A group of Russians has been traveling the state this past month as part of the “Partnership for Peace” program launched in 1994 to help ease post-Cold War tensions. Iowa National Guard Captain Mary Parmenter has been shepherding the group around Iowa.Parmenter says they are high-ranking Russian officials who’re part of that country’s emergency management command. One of the nine is the mayor of a town with 350-thousand residents; another is a fire chief who superviseses a department with 37-thousand employees.Parmenter says the whole purpose of the trip is to build ties with individual Russians in hopes of having a “peaceful relationship” with the country in the future. The Russians leave today, but during the trip, they’ve visited Iowa’s National Guard Headquarters at Camp Dodge and other government facilities. The group visited with Des Moines Hazard Materials team, the University Hygenics Lab, the state emergency management division and the Civil Air Patrol. Parmenter says the Russians have been a bit surprised by their experience in Iowa. Parmenter says the group thought there might be some reluctance among the American people to welcome them into the country, and she says they’ve been pleased by the hospitality of Iowans. The group visited Grinnell yesterday to see how a smaller town prepares for emergencies. The nine Russians visited the city’s police station and hospital and lunched with Grinnell city officials.
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