Monday, August 31, 2009

Questions Arise About Regional Jail

There is apparently some interest among four area counties in developing a regional jail with Putnam County. But officials say the details must still be worked out. A feasibility study is underway for a regional jail that would serve Pickett, Clay, Overton and Fentress counties. Putnam County officials say they may be able to become a fifth partner. Putnam County's Land and Facilities committee met Monday night to talk about the issue, but members said they were under the impression that the other counties were further along in the process. Michelle Price of the Upper Cumberland Development District told the committee that the other four counties are just now getting started with a feasibility study that's being funded with state dollars. The committee hopes to meet in early October with representatives of the other counties to talk about that study. They say a number of questions still need to be answered, including what kind of jail gets built, whether it's run by a for-profit company or a public jail authority and what the responsibilities and costs to each county would be.

Alleged Drunk Driver Hits Child With Vehicle

A Cookeville man has been charged with drunk driving after his van hit a child a local trailer park. It happened at a trailer park on Freehill Road last week. Police say the child apparently ran out in front of the vehicle and suffered some scrapes and bruises, but was not seriously injured. However, they say 37-year-old Connie C. Daugherty of Bob Lynn Road failed several field sobriety tests conducted as part of the accident investigation. He goes to court on DUI charge on September 21st. A passenger in Daugherty's vehicle was also cited for public intoxication.

Cookeville Police Arrest Felony Fugitive

A man wanted in Iowa on felony drug charges has been arrested by Cookeville police, and a Cookeville woman who lied to police about the fugitive's whereabouts is also facing charges. Officers say they went to the 20th Street home of 48-year-old Thomas Allen Martin to serve the warrant on him, but found that he wasn't home. They say they questioned a woman at the residence, who told them she didn't know anyone named Thomas. When Martin walked up a short time later, the woman -- identified as 35-year-old Glenna Yvonne Jones -- admitted that she DID know him and knew that he lived at the residence. She was charged with making a false report. He was taken into custody for extradition back to Iowa.

Murder Suspect Arrested in Cookeville


A man wanted in Memphis on homicide charges has been picked up in Putnam County. Cookeville police arrested 22-year-old Arthur L. Simmons II after encountering him while working on another case. Officer Brandon Tayes says that Simmons was the driver of a car in which police found marijuana. But, when questioned, Simmons told police his name was Lattrell Smith. It was only when "Smith" was fingerprinted by jail guards that a records check found him to be wanted by the Memphis Police Department. He is a suspect in a Memphis murder case from May of last year. The vehicle Simmons was driving and $822 in cash he had were seized.

9-11 Essay Contest Entries Being Accepted

Public, private and home schooled students age 17 and under are invited to enter the first annual "Why I Remember September 11, 2001" Essay Contest. Kindergarten through 4th grade Essays must be at least 100 words; 5th through 8th grades must be at least 250 words; 9th through 12th grades must be at least 500 words. One winner in each grade division will receive a $50 US Savings Bond and have his or her essay read at the Reflect and Remember Ceremony at the Putnam County Courthouse on Monday, September 14th. All entries must be mailed to Essay Contest, P.O. Box 1305, Cookeville, TN 38503 by September 5th. Please include name, grade and telephone number. Call 881-6481 for more information.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Putnam County Jail Discussions Resume

The Land and Facilities Committee of the Putnam County commission is scheduled to meet Monday night to once again take up the issue of what to do about jail overcrowding. For more than a year now, Putnam County has been housing some of its jail inmates in neighboring counties to meet the mandate of the state fire marshal's office. County officials have looked at several potential sites for a new jail annex, but none of them have received approval from the county commission. Some commissioners want to build onto the existing jail facility, while others support building at an off-site location. At their most recent meeting, the Land and Facilities committee requested information about the possibility of constructing a regional jail in cooperation with other counties in the area. They are apparently going to be given an update on that issue when they meet Monday evening, starting at five pm in the county executive's conference room at the courthouse.

Cookeville Police Department Receives Awards


The Cookeville police department has received a number of awards from the Governor's Highway Safety Office, in part for their efforts to promote child seat safety. The department was among the winners recognized this month as part of the 5th Annual Law Enforcement Challenge. The Law Enforcement Challenge is an annual competition designed to recognize and reward the best overall traffic safety programs across the state and across the country as judged by the International Association of Chiefs of Police. Similar sizes and types of agencies are judged on their local efforts to enforce laws and educate the public about the dangers of driving impaired and speeding as well as the importance of occupant protection. The Cookeville police department took first place statewide and was ranked second nationally among departments with more than fifty, but less than 100 officers. They were also given special category awards for their Child Passenger Safety and Speed Awareness programs, and they earned the Director's Cup, as well.

Sex Offender Faces New Charges


A Putnam County man, who was placed on the sex offender registry after being convicted in 1993 on charges of aggravated sexual battery and rape of a child, is facing new charges today for violating the rules concerning convicted sex offenders. 34-year-old David Wayne Felts is accused of going to Northeast Elementary School on at least two occasions this month. Felts was allegedly at the school on August 10th and 13th, despite regulations that bar him from being on the premises of any school building or school grounds when children are present. The sheriff's department says that Felts was at the school with a female friend -- identified as 28-year-old Crystal G. Owen of Gainesboro. Owen is charged with criminal responsibility for allowing Felts "to accompany her and her minor child while the child was at Northeast School." A previous case, in which Felts was arrested for illegally living with Owen and her child, is still pending.

Election Administrator Earns Certification


Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett and State Coordinator of Elections Mark Goins have announced that Debbie Steidl, Putnam County Administrator of Elections, has passed the Certification Exam for Administrators of Elections, held last week in Nashville.

“This certification demonstrates Debbie Steidl’s dedication to meeting the highest of standards in her efforts to serve Putnam County,” Hargett said. “Putnam Countians can be proud to have a public servant of this caliber.”

The exam is a rigorous, one-day exam held at least once a year in Nashville. By passing the exam, participants demonstrate they have the level of knowledge and understanding required to be successful county administrators of elections in Tennessee.

Friday, August 28, 2009

World War II Veteran Recognized

Representative Bart Gordon held a ceremony this week in Cookeville to present family members of 1st Lieutenant John Joseph Slein with seven long-overdue World War II service medals. Gordon said, "Lt. Slein courageously served our country during the War and lost his life while doing so." He said, "It's never too late to honor and recognize the heroic sacrifice of soldiers like Lt. Slein." Slein's World War II service began in October 1942 - he was a bomber pilot for the U.S. Air Force. On July 25, 1944, Slein was killed when his plane was shot down over St. Lo, France. Gordon helped Slein's brother, William J. Slein, obtain the military medals and decorations.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Jobless Rate Improves in Putnam County

Putnam County may be showing signs of an economic recovery. Labor Department figures released Thursday show the jobless rate here is 9.9 percent, down about half a point from the month before. It's an improvement many local officials were hoping for, but they say it's too soon to tell if the uptick is more or less permanent. While the unemployment rate is just under ten percent for the month of July, it is still three points higher than it was at this time last year. And most of the counties surrounding Putnam have a jobless rate that remains in the double digits. In what officials describe as the Cookeville micropolitan area, there were 5,500 people out of a job last month.

Theft of Property Cases Pile Up

September 14th is the arraignment date for two suspects who are charged with theft of property. The charges have been brought against two men allegedly involved in the illegal sale of a stolen utility trailer. The sheriff's department says 46-year-old Tony Lee Bennett of Algood allegedly confessed to stealing the trailer and later selling it to 39-year-old Terry Winfree of Gainesboro. Deputy Mike Hoover says he witnessed the transaction, but Winfree says he wasn't involved in any wrongdoing. He claims that the trailer was simply brought to his shop to be painted. The trailer had been stolen last Thursday from a home on Noel Drive.

Coincidentally, theft of property charges are pending in several cases that were investigated by the Cookeville police department in recent days. 19-year-old Richard Samuel Helm of Silver Point was arrested after an investigation by Detective Chase Mathis. Police say Helm is accused of stealing aluminum gutters, window frames and floor jacks from his uncle's home, which he later sold for scrap. Meanwhile, William Scott Arrott of Cookeville was charged after he was seen leaving the Sears store without paying for more than $500 dollars worth of tools; and 43-year-old Tracy Evelyn Bennett was taken into custody at the Hill's IGA store after she allegedly tried to shoplift four cans of beer. She is also charged with simple assault for allegedly striking a store employee.

Purse Snatchers Caught

A Putnam County couple, allegedly working together to steal purses, has now been charged with theft of property. Cookeville police say 43-year-old James Glenn Whittenburg and 26-year-old Tabitha Charmane Whittenburg were arrested after an incident at the K-Mart store in Cookeville. The victim told police that she was shopping when a woman came up to her and started a conversation. While she distracted by the woman, a man came up from behind and grabbed her purse. Both suspects then ran off, but witnesses were able to get a license tag number and the suspect's vehicle was stopped a few blocks away. The Whittenburgs' bond was set at $1500 and they have a court date set for September.

Songwriting Workshop Scheduled in Cookeville


Do you have a song in your head, but can’t seem to connect the dots and put it on paper? Or maybe you can get a song on paper, but there’s something not quite right with the rhyme. You can learn more about the art and craft of songwriting at the Highlands Music Development Committee’s Songwriting Workshop featuring nationally recognized singer/songwriter and radio show host, Jacky “Jack” White from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 17 at the Leslie Town Center in Cookeville.

Artists such as Ray Stevens, Charley Pride, Buddy Jewell, Steve Wariner, Neal McCoy and Mark Lowery have recorded more than one hundred of White’s songs, which have been on the charts since 1985. White’s songs have received ASCAP awards for both writing and publishing. In addition to songwriting, White also hosts the syndicated radio show “The Sucarnochee Revue” which airs in thirteen states and internationally in Australia.

Cost of the 6-hour workshop is $70 per person for early registrants prior to Oct.1, after the cost is $80 per person; and students may attend at a discounted rate of $60 per person before Oct. 1. Breakfast and lunch will be provided. Attendees will have the opportunity to perform their songs during the workshop if they choose, and White will offer a free consultation to each participant after the event Also, participants receive two free uploads of their music on the Highlands Podcast.

You can call the Cookeville-Putnam County Chamber of Commerce at 931-526-2211 to register or for further information.

Credentialed In Bone Densitometry


Stephanie Jennings, a radiologic technologist at Cookeville Regional Medical Center, recently earned national credentials in bone densitometry. Jennings earned the credentials from the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT). She works in The Women’s Center at Cookeville Regional’s Outpatient Imaging Center. This certification is voluntary, not mandatory, and Jennings underwent extensive preparation to get ready for the certification. The Outpatient Imaging Center at Cookeville Regional is the region’s first “all digital” full-service imaging facility and is located at 251 West Third Street – just one block from the hospital. The ARRT is a nationally recognized organization that promotes high standards of patient care by recognizing qualified individuals in medical imaging, interventional procedures and radiation therapy.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Home Invasion Case Investigated

Putnam County authorities are looking for the public's help in solving a home invasion robbery that took place early Wednesday morning. The sheriff's department says two white males approached a man at his home on Oakdale Circle, located off Gainesboro Grade, at about 5:45 am -- just as the man was leaving for work. The victim says the men were wearing masks and one them pointed a gun at him, forcing him back into his home where they tied up the man and his wife. The robbers then stole several bottles of prescription medicine, as well as a jar of loose change. Anyone with information about the case is asked to call the sheriff's office at 528-8484.

Man Robbed of Video Games

Robbery charges have been brought against two Cookeville residents who allegedly admitted to stealing video games from a man who was walking down Willow Avenue Tuesday night. Police say 28-year-old Michele Lee Coburn and 21-year-old Darren Roy Warren Jr., of Lee Seminary Road, were arrested after the victim called police and gave dispatchers their names. The man who was robbed says he was walking down the street about 6 pm when Coburn and Warren approached him and tried to take four XBox video games he had in his backpack. When he resisted, they allegedly started hitting and kicking him, ultimately taking the games before driving off. They were stopped and taken into custody by Officer Mitch Harrington, who passed the suspects as he was on his way to the scene.

Rape Suspect Arrested

A September 21st arraignment date has been set for a Putnam County man, indicted on four counts of rape. Authorities say 25-year-old Darrell Wayne Rhea of Grisson Lane in the Granville community, was picked up this week after a grand jury returned indictments against him. Rhea is accused of raping a 14-year-old girl in August of last year. Police say he was an acquaintance of the girl's family, but have not offered any other details. His bond was set at $50,000.

Baxter Gets Grant for Visitor Center

Governor Phil Bredesen joined TDOT Commissioner Gerald Nicely and state and local leaders today to announce that the state will provide the Town of Baxter with an enhancement grant of $362,992 to assist with the development of the Baxter Historic Visitors Center. This project is in downtown Baxter near Exit 280 on Interstate 40. The Baxter Historic Visitors Center will be constructed at the site of the Baxter Railroad Depot, built in 1904, by reconstructing the depot as accurately as possible to its original architecture. In addition, origininal material remains from the Depot will be incorporated into the new Visitors Center. The construction of the new Baxter Historic Visitors Center will be a significant step in the revitalization effort currently underway in downtown Baxter.

"Revitalization projects like this enhance the lives of both Tennesseans and visitors to our state," said Governor Bredesen. "I am very pleased the state of Tennessee is making this important investment in the Baxter Historic Visitors Center."

The grant is made possible through a federally funded program administered by the Tennessee Department of Transportation. A variety of activities such as the restoration of historic facilities, bike and pedestrian trails, landscaping and other non-traditional transportation projects are eligible for grant funds under the federal program. This project will complete the construction of the Baxter Historic Visitors Center on the site of the original Baxter Depot. Once complete, this center will assist greatly in bringing new life to Baxter, while revitalizing the downtown Baxter area.

Fundraising Dance Scheduled for September

CASA, the UCHRA "Court Appointed Special Advocate" program, is holding a Blast From The Past Dance on September 25 at the DelMonaco Winery, off Highway 70 in Baxter. The event is scheduled to run from 7 pm to 11 pm. Organizers say the dance is reminiscent of the American Bandstand days. Event goers will enjoy a barbecue dinner and beverage for $25, while hearing songs spanning the decades. Wine tasting will also be provided by Del Monaco’s, and there will be a live and silent auction. Some of the auction items include tickets to Dollywood and the Nashville Zoo. Titans memorabilia and Rodney Atkins items will also be up for bidding. The evening will also include an old fashioned American Bandstand dance contest and a costume contest. Costumes from all decades are welcome. Prizes and trophies will be awarded. Monies raised from the event go to support CASA’s mission, which is to recruit, train and supervise community volunteers who are appointed to be a voice for an abused and neglected child that has come into the Juvenile Court system. These are children that have been taken from their homes by the Department of Children Services due to allegations of abuse and neglect. The abuse can be physical, emotional, or sexual. Neglect can include environmental, educational or non-supervision. Typically, volunteers work with a case an average of 12 months. CASA is a non-profit agency and must obtain funds through grants, fundraiser events and donations by the public and businesses. Over 2100 children were reported abused or neglected in Putnam County in 2008. To purchase tickets, donate items for the auction or inquire about sponsorship opportunities please call Judy Greenwood at 931-520-8733 ext. 248.

Cookeville Officials Tour VW Site

Regional representatives of the Highlands Initiative have now met in Chattanooga with executives from the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce and Volkswagen for a briefing.
Representing the Highlands were George Halford and Lillian Hartgrove of the Cookeville-Putnam County Chamber of Commerce; Bob Bell, Tennessee Tech University president and vice chair of Economic Development for the Chamber; Wallace Austin, Sparta-White County Chamber of Commerce president; and Ray Evans, Economic Development director for the Livingston-Overton County Chamber of Commerce.

April Wortham of Volkswagen stressed the importance of registering as a supplier on the Volkswagen of America Inc. Web site. The site is the main tool used to assess potential suppliers. This includes first, second and third tier suppliers. Second and third tier suppliers are chosen by first tier suppliers. Wortham also advised companies to continually be aware of who first tier suppliers are, and to seek them out directly to enhance chances of doing business with them.

"Becoming a supplier to Volkswagen is not just for companies in the automotive industry," said Wortham. "Other companies may have services or products beneficial to Volkswagen. For example, a company making packaging materials on the surface may not appear to be a good fit when in reality they could be. The best advice is to register online and let Volkswagen assess the opportunity."

Blake Poole and the Chattanooga Area Chamber will be scheduling meetings in the Highlands during the coming weeks to share insight into the process of becoming a supplier. The local chambers of commerce will mail invitations to these meetings when the dates and times have been finalized.

"We are impressed with the progress at Enterprise South," said Bob Bell, Tennessee Tech University president. "Tennessee Tech University is looking forward to forging a strong partnership with Volkswagen and its suppliers. Representatives from our College of Engineering and Career Center have already been in meetings with Volkswagen leadership in Chattanooga, and the company has already interviewed the first set of engineering candidates for positions at the company."

"It is difficult to appreciate the magnitude of the project until you are there to see it in person and to hear first hand from those responsible for making it happened," said George Halford, Putnam County Chamber president and CEO. "We appreciate the Chattanooga Area Chamber hosting our visit and providing us with a comprehensive tour and update on Volkswagen, and we are thankful to Ms. Wortham of Volkswagen for taking time to meet with us."

Speculation Rises About Fleetguard Moving

Rumors are swirling about the future of workers at the Fleetguard plant in Cookeville, after its parent company announced on Tuesday that it would be laying off 400 workers at a plant in Iowa. Cummins Filtration, a division of diesel engine manufacturer Cummins Inc., said it is consolidating a "significant" portion of its North American filter assembly operations into one of its Mexican plants over the next several months. Oil and fuel filter assembly operations at its plant in Lake Mills, Iowa, will be moved to San Luis Potosi, Mexico, beginning in November. The company also is reported to be considering moving additional assembly work from its filtration plant in Cookeville, but a final decision has not yet been made.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

How Do You Dial 911?

There shouldn't be any problems, but officials with Putnam County's E-911 center say they will be switching over the phone lines Wednesday from their old location on Carlen Drive to their new location off South Willow Avenue. If you have trouble getting through on 911, you should call the regular number for an ambulance. That's 528-1555. 911 director Randy Porter says he doesn't anticipate any issues with the switchover, but says even if there are 911 problems, the regular phone numbers for the ambulance service, police department and sheriff's office should not be affected. The new 911 center is located on a street called County Services Drive. It will not only house the county's ambulance service, but also have offices for the fire department, rescue squad and emergency management agency.

Sparta Woman Pleads to Embezzlement Charge

A Sparta woman may have to mortgage or sell the family farm in order to pay back all of the money she has admitted to stealing from her employer in Cookeville. Court officials say 48-year-old Janet Lynn Jared was originally indicted on a charge of theft over $60,000. That charge came out of an investigation which revealed that she had stolen more than $114,000 over of two-year period from the business accounts of a home repair business for which she was the bookkeeper. The original theft charge is a Class B felony, which could have resulted in jail time. Officials say Jared agreed instead to plead guilty to the lesser charge of theft over $10,000 and has agreed to pay back the money.

Federal Charges Pending Against Meth Lab Suspects

Putnam County sheriff David Andrews says he hopes the production, sale and delivery of what he called "vast amounts of methamphetamine" has been stopped with the arrest of two people during a raid on a Cookeville home. The sheriff says 53-year-old Donald Ray Jones of Cookeville and 41-year-old Phillip Charles Tabor of McMinnville may be facing federal charges, as well as local ones. The sheriff's department concluded a lengthy undercover investigation with a raid on Jones's home on Shag Rag Road. The sheriff says authorities found "a fully functional meth lab, along with several weapons." Jones and Tabor are charged locally with manufacture of meth, sale of a controlled substance, and possession of a controlled substance.

Cookeville School Principal Named Finalist

Ed Wheaton of Sycamore Elementary School in Cookeville has been named one of nine finalists for the "Principal of the Year" award, given out by the Tennessee Department of Education. Each year, the department recognizes outstanding administrators with the Principal of the Year and Supervisor of the Year awards. The finalists were selected by fellow principals and supervisors. The winners will be named at the annual Tennessee Educational LEADership Conference in October.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Court Date Set For Alleged Burglars

A September 14th court date has been set for two Putnam County residents, charged with aggravated burglary. 37-year-old Jerry Dewayne Shoemake and 34-year-old Sherry Marie Mayberry, both of Country Meadows Lane, were arrested after being caught at a home on Windsor Street, near Fairground Street. Police say a woman returned to her home last Thursday night and noticed an unfamiliar vehicle in her driveway. She also saw two people coming out of her house and immediately called police. According to reports, the couple drove away from the scene of the crime, but were stopped a short distance away. They were found to be in possession of several items allegedly stolen from the home.

Habitual Driving Offender Faces Charges

Putnam County authorities say they are serious about keeping habitual driving offenders off the road. Deputy Matthew Hickey says he was at a local convenience market over the weekend when he saw someone inside the store that he suspected did not have a valid license. The man drove away before Hickey could confirm the status of his license, but the deputy followed the driver to a home on Vivian Drive. The driver, identified as 24-year-old James Cavell Maynard, did in fact have a restricted license and was allegedly not supposed to be driving between his house and store. Maynard was taken into custody for being a habitual driving offender. Earlier this month, District Attorney Randy York said his office would be focusing on the prosecution of such offenders throughout the region.

Traffic Stop Leads to Meth Arrests

A routine traffic stop has led to charges against three local residents for the promotion of methamphetamine manufacturing. Police say Rebecca D. Barnes of Monterey, Wendell Jay Conner of Cookeville and Michael W. Huffer of Monroe, Tennessee, were arrested after a traffic stop on West Spring Street. Officer Cary Matheney says he initiated the traffic stop because the driver, Ms. Barnes, was not wearing a seat belt. He says he later got permission to search the vehicle and found several ingredients consistent with the manufacture of meth, including hydrogen peroxide, a hot plate and a roll of electrical tape. The three will be in court on the charge September 14th.

Air Show Scheduled At Upper Cumberland Airport

An estimated 15,000 people are expected to attend the 2009 edition of the Upper Cumberland Air Show on Sept. 19 at the Upper Cumberland Regional Airport. Organizers say this year’s show will include favorites from the past as well as many new performers including a special appearance by the Air Force A-10 “Warthog.” Gates will open at 9 a.m., with the show beginning at 1 p.m. The public is invited to come in early, as airplanes will be flying in all morning. There will also be numerous static displays, from World War II and the Signal Corps, other historic aircraft, war birds, experimental aircraft, and scale aircraft. The flight simulator will be back, as well as activities for the kids. Tickets are on sale now at locations in the area including the Highland’s Visitor Center in Cookeville, and the Sparta – White County Chamber of Commerce in Sparta. Admission is $10, with children 10 and under being admitted free.

TTU Again Among The "Best"

In addition to its eighth year being ranked as one of the Best Universities in the South by the publishers of U.S.News & World Report, this year Tennessee Tech University is the only Tennessee school ranked for students who graduate with the least amount of debt. TTU earned the number thirty-four spot among Best Universities in the South – Master’s category in the 2010 edition of America’s Best Colleges by U.S. News Media Group. TTU’s ranking is the top listing for a Tennessee public university in that category. TTU is also the only Tennessee university listed in U.S. News’ ranking of colleges whose students in the class of 2008 graduated with the lightest debt loads. According to the report, sixty percent of TTU’s students graduate debt free. The exclusive rankings, which include more than fourteen-hundred schools nationwide, are available today at usnews.com/colleges. Among factors weighed in determining the rankings, the key measures of quality are: peer assessment, graduation and retention rates, faculty resources, student selectivity, financial resources and alumni giving.TTU’s ranking indicates that eighty-two percent of its faculty members are full-time. About forty-two percent of its classes have fewer than twenty students, and the student-to-faculty ratio is nineteen-to-one. Fifty-four percent of TTU entering freshmen are classified in the top twenty-five percent of their high school class.

Another Way to Follow Tech Football

Tennessee Tech fans throughout the region will have an exciting new way to follow Golden Eagle football during the 2009 season with a weekly call-in show that will be simulcast on both television and radio.The Watson Brown Show, featuring third-year Golden Eagle head coach Watson Brown, will be presented by IWC Cash & Carry. The call-in show will air on WCTE-TV live every Monday night at 5 p.m., with a taped encore each Wednesday at 7 p.m.Each show will also air on the radio on WHUB am 1400.

During the 30-minute broadcast, Brown will sit down with local sports personality Buddy Pearson and recap the previous week’s game, show highlights and game film, preview the upcoming opponent, and answer questions from callers as well as emails.Fans can ask questions during the Monday night live broadcasts by calling (931) 528-2222. Viewers can also email questions to: WatsonBrownShow@gmail.com.

The premier episode will be Sept. 7 as the Golden Eagles prepare to open the season at home against Pikeville on Sept. 10.WCTE is the PBS station for the Upper Cumberland, and can be seen in the Nashville market on Dish and DirectTV. WHUB am 1400 is part of the Golden Eagle Sports Network.

“We are thrilled that IWC Cash & Carry is the presenting sponsor, allowing us air The Watson Brown Show during the 2009 season,” said Mark Wilson, TTU Director of Athletics. “WCTE-TV does a great job of providing regional sports coverage, and The Watson Brown Show has proven to be popular with fans throughout the Upper Cumberland and Metro Nashville regions in the past. We plan to build on that success.”

WCTE-TV will televise all five of Tech’s home games in 2009. Brown, a Cookeville native, is in his third season as Tennessee Tech’s head football coach. He is in his 25th season as a head football coach, and his 37th season in college coaching overall.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Another Putnam County TennCare Fraud Arrest


Residents of McMinn and Putnam Counties have been charged with TennCare fraud related to prescription drugs. In Putnam County, a Baxter woman is charged with five felony counts of TennCare fraud for using TennCare to pay for forged prescriptions for the painkiller Hydrocodone. Regina C. Tausan, 41, (pictured above) is accused of presenting the prescriptions at a local pharmacy. Her arrest was assisted by the Putnam County Sheriff's Office. The charges are class E felonies carrying a sentence of up to two years per charge in prison. District Attorney General Randy A. York is prosecuting.


Last week, the arrest of two people named in Putnam County indictments brought to 1,000 the total number of people charged with TennCare fraud since the Office of Inspector General (OIG) was formed and given authority to pursue fraud cases. Those two were identified as 36-year-old Angela S. Tindale of Cookeville and 36-year-old Jamie L. Bauman of Baxter.

Sign Regulations To Be Discussed

The Cookeville planning commission Monday night meets to talk about an amendment to the zoning code as it pertains to the colors of lighting and time limits of electronic reader boards in the neighborhood commercial zone. The current code prohibits certain colors of light, but representatives of a local sign company say most ordinances have limitations on brightness more so than color. The issue was brought up earlier this year as local officials worked to accommodate the sign that will be going up on a new Walgreen's store on North Washington Avenue. Also on Monday night, the planning commission will consider amendments to the zone designated for planned residential developments, and they'll consider final plats for new subdivisions on South Cedar Avenue, South Walnut Avenue and East Gate Circle.

Rape Charge Dismissed

A rape charge against a Cookeville physician has been dismissed in Putnam County criminal court. Judge David Patterson granted a prosecution request to drop the charges, reportedly because the alleged victim no longer wants to pursue the case. 53-year-old Dr. Rexford Agbenohevi was arrested after a grand jury returned an indictment against him. He reportedly admitted to a sexual encounter with the woman in his examining room in January of this year, but claimed it was consensual. Prosecutors say the woman maintains that the encounter was NOT consenting, but did not want to go through testifying at a jury trial.

Open House Held at New Buildings

Tennessee Department of Health Deputy Commissioner Jim Shulman and Health Services Assistant Commissioner Cathy Taylor were on hand for an open house Friday at the new Putnam County Health Department facility in Cookeville. During their visit, they met with county staff members as well as local and state government officials. The new Putnam County Health Department building is part of a multi-million dollar complex developed to meet the needs of the growing population in Putnam County. The complex, funded by the county and state governments, also includes Putnam County Emergency Services and the Election Commission. Officials say the mission of the Health Department is to provide comprehensive primary and preventive health services to the uninsured, the underinsured and the medically underserved populations. The Putnam County Health Department at 701 County Services Drive in Cookeville provides an array of services including primary care, family planning, immunizations, well child screenings, WIC and nutrition services, breast and cervical cancer screening, birth and death certificates, children’s special services, HIV testing and counseling, and communicable disease control. Hours for the clinic are 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Cookeville Man Caught Three Times

A Cookeville man who was arrested Saturday morning for driving on a revoked license was arrested again Saturday evening ... for driving on a revoked license. 35-year-old Tommy Joe Booher Jr. of Shipley Road was stopped after Officer Michael Herrick clocked him doing 44 in a 30-miles-per-hour zone. Herrick said Booher had been arrested earlier in the day by officer Marc DeClaire. Officer Cary Matheney had also arrested him on July 26th for driving on a revoked license. Herrick said the license plates on Booher's vehicle were also invalid, and alleges that Booher had three used hypodermic needles and a glass pipe in the car with him. The drug and driving charges will send him to General Sessions court. He was also issued citations to city court for speeding, improper registration, and having no insurance.

Alleged Paint Huffer Facing Charges

Cookeville police, answering a complaint about a reckless driver, have charged a man with the crime of "inhaling paint for the unlawful purpose of causing a condition of intoxication." The charge was placed against 31-year-old Bryan W. Cole of Byrne Avenue after another motorist complained about his driving and reported that he appeared to be inhaling something from a bag. Officer Cary Matheney located Cole's vehicle, saw that it was weaving and also saw that Cole was not wearing a seat belt. The officer says he found Cole with an aerosol can of Krylon Gold paint and a plastic bag filled with fresh gold paint. Cole allegedly admitted to huffing paint because of a previous addiction to meth. He goes to court on the charges September 14th.

"Road Rage" Leads to Charges

A November 13th court date has been set for two men involved in what is described as a "road rage" incident in Putnam County. According to the Highway Patrol, it happened on I-40 near the 276 mile marker. 37-year-old Tommy Odis Wade of Lancaster and 34-year-old Ilkhamzhan Aladinov of Philadelphia were both travelling westbound when they got into some sort of "road rage incident." The THP says the two pulled onto the exit ramp and Wade allegedly broke out the windshield of the other man's 18-wheeler with a hammer. Aladinov then took the hammer and threw it at Wade's vehicle, breaking the back window glass and also striking Wade in the face. Wade is also accused of trying to run down Aladinov. And, according to reports, "as Mr. Wade was leaving, Mr. Aladinov was striking him with a metal pipe." Both have been charged with aggravated assault.

Man Convicted on 7th Offense DUI

A two-year prison term could be in the future for a Putnam County man, convicted of 7th offense DUI. A jury returned the verdict against 47-year-old Tommy Neil Willams after a one-day trial in Criminal Court. Officials say that Wiliiams was arrested in June of 2008 when a sheriff's deputy noticed his vehicle parked in the middle of the road. Williams reportedly failed several field sobriety tests and a check of his record indicated that he had six previous DUI convictions. But officials say the jury did not know of the previous convictions and were debating on the most recent case -- in which they found Williams guilty. He will be sentenced before Judge Leon Burns on October 9th. Prosecutors say they also plan to have Williams placed on the habitual driving offender list, which allows police to arrest him for simply being behind the wheel.

Putnam TennCare Fraud Arrests Make 1,000 Total

The arrests of two people in Putnam County brings to 1,000 the total number of people charged with TennCare fraud since the Office of Inspector General was formed and given authority to pursue fraud cases. The Putnam County cases involve 36-year-old Angela Tindle of Cookeville and 36-year-old Jamie L. Bowman of Baxter. Tindle was charged with four counts of TennCare fraud for using TennCare to pay for forged prescriptions on four separate occasions for syringes, the painkiller Hydrocodone, and two preparations of insulin. Bowman is accused of using TennCare to pay for fraudulent prescriptions for the painkiller hydrocodone on four separate occasions.

Monday, August 17, 2009

County Commission To Debate Budget

The Putnam County commission meets this evening to discuss passage of a county budget for the 2009-2010 fiscal year. County executive Kim Blaylock says that although it's been a tough year, officials have been able to put together a spending plan that requires no increase in the county's property tax rate. Several department heads have made cuts to their initial budget request and the county school system will be getting the same amount of money this year that they got last year, although the source of that money has been moved around a bit. Meanwhile, the commission tonight will be voting on whether or not to add ten thousand dollars to a property tax relief program for the elderly. The recommendation is that the county do that in lieu of participating in what has been called a tax freeze program OK'd in a referendum a couple of years ago.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Former Drug Task Force Employee Indicted

A September 21st arraignment in Putnam County criminal court has been set for two Sparta residents, accused of stealing money from the local Drug Task Force. 59-year-old Gail Carr and her husband, 52-year-old John Paul Carr, were indicted after a TBI agent presented evidence to the grand jury. Authorities say the two are implicated in the alleged misuse of a credit card belonging to the Drug Task Force. Mrs. Carr had been employed there for several years, but resigned after an investigation began. Both are free on bond, pending their court appearance.

Public Defender Appointed for Kidnapping Suspect

The Public Defender's office has been appointed to represent a Cookeville man, charged with agggravated kidnapping and aggravated assault. Police say 60-year-old Gary Randall Moser of Battlefield Drive was arrested after his girlfriend accused him of holding her hostage and beating her. She apparently talked him into allowing her to leave at one point last week and she drove up to an officer who was parked on South Jefferson Avenue. That officer, Donna Revis, noticed
that the victim had a large knot on her forehead and had bruising around her eyes and on her arms. Moser was booked into the jail under a total bond of $50,000. He goes back to court on September 9th.

Funeral Held For Fire Victim

Cookeville city fire officials say it's a reminder that smoke can be just as dangerous as a fire. Funeral services were held Sunday for a Cookeville woman, who died as the result of smoke inhalation injuries she suffered from a fire last week at her home on Park Drive. 76-year-old Betty Wells was found in the carport of her home by neighbors who had noticed the fire about two o'clock in the morning. She told paramedics at the time that she had heard a popping noise and was attempting to get out of the house. She was taken to Vanderbilt hospital, but later died as a result of her injuries. The fire department says the cause of the blaze is still undetermined.

Tech To Announce New Women's Basketball Coach

The public is invited to attend a press conference scheduled for Monday morning and hosted by Tennessee Tech Athletics. The event will begin at 9 a.m. in the Eagles' Nest of Eblen Center. Director of Athletics Mark Wilson and University President Dr. Bob Bell will introduce the new Golden Eagle women's basketball coach, the culmination of a nationwide search. Three finalists for the job -- one from NC State, one from Georgia Tech and one from Belmont University -- were interviewed on campus last week. For fans who cannot attend, Tennessee Tech will provide a live web stream of the press conference through OVCsports.TV.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Purple Pride Proving Popular

Purple and gold will be showing up on lawns, in parking lots and on marquees for the next two weeks as Putnam County businesses and residents get ready for TTU Pride Days. Running from August 17th to the 28th, the event encourages community members to welcome new and returning students to Tennessee Tech University while offering local businesses opportunities for special promotions. Any business can become a TTU Pride Partner by planning a special promotion or discount or by contacting the university about any TTU specials already offered. Partner promotions and discounts can be listed on the TTU Pride web site. TTU residence halls open Aug. 27; the first day of classes is Aug. 31.

Capshaw School To Promote Character

The Cookeville Chick-fil-A restaurant will sponsor Capshaw Elementary School's integration of the Core Essentials program into its curriculum for the 2009-2010 school year. Core Essentials is an educational program designed to give teachers and parents the necessary tools to educate elementary-aged children about character and values.The curriculum provides various in-class tools and resources that allow teachers to highlight a different character word or value each month of the school year, including "respect," "initiative," "patience" and "kindness."

Disaster Drill Planned For Regional Airport

The Putnam County Local Emergency Planning Committee will be conducting a disaster drill this weekend in cooperation with emergency officials in White County. On Saturday morning, August 15, there will be a countywide, full-scale disaster exercise held at the Upper Cumberland Regional Airport. Emergency responders from Putnam and White counties will practice responding to the airport after a plane has crashed during a crowded air show performance. The goal of this drill is to practice rescuing, stabilizing, transporting, and treating a large volume of patients at one time during adverse conditions. City and County agencies along with Cookeville Regional Medical Center and White County Community Hospital will participate in the drill. Many emergency vehicles will be around the airport and between the two hospitals, but the public should not be alarmed. Tommy Copeland, Local Emergency Planning Committee Chairman and Putnam County EMS Assistant Director, says they are asking for everyone to avoid the immediate area from 8:30 until 11:30 that morning so the practice session will not be hindered. He says, quote, "While we hope there is never an incident at the airport, with the regularly scheduled air shows and increased usage of the regional facility we would like to be prepared should an unfortunate event take place."

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Putnam County Man Cbarged With Child Rape

Twenty counts of rape and sexual battery are pending against a Putnam County man after an investigation by the sheriff's department. 36-year-old Terry Dewayne Neal of West Thomas Allen Road was arrested Tuesday after the grand jury issued indictments. Authorities say Neal is being charged with six counts of rape, four counts of sexual battery by an authority figure, five counts of aggravated sexual battery and five counts of rape of a child. His bond was set at $750,000 and he will be arraigned in Putnam County criminal court on September 21st.

Asking To Be Jailed

A Florida man, who showed up at the Putnam County jail this week claiming to be an inmate there, was ultimately taken into custody on charges of public intoxication. Deputy Jeremy Nash says the man -- identified as 22-year-old Lawrence Nathan Williams of Miami Beach -- had come to the Sally port door of the sheriff's department, rang the intercom and told corrections officers that he was an inmate on the jail's work crew who had not been brought back from an earlier work detail. But Nash says when officers looked more closely, they found that he was dressed in what was described as a "homemade inmate uniform," specifically white scrubs with black stripes spray-painted on them. The uniform also had "Putnam County Jail" spray-painted on the back and a series of numbers spray-painted on the front. The same man had apparently been in the lobby of the sheriff's department last week, asking to be taken into custody for no apparent reason. He was not arrested last week, but -- because he appeared to be publicly drunk this week -- he was taken into the jail and booked.

Welfare Check Turns Up Marijuana

The Putnam County sheriff's department continues to investigate an incident in which authorities say they came upon a bag of marijuana while doing a welfare check at a home east of Monterey. Authorities say they had been requested to make contact with a two-year-old child who had been left alone at a residence on Hanging Limb Road. Deputies entered the house through an unlocked front door, looking for the child. And, while they didn't locate the youngster, they did reportedly find some marijuana. They say the child had apparently been picked up by a friend of the resident. They are still trying to determine exactly what charges may be brought in connection with the discovery of drugs.

Prescription Drugs Stolen: Prayer Partner Victimized

Some valuable jewelry was left behind when a Putnam County woman's home was burglarized this week. The woman, who suffers from cancer, says that a portion of several of her prescription pain medicines, were stolen from a fireproof safe in her home. They included hydrocodone, percocet and valium. Authorities say there was no sign of forced entry into the home. They are pursuing a couple of leads as to who may have taken the pills. Meanwhile, the sheriff's department says a woman who had invited an acquaintance into her home to pray ended up being the victim of a theft. The prayer partner allegedly stole a Play Station, a digital camera, some DVDs and possibly some checks. The woman is hoping that the suspect will return all of the merchandise, but may take out a criminal summons if the issue cannot be resolved.

TTU Basketball Camp Scheduled This Month

The Tennessee Tech men’s basketball team will be hosting its Premier Skills Camp on Saturday, August 29 in the Hooper Eblen Center. The camp is open to any high school student entering grades 9-12. Space is limited and the camp will be filled with the first applications received. At the camp, players will be put through individual workouts, guard and post breakdowns, and compete in five-on-five games. The one-day session runs from 1 pm to 5 pm. The camp is followed by a thirty-minute question and answer session with the camp staff and parents, and a camp meal. Players wishing to attend the camp should pre-register by contacting the Tennessee Tech men’s basketball office at 372-6115.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Man Charged For Displaying Weapon At Restaurant

Aggravated assault charges are pending against a Cookeville man, who allegedly displayed a firearm to employees of the Subway restaurant on South Willow Avenue. Police say witnesses tell them the man got upset about his order and began cursing workers. He was then asked to leave the business and go somewhere else for his food. The suspect went out the door, but then allegedly lowered his pants, showing a gun tucked in his waistband. He also yelled at a worker, while flailing his arms in the air in an apparent rage. Another restaurant patron apparently found a wallet that the man had dropped at the scene and turned it over to police, who were able to take that evidence and obtain a warrant against 28-year-old Jose Antonio Gonzalez of Crescent Drive. He has a September 14th court date. Police say they were unable to recover the gun.

Pit Bull Owner Cited to Court

An August 31st court date has been set for a dog owner in Cookeville, who has been cited for allowing his pet to run at large. And police say they also want the man to pay for the cost of four Taser cartridges they say were necessary to capture the animal -- described in police reports as a pitbull. Cookeville Police Officer Mitch Harrington alleges that 29-year-old Christopher Bilbrey's dog was at a next-door neighbor's house on Dixie Avenue Saturday night and "had the neighbor on top of a vehicle and would not let him down." Harrington says in the citation that he had to use four Taser cartridges on the animal -- each costing $23.50. He wants the court to charge Bilbrey for the cost of replacing those.

Congressman Schedules "Office Hours" in Cookeville

Congressman Bart Gordon's office is describing an event being held in Cookeville later this month as "face to face" office hours. Gordon will reportedly be at the Putnam County courthouse, starting at 9 am on Tuesday, August 25th, to meet with constituents. Gordon had been criticized for scheduling what were described as "telephone town hall events" during the Congressional break, but his staff defended them saying that they require no travel, and participation is toll free and easy. Gordon will also be having more traditional town hall type meetings in Murfreesboro and Gallatin. Other similar town hall meetings throughout the country, including one recently in Memphis, have been disruptive.

Airport Road Construction Gets Initial OK

Putnam County's planning committee has recommended approval of a plan by White County to build a road on property belonging to the Upper Cumberland Regional Airport. The airport is co-owned by Putnam and White Counties, along with the cities of Cookeville and Sparta. White County is developing an industrial park on property adjacent to the airport and wants to provide an access road to that park through the airport property. Officials say they don't think it will present a problem for aviation, although they're still checking on that issue.

First School Day Produces A Few Glitches

There were just a few glitches as the Putnam County school system welcomed students on Monday for the start of the 2009-2010 school year. Schools Director Dr. Kathleen Airhart says a couple of schools had issues with their air-conditioning -- even on the two hour day. And she says that the parking lot for Jere Whitson School remains unpaved because of issues with the soil conditions. But officials hope to address those problems, especially the air-conditioning, before the children head back to class tomorrow for the first full day. The paving issue may take a bit longer to resolve.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Fair Attendance About Even With Last Year

Putnam County fair officials say attendance at this year's fair is running about even with last year, although the carnival business seems to be down a bit. Fair board member Ron Chaffin says the opening Thursday night of the fair was attended by virtually the same amount of people as attended opening night in 2008. He says attendance on Friday and Saturday night was down somewhat, possibly because people were out taking advantage of the state's sales tax holiday, but Sunday's attendance was back up again. The fair pageants were held Monday night and a mixed martial arts exhibition is scheduled for Tuesday.

Drowning Reported At Burgess Falls

Putnam County authorities say they're not sure what caused a young man to drown in the waters near Burgess Falls over the weekend. Authorities say 25-year-old Pramod V. Gujjar, a native of India who had been living in Tennessee, was visiting the park Saturday with some friends when he jumped into some deep water and came up struggling. Two people swam to try and help Gujjar, but were unable to reach him in time. Rescue squad members recovered his body from under a log in about twelve feet of water. They say they're not sure if he had suffered from cramping or was overwhelmed by the current.

Cab Driver Robbed At Gunpoint

Cookeville police detectives are investigating a case of armed robbery. A local cab driver says he was washing his vehicle about four o'clock in the morning at an automated car wash on South Willow Avenue when he was approached by two men who asked for directions. When the victim put down the spray hose to hear them better, they reportedly shoved him against a wall and demanded money. The man says he felt a gun pointed at his head and heard a clicking noise. The robbers took $80 in cash from the victim and fled the scene on foot. They were described as black males, one wearing a white shirt and baggy, striped shorts; the other wearing a red bandana, white shirt and black pants. Anyone with information about the case is asked to call Crimestoppers at 520-7867.

Putnam Fire Station Burglarized Again

The Hilltop Express newspaper is reporting that the Putnam County Volunteer Fire Department substation in Monterey has been burglarized again. The incident was reported less than a week after a Putnam County Volunteer fireman was arrested for allegedly stealing a chainsaw from the station back in 2006 and selling it to another man a couple of weeks ago. Putnam firefighters reported to Monterey Police Officer Bruce Cantrell that a Magellan Maestro 4000 GPS, two gas cans, full of gasoline, two reciprocating saws and a charger, are missing. The last time firefighters saw the items was on July 26th. They say total value of the items was nearly $1,200. They also say there was no sign of forced entry to the building. Since the theft, firefighters say all of the locks at the Monterey substation and others in the area have been re-keyed.

Putnam Commissioners Face Light Agenda

With passage of a budget being the main issue facing the Putnam County commission this month, the group's standing committees have relatively light agendas as they meet tonight. The fiscal review committee will review quarterly reports, the nominating committee will consider appointing Dee Talkington and Thomas Derricks as judicial commissioners, and the planning committee will discuss road work to be funded through the annual "State Aid" work program. They'll also consider adopting the 2006 edition of the International Building Code. That was their recommendation last month, but the issue was accidentally left off of the full commission agenda in July. The budget committee recommendation, which will be for a spending plan that requires no increase in the property tax rate, will come before the full commission next week.

Putnam School System Begins New Year

Some 10,000 students in the Putnam County school system wil be going back to class today as the 2009-2010 school year begins. Several hundred of them will be in new surroundings. School officials say classes are returning to Jere Whitson Elementary School, two years after a fire destroyed part of that building. Students will also be seeing the new Algood Elementary for the first time. Today's a two-hour day, but buses will be running. Tomorrow is a teacher work day and Wednesday will be the first full day of school. Schools director Kathleen Airhart reminds parents that the schedule for all schools will be 8 am to 3 pm.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Sparta Man Facing Assault Charges in Cookeville

August 17th is the first scheduled court appearance for a Sparta man, charged with aggravated assault. Warrants were taken out against 24-year-old John Kyle Simpson after he was allegedly involved in an incident with two Putnam County corrections officers. The officers claim Simpson was tailgating them as they drove down East Spring Street last week and that when they tried to get a license tag number from his truck, Simpson allegedly pointed a rifle at them. Authorities say he ran off after crashing the vehicle in White County, but later turned himself in. He is free on a $5,000 bond, pending his court appearance.

Sex Offender Arrested Again

An August 31st court date has been set for a convicted sex offender, who has essentially been charged with living at the wrong address. Authorities say 45-year-old Vincent D. Woodruff, who was convicted last year of attempted sexual battery of a child, had recently moved from an address on Pippin Road to an apartment on South Willow Avenue. That apartment, police say, is near Parkview School, and -- under state law -- convicted sex offenders are not allowed to live within 1,000 feet of a school. He is accused of violating that law and of violating his probation.

Robbery Suspect Hospitalized

A Putnam County man, who was shot by a sheriff's deputy last week, is expected to be hospitalized for several days. Authorities say 40-year-old Raymond Lee Kirby was shot by a member of the department's SWAT team as he reportedly made a threatening move toward officers who were trying to take him into custody. Kirby's vehicle had been stopped after a woman had called authorities last week to report that he had robbed her at gunpoint. Detective Doug Burgess was the first officer to locate the suspect's vehicle and, after a brief chase, got it blocked in on the dead end of Sarah Thomas Road. But authorities say Kirby refused to get out of the vehicle and give up, so officers spent nearly two hours negotiating with him before the SWAT team officer had to shoot. Sheriff David Andrews says the evidence concerning the robbery will be presented this week to the Putnam County grand jury. The shooting is under routine review by the TBI.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Putnam Schools To Use Well Water?

Putnam County school officials are looking into the possibility of using well water to provide irrigation for the athletic fields at a new elementary and middle school being built south of I-40 in Cookeville. They say it may be more cost-effective to do that than to use water provided by the city. City water would still be used for plumbing and other needs inside the school building, but officials say drilling a well to provide the water for the fields may save on long-term operating costs. They're not sure yet just how deep the water table is, but are moving forward with a plan to do the drilling and to use well water if they can tap into a well that provides enough volume for the job.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

School Board Approves Additional Lighting at Jere Whitson School

The Putnam County board of education Thursday night approved an additional $18,700 to provide lighting to the back parking lot area of the now-renovated Jere Whitson Elementary School. But the board decided against paying just over a thousand dollars to light the sign for the school. Board member Jerry Maynard says more schools than not have unlighted signs. Jere Whitson is now occupied, although some final paving and other site work must still be completed. Officials say the contractor -- Midstate Construction -- finished the work well ahead of schedule, as the contracted completion date was in October. The official ribbon-cutting for Jere Whitson will be held on August 31st.

Putnam Schools Seek Energy Efficiency Grants

Putnam County schools director Kathleen Airhart says that she will be meeting next week with Ron Graham, the director of the Energy Efficient Schools Initiative. Airhart says she will be seeking some $200,000 in grant funding to allow the Putnam County school system to replace some light bulbs and to possibly install computer software which would monitor the usage of energy system-wide. Officials say the goal of the Initiative is to utilize a portion of the Tennessee lottery reserves for a loan and grant program to promote energy efficiency in K-12 schools, especially as they are being constructed. Cumberland County has already been awarded a grant.

Cookeville Council Votes on Gun Ban

A roomful of people who have permits to carry guns showed up at Thursday night's meeting of the Cookeville city council to voice their opposition to the idea of banning guns in parks. But -- after hearing more than an hour of commentary on the issue -- the majority of the council voted, 4 to 1, to opt out of a state law which allows permit holders to carry their weapons into local parks. Cookeville now joins Putnam County, the town of Monterey, and several other cities across the area who have voted to opt out of the ban.

Guns In Parks Debate Returns To Cookeville

The Cookeville city council will be deciding tonight whether they will be going along with Putnam County, the city of Monterey and other local governments in choosing to opt out of a state law that allows gun permit holders to carry their weapons in local parks. City attorney Dan Rader says opting out would mean NO change in the status quo and that a long existing ban on guns would simply stay in place. But he did say that the issue of just what constitutes a city park may need to be clarified. The council first took up the issue two months ago, but put off action so they could hear from the public. Public sentiment is reportedly running three to one in favor of keeping the ban. Also tonight, the council will consider on first reading an ordinance pertaining to water storage rates, they hold public hearings on floodplain regulations and law enforcement grants and they'll consider approval of an agreement already OK'd by Putnam County to share in the cost of installing fiber optic cable to a new emergency services building on Willow Avenue.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

How To Have Your Say On Textbook Selection

Textbooks being considered for use in Tennessee public schools beginning with the 2010-11 school year are now on display in Cookeville. Tennessee is in the process of adopting new textbooks in the areas of English Grammar and Composition, English as a Second Language and Foreign Languages. Citizens interested in reviewing the textbooks being considered should contact Dr. Carl Owens in the Learning Resources Center of Bartoo Hall on the Tech campus. His number is 372-3851. In addition to citizen input, a state review committee of thirty public school teachers is assisting the Textbook Commission members with their evaluation. of the textbooks. Commission members can also use the professional expertise of teachers in their local school systems.

Drug Charges Pending

Drug charges are pending against a Cookeville woman who was a passenger in a van that was pulled over by police for displaying tags that actually belonged on a Geo Prism. Officer Josh Ward noticed that discrepancy as the vehicle was travelling on Whitney Avenue. He says the driver, 44-year-old Donald Charles Savage of Poplar Grove Road, did not have a valid license and was cited for his third offense of driving on a suspended license. The passenger, 33-year-old Rhonda Sue Brown, allegedly had two outstanding warrants for her arrest and was also found to be in possession of hydrocodone pills, dilaudid and a syringe. She was issued citations for simple possession of drugs and drug paraphernalia. The vehicle was towed from the scene.

Putnam Officers Shot At

Two Putnam County corrections officers were shot at early Wednesday, reportedly by the passenger in a truck that later wrecked in White County. Authorities say 20-year-old Ryan Charles Rogers of Sparta is facing a number of charges -- as is the driver, identified as 24-year-old John Kyle Simpson. MySpartaNews.com reports that the incident began when a BOLO was issued from Putnam County for authorities to "be on the lookout" for a four-door silver Chevrolet pickup alleged to have been the vehicle involved in the shooting. The vehicle was spotted about 4 am Wednesday near Airport Chevron, but when deputies tried to initiate a stop, the vehicle reportedly took off travelling south on Roberts-Matthews Road in a reckless manner at a high rate of speed. The driver evenutally lost control of the vehicle on South Bunkerhill Road and crashed into a tree line. All of the occupants were pinned for a short time, but were later taken into custody. However, Simpson was able to run from the scene and was still being sought. Rogers, meanwhile, was charged with escape, vandalism, indecent exposure, public intoxication, and disorderly conduct in White County. He will also apparently be charged in Putnam County.

Tutco Adding Local Production Line

Cookeville-based Tutco, Inc., expects to complete the moving of a production line from Illinois to its Putnam County factory by the end of the year. That word today from the website PlasticsNews.com, which says Tutco is moving production of its heating elements and sensors to Cookeville. Tutco regional sales manager Nick Marocchi said his firm is making the move to keep costs down by using extra space. So far, cartridge band and strip heaters have been moved. Next will be thermocouples, temperature sensors and hot runners and components. Tutco has Underwriters Laboratories testing facilities here in Cookeville. They entered the plastics industry through its purchase of the former Fast Heat business. In addition to plastics, Tutco designs and makes heating components for refrigeration, heating, venting and air conditioning, laboratory equipment and other markets.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

TTU To House Students In Hotels This Fall

Not all of the Tennessee Tech students who signed up for a dorm room this fall will actually be getting a room right away. Spokeswoman Monica Greppin says the university this year has more students who want rooms on campus than they have rooms available. She says there are about 300 more housing applicants than there are beds. So the school is taking bids from area hotels to temporarily house the overflow. She says the students will not have to pay anything more than they would already be paying for a dorm room, and says if students want to find alternate housing and opt out of living in hotels, they are free to do so. Move-in day for Tech students is August 27.

Volunteer Fireman Suspended After Being Arrested

An August 16th court date has been set for a Putnam County volunteer firefighter who has been charged by Monterey Police with stealing a chainsaw from a fire department substation in 2006. 32-year-old Jonathon Shannon Sisco of Andy Lane is charged with theft of property and filing a false report. He has also been suspended from the department. According to police, Sisco reported the chainsaw missing from the Monterey substation in March of 2006. Then in July, according to authorities, Sisco called a man and met him in the Save-A-Lot parking lot and tried to sell him the chainsaw. The county's Volunteer Fire Department collected Sisco’s firefighter equipment, which included keys to the Monterey and Brotherton substations, and Fire Chief Daryl Blair says he will let the situation work its way through the court system.

Burglary Interrupted

A Putnam County woman, who decided to leave her door open to let in a breeze, was interrupted by an attempted burglary. The Heartland Lane resident told the sheriff's office that she had locked her screen door before taking a shower, but soon heard her dogs barking at the back door. When she went to check on them, she came face to face with a man on the steps just outside the screen door. The man then ran away and into a nearby wooded area. The sheriff's department says a portion of the screen had been cut about 18 inches where the man was trying to gain entry. The woman's neighbors had already been looking around the neighborhood for anyone who did not belong, but no arrests have been made.

Murder Suspects Arrested In Cookeville

Authorities in Putnam County on Tuesday arrested two men in connection with the fatal shooting of a 69-year-old Nashville businessman on July 27. WSMV reports that 20-year-old William Mozell Coley was arrested Tuesday morning in Cookeville, and is suspected in the death of Sadegh Maleki, the owner of Lucky Auto Imports on Dickerson Pike in Nashville. Later in the day, officers in Putnam County reportedly arrested his alleged accomplice, 20-year-old Markreo Quintez Springer, in the case. Authorities said they believe Maleki likely pulled his own gun and shot at the men because Coley suffered a gunshot wound the night of the businessman's death. There was no immediate word on how they came to be in Cookeville. Police said Coley and Springer had lived in a boarding house across the street from Maleki’s business.

Home Invasion Reported in Monterey

A home invasion case is under investigation in Monterey. The Hilltop Express newspaper is reporting that a South Poplar Street resident told Monterey Police Officer Jackie McQuistion that he was robbed at knife-point in a home invasion. According to the police report, the resident said a man wearing multi-colored pants and a beige-colored hoodie kicked his front door open and said "give me your damn money." The victim said that he gave the armed robber $125 in cash. Before leaving the residence, the robber reportedly cut the phone cord and took the phone with him. The victim also had a front tire cut on his vehicle. Sgt. McQuiston told the Hilltop Express that the victim told him he was robbed by the same suspect a couple of weeks before, but did not report it.

School Bus Advertising To Be Discussed

A proposal to place advertising on Putnam County school buses will be brought up when the board of education meets on Thursday. It was in March of this year that the board OK'd the general idea of accepting advertising on the buses -- within certain guidelines. But this week they will be voting a specific "transportation advertisement proposal." The board will also be discussing the feasibility of expanding Burks Middle School in Monterey. They held a public meeting about the idea last month after schools director Dr. Kathleen Airhart brought up the fact that Monterey's elementary school is overcrowded and in less than ideal condition.

Putnam Women Implicated in Drug Fraud Cases

Police in Crossville say the arrest of two Putnam County women may have led to the discovery of a group of individuals who have been forging prescriptions all over the region. The Crossville Chronicle reports that 28-year-old Amber Marie Ledbetter, and 33-year-old Charity Ann Ledbetter, both of Hanging Limb Rd., Monterey, each face 12 charges ranging from prescription fraud to criminal impersonation in connection with the incident. The case began last month when Crossville police were dispatched to a Rite Aid drug store to investigate a fraudulent prescription and learned that the Cookeville nurse practitioner listed as issuing the script for 40 hydrocodone pills had not, in fact, written the prescription. While officers were taking statements at Rite Aid, they received a call from the Kroger Pharmacy in Crossville reporting that a similar prescription had been given to that pharmacy for 60 hydrocodones. And before officers could respond to Kroger, however, they received a dispatch to a CVS Pharmacy, where two women and a man were at the drive-thru to pick up the same type of forged prescription. The male told police that he knew nothing of a scheme to obtain drugs by fraud and that he had simply agreed to drive the women to Crossville to pick up prescriptions. He added that he was to take them to the Kmart pharmacy once they left CVS. Police say both women were taken into custody and a search of a backpack allgedly turned up a pill crusher and two prescriptions from Walmart with receipts for hydroquinone. Police also recovered two notebooks containing the phone numbers of local pharmacies and Drug Enforcement Administration numbers of doctors used to get the prescriptions. A separate piece of paper with doctors' names and DEA numbers was also recovered. The Chronicle says both women are now also under investigation for the same activity in Putnam County.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Three Arrested in Meth Lab Incidents

Cookeville police have now arrested a man wanted in connection with the discovery of a meth lab in a local motel room last week. Officer Chris Melton says he received information over the weekend that the suspect, 35-year-old William Robert Goodwin of Sweetwater, Tennessee, could be located at a residence on Lee Avenue. Police say they found Goodwin at the residence, along with two other men -- and another meth lab. The other two suspects were identified as 34-year-old Caleb Andrew Lincolin of Lee Avenue and 32-year-old Jeffrey Lee Ewald of Scenic Drive in Cokoeville. In addition to the meth charges, Goodwin was arrested for evading arrest, reckless endangerment, and being a felony fugitive. Several of the motel rooms near where the so-called "one-pot meth lab" was found have been quarantined until they can be decontaminated. Police say the three suspects also underwent decontamination before being taken to jail.

Good Samaritan Victimized

Cookeville police say a local woman, who was trying to do the right thing, ended up being victimized by thieves. The woman, who lives on Walnut Avenue, answered her door last week to a man and woman who asked her if they could use her restroom and use the telephone. They told her that a friend of theirs had run out of gas and they needed to call for help. The woman let the two into her home and showed them where the bathroom and the phone were located. But she says on their way out, they picked up an electric hedge trimmer that she owns and walked out with it. The loss was placed at $80. Police are now looking for a black male and white female suspect, who may be driving a full-size maroon colored truck.

No Recommendation for School Budget

Putnam County's budget committee has voted to send the school system's budget for the upcoming year to the full county commission this month -- without a recommendation. As it now stands, the school board has asked for the same dollar amount this year that they were allocated last year. But because of an overall three percent decline in sales tax revenues this year, the dollars that make up that funding would have to come from a four and a half cent hike in the county property tax rate. The budget committee is apparently not willing to recommend that increase. Robert Greene, a deputy commissioner at the state Department of Education, told the committee that if the county falls short in funding the local portion of the school budget, the state would begin withholding it's funding as of October 1st. Budget committee member Kevin Maynard says that would effectively mean shutting down the schools in October and said "it seems we're headed to a train wreck." Maynard said there was a way to fix the situation without a tax increase, but did not offer specifics for how that could be done.

Algood Walmart Finishes Remodeling

The Algood Walmart will celebrate a grand re-opening Wednesday, giving local shoppers a glimpse of the company’s next generation of store design. The results of a three-month remodeling project will be unveiled at 7:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 5. Store officials say that among the improvements are a new layout for the store, with new lighting and paint. Walmart officials say the remodeled Algood store features a more open shopping environment with wider aisles that contain no product displays. Walmart also aligned the departments that customers shop most frequently, and the Site-to-Store pick-up location has been combined with the photo lab into a single area at the rear of the store. The remodel also includes an expanded electronics department and a new department called Celebration Station has been added that will feature party supplies, greeting cards, balloons and helium tanks, cake supplies and gift wrap. The grand re-opening celebration will begin with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 7:30 Wednesday morning. During the ceremony, store associates will present $3,500 in grants from the Walmart Foundation to several local organizations including:
 Algood Fire Department
 Algood Police Department
 Algood School
 Disabled American Veterans

Rep. Fincher Touts Sales Tax Holiday

In spite of reduced sales tax collections this year, the state of Tennessee is going forward with a sales tax holiday this weekend. State Representative Henry Fincher of Cookeville says the General Assembly passed the holiday to help working families make ends meet. Starting this Friday, August 7 and ending at 11:59 p.m Sunday August 9, he says no sales tax will be charged on many of the things families need, including: Clothing that costs less than $100 per item; school supplies under $100; and computers under $1,500.

"I voted for this program because families deserve a break. It was the right thing to do," Fincher said. "I have a daughter going into the Fourth Grade and it's amazing to me what all she needs for school. In these hard times, I think it's important to make sure we give working families a break every chance we get."

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Mass Transit Funding Comes to Cookeville Area

Governor Phil Bredesen has announced that the Upper Cumberland Human Resources Agency will receive $1.7 million in funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for rural transportation services in Putnam and surrounding countes. UCHRA plans to use the Recovery Act dollars to add approximately 18 new ADA accessible minivans, 13 ADA accessible vans, and eight new demand response vehicles. They also plan to purchase communications and GPS devices for the new vehicles to assist in locating service calls and one service vehicle. UCHRA also plans to utilize approximately $178,000 of the money for operational costs. UCHRA runs what is called the U-CARTS system of public transportation. You can call 528-1127 for more information about it.

Robbery Investigation Continuing

Cookeville police are continuing to investigate a daylight robbery that took place Friday morning at a local business. Police say a male suspect entered the First Cash business located at 799 Jefferson Avenue about 9:40 Friday morning. He initially asked about information concerning a loan. He then demanded money from the employee and was given an undetermined amount of cash. No weapon was displayed or indicated during the course of the robbery. The suspect then left the area in what was described as a light colored Ford Expedition. No one was injured. The suspect is described as a black male in his early 20s, tall, and slender and was possibly wearing a red shirt. Anyone who has seen anything or who has any information about this incident is asked to contact the Cookeville Police Department at 526-2125. Anyone who might have information and wishes to remain anonymous may call CRIME STOPPERS at 520-STOP.

Putnam County Budget Committee To Meet Again

The Putnam County budget committee will meet once again Monday night, trying to wrap up their work on a proposed spending plan for the fiscal year. At their last meeting, a decision was made to ask all departments to cut another three percent from budgets that had been presented to the committee. In the county general fund, officials hope another three percent cut will help them make up for a deficit without having to raise taxes or take a lot of money from the county's reserve funds. Meanwhile, the county school board says they are asking for the exact same amount of revenue this year that they received last year -- but they say the funding for that revenue may HAVE to come from a four-cent property tax hike because the revenues from sales taxes have come up short this year.

School Board Scraps Staggered Scheduling

The first official day of the 2009-2010 school year in Putnam County is one week from Monday, and local officials are scrambling to make sure everything is in place. On Friday, the school board voted to scrap a previously approved plan which would have had students going to school on a staggered schedule. School officials had originally hoped to save half a million dollars by having elementary school students in Cookeville following a different schedule than those in the higher grades, but they now say they have been able to save that money in other ways. Next Monday, ALL schools in the county will be on an 8 am to 3 pm schedule. Monday, August 10th is a two-hour day; the next day is a teacher training day, and the first full day of school will be Wednesday, August 12th.

TTU Holds Final Summer Commencement

Graduates received advice on life lessons about expectations, success and love from Tennessee's Department of Education Commissioner Timothy Webb on Saturday in Hooper Eblen Center as Tennessee Tech University held its final summer commencement. Webb, who told graduates along with their families and friends about his humble beginnings in Hohenwald, Tenn., said his parents taught him life lessons more valuable than all his formal education.

"I came here today to recruit you to do something very, very important," Webb said. "I was raised by two folks who never graduated from high school, and I was the first in my family to graduate from college. First, to whom much is given, much is expected. Please don't stop now with your accomplishments. We must span the gap for our next generation and community. It has been said 'Adversity introduces us to ourselves.'"

Webb then told the audience that true success in life is measured by leaving things better than you found them. He cautioned them not to measure success by material gain.

"Finally, love your family and love your friends," he admonished. "Remember to say I love you and mean it."

Following summer commencement, TTU has granted more than 65,000 degrees. Students graduating from TTU this summer hailed from 13 states including Tennessee, 67 Tennessee counties and five foreign countries. They represented 32 undergraduate fields of study and 19 graduate fields.