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Area Rotarians say goodbye to exchange visitors

By Bob Paslay

Members of the Clayton County and Henry County Rotary Clubs, who reached across the ocean to their Rotary friends in Germany, bid farewell to their month-long visitors Wednesday.

The four Rotarians from Bavaria have been hosted by families in the area and have toured and spent time with Clayton and Henry residents.

Gerhard Brose, a man who spent his career in the Bavarian glass industry, got off a quip about Georgia as he pointed to a slide of the Bavarian and current Georgia flags under the Rotary emblem Wednesday: "I have to apologize. I can't keep up with your flag in Georgia. I got the latest one off the Internet before we left."

The German Rotarians said they are optimistic any problems between Germany and the United States over the Iraq war will be short-lived.

"If there are any problems of the two countries, it is problems between the governments and not between the people," said Christoph Fenzl, a German bank official.

He said it is up to the German government to initiate a dialogue with the U.S.

"I am optimistic. There has been a friendship between the two countries for 50 years and I don't think the problem over Iraq should be a problem in the future."

Robert Spormaier, who is an official for a large photo-finishing group in Europe, said he sees continuing business ties between the two countries.

"In Bavaria, we have 1,000 companies from all over the world, including the United States" and he said economic officials from the two countries meet and look for business opportunities.

He also said he believes the bond between the people of the two countries is solid and any politician problems are between the governments and not the people.

Also on the Group Study Exchange from the District 1840 Rotary District in Southern Bavaria was Ulrike Weygand, who is a travel agent in the German Reisburo's Business Travel Department.

Bavaria, in the southeast portion of the country, has the Danube River to the north, the Alps and Austria in the south and east and a tributary of the Danube, the Iller River in the west.

Brose said the landscape is much like that of the North Georgia town of Helen, although Bavaria has higher mountains and gets more snow.

Weygand said among all its drawing cards is the 16-day Oktoberfest that draws lots of beer drinkers and other visitors.

Spormaier said travel between the two counties is off, but not because of any problems between the two countries but because travel is off everywhere.

The Henry County Rotary Club honored and said goodbye to their visitors earlier this week and the Clayton County Club feted them and said goodbye Wednesday.

Henry County Rotary President Robert Hockett and Clayton County Rotary President Keith Wood presented their guests with presents, including a club banner and a book on the county.