WATERVILLE — The public will have a chance to meet Russians from Waterville’s sister city, Kotlas, on Tuesday at Waterville Public Library as part of the 25th celebration of the relationship between the two cities.

The reception will be held at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday in the library, where desserts will be served, according to Martha Coury Patterson, co-chairwoman of the Waterville-Kotlas Sister City Connection group, which organizes and hosts exchanges between the cities.

Patterson and others visited Kotlas in April, where they continued the tradition of sharing friendship, as well as cultural and educational opportunities.

“It’s just so exciting to have them here for the celebration,” Patterson said Wednesday. “The theme of the whole visit is people-to-people diplomacy between Russia and the U.S.”

Visiting Waterville is nothing new for the city’s residents. A teacher and four students came in March, and another group visited in March 2014.

The six Russians arriving this week are members of Kotlas’ duma, or local government, which is similar to a city council. Kotlas Mayor Andrei Bral’nin, 41, who has been to Maine twice before, will stay with Gov. Paul LePage at the Blaine House in Augusta.


When LePage was mayor of Waterville, he traveled to Russia as part of a sister city exchange. He will host a tea Monday at the Blaine House for the Russians, and Rep. Thomas R.W. Longstaff, D-Waterville, will give them a tour of the State House.

The Russians will fly into New York City on Wednesday to spend two days touring that city, and then they will travel to Waterville and arrive on Friday at Patterson’s home, she said.

She and her husband, Neal, are hosting Natalia Verkhovtseva, 45, a supermarket director in Kotlas who has never been to the U.S.

“After the welcoming party at our home, they will go with their hosts and hostesses to relax for the evening,” Patterson said. “On June 27, we will take the delegation to Belfast for a lobster dinner and then tour Acadia National Park.”

On Sunday, they will travel to Freeport to shop at L.L. Bean, then attend a lobster feed at committee member Marilyn Hall’s home.

Tuesday is Waterville Day, when the Russians will tour the city, led by Kimberly Lindlof, president and chief executive officer of the Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce, according to Patterson.


They will visit the Two-Cent Bridge; the sister city sign off Front Street; a birch tree planted at Head of Falls to recognize Natalia Kempers, one of the founders of the sister city connection, who has since died; the downtown; and Servants of the Blessed Sacrament religious community on Silver Street; Colby and Thomas colleges; and Kennebec Messalonskee Trails.

The trails tour will be led by Kotlas Connection founder Peter Garrett. Then Lindlof will treat the Russians to lunch at Cancun Mexican Restaurant on Silver Street, Patterson said.

“In the evening there will be a formal dinner at Joseph’s Steakhouse with Mayor Nick Isgro,” she said. “Attending will be the town managers of Winslow and Oakland (Mike Heavener and Gary Bowman, respectively), our committee members and guests. Gifts will be presented in honor of our 25th celebration.”

Isgro said Wednesday that he is looking forward to having the Russians in the city. Earlier this year, Isgro met a teacher and three students from Russia who were visiting Waterville.

“It’s great for everyone — for the people of Waterville,” he said.

On Wednesday, each Russian will choose a place he or she is interested in and will be taken to that place, according to Patterson.


Then they will attend a barbecue at the Pattersons’ camp in Belgrade, where they will go boating, fishing and kayaking. Russian professor Sheila McCarthy will host a farewell party July 2 at her home, and the delegation will leave Waterville early on July 3.

Garrett and his wife, Jean Ann Pollard, and Sister City Connection co-chairman Mary Coombs and her husband, Earl, of Winslow, will host Nikolay G. Makarovskiy, 61, and his wife, Natalia Y. Makarovskaya, 58, who will be visiting the U.S. for the first time.

McCarthy and Clifford Reid will host Andrei Strekalovskii, 49, who also is visiting for the first time. Mark Fisher, of Oakland, will host Maxim Dmitriev, 40, a Kotlas car dealer.

Amy Calder — 861-9247


Twitter: @AmyCalder17

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