Councilmen to Make Another Japan Trip

By Brian Covert
Herald Editor

With resolutions firmly in hand, Sanger city officials will soon arrive in Japan to show corporate officials their support for possible construction of industrial plants to be located in Sanger.

At Monday’s city council meeting continued from last week, the council unanimously voted to approve $4,500 for travel and food expenses to Japan, for Mayor Tom Olson and Councilman Rene Gonzalez.

They are tentatively scheduled to leave for Japan on Sun., Dec. [15] and return Mon., Dec. [23].

Olson and Gonzalez will present to Japanese officials three resolutions that were adopted at the meeting. In essence, the resolutions are seen as a way to strengthen bonds with the Japanese, whose modern technology is sought regarding local industrial and agricultural projects.

One resolution announces support by Sanger city officials for a proposed waste-to-energy plant in Sanger.

The proposed plant is seen as one solution for the ever-rising mountain of garbage at the south county’s Southeast Landfill, mandated for closure in January 1988.

A second resolution expresses Sanger city officials’ support for a proposed steel mill in town, a project that local officials have eyed for some time in its possible industrial and financial impacts on the city and valley.

A third resolution, said to have even more potential far-reaching effects than the other two, is one that expresses Sanger’s openness to future agricultural trading with Japan.

The latter resolution would be beneficial for both countries if put into use, said Sanger Redevelopment Manager John DeWeerd.

The three-member quorum — Olson, Gonzalez and Councilman Mark Johnson — didn’t agree to any specifics in the resolutions. Rather, they agreed to present a general message of support to the Japanese — a message that would eventually lead to the official go-ahead for the projects.

Local city officials are scheduled to return to Japan sometime next month to express continued support and keep negotiations open.

Among the stops Olson and Gonzalez will be making in Japan next week are three manufacturing companies — Hitachi, Kawasaki Heavy Industries and Nippon-Kokan Steel — and three trading companies: Mitsubishi, Marubeni and C. Itoh.

“To me, this is a first step,” DeWeerd told the council. “It is a statement of policy, of intent.” It was speculated that DeWeerd, as a private citizen, might accompany Olson and Gonzalez on the trip at the expense of Japanese officials. This was not confirmed at press time.

During the meeting, there was some concern by City Attorney J. Steven Lempel on the grammatical wording of the resolutions.

Lempel said he felt uncomfortable that an “agreement in principle” could leave Sanger open to possible lawsuits, should anything concrete be decided later.

“I’m concerned that the city does not go out to dry,” said Lempel. “From day one, I want to avoid the possibility of anyone pointing the finger at Sanger.”

Mayor Olson said that city officials should be more concerned with showing a positive response to the Japanese.

“It has to say something or it isn’t worth taking over,” said Olson, who reminded the council that three years have passed in seeking proper technology to handle such projects as the waste-to-energy plant.

The city council is scheduled to meet in regular session, sans Olson and Gonzalez, at 7 p.m. Tues., Dec. 17, in the city council chambers.