DeWitt & DeWitt Twp. - Koka
History of relationshipDeWitt's first sister city agreement was with the Town of Konan (Konan-cho), in Shiga Prefecture (state), Japan.
Although an informal relationship had existed between DeWitt and Konan-cho since 1992, Mayor Gerald M. Nester formalized the relationship by signing a sister city agreement on April 28, 1994, during a visit to Konan-cho. The DeWitt Sister City Board was created February 2, 1998, by the DeWitt City Council. The purpose of the Board is to foster citizen interaction and cultural exchanges between the City of DeWitt and sister cities abroad.
Konan-cho is situated in the southeast corner of Shiga Prefecture on the island of Honshu. Settlement of the area can be traced to the 4th and 5th centuries.
Perhaps the most celebrated aspect of Konan's history is its Ninja. Of only two original Ninja houses in existence, the oldest is in Konan, constructed over 300 years ago. Earlier in its history, Konan was a leading manufacturer of sake. Konan had 20,000 residents, with agriculture being the primary industry.
In October of 2004, due to a consolidation effort in the Shiga Prefecture, the Town of Konan was incorporated with the towns of Minakuchi, Shigaraku, Koka and Tsuchiyama into a larger City of Koka. Since then, the City of DeWitt and DeWitt Charter Township have agreed to join together to form a new DeWitt Sister City Community. The Council was presented with a prepared resolution to create the new Sister City Community Board and a Sister City Community Agreement between the City of DeWitt, DeWitt Charter Township and the City of Koka.
The Sister City Community Board was approved September 19, 2005 by City Council that authorized the Mayor to sign the DeWitt Sister City Community Agreement on behalf of the City of DeWitt. The Board is comprised of eight members, four appointed by the Mayor of the City of DeWitt and four appointed by the Supervisor of the Township. This Board is to be known as the DeWitt Sister City Community Board.
ExchangesThrough the sister city community relationship citizens of the DeWitt area are afforded the opportunity to experience Japanese culture and residents of Koka can experience American cultural activities. Past exchange programs have demonstrated that there are an equal number of City and Township residents who are interested in participating in the exchange opportunities.
The junior high s chool students and teachers in DeWitt first became interested in Japan in 1991 when seventeen students from Konan Junior High School visited DeWitt. The visits continued for two more years adding over night- stays. This Is what eventually led to the sister-city agreement in 1994. In 1999 the first official bilateral student exchange began and has continued every year to the present. Junior high school Students from DeWitt and Koka are sent and received for a one-week stay in each other's cities, staying with families and attending school. DeWitt Public Schools now have an active language program that offers up to 4 years of Japanese language classes.
City of DeWittDeWitt is located along the Looking Glass River ten miles north of Lansing, Michigan’s capital city. DeWitt is predominately a residential community with recreational activities, Michigan State University, museums and shopping centers nearby.
The DeWitt area was first investigated and settled by Captain David Scott and his family in 1833. It had been known for generations as Wabwahaseesee, the home of a community of Chippewa Indians. When the Scott family moved here from Ann Arbor, the village was not yet a frontier settlement in Michigan Territory; their destination was an unsettled wilderness. They faced the usual hardships and rigors of pioneer life. With a determination that at times cost them their friends, family, health and eventually their lives. They carved out a settlement that has evolved into the present day DeWitt.