Monday, May 11, 2009

The Latest News

The debate continues over whether an expansion to the Putnam County jail should be located right next to the current jail or at some offsite location. The county's planning committee Monday night approved a recommendation from the Land and Facilities committee that an offsite location be pursued. But the vote was only 6 to 5 in favor of that motion. A move to have the county begin taking bids on a proposal to expand the existing jail failed on a 5 to 6 vote. Proponents of moving the jail offsite say that doing so is the least expensive option, while those who want to expand the existing jail argue that the cost of transporting inmates and operating two separate facilities outweighs the initial increased construction cost. The full county commission will debate the issue once again next week -- a full 14 months after the state fire marshal first declared the jail to be overcrowded and ordered some inmates removed.

The jail overcrowding problem in Putnam County is not being helped much by people who get out of jail -- either on bond or on probation -- and then violate the conditions of their release. The sheriff's department arrested a total of 17 people over the weekend on charges of either violating their probation or failing to appear in General Sessions court. When defendants fail to appear, they are picked up and held until authorities can get them before a judge and officials say most of those arrested were brought to court Monday morning to try to work things out. In one case, a man was brought to Cookeville from Cheatham County for failing to pay $198 in court costs. In another case, the defendant had failed to pay nearly $6,000.

An Algood man is facing 4th offense DUI charges after being stopped for allegedly driving drunk early Saturday morning. The sheriff's department says they got a call about a possibly drunk driver around 3 am. Sgt. Joe Nash says he observed a vehicle fitting the description weaving across Old Kentucky Road. He stopped it and found 53-year-old Roger Allen Farley of Phillips Street in Algood to be the driver. He says Farley was very unsteady on his feet and smelled of an alcoholic beverage, but refused to take any field sobriety tests. He was booked into the jail under a four thousand dollar bond and will be in court on June 15th.

A man who works as a physican in Cookeville is now charged with raping a patient in his office earlier this year. A grand jury has indicted 53-year-old Rexford Agbenohevi after police investigated claims by a 30-year-old woman. According to the indictment, the rape happened back on January 27th. The doctor turned himself in to the Putnam County jail, and was released after posting bond. Agbenohevi is from Ghana and has an internal medicine practice on North Washington Avenue. He graduated from the University of Ghana medical school in 1985 and did an internship at Meharry Medical School in Nashville. He'll be arraigned in Criminal Court later this month.

A May 18th arraignment in Criminal Court has been scheduled for a Cookeville couple, charged with aggravated child abuse. Police say an eight-year-old boy, who was taken to the hospital in February after suffering from seizures, was diagnosed with a brain injury commonly associated with what's called "shaken baby syndrome." Cookeville police detective Bobby Anderson investigated the case, along with the Department of Children's Services, which decided to remove the boy and another child from the home. They took evidence in the case to a grand jury which issued an indictment against the boy's mother, 28-year-old Nicole Aaron Walton and her boyfriend 32-year-old Jeremy Joseph Bushey, both of Freehill Road. The indictment alleges that the injuries took place between February 3 and February 17 and that they were inflicted by "other than accidental means."

The Putnam County sheriff's department says people working for the U-S Census Bureau may be spooking some local residents. The department has answered several calls over the past few days of either suspicious persons or suspicious vehicles. In some cases, deputies were unable to locate anything suspicious, but -- in at least one incident -- reported on Long Lane -- Deputy Bo Sherrell came across a Cookeville man who told him that he was working for the Census Bureau getting GPS coordinates for a map the Bureau is putting together. Sherrell said the man had the proper credentials, but understood why his activities -- walking along the road after dark -- might have been considered suspicious. And the Census Bureau says anyone who is legitimately working for them SHOULD have proper ID and credentials.

The Upper Cumberland Development District is one of four Tennessee recipients who will receive grant funding from the Environmental Protection Agency to help them assess and cleanup sites known as Brownfields. Officials say brownfields are defined as areas that may be contaminated by hazardous chemicals or pollutants. The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation assists communities in the application process, and applications are made directly from the communities to EPA. The Upper Cumberland Development District was awarded $400,000 ($200,000 for petroleum, $200,000 for hazardous substances) for a community-wide assessment to help the region move forward with cleanup and redevelopment activities. Brownfields are sites where expansion, redevelopment or reuse may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant or contaminant.

A Putnam County teenager has his mother to thank for some time he spent in the booking room of the county jail over the weekend. Deputy Sonny Farley says the case began when a resident of Fisk Road heard a noise outside and looked out to see a couple of boys who had just hit his mailbox quickly driving away. The victim got into his own vehicle and followed the truck, getting a tag number which he relayed to police. When that number and its information was put out over the police radio, it was heard by the mother of one of the boys, who called her son and told him to go to the sheriff's department. But it turns out he wasn't actually involved. He had loaned his truck to two other boys -- one of whom admitted to hitting the mailbox while the other drove. But since the only apparent damage was to the door of the mailbox, which was snapped back on, police decided against bringing charges -- so long as they didn't get any other complaints of mailbox vandalism in that area that night.