning in 1989. In that year, the Mayor of Piedras Negras called Midvale Sister City Mayor, Everett E. Dahl, and requested help in procuring an ambulance for the city’s Civil Hospital. Mayor Dahl promptly contacted the Midvale Rotary Club. The same year, the Midvale Club obtained and delivered an ambulance and a large shipment of medical supplies to the Piedras Negras hospital. The mission greatly benefited the low-income town whose poorest citizens regularly visit the Civil Hospital for free medical treatment.
Since that initial act of friendship, various Utah Rotary Clubs, including the Midvale and Sandy Clubs, have carried out 21 additional charitable projects delivering two “jaws of life” automobile rescue tools, a fire truck and firefighting supplies and two more ambulances. In addition to charitable giving, the Rotary Clubs of Piedras Negras and Utah have coordinated flood and tornado disaster relief in the Mexican city in 2004 and 2005 respectively. The largest project carried out to date was the delivery of seven truck-loads of medical equipment, reserved from the old Primary Children’s Hospital, to the Civil Hospital in Piedras Negras.
Piedras Negras is a small city with 150,000 inhabitants. It is situated on the US-Mexico border opposite Eagle Pass, Texas where the Rio Grande separates the two cities and forms the US-Mexico border. Sandy, Utah became a Piedras Negras Sister City in 2001 when Sandy Councilwoman Linda Saville literally reached across the border, in the middle of the international bridge, to shake the hand of the Piedras Negras Mayor and sign a formal sister city agreement.
The Statement of Friendship was co-signed by Senator Niederhauser, of District 9, and was witnessed by a delegation from Piedras Negras including six Rotarians and the current club president, Myrna Mancheca. Mrs. Mancheca praised Utah’s example of leadership and Governor Herbert thanked the Piedras Negras Rotary Club for fostering international relationships that “make the world a better place.” The delegation traveled to Utah to raise $8,500 for purchasing hearing aids to be used back home.