The celebration for Ichihara, Japan’s 50th anniversary of having a municipal government will have three guests from Mobile’s municipal government — City Councilors Fred Richardson and CJ Small, and retiring Chief of Staff Al Stokes.
The trio were invited by Mobile’s sister city Ichihara to also celebrate the 20th anniversary of the two cities forming their Sister City agreement. According to the city’s website, the Sister City program is designed to promote cultural development and potential economic development.
Mobile will pay the airfare for Richardson, Small and Stokes, while Ichihara will pay for lodgings and food, according to city spokeswoman Barbara Drummond and Richardson.
City Finance Director Barbara Malkove said only Richardson had turned in his airfare receipt. His flight will cost $1,162.10. Malkove estimated that Stokes’ and Small’s flights would cost about the same. That means the city would spend about $3,500 for the entire trip since Ichihara will pay for the rest of the expenses.
The group will leave Oct. 24 and return Oct. 28. During their stay, Richardson, Small and Stokes will tour Ichihara and Tokyo and go to a festival honoring Ichihara’s history.
“For 20 years Ichihara has been a sister city to Mobile,” Richardson said. “Every year they send a large delegation over. In their city hall, they have a section dedicated to Mobile. There are pictures from their visits for 20 years.”
This is not the first time the city has sent people to Ichihara. In 2004 and 2008, Richardson went to the sister city. In 2004 and 2008, he was joined by then-councilman Clinton Johnson. In 2008, Councilor William Carroll went as well. Stokes is scheduled to retire just a few days after returning from Japan.