SYKESVILLE — Mayor Lloyd R. Helt Jr. has gone fishing.
Not in Piney Run lake for real fish, but in Poland, for a small town seeking help in gettingits new democratic form of government rolling.
"I'm convinced peace is a one-on-one thing," Helt said. "You throw the line out, extend the bait, and hope they respond, then offer your help."
The Eastern European country that last year threw off its Communist government and elected Lech Walesa president has much to overcome in its struggle as a new democracy.
Several cooperative sister-city ventures between U.S. states and the Polish government have been started to help Poland's towns and cities establish democraticgovernments.
"Jon Arason, chairman of the Maryland-Lodz Cooperation Committee, asked my wife, Ruth, an Annapolis alderman, if she knewof any small towns that would be interested in the project. And, of course, she said Sykesville," Helt said.
"I've always been interested in this kind of contact," he said, "so I pounced on it."
The Maryland-Lodz program is part of Gov. William Donald Schaefer's Eastern European Initiative, Arason said.
After visiting Eastern Europe about 18 months ago, Schaefer decided to pursue a cooperative venturewith Poland.
"Our goal is to establish a formal sister relationship with Maryland and a Polish province," Arason said. "We're working with Lodz, the second-largest city in Poland, the provincial government, the Foundation in Support of Local Democracy in Poland and the University of Lodz."
Helt --ed off a letter to Lodz explaining Sykesville's mayoral government and describing its background and location"on the beautiful small river named Patapsco."
Arason passed the letter on to the Lodz-Maryland Cooperation Committee in Poland duringa recent visit to Lodz.
The mayor has received additional help infinding a Polish sister city from Irene Borowicz of Manchester, who was born and raised in Ausffitz, Poland, and frequently visits there with business and other groups.
During a recent meeting in Helt's office, Borowicz offered to translate his letter into Polish and to seek out other cooperative sister-city programs.
Her research led her to Krakow and Opole, two other Polish provinces participating in sister-city programs.
She also plans to send them copies of Helt's letter.
Borowicz said she would add a questionnaire to Helt's letter, asking for information on the Polish towns in an effort to pair Sykesville with a similar town from her own country.
"We will try to get the town best equipped to handle this, historically and economically similar to Sykesville," Borowicz said. "There are small towns in Lodz that would fit exactly to Sykesville."
It may be several weeks before responses are received from Poland and the chosen sister city.
The Sykesville Town Council enthusiastically endorsed the project last month and suggested sending videotapes of the town to its sister city.
"Through communication, we're all made stronger," Heltsaid. "I think Poland needs our help right now.
"I've got some knowledge of the various functions of town government and the differentpositions, and I think I can help explain to them how we work."