Letters to the Editor

Save the Soybeans?

To the Editor:

I am the board president of a local nonprofit group called Friends of the Lucius Burch State Natural Area, which was formed in August 1998. As my own city councilman John Vergos felt compelled to take my group to task for our "wildly inaccurate" advertisement in the July 29th Flyer, I feel compelled to respond to his accusations.

Councilman Vergos claims that his pet group, Support Shelby Farms, Inc. (SSFI), does not endorse any specific route for Kirby-Whitten Parkway but rather urges the study of "all alternatives." Is it mere coincidence that every one of the many alternative road alignments suggested by SSFI would segment our city's only state natural area?

Why should taxpayers foot the bill for the study of road alignments that cut through our forests and wetlands when we already know that such a move would be an ecological abomination?

SSFI and Friends of Shelby Farms say they merely want these natural-area alignments to be studied, not necessarily built. This is akin to saying: "Let's spend a lot of money and time to study the idea of building a highway in Councilman Vergos' front yard. Of course, we'll never really do such a terrible thing -- we just want to make sure it gets studied properly."

Sometimes we don't need a team of experts to tell us when an idea stinks.

What's the bottom line here? Simply that Councilman Vergos and his politically powerful friends have decided that a parkway across an industrial soybean field would be an insufferable eyesore, while an elevated highway through a state natural area would not.

My group's goal is to save our forests and wetlands for our children. If we can only accomplish that goal by sacrificing an industrial soybean field, we consider it a damn fair trade.

Naomi Van Tol
e-mail (Memphis)

Building a Beacon

To the Editor:

Impressed. Very impressed with Jim Hanas' article "Strip Commercial" in the August 5th Memphis Flyer. As a board member for Memphis Area Neighborhood Watch and a commissioner for the Memphis Landmarks Commission, I see the sad results of the eastward commercial movement and the effects that carry over to the surrounding communities.

Fortunately, I also see the advantages our "communities within the loop" have before them with this real estate. This was why I chose to run for city council, District 1: to preach from the rooftops what our representatives should have been doing years ago.

[My platform proposes ways to] deal with holding property owners, real estate companies, and out-of-state corporations responsible for neglected property; use our rarely used anti-nuisance/neglect ordinance to enforce our neighborhoods' integrity; and use the avenues available to redevelop businesses within our city. Examples of living, viable communities are seen in Central Gardens, Evergreen, and High Point Terrace.

Our city is fortunate that South Main is blooming. Our downtown is being developed. Our city has a 90 percent live-in rate for downtown; Denver only has a 70 percent live-in rate for its downtown. We are blessed because of our neighborhoods that are reborn and not relocated. If each council member poured their energies into their own districts, as a whole, this city would prosper in ways we cannot even comprehend today.

Good work, Mr. Hanas. How right you are.

Jerry Benya

CORRECTIONS: Last week in City Reporter, we said that Memphis Police Sgt. Michael Jeff Clark was arrested for assaulting his wife, Dianna Clark, who actually divorced Clark five years ago. Sgt. Clark was charged with assaulting his current wife, whose name was not in the arrest report. In addition, the Tony Bennett concert at Mud Island originally scheduled for August 5th has been rescheduled for September 25th. Tickets are still on sale. An item in Fly on the Wall last week was incorrect. We regret the errors.

The Memphis Flyer encourages reader response. Send mail to: Letters to the Editor, POB 687, Memphis, TN 38101. Or call Back Talk at 575-9405. Or send us e-mail at All responses must include name, address, and daytime phone number. Letters should be no longer than 250 words.

Editor’s Note

This issue we say good-bye to Debbie Gilbert.

The first time I encountered Debbie was in 1990. I was a free-lance writer who was working on my first big story for Memphis magazine. She was an associate editor calling to check several facts in my article. She was direct, curt, all business.

My second encounter with Debbie came in 1992 after I was hired as managing editor for the Flyer. I saw that she was a talented writer and editor. I wanted her on my staff, so I talked her into coming over to our side of the building. She became an integral member of the team that took the paper from 36 pages to the size it is today.

Debbie's contributions to the paper's development often went unseen. Besides writing, she did copyediting and compiled the weekly calendar. To me she was an invaluable resource, whether it was a question of science, writing style, or pop culture.

Debbie says good-bye on page 14.

You say you want to be heard? Then turn to page 25, fill out our Best of Memphis ballot, and mail it in. The ballot runs only in this issue and next.

Winners will be announced in our 6th annual Best of Memphis issue on stands September 22nd.

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