Toulouse, France, officials plan to visit Atlanta in 2006 in hopes of touring the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Emory University’s Winship Cancer Institute, according to Shean Atkins, chief of staff for Atlanta City Councilman Jim Maddox.
“We are definitely expecting a delegation of government officials, business leaders and private citizens to come to Atlanta in 2006,” said Mr. Atkins, who went to Toulouse at the end of May with Mr. Maddox and approximately 50 representatives from Atlanta.
The Atlanta delegation offered the city a bronze statue of a phoenix, a mythical bird that symbolizes strength and rebirth and is also a symbol of Atlanta. The gift to Atlanta’s sister city of 30 years recognized a Sept. 21, 2001, chemical plant explosion there that injured more than 700 people and killed 29.
In the spirit of rebirth, Toulouse officials have been planning to build a cancer research and treatment center over the site of the devastated chemical plant, Mr. Atkins said. When a Toulouse delegation comes to Atlanta, French officials would like to tour CDC facilities and Emory’s cancer research institute, he said.
Atlantan John T. Lyons III, chairman and founder of A Phoenix for Toulouse Inc., the non-profit organization responsible for the bronzed gift, told GlobalAtlanta that he hoped Philippe Douste-Blazy would accompany the Toulouse delegation to Atlanta. Mr. Douste-Blazy, who was recently named minister of foreign affairs for the French government, is a cardiologist and medical professor, who served as minister of health in France and is also a former mayor of Toulouse.
Mr. Lyons, who has worked on the Phoenix project since 2001, said he hoped the statue would symbolize the rebirth and vitality of the city of Toulouse, which has needed to diversify economically since the explosion, he said.
Toulouse’s economy was greatly affected by the plant’s explosion, especially since the city’s aircraft manufacturing plant, Airbus S.A.S., reduced aircraft production following the Sept. 11 attacks in New York that affected airline travel worldwide, he said.
While in Toulouse, the Atlanta delegation helped commemorate the 30-year anniversary of the sister-city relationship between the two cities.
The wife of former mayor Maynard Jackson, who made official the sister-city relationship in 1974, attended the ceremony with their two daughters.
Also in attendance were Betty Davis, chairman of the Atlanta-Toulouse Sister Cities Committee; David Landis, the Atlanta artist who sculpted the Phoenix; Crystal Porter, vice-president of A Phoenix for Toulouse and Mr. Lyons.
Transportation for the Phoenix, which measures 14 feet in wingspan and 15 feet in height was donated by United Parcel Service Inc., but $25,000 still remains to be raised to complete the project.
A Phoenix for Toulouse is planning a final fundraising event in October, but interested individuals can make tax-deductible donations by mail.
Send donations to: A Phoenix for Toulouse, 3340 Turtle Lake Drive, Marietta, Ga. 30067. Contact Mr. Lyons for more information at (770) 955-2932. For more information about the Atlanta-Toulouse sister city relationship visit the Web site www.sprawls.org/ATSCC or contact Ms. Davis at (404) 252-2260.