Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Latest News

The evacuations Wednesday of two Putnam County schools went as smoothly as could be expected, according to director of schools Dr. Kathleen Airhart. Airhart says she decided to evacuate students at Cookeville High School after the school resource officer found some wiring that appeared to be a detonator or blasting cap near the visitor's side of the school's football field. She says there was no bomb threat and no indication that anything was in the building but officials decided to search the school as a precaution. And -- as the CHS evacuation was taking place -- Airhart got another call from Avery Trace Middle School, where a plastic soda bottle had exploded in a garbage can in a commons area. She says there were no students or anyone else nearby at the time. But Airhart says some students who are suspected in the Avery Trace incident are being questioned by authorities. She says that she does NOT believe the two incidents were related.

The Putnam County school board will be updated Thursday on the progress being made on several school construction projects. Officials say -- in spite of the rain -- they expect to have both a new Algood School and the renovated Jere Whitson School ready to open for the 2009-2010 academic year. The board will also hear about the status of a new kindergarten through eighth grade school being built off Jefferson Avenue, south of I-40 and will get an update on renovations needed to turn the old Algood School into an adult education center. School flooring replacement projects for Sycamore, Cane Creek and Baxter Elementary schools are also on the agenda.

The Cookeville city council has a relatively light agenda as they meet Thursday night in regular session. They'll be holding a public hearing on an ordinance which would establish architectural design requirements for new construction in town and they'll also have a public hearing as they discuss the rezoning of three pieces of property on Stout Street from residential to commercial. Purchases and expenditures for the electric department and the water department round out the agenda.

State representative Henry Fincher of Cookeville says he supports a new bill called the Tennessee Firearms Freedom Act. It basically exempts guns made and sold in Tennessee from federal regulation, because they never cross the state line. Fincher says 35 other states have considered or passed similar legislation. The bill was approved Wednesday in the House Judiciary Committee and is still pending in the Senate.

Putnam County's land and facilities committee is meeting Thursday afternoon to take yet another look at the recommendations of an architect who is working on a jail expansion project for the county. Some jail inmates have been housed in other counties for more than a year now, after the state fire marshal's office ruled that the local jail was too overcrowded. At last month's county commission meeting, some members wanted to move forward with a plan to expand the jail out into the parking lot of the current justice center. But other commissioners say that any recommendation on what to do should first be reviewed by the land and facilities committee, which is also considering the space needs of several other county offices.

A domestic disturbance call this week led Cookeville police to arrest a man who will now be spending the next four years in jail. Police say 43-year-old Barry Kevin Dowell of Gibson Avenue was found in an apartment on Washington Avenue where the domestic situation was taking place. Dowell was wanted on a criminal court capias and what's called a mittimus. That's a court order directing a sheriff or other police officer to escort a convict to a prison.