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Polish dignitaries honored by city, county officials

Modified: Tuesday, Apr 27th, 2010

Officials convened at the Paso Robles Inn Grand Ballroom last Friday with polish dignitaries. Pictured, from left, Paso Robles City Councilman Nick Gilman, Mayor Pro-Tem Fred Strong, First District San Luis Obispo County Supervisor Frank Mecham, Paderewski Festival Board of Directors President Joel Peterson, Tarnow District Supervisor Mieczysław Kras, City Councilman Ed Steinbeck, Tarnow District President Ryszard Zadło and Paso Robles Mayor Duane Picanco. Pictured at the podium, Ryszard Zadło, president of the Tarnow City Council, speaks to the audience following a speech given at the Paso Robles Inn Grand Ballroom last Friday, when officials from the city of Paso Robles, county of San Luis Obispo and Paderewski Festival Board of Directors convened to speak about the recent tragedy that touched the lives of those living in the Republic of Poland when a plane crashed in Russia. Officials also offered condolences and spoke about the ties between both the Republic of Poland, Tarnow District and city of Paso Robles. Also pictured, Tarnow District Supervisor Mieczysław Kras presents a gift to Paso Robles Mayor Duane Picanco depicting architecture in the Tarnow District. Photos by Josh Petray.

Members of the Paso Robles City Council, First District San Luis Obispo County Supervisor Frank Mecham and officials from the Republic of Poland convened at the Paso Robles Inn Grand Ballroom last Friday to mourn the loss of those killed in the tragic accident that claimed the lives of more than 90 high-ranking Polish dignitaries in a plane crash in Russia earlier this month in addition to recognizing the bonds that tie the Tarnow District and Paso including pioneer Ignacy Jan Paderewski.

Polish officials that visited and met with city officials and members of the Paderewski Festival Board of Directors. Guests included Mieczysław (Mitch) Kras, Supervisor of the Tarnow District, and Ryszard Zadło, president of the Tarnow City Council. During the meeting, Kras and Zadło presented speeches, followed by remarks by Paso Robles Mayor Duane Picanco, who received a gift from Kras depicting a miniature depiction of a historic building within the Tarnow District.

“This will be on my desk, I can assure you,” Picanco said upon receiving the gift.

Mecham and Picanco also presented the Polish dignitaries with officials letters offering condolences.

Mecham also said that it was very exciting to see his friends, who he had met in Tarnow during a lunch exchange. The cultural and business exchange all started over a glass of wine and a conversation between Mecham and Paulina Kapucinska, then Polish consul general based in Los Angeles.

“I said, 'We need to find a way to establish a business and cultural exchange,'” Mecham said. “And she said, 'Yes, how can we go from here?”

So Mecham said he pulled in a couple of other people including City Councilman John Hamon and officials from the Paso Robles Chamber of Commerce to discuss what actions could be taken. The Paderewski Festival Board of Directors and Mecham, then mayor, was invited by the Polish ministry to visit Poland, “and it built from there,” Mecham said.

“I am thrilled to see that it is building,” Mecham said. “I hope to elevate it even further on a countywide level, and I'm really, really excited to see my friends. The morning of the tragedy when the plane went down, it hit hard, and my first thoughts were of Marek and Paulina and Richard and Mitch, wondering if they were OK,” adding, “Poland is a strong country; they will rise to the occasion.

“I was on the phone I called folks as quickly as I could...

For the complete article see the 04-27-2010 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 04-27-2010 paper.

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