Preserve the Bend for history, future and more letters to the editors

Preserve the Bend for history, future

Moccasin Bend is a treasure waiting to be fully developed. The unique land mass is living history — the footprints of Conquistadores, Native Americans and Civil War soldiers span its 12,000-year history.

I fought for Moccasin Bend Mental Health Institute in the 1990s while executive director of the former Mental Health Association of Greater Chattanooga. There were frequent rumblings about closing, moving or downsizing the hospital. Advocates jumped in to save it.

When the facility was built, tranquil, rural settings were thought to enhance mental health and patients were treated for many weeks. It cannot be denied that prejudice against people with mental illnesses was extreme and a remote location removed them from sight and mind. Today's psychotropic drugs have radically changed mental health treatment and patient stays are dramatically shorted. Mental illnesses are better understood by the public.

Today I advocate for the Moccasin Bend National Archeological District. A hospital can be moved; footprints from history cannot. It makes excellent sense for a new hospital to be located downtown near other hospitals — Erlanger, Memorial and Parkridge.

Leave the land to past history and future vision. It has the tremendous potential to be developed for educational and recreational use — another unique attraction for tourists and our community as well as potential dollars for our city.

Sally Durand

Signal Mountain

What does 'fringe' really even mean?

I wasn't surprised that the Free Press opinion page didn't embrace Gloria Johnson's U.S. Senate candidacy in its recent editorial. I was surprised that its argument against her was devoid of substance. Asserting that Johnson has nothing to run on but her notoriety as one of the Tennessee Three suggests the editorialist didn't glance at her legislative record. Lazily characterizing her as "fringe" leaves readers to discern what that word even means.

Is it fringe to want health insurance for more of Tennessee's working poor? Is it fringe to push for greater funding and oversight at the Department of Children's Services, where kids are sleeping on office floors? Is it fringe to want sensible gun laws, like 80% of Tennesseans? Is it fringe to insist that minor children who've been sexually molested shouldn't be forced by the state to carry a pregnancy to term? When Johnson proposed that narrow exception to Tennessee's abortion ban, Republicans voted it down. Who's "fringe" again?

Marsha Blackburn works on behalf of pharmaceutical companies, insurance companies and the gun industry, at a cost measurable in human lives. As for the tone of the campaign: Blackburn set that years ago, when she followed Donald Trump right into the mud.

Allison Reilly Gorman

Riverview Park

a 'jewel' to enjoy

Most mornings Monday through Saturday, weather permitting, I have coffee with other old geezers at a picnic table in the Riverview Park. Often as patrons we don't say thanks for an obvious gift.

So thank you to all those who had the foresight to create such a beautiful park. Secondly, thanks for the administration and all the workers for keeping up such a wonderful resource. It is a jewel.

Tom Leach