Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park gets new leader

Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park gets new leader

April 30th, 2014 by Ben Benton in Local Regional News

Brad Bennett will be the new superintendent of the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park.

Photo by Contributed Photo/Times Free Press.

A man who grew up in Colorado's Rocky Mountains and started his career with the National Park Service as a volunteer at the Grand Canyon will head the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park starting this summer.

Brad Bennett assumes the post on June 1, replacing former park superintendent Cathy Cook, who retired April 1 after coming here from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in 2010 with 33 years of service at 12 different federal parks.

Bennett brings a similar resume of service, said regional park service spokesman Bill Reynolds in the Atlanta office.

"He's been superintendent of Andersonville for the past five years, so he has some great knowledge of Civil War history and an appreciation for what that history means to local communities," Reynolds said Tuesday. "He's done a really good job of building teams and coalitions with partners in the past and we think he'll continue to do that going forward in his new position."

At Andersonville, Bennett improved the long-term preservation of historic resources by leading a work group of subject matter experts to update National Park Service policy for National Cemetery operations. He also represented the park service on the Department of Veterans Affairs Committee on Cemeteries and Memorials, regional officials said.

Bennett on Tuesday said he sought the post here to head the military preserves because he's "attracted to the opportunity to experience another very important chapter of this pivotal time in American history."

Bennett is already working ahead, too.

"One of my top priorities is to request funding to begin a formal planning effort at Moccasin Bend in 2015," he said of the federal archaeological district on the other side of the Tennessee River from Lookout Mountain.

Bennett, 48, already has met with local groups in discussing cooperative efforts "and told them that's something I definitely want to pursue," he said.

Bennett's Scoutmaster father took the family on camping and hiking trips in Colorado's Rocky Mountains, so "with family of my own now, we're really looking forward to living up in Chattanooga and enjoying the quality of life that you have to offer," he said.

Contact staff writer Ben Benton at bbenton@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6569.