A community newsletter serving New Melle, Defiance, Augus​ta, Marthasville, Dutzow​​ a​nd surrounding areas.

30th Anniversary and Re-Dedication of Friendship Stone 

By Kathy Miller  The New Melle Friendship Society hosted a distinguished delegation from Melle, Germany, New Melle’s Sister City, for a 30th-anniversary visit in May.
During their visit, our friends from Melle explored our area's rich history, visiting cherished historic sites and exciting new additions since their last visit.

On Wednesday, May 15, the New Melle Friendship Society, the New Melle Chamber of Commerce, city officials, the Melle delegation, other distinguished guests and the community held a re-dedication ceremony for the 6000-pound Friendship Stone. This stone was gifted and shipped from Melle, Germany, in 1992 and originally dedicated in 1994. The Friendship Stone is a rose-colored granite boulder symbolizing the strong friendship and partnership the two cities share and will continue to share.

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The crowd gathered around the Friendship Stone from Melle Germany
at New Melle Sports and Rec. 



Jo Ann Hammel of the New Melle Friendship Society introduced the guests from Melle to the nice-sized crowd that gathered at New Melle Sports and Rec to welcome them. The Mayor of New Melle, Steve Burt and Bürgermeisterin (Mayor) of Melle, Germany, Jutta Dettmann addressed the crowd. Mayor Burt noted that he has lived in New Melle his whole life, has been the mayor for the last two years and recently re-elected for two more. He thanked the Melle delegation for making the trip and expressed his honor in having them here to share the beautiful day and momentous occasion.


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(L-R) Visitors at the re-dedication of the Friendship Stone:
Mayor Jutta Dettmann of Melle Germany;
Angelika Weitkamp, Barbel Thoms, members of the German Friendship Society;
Juergen Kramer, Press Officer of the City of Melle;
Paul Obernuefemann, Honorary Consul, Federal Republic of Germany, St. Louis;
and Ina Wernhoener - journalist from the Meller Kreisblatt (Newspaper.)

Mayor Dettmann was thrilled to be here. This trip was her first visit to New Melle and she acknowledged the significance of the tradition of visiting our sister cities. "It's important to learn about each other's cultures and lifestyles.” She mentioned that people often ask her about New Melle and would have to say, "I don't know; you'll have to Google it." Now, she can proudly tell them she has been here, made new friends, and learned about our culture. Dettmann explained the importance of the stone which symbolizes the people who came from Melle to establish the new city of New Melle. It represents the enduring connection to the families who immigrated here. “It's crucial to remember our origins and for younger generations to visit their sister cities to learn about their heritage.” Melle has 13 sister cities worldwide, in Turkey, Europe, and the US. In the 1970s, many immigrants from those countries immigrated to Germany.

Ernest Arteaga, a former mayor of New Melle, presented the visitors with a framed original drawing he had created. The illustration depicts the New Melle seal Ernie created by adding a blue ring around Melle's seal, which is a red and white wheel, changing the wheel to red, white, and blue. Frau Bürgermeisterin Dettmann explained that the symbol once stood so that four spokes made a cross, and the Nazis turned the wheel so the cross was now an "X." The Nazis wanted no reminder of the church, especially with the state.

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(L-R) Mayor Steve Burt, 2023 New Melle Festival Queen - Jordyn Burbes, Ernie Arteaga and
Mayor Jutta Dettmann with the seal of New Melle presented by Arteaga. 



Shirley Ostmann, a member of the New Melle Friendship Society and the daughter of Alberta Toedebusch (one of the founding members of the Society) placed flowers on the Friendship Stone. The flowers honored the immigrants who bravely journeyed to a new country, leaving behind their beloved homeland out of concern for their family's future. Their final goodbyes were "See you in heaven," knowing they would never meet again. Shirley's great-great-great-grandfather came from Germany and pointed out that it is our responsibility to preserve our heritage and always remember our roots.
In keeping with tradition, the sister cities exchanged gifts.

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This Stone from the old ancient home is always to remind of the attachment from
Melle, Germany to New Melle, USA. Est. Nov. 12, 1992.


The New Melle Chamber of Commerce presented the City of Melle with a puzzle crafted of local and exotic woods by an area artist when he was 100. The Chamber also provided New Melle visitor bags filled with memorabilia from local shops for the delegates to take back to Germany.

The visitors from Melle presented the City of New Melle, the Friendship Society and Paul Obernuefemann, Honorary Consul of the Federal Republic of Germany based in St. Louis, each with a painting by a local Melle artist depicting the journey of the Friendship Stone from Melle to New Melle. Visit New Melle City Hall and take a look at the painting.

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(L-R) Juergen Kramer, Press Officer of the City of Melle;
Jo Ann Hammel, President of New Melle Friendship Society;
Mayor Steve Burt; Paul Obernuefemann and Mayor Jutta Dettmann
presenting a painting depicting the journey of the Friendship Stone. 

The New Melle Friendship Society would like to thank the delegates and visitors from Melle for making the trip to their sister city. Thank you to the New Melle Chamber of Commerce, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church members, the City of New Melle and everyone who contributed to making this sister city trip one to remember.

At the conclusion of the ceremony, Jo Ann Hammel announced that the New Melle Friendship Society will start meeting again after its hiatus due to COVID-19. The Friendship Society meets on the first Monday of odd months. The next meeting is July 1 at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, 150 W Hwy D, at 7 p.m.