Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Burglars Leave Behind Possible DNA Evidence

The Cookeville police department today is investigating the burglary of a home on Willow Avenue, in which the burglars reportedly took a shower and used the bathroom while they were inside the home. And then used a towel to wipe off the fecal material. Police took that towel into evidence and have also gathered other information about the break-in. They say officers were dispatched to the location earlier this month, but found the area to be apparently secure. It was only after the resident returned from a trip that she discovered much of her home had been ransacked and vandalised.

Alcohol Among Items Stolen in Burglary

Putnam County authorities are investigating an unusual burglary reported near Monterey on Tuesday. A resident of Reeves Road told Deputy Sonny Farley that he arrived home to find that someone had stolen a computer and a television, along with a bottle of gin, a bottle of whiskey, and five bottles of wine. In addition, the thief apparently went through every room in the house except for the kitchen and made off with at least two prescription pill bottles -- one for Xanax and one for Oxycodone. Police say those two drugs are among those most often abused and sold in the street trade. Farley found a shoe print on a rear door, which may have been the means used to gain access to the home.

Putnam Deputies Investigate Stolen Livestock

The Putnam County sheriff's department is investigating the theft of some livestock from a farm in the southwestern part of the county this week.Willard Nash Jr. told deputies that sometime during the past two weeks, thieves have stolen four or five pigs from his property on Cookeville Boat Dock Rd. He estimates the loss at about four hundred dollars. Nash became aware of the theft when a woman called him and reported that a man who had been courting her daughter had been trying to give the young woman two pigs that he had allegedly taken from Nash's farm. Nash also said that the woman told him another individual had killed one of the pigs and had a cookout with the animal. Investigation is continuing.

Endangered NC Girls Found in Putnam County

The Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP) on Wednesday arrested a North Carolina man in connection with the child abduction of his two adoptive children, Keara L. Hess, 12, and her 11-year-old sister, Sierra N. Hess. An Endangered Child Alert had been issued for the sisters by law enforcement authorities after Hess fled North Carolina with the children on Monday, September 28, 2009.

At approximately 8:45 a.m Wednesday, a woman, identified as Laure Pemberton, was traveling West on Interstate 40 in Putnam County, when she observed the Green Ford Explorer described in the Endangered Child Alert out of North Carolina. Ms Pemberton contacted the Tennessee Highway Patrol by mobile phone immediately.

“Thanks to the keen observation of a Tennessee motorist who spotted a vehicle matching the description of the vehicle in the Endangered Child Alert, Tennessee State Troopers were able to locate the two girls and make a traffic stop and arrest,” said THP Colonel Mike Walker. “Paramount to the successful recovery of the sisters was the motorist’s contacting the proper authorities. It serves as a great reminder of the importance of citizen involvement in Amber Alert cases.”

Trooper Mark Jones and Trooper Mitilda Mahaney initiated a traffic stop on the 1993 Green Ford Explorer at approximately 9:07 a.m. on Interstate 40 at the 256 mile marker in Smith County. At the time of the stop, Troopers found Matthew Hess, 40, and his two adoptive daughters in the vehicle. Troopers took Mr. Hess into custody for the North Carolina authorities and he is being held in the Smith County jail awaiting extradition back to North Carolina. Mr. Hess will face charges of Child Abuse and two counts of Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor out of North Carolina.

Keara and Sierra were taken to Riverview Hospital in Smith County for observation. Both girls are reported in good condition.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Fincher Advocating Registry For Teen Sex Offenders

State representative Henry Fincher of Cookeville says juvenile sex offenders should be put on the state's sex offender registry -- just like adults are. Fincher says people have the right to know when sex offenders are living near them -- even if they are teenagers. He and State Senator Charlotte Burks are sponsoring a bill that would require anyone between the ages of 14 and 18, who is found guilty of aggravated rape or attempted rape, to be put on the registry. He also says passing such a bill would ensure continued federal funding of some programs. TBI spokeswoman Kristin Helm says the state's failure to pass such a bill jeopardizes some of the federal funding Tennessee stands to receive through the Adam Walsh Act, a program designed to enhance enforcement of laws protecting children from abuse. Fincher spoke about the issue recently in articles which were published in Knoxville and Cookeville.

Window Tint Violation Leads To Drug Charges

A window tinting violation has led to drug charges being brought against three Wilson County residents. Cookeville police allege that the three had crack cocaine in their vehicle -- and a cell phone that kept ringing with calls from potential buyers. The incident occurred Monday afternoon when Officer Brandon Tayes stopped a car at the intersection of Fisk Road and Volunteer Drive. The car's occupants were identified as 23-year-old Geoffrey Maynard, 22-year-old Jessica Harel, and 18-year-old Markie Wilson -- all of Lebanon. Tayes alleges that Ms. Harel told him that Maynard had handed her a bag of drugs and told her to hide them. That bag reportedly contained 26 grams of crack cocaine. But the officer says none of the three would admit to owning the drugs, so all three were charged. They'll be in court on October 26th.

Brown Bag Lunch Concert Series Announced

The eclectic music of Ethan Ballinger and Friends will be featured in the first concert of the 2009 Brown Bag Lunch Concert series, this Friday from 11:30 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. at the Depot Museum. Ballinger, a student at Belmont University in Nashville, has just completed an album of all original material called "Wish Upon A Falling Star." The free lunch-time concerts are presented at the Depot Museum each Friday in October by the Cookeville Department of Leisure Services and are sponsored by the Cookeville Arts Council. Remaining concerts in the series will feature the TTU Trombone Ensemble on October 9, Sean McCullough on October 16 and the final concert on October 23 yet to be announced.

TTU Researching Flood Issues

The heavy rain of September has been a good thing for scientists at Tennessee Tech. They are now studying sinkhole flooding in Cookeville and Putnam County, and they want to hear from homeowners. Residents will need to give their address, report any damage they witnessed and try to estimate the depth and the width of areas that flooded during the storms. You can send reports to "Sinkhole" at Box 5062, TTU, Cookeville, TN 38505 or e-mail them at

TTU Documentary To Focus On Tolerance

A speaker who focuses on tolerance will be screening her Emmy nominated documentary "Finding Family" at six o'clock tonight, at Tennessee Tech University. The event, to be held in TTU’s South Hall, Room 104, is titled "Outsiders and Insiders: Creating an Inclusive Global Community." Racelle Weiman, vice president of the Dialogue Institute at Temple University, has received national acclaim and awards for interactive multimedia museum exhibitions and has written numerous textbooks. The Center Stage event is free and open to the public.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Cumberland Quintet To Perform

The Cumberland Quintet will have its first performance of the season at 7:30 p.m. tonight in Tennessee Tech University’s Wattenbarger Auditorium in the Bryan Fine Arts Building. The concert is free and open to the public. Established in 1972, the Cumberland Quintet has toured extensively throughout the United States and in Europe, performing to a wide variety of audiences. With the 2009-2010 season, the quintet marks its 37th year as an ensemble. Current members of the Cumberland Quintet are Roger Martin on flute, William Woodworth on oboe, Anne Thurmond on clarinet, James Lotz on bassoon, and Jeremy Hansen on horn.

Cookeville Man Charged With Attempted Homicide

An October 19th court date has been set for a Cookeville man, facing charges of aggravated assault, kidnapping and attempted criminal homicide. Police say the incident occurred at a trailer park on Scenic Drive Friday night. 43-year-old David Newcomb is accused of trying to kill his girlfriend, reportedly by setting her on fire. According to a report by Officer Chris Fergunson, police arrived on the scene to find the victim running from the residence, yelling "He's trying to kill me." Ferguson later found Newcomb with a gas can in one hand and a lighter in the other. The officer says he told Newcomb to drop the can, but ended up having to "take him to the ground." Ferguson says gasoline was splashed all over the place in the process and claims that Newcomb then began to "set things on fire." He allegedly set fire to a couch and also tried to set fire to Ferguson, singeing the hair on the officer's arm. Police say the couple had apparently gotten into an argument while drinking.

Drug Charges Pending After Traffic Stop

The Hilltop Express newspaper is reporting that three local residents are facing charges after being arrested by the Tennessee Highway Patrol. Troopers stopped a vehicle just across the Overton County line on Highway 84 and found what they say were components of a methamphetamine lab. Angela Gail Clark Harris, of Hanging Limb Hwy., Monterey; Wendell Jay Conner, of Old Stover Rd., Livingston; and Stephen Paul Coleman, of Sevier St., Livingston are charged in the case. The THP says they had stopped a car for speeding and, ultimately, found what they described as components used to make meth -- including phosphorous, iodine, matchbook strike plates and lithium batteries. All three are scheduled to appear in Overton County General Session Court on Oct. 20.

Cookeville Planning Commission To Meet

The Cookeville planning commission meets this evening to discuss possible changes to the city's regulations concerning condominiums and townhouses. Real estate agents say the two are not the same thing, but both often employ what officials call zero-lot line construction. The planners tonight will take a look at the minimum lot and yard requirements for townhouses -- in an attempt to resolve a conflict in the zoning code in which they are sometimes treated differently. In some zones, for example, condominiums are allowed, but townhouses are not. The meeting tonight begins at 5:30 at Cookeville city hall.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Robbery Charges Filed

Robbery charges are pending today against a Cookeville woman, who allegedly attacked another woman in a dispute over a debt. Police say it happened at a home on Texas Avenue when 22-year-old Tamara Danielle Slaven allegedly shoved an acquaintance and stole her cell phone. The victim in the case had reportedly come to the apartment to inquire about some money Slaven owed her. Meawnhile, police say a dispute over cab fare landed a Putnam County man in jail. The sheriff's department was called when Randy Short of Shady Lane and Audrey Greenwood of Buffalo Valley Road got a ride from a local tavern to Short's house -- but then disagreed on who should pay for the ride. During the investigation, deputies learned that Short was prohibited under the conditions of his bond in a domestic assault case from being in contact with Greenwood. After the cab fare issue was resolved, Short was arrested for violating his bond conditions and taken to jail.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Cookeville Soldier Headed Back To U.S.

A Cookevile native, who is serving with the 96th Transporation Company in Iraq, is about to be headed back to the states. According to the website, Specialist Timothy Charnetsky of Cookeville is among the soldiers, originally deployed in October of 2008, who will be returning to their home base. The 96th Transportation Company is based out of Fort Hood, Texas. They are currently deployed to Camp Taji, Iraq, and Victory Base Complex. The unit serves as a combat multiplier through its ability to transport heavy pieces of equipment over long distances. The website says the Heavy Truck unit's work load has increased since they put boots on ground in 2008. They have helped move and close several joint security stations in the Baghdad area, and they've moved thousands of tanks and other items around the theater.

CRMC Nurse Gains Certifications

Cookeville Regional’s Erin Young, RN, BSN, has achieved two new certifications this year by completing and passing rigorous educational programs and examinations to become a Certified Breast Patient Navigator through the National Consortium of Breast Centers and a Certified Breast Care Nurse (CBCN™) through the Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation.

The certification as a Breast Patient Navigator validates Young’s knowledge and skills in navigating a breast patient through their breast care/cancer continuum of care. This certification was offered for the first time this year and Young was among the first nurses in the United States to achieve certification for Breast Patient Navigation. She was able to pursue this certification in large part due to funding from the Susan G. Komen Upper Cumberland Affiliate.

Young’s completion of the Breast Care Nurse certification tests the knowledge necessary for the nurse to practice within the specialty of breast care nursing – from prevention and detection to diagnosis, treatment, survivorship as well as end-of-life care. Young is among only 263 nurses nationwide to hold this certification.

Cookeville Regional hired Young to begin the nurse navigator program to help breast cancer patients “navigate” their way through the maze of questions and options associated with a diagnosis of breast cancer. Patient navigation in cancer care refers to individualized assistance offered to patients, families, and caregivers to help overcome healthcare system barriers and facilitate timely access to quality medical and psychosocial care from pre-diagnosis through all phases of the cancer experience.

The Cancer Center at Cookeville Regional is one of only six cancer programs selected as a pilot site for the Association of Community Cancer Centers’ (ACCC’s) Cancer Care patient navigation project. Through this pilot project the Cancer Center, chosen for this prestigious opportunity from among the ACCC’s 670 members, will participate in a training program on patient navigation by experts in the field.

Putnam County Receives Drug Court Grant

Congressman Bart Gordon announced today that Putnam County has been awarded $100,000 by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to improve services at the Putnam County Adult Drug Treatment Court (PCADTC).

“Research has shown the value of drug courts,” said Congressman Gordon. “By providing non-violent, substance abusing offenders with direct supervision and effective treatment services, re-arrest and conviction rates go down. This grant will allow Putnam County to increase the quality and quantity of the services provided at the adult drug court, as well as allow the court to evaluate the progress of individuals and the overall program.”

Putnam County received the $100,000 grant from the DOJ Drug Court Discretionary Grant Program. Funds will be used to hire a treatment coordinator who will improve treatment services at the drug court, recommend individualized treatment programs for PCADTC participants, and establish an evaluation system. The grant money will also be used to hire a part-time administrative assistant who will concentrate on data collection and data reporting associated with the drug court’s evaluation system.

“The unfortunate reality is that many people struggle to overcome drug addictions,” added Gordon. “I remain committed to helping Putnam and other Middle Tennessee counties get the funds needed to develop effective drug court programs.”

Friday, September 25, 2009

Dental Visit Leads to DUI Charge

Cookeville police say you don't have to be drunk to be charged with DUI, which is defined by state law as driving under the influence. A Cookeville woman was charged with DUI this week even though police say she did NOT smell of alcohol. 48-year-old Marcella Stallings of Bunker Hill Road had been involved in an accident in the Kroger parking lot. She told officers that she had just been to the dentist's office and had gotten a shot of novocaine. She was apparently still under the influence of that drug as she tried to drive home. Officer Luke Ward says that Stallings laid her head on the steering wheel and went to sleep at least four times as he was trying to get her driver's license. He says he didn't have her perform any field sobriety tests because she kept falling asleep. He did transport her to the hospital, where a blood test was ordered to determine just what was affecting her ability to operate a motor vehicle.

One in Ten Putnam County Residents Now Jobless

Putnam County's unemployment rate was back up again in August, jumping half a percentage point from 9.9 to 10.4 percent overall. That means that one person out of every ten is out of a job. The labor force here is estimated at 34,310 workers, and officials with the Labor Department say 3,550 of them were unemployed in August. The 10.4 percent rate for August of '09 is also significantly higher than the 6.8 percent jobless rate in August of last year. Meanwhile, around the area, White County had an unemployment rate of 14.5 percent. It was also 14.5 percent in Jackson County; and 12.7 percent in Overton County.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Benefit Concert Tickets On Sale

Country star Rodney Atkins' upcoming benefit concert in Tennessee Tech's Eblen Center is featured in the latest edition of Country Weekly Magazine. Atkins, along with Phil Vassar, will take the stage on Thursday, Oct. 8, at 8 p.m. in a concert that will benefit Tech Athletics and the Mustard Seed Ranch of Cookeville. Doors will open at 6 p.m. Concert organizers say all of the floor seats in Eblen Center are sold out, but about 800 lower level seats are still available. Approximately 800 upper level seats are also available.Tickets may be purchased online or through the Athletics Ticket Office in Eblen Center. Their number is 372-3940.

Cookeville Plaintiff's Lawyer Responds to Lawsuit

The lawyer for a Cookeville woman being sued by the state of Tennessee for misleading business practices says that she has done nothing wrong. Jack Lowery tells the Cookeville Herald-Citizen that Gelsy Cordero's business, ABC Linguistics, has been shut down for more than two years. He claims that the lawsuit against her -- filed in Chancery Court last week -- is a dispute over a $750 dollar civil penalty that she failed to pay. According to Lowery, Cordero never claimed to be a practicing attorney. He says that she simply failed to put a disclaimer on the sign advertising "notario publico" services. Lowery says Cordero was, in fact, registered as a notary public and also offered translation services. But he says that she's been out of business for many months.

Alleged Clown Thief Denies Allegation

An update has been reported on the clown thief of Cookeville. A man who identifies himself as BoBo the Clown says he had an agreement with the owner of a Cookeville garbage bin to clean it out and remove it. The owner had complained to police that BoBo had inquired about the garbage bin and then took it away without permission. Bob Coleman, aka BoBo, told the Cookeville Herald-Citizen that he understood there was an agreement and that he had worked hard to remove the bin. He said he sold it for scrap as one of his jobs. Coleman said he is known as BoBo the Clown because he performs as a clown at children’s birthday parties.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Mental Evaluation Ordered for Trespasser

A $500-thousand dollar bond has been set for a Rutherford County man charged with criminal trespassing. Police claim that 32-year-old Matthew Titus Clark of Lascassas trespassed a number of times at a Cookeville business where he once worked. According to authorities, Clark was arrested last week when he showed up once again at the Averitt Express building on Neal Street. Officials say Clark had first been charged with trespassing back in April, but was told that the charge would be dismissed if he stayed out of trouble for six months. Apparently, he did not. Court officials say a restraining order was issued in June and prosecutors claim that Clark was carrying a "last will and testament" with him when he showed up at the business last week. Judge John Hudson set the high bond for Clark and ordered him to undergo a mental evaluation.

Wife Charged In Spouse's Murder

They had reportedly been in church together just a few weeks ago, but today a Putnam County woman is in jail, charged with murdering her husband. Authorities say second degree murder charges have been filed against 28-year-old Dana Kay Garrett of Claude Loftis Road in the Double Springs community. The sheriff's department says Ms. Garrett stabbed her husband, 34-year-old Toney Dale Garrett, in the chest with a kitchen knife during an argument over money late Tuesday night. She then called 911, but Mr. Garrett died soon thereafter. Police say the couple had a history of domestic violence. Their two children were reportedly in the home at the time of the stabbing, but were said to be asleep in a bedroom. The stabbing took place in the kitchen.

Quick Change Scams Being Reported

There's been an uptick this week in reports of people being scammed by quick change artists. In one case, a Cookeville cab driver agreed to make change for a one hundred dollar bill -- only to find out that the bill he was given was a one-dollar bill which had been taped in one corner with part of a one-hundred dollar bill. Cookeville resident Dustin O'Brien Cash is facing charges in that case. In the other case, a man who had purchased a few cookies at the Subway restaurant on Jefferson Avenue started to pay with a twenty dollar bill, but then kept changing his mind and exchanging money with the cashier who later figured out that the man had gotten away with forty dollars of the store's money.

Fire Victim's ID Confirmed

An autopsy has now confirmed that the man killed in a fire in Algood this week was, in fact, Bruce Baranowski. The 55-year-old Baranowski perished in a blaze that started in a small log cabin that he had constructed behind his home at 3305 Mirandy Road. Authorities say the fire was discovered about 6 am Tuesday by a passerby who called 911. They say Baranowski's family was asleep in the main house and was not aware of the blaze until firefighters arrived on the scene. They also note that Baranowski was, himself, a volunteer for the Algood Fire Department. His funeral will be held Saturday at First Baptist Church in Cookeville. (Photo courtesy of Cookeville Herald-Citizen)

Illness Forces Closing of Jackson County Schools

School officials in Jackson County have decided to cancel classes for the next few days. Officials say all Jackson County schools will be closed today, Friday and Monday because of illness. School officials say the absentee rate among students has been running at 18 to 20 percent, and those high numbers led them to make the decision to close. Classes will resume on Tuesday.

Flood Victims Seeking Help

About two dozen Tennessee Tech University students are trying to replenish belongings lost in last Tuesday’s flood waters, and university officials say calls from the community have now flooded in asking how to help. So the school is now accepting community donations through an organized drive. Small items, such as linens, clothing and small appliances, will be collected and stored in the Fitness Center Multipurpose Room. Larger items, such as beds, desks and futons, will be stored in a trailer parked between the Fitness Center and Hooper Eblen Center. Organizers ask that you call ahead to the Fitness Center at 372-6215 if you plan to bring large items. Community members may bring items through Friday, Oct. 2, to the Fitness Center, located on the corner of Willow Avenue and 12th Street, during regular operating hours. For a complete list of items needed, visit

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Felony Fugitive Caught in Virginia

A felony fugitive from Virginia has been captured by police in Monterey. The Hilltop Express newspaper reports that Chad A. Fulcher of 713 North Elm Street was charged with being a fugitive from justice. Police say they began an investigation of Fulcher after receiving complaints about alleged drug activity in his home, which is located across from public housing and across from a corner were several children gather to play. While investigating those complaints, Monterey Police ran Fulcher’s information through the national crime information computer and found that he had allegedly fled the state of Virginia to avoid prosecution on unspecified felony charges.

Rep. Fincher Debates Gun Carry Bill

A debate over guns came up once again Tuesday as the Judiciary Committee of the state House of Representatives discussed a bill, which would allow people with handgun-carry permits to keep their guns in their vehicles while at work -- even if their employer has a different policy on the issue. Representative Henry Fincher of Cookeville is on the committee, and says "The reality is you're disarming the lawful permit holder from his or her home, from their front door, all the way to the company gates." Representatives of business groups told the Committee that the state should not interfere with their property rights by forcing them to let employees bring weapons onto company property. But no action was taken on Tuesday.

Fatal Fire Claims Life of Putnam County Man

Authorities say further investigation is needed, but they believe an electrical problem may have started a fatal fire at a log cabin on Mirandy Road early Tuesday. The blaze was reported at a small cabin located behind Bruce Baranowski's home, and officials say they believe Baranowski perished in the blaze. The fire apparently started in a living room area and was later reported by a passerby who saw smoke and called 911. The Algood fire department was able to put out the blaze, which left the cabin gutted.

Cookeville Mother Charged With Raping Son

A 34-year-old Cookeville woman remains jailed today after being indicted on a charge of raping her own six-year-old son. Authorities say the investigation began a few months ago when the child began acting inappropriately with other children. Cookeville police detective Bobby Anderson says an investigation revealed that the mother allegedly had sexual contact with the child in August of last year. He says the mother denies the accusation, but he took evidence in the case to the grand jury which issued an indictment charging the mother with "rape of a child." She'll be in court next month. The victim was removed from the home and is now reportedly living with relatives.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

New Members To Be Appointed To Land Committee

The make-up of Putnam County's Land and Facilities Committee is about to change. That committee is the one which is responsible for reviewing the building needs of county government and helping to find suitable pieces of property for those needs. They were among the first to review the site that is today the location of the county ambulance service. But the committee has also struggled in recent months, trying to come up with a suitable site for a jail annex that would help the county deal with overcrowding. Now, three long time members of the committee will be rotating off to allow for the appointment of three new members. The county commission Monday night will consider the appointments of David Randolph, Scott McCanless and Ron Chaffin.

City Hall Building Negotiations Stall

Cookeville city officials say their long-term goal remains the same. They would like, at some point, to move into a new city hall building. But negotiations have now ceased between the city and the owners of a building that now houses Regions Bank. City manager Jim Shipley says the decision to suspend talks was made after city officials learned that Regions Bank held a long-term lease on the building and had no intentions of giving up that lease. He says the city is not actively pursuing another site right now, but that they do have a new city hall included as part of their long range planning.

Putnam Farmers Can Get Flood Relief

The rainfall of last week is fresh on the minds of many Putnam County residents, but Congressman Bart Gordon says extreme rainfall and flooding also did significant damage to Putnam County farms back in July, and the U.S. Agriculture Department has now declared Putnam County a federal agriculture disaster area. The declaration enables qualifying farmers to apply for federal farm disaster assistance programs, including supplemental farm revenue payments and low-interest emergency loans. Overton County received the primary natural disaster declaration. but Clay, Fentress, Jackson, Pickett and Putnam counties received contiguous natural disaster declarations, which makes farmers in these counties eligible for the same federal assistance programs. Affected farmers should contact the Farm Service Agency office in Sparta for more information. The phone number is (931) 738-7822. Meanwhile, Putnam County Extension Agent Scott Chadwell says the crop damage from last week's rains is not as extensive as it could have been -- mostly because many of the crops have already been harvested. And he says, in spite of all the precipitation, there are still parts of Putnam County where the water table is low.

October Electric Bills Should Go Down

Cookeville electric department customers will see their power bills go down next month -- before potentially going up later in the year. Electric Department Director Tony Peek says the increase is coming about because TVA has approved a rate hike, but the decrease is also the result of TVA action -- specifically, the fact that they overcharged customers on a "fuel rate adjustment" earlier this year. The city council has approved a resolution that, effectively, "passes through" any rate changes from TVA on to local customers of the Cookeville Electric Department.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Quilt Festival On Tap This Weekend

The 21st Upper Cumberland Quilt Festival to benefit the Algood Senior Center is being held today and tomorrow. Hours are 9 am to 5 pm today and 9 am to 4 pm on Saturday. More than 300 Quilts will be on display including a special exhibit of 52 quilts about Alzheimer's disease. Admission is six dollars and lunch is provided at an additional cost at the Family Life Center of the Algood United Methodist Church. For more information, contact festival coordinator Joan Allen at 252-2755.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Council OKs Mandatory Retirement

The Cookeville city council has given its OK to a resolution that calls for mandatory retirement for police officers and firefighters. Under the proposal, those employees would have to stop working at the age of 62. City manager Jim Shipley says the resolution will take effect immediately, but won't mean that employees have to stop working today. Their last day of work would be October 1 because the resolution calls for employees to retire at the first day of the month following their 62nd birthday. About half a dozen employees are affected. Meanwhile, the council has given final approval to the annexation of about 90 acres of property in the area of Freehill Road and Choate Cemetery Road, north of the current city limits. A number of residents in the area spoke out against being taken in by the city, but the vote was 3-to-2 to approve the annexation. Council members Ricky Shelton and Sam Sallee voted no, saying they had issues with the timing of the annexation in the current economic climate.

Prostitution Alleged At Cookeville Business

Cookeville police say they are continuing to review a large volume of documents that were confiscated during a raid on a local spa this week, in which two people were charged with prostitution. Authorities say they are investigating, among other things, licensing issues and other possibly more serious State and Federal violations. Police say they began their investigation after receiving several complaints from concerned citizens. The Department’s Community Nuisance Eradication Team conducted what was described as "an extensive investigation" of the Rainbow Therapy Spa, located on Interstate Drive in Cookeville. On Wednesday, that investigation culminated in the execution of a search warrant and the arrest of two employees. 49-year-old Mee Chung Sung, who has a Georgia address, was charged with one count of Prostitution. 44-year-old Miae Lim, with a New York address, was charged with two counts of Prostitution and one count of Promoting Prostitution. They were booked at the Putnam County Jail and are scheduled to appear in General Sessions Court on October 19. Police say that while they were completing the search warrant execution, four male potential customers were also arrested. Trent D Henry, of Nashville, Edward J Prentice, of Florida, Jason L Rose, of Kentucky, and Timothy D Haynes, of Murfreesboro were each cited for Patronizing Prostitution after conducting negotiations with a female police officer. They were issued citations on the scene and released. Police identified the owner of the business as David Kim, of Columbus, Ohio, but did not say whether any charges are pending against him. If you have any additional information about this establishment, contact Captain Nathan Honeycutt at 931-520-5265.

Man Reports Unprovoked Attack

A Putnam County man, who was looking for a local pharmacy Monday, was apparently the victim of a random attack. Police say it happened at the Farmer's Market on Mahler Avenue. The man says he pulled into the market about 8 pm to ask for directions and was sprayed with mace when he rolled down his window. Police were alerted after someone noticed the driver dumping water over his head a few blocks away. The victim and his passenger say they did not know their attackers.

Alleged Thief Attacks Car Owner

Aggravated assault charges have been brought against a White County man, who allegedly attacked the owner of a car he was trying to break into. Police say 28-year-old Jason Kirby of Wildcat Road, Sparta, was caught inside the victim's vehicle, which was parked at the Bilmar Station 19th Hole. When the owner confronted him, Kirby allegedly hit him with a tire iron and ran from the scene. He was captured after a nearby homeowner called police to report a man hiding behind a golf car in the driveway of his home on Country Club Road. Kirby reportedly told officers that he didn't hurt anyone and had not tried to steal anything.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Record Enrollment Posted At Tennessee Tech

Enrollment has climbed to a record high for the ninth consecutive year at Tennessee Tech University, with a final headcount census of 10,857 students. Officials say that not only are there more students than ever enrolled, those students are taking more hours than before, bringing the full-time equivalent enrollment, or FTE, to an all-time high of 9,060, a 5.7 percent increase over last year. Bobby Hodum, TTU’s executive director of enrollment management, says both record-setting numbers reflect the university’s efforts to put more emphasis on recruiting and retaining full-time students. This year’s freshman class of 1,893 is the largest ever to join Tennessee Tech, breaking the previous record by more than 200 students and marking a 13 percent increase. Transfer student applications took a 14 percent increase and international student applications are up as well.

State of Tennessee Sues Cookeville Company

A Cookeville company has been named in a lawsuit filed by the state attorney general's office. The state says the company is using misleading advertisements aimed at Hispanic immigrants. State officials said the lawsuit is against Gelsy Cordero, individually and doing business as ABC Linguistics in Cookeville. They say that company and other individuals calling themselves notarios publicos are not licensed to practice law in Tennessee and should include that disclaimer in all advertisements. In many Spanish-speaking countries, a notario publico is an attorney who has been specially appointed to assist in certain common, everyday transactions. In America, notary publics can only administer oaths and witness signatures.

Information Sought on Walmart Parking Lot Incident

Cookeville police say evidence may be taken to the grand jury after an altercation involving several teenagers in the Walmart parking lot this week resulted in one of those teens being taken to the hospital. Police issued the following press release on the incident:

On September 15, 2009 at approximately 8:28 PM, a vehicle assault occurred in the Wal-Mart Parking lot east of Murphy Oil. A group of teenagers had gathered in the parking lot socializing when a 1998 Jeep Grand Cherokee driven by Cory Bailey and occupied by Ashley Ann Pallone arrived. Some verbal altercation occurred between the vehicle’s occupants and the group of teenagers in the parking lot.

According to several witnesses, the Jeep Grand Cherokee drove west in the parking lot as if to leave, then abruptly made a U-turn and accelerated back toward the crowd swerving toward the group of teenagers in the parking lot. All jumped clear of the vehicle except Mitchell Payne, who was struck by the Jeep Cherokee. According to witnesses, Payne was knocked upon the front of the Jeep and then hit the pavement. The Jeep immediately fled the scene of the assault and was pursued by other teens who notified Cookeville Police. The Jeep was encountered in White County and stopped and the occupants detained.

Mitchell Payne suffered bruises and scrapes and was treated at Cookeville Regional Medical Center. Cory Bailey voluntary submitted to toxicology test at Cookeville Regional Medical Center.

This investigation is on going, and when completed, will be reviewed by the Office of the District Attorney General for possible Grand Jury Action. Anyone who has additional information or questions about this incident, please contact Captain Mark Maxwell at 931-520-5370. If you have information and wish to remain anonymous, please call CRIME STOPPERS at 520-STOP (520-7867).

Flooding Causes Problems in Putnam County

Authorities say heavy downpours on Wednesday caused flooding problems all across the county. The rain caused what was described as "considerable ponding of water" in low lying areas over mainly the western part of Putnam county. And one local weather spotter reported water 3 to 4 inches deep along Cumby Road, northwest of Cookeville, at one point during the day. Authorities say several other streets and roads were also affected, and the county school system decided to close early on Wednesday because of the flooding. There were also a number of wrecks, including one in Monterey. Hilltop Express publisher Dale Welch says the driver, identified as Sarah Garrett, was not seriously injured in the roll over crash. According to deputies, she hydroplaned on the wet roads, left Hanging Limb Highway, took out the Benton Looper Rd. road sign and stop sign, narrowly missed a utility pole, flipped and took out a tree in a yard before coming to a stop. Welch took the picture above.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Sleeping Burglar Charged

Burglary charges have been filed against a Cookeville woman who was found sleeping on the sofa in a home that she had allegedly broken into. Cookeville police say the homeowner had passed away and when relatives came to check on the property, they found a broken window. Police officers came to the home on East Hudgens Street and found 31-year-old Deonna Michelle Kroenert asleep on a couch. Kroenert reportedly told officers that the lady who lived in the home had let her in, but she was later charged with aggravated burglary. She'll be in court on October 12th.

Sex Offender Arrested For Violating Rules

A convicted sex offender will be back in court later this month on charges of violating state regulations. The Putnam County sheriff's department says 52-year-old Donald H. Guy of Pine Avenue violated the state's sex offender laws by moving into a home where a minor also lives. According to reports, Guy had been ordered to have no contact with the minor who was his victim in a case of sexual battery. But authorities allege that Guy has "established a living accomodation" in a Cookeville home where that child lives. They also say he failed to report a change of address to his probation officer. He'll be in court on the charges Sept. 28.

Putnam County School Wins Nutrition Award

Tennessee state Health Commissioner Susan Cooper joined the United States Department of Agriculture at Uffelman Elementary in Monterey Tuesday for a special ceremony honoring the school's achievements in nutrition and fitness. The Putnam County school is the only Tennessee school to receive the 2009 gold award for the USDA Healthier U.S. School Challenge. It is also the second award winner in the Putnam County school system in just two years.

"I am extremely proud of the students, teachers, nutrition leaders, staff and parents at Uffelman Elementary and all of the schools across our states that have earned this recognition recently," said Cooper. "Uffelman Elementary and the other schools awarded by the USDA are shining examples to the entire state."

The USDA Healthier U.S. School Challenge was established to recognize schools around the country that are creating healthy school environments by promoting good nutrition and physical activity. Uffelman Elementary received the gold award by meeting specific, rigorous student health requirements, such as daily offerings of iron-rich foods, low-fat or skim milk, fresh fruits and whole grain foods. The school also provides nutrition education and physical activity programs for their students.

"It is an honor to be recognized by the USDA," said Karen Dalton, school food service director for the Putnam County Schools. "We believe in serving school children quality meals. With the support of the administrators, teachers, cafeteria managers and staff, physical education specialists, counselors, parent volunteers and all other team players, this school exemplifies teaching healthy lifestyles."

Cooper spoke to students, parents and invited guests at the special ceremony honoring the school before leading the group in a fitness dance routine with her Get Fit Tennessee team. Get Fit Tennessee is a statewide awareness initiative to help Tennesseans think about making healthier choices.

Get Fit Tennessee was developed by Gov. Phil Bredesen to address the rising epidemic of Type 2 diabetes and risk factors that lead to diabetes, such as obesity. The initiative is aimed at educating both adults and children that Type 2 diabetes can be delayed or even prevented with modest lifestyle changes like increasing physical activity and eating healthier. For more information on Get Fit Tennessee, including free fitness and nutrition tools, visit

Cookeville To Consider Mandatory Retirement

The Cookeville city council will consider a resolution Thursday night that could force police officers and firefighters into retirement. Under the resolution, the city would establish a mandatory retirement age for all police officers and firefighters on the city payroll. They would have to take retirement at the age of 62. City manager Jim Shipley will speak to the issue when the council meets at 6 pm Thursday. Meanwhile, the council is expected to approve a resolution providing for what's called a "pass-through" of a TVA wholesale rate increase. The city buys its power from the Tennessee Valley Authority, and any rate increase from TVA is normally passed along to customers.

Rep. Fincher Proposes Limits on Legislature

State representative Henry Fincher of Cookeville is planning to support changes in the General Assembly next year that would limit the total number of new laws being proposed. Fincher, along with Representative Jon Lundberg of Bristol, is proposing a rule that would block representatives from filing more than 10 bills each during a legislative session. Fincher told the Knoxville News-Sentinel that the idea is to have lawmakers set priorities and wrap up legislative sessions earlier. He says there is a "relentless march away from the constitution's idea of a citizen legislature." Fincher said, "The constitution says we should meet 90 days every two years. Now, basically, we meet for a year every two years." Fincher also proposed that deadlines be set for committee action on a bill, again with the idea of prompting an early end to legislative sessions.

Info needed for labor market analysis

Cookeville-area residents and businesses are being called on to help the Chamber of Commerce as it undertakes a comprehensive analysis of the labor market in Overton, Putnam and White counties. Officials say the data being gathered will help existing businesses in finding qualified workers, will help workforce agencies match workers with jobs and training programs, and will guide educators and other training providers in preparing the workforce for existing and emerging employment opportunities. Many businesses in the region will receive a survey during the week of Sept. 21, asking about the availability of skilled workers, as well as the quality of and, the cost of the region’s workforce. Younger Associates of Jackson, TN, in conjunction with Wadley-Donovan GrowthTech of Springfield, NJ, is conducting the workforce analysis.For more information you can contact Lillian Hartgrove at the Chamber at 526-2211.

Some clown stole a dumpster

Cookeville police are looking for the clown who stole a trash dumpster from a business on East 10th Street last week. According to a report by Officer Lester Langford, a man identifying himself as "Bobo, the Clown" came into The Village Kitchen restaurant and began asking questions about their garbage dumpster. The report says he then left the area, but returned and took the dumpster, tying it to the back end of his van. The report describes it as a four foot by six foot metal garbage bin. Investigation of the incident is continuing.

Theft and drug ring shut down in Monterey

Monterey's Hilltop Express newspaper is reporting that after a two-month investigation, Monterey Police have shut down what's described as a major theft and drug ring operating in and around town. Authorities say indictments against several people are being sought. Monterey Police Chief Tim Murphy said that search warrants were executed on two homes, one on Woodcliff Road and the other in the Cherry Creek Community. He says a search of another residence in Monterey was undertaken with the consent of the occupants. The searches reportedly turned up more than a dozen guns, several power tools, several hundred narcotic pills; what Murphy called "a substantial amount of cash."

12 count indictment for selling crack near daycare

Drug charges are pending today against a Cookeville woman, indicted for allegedly selling cocaine out of her home. A 12-count indictment has been handed down against 44-year-old Kimberly Ann Albert of Shanks Avenue. Investigators claim that Albert sold crack cocaine on numerous occasions to an undercover officer working with the sheriff's department. She's been charged with three counts of selling cocaine, three counts of delivering cocaine and six counts of violating the drug free school zone law. Officials say those charges came about because her home is within a thousand feet of a nearby daycare center. Albert's bond was set at $40,000 and she'll be arraigned in Criminal Court on Monday.

Fiscal Review Committee

Putnam County's fiscal review committee is recommending passage of a resolution that calls for a delay in the implementation of the Tennessee Voter Confidence Act. Election Administrator Debbie Steidl told the committee that voting machines which meet the requirements of the law may not be available in time to meet the deadline set out by the Act. Meanwhile, the committee also voted to recommend approval of a $3,000 budget amendment to pay legal fees for the election commission. But that recommendation is contingent on the election commission clarifying just what those legal services are.

Monday, September 14, 2009

TN Top Model 2009 Search Over

Hundreds of girls across Tennessee auditioned to compete in The Tennessee Top Model Competition held Saturday night at the Cookeville Drama Center. Shan Burklow and Beth Chandler of Studio Six Limited hosted the evening's festivities along with entertainment personality Jane Ellen. Girls were judged on their stage presence, runway skills, and a personal interview with Dan Modeling Agency. A distinguished panel of judges included Dan Agency President Stephanie Beck Williams, Dan Williams - Dan Williams Music Nashville, Renee Flatt - Crowns for a Cause, and Amanda Kaye West - former Miss S. Tennessee and Miss Ohio. Fashion Photographer Kelly Sinclair was on hand to show off the girls photogenic capabilities.
A special guest appearance by 'American Idol' performer, Josh Isaac, made for an enjoyable intermission as well as performances by Carrie's Dance Academy of Sparta and singer, Mercedes Luna of Smithville.

"We were so proud of all of the girls' poise and skill, but were most impressed with the character and beautiful sportsmanship behind the scenes. It has been such a great opportunity for all of these girls to get one on one face time with such a distinguished modeling agency," Shan Burklow of Studio Six stated after the show, "It's an honor to have such a high ranking competition come to the Upper Cumberland. Matrix sent reps out as well to scout for models to promote their newest advertising campaign."

Catherine Clendenen of Smithville, TN was crowned the 2009 Junior Tennessee Top Model while Anna Herndon of Madison, TN was crowned the 2009 Tennessee Top Model. Both winners received a one year modeling contract with the Dan Agency, photo shoot with Kelly Sinclair Photography, designer gown by Merle Norman's 'Beauty Queens Boutique' (TTM) and Ready Set Grow - Morgeez Gowns (Jr.TTM), Make-Up from Merle Norman, Accessories by Bless This Day, a gift basket from Belk, generous gifts for all from Liquidation Outlet, spa package from Extreme Looks Salon Smithville, and a feature article in Celebrations Magazine along with other fabulous prizes.

Other girls that were awarded crowns throughout the night include: Extreme Queens Whitney Cox of Smithville and Junior Extreme Queen Joy Williams - Miss Cover Model Mary Margaret Harris of Woodbury and Junior Miss Cover Model Kali Lamb of Cookeville - Miss Congeniality Catherine Clendenen of Smithville.

To view highlights from the show, go to:

Putnam County Paramedic Honored

Carmen Burnette, a paramedic with the Putnam County Ambulance Service, and Rhonda Roberts, unit director with the Overton County Rescue Squad, have been recognized by the Tennessee Office of Homeland Security for their commitment and sacrifice. Roberts was honored for being instrumental in the coordination, organization and implementation of the search and rescue of a missing Overton County woman last year. She was also on the front line during rescue and recovery efforts after the county was hit by strong storms and flood waters in July. Burnette serves the EMS as a Field Training Officer, where she assists with the training and orientation of all new employees. Additionally, she regularly conducts classes on CPR. Putnam County has a long-term program to train laypeople in CPR/AED. The most ambitious part of the program involves providing American Heart Association Heartsaver AED training to every sophomore and senior in the county schools. Burnette has served as the coordinator for this program for four years, working with the schools, EMS employees, and Cookeville Fire Department. Under her leadership, more than 2,100 persons have been trained.

Putnam County Bridge To Be Repaired

The bridge over Buffalo Valley Creek on State Highway 96 in Putnam County is one of 111 bridges statewide that the Tennessee Department of Transportation has identified as being in need of significant repairs. That bridge and more than 100 others will be either replaced, repaired or rehabilitated through a new initiative aimed at reducing the number of structurally deficient bridges in the state. TDOT's Better Bridges Program is a four year program approved in 2009 by the Tennessee General Assembly that will utilize bonds to pay for the repair or replacement. The Putnam County bridge, on what is also known as the Medley-Amonette Road is scheduled for rehabilitation.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Teenager Dies At Cummins Falls

Funeral services are being held Monday for a Cookeville teenager, who died after falling some 40 feet at Cummins Falls in Jackson County. 18-year-old Bryan Hudelston, who was known as "Polar Bear," had been exploring the area with some friends last week when he apparently slipped and fell, hitting a rock and landing in the water below. Officials with the Jackson County Rescue Squad say the incident was the sixth time this year that rescuers have been called to Cummins Falls to help victims of falls and other accidents. But it was the first fatality reported this year. Hudelston had been graduated from Cookeville High School earlier this year.

Cummins (Fleetguard) Announces Job Cuts

Employees of what is commonly known as the Fleetguard plant in Cookeville are still trying to digest the news that 140 hourly workers will be laid off in the coming months. Officials with Cummins Filtration, the company that owns the plant, made the announcement Friday. The assembly line jobs in Cookeville will be moving to a Cummins plant in Mexico, as the company struggles to cut costs in its filter manufacturing process. Cummins made a similar announcement at a plant in Iowa last month. A spokesman for the company says Cummins will maintain a call center in Cookeville and says that they don't anticipate any further reductions. Severance packages for the affected employees are still being worked out.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Burglary Ring Discovered

Cookeville police said today that an investigation, which began in Overton County this week, may help them solve several dozen burglary cases reported in the area over the past several months. The police department issued the following press release today:

On Tuesday evening September 8th, Detective Chase Mathis was notified by Livingston Police Department that they had in their custody a suspect that had possibly been involved in several Cookeville residential burglaries. Det. Mathis and Putnam County Sheriff’s Investigator Mike Hoover traveled to Livingston and quickly learned the investigation, which began in Jackson and Overton counties, would be continued in Cookeville and Putnam County. As a result of information obtained, two locations in Overton County and one in Putnam County were searched. A significant amount of stolen property, including laptop computers, flat screen televisions, I-pods, and guitars, was recovered. It is expected that as many as sixty to seventy residential and vehicle burglaries currently being investigated by the Cookeville Police Department and Putnam County Sheriff’s Department may be solved during this investigation. Detectives estimate $45,000 worth of property stolen from Cookeville/Putnam County residents has been recovered. Detectives are currently trying to determine the lawful owners of all of the property and return it to them. The property owners who had recorded the serial numbers of their items before they were stolen and password protected their computers obviously made that determination easier for detectives to accomplish. This investigation is a joint investigation between the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department, Livingston Police Department, Overton County Sheriff’s Department, Putnam County Sheriff’s Department, and the Cookeville Police Department. One suspect has been arrested by the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department and one by the Putnam County Sheriff’s Department. This is an on-going investigation and several other arrests are expected to be made as a result.
Anyone who might have information is asked to call CRIMESTOPPERS at 520-STOP (520-7867).

The Other Fall Funfest

There is more than one Fall Funfest taking place this weekend in Cookeville. A number of groups are coming together for a Fall Funfest on the square, but the Cookeville Police Department is reminding local residents about the Structured Athletics for Challenged Children Fall Fun Fest being held tomorrow at Mid-Tenn Nursery. The SACC is a non-profit organization developed for children with special physical and mental needs; the program provides these children an opportunity to participate in sports and athletics that are structured to their ability. For the past two years, Mid-Tenn Nursery has held the Fall Fun Fest with the SACC participants in mind. This year’s event will take place from 10 am until 12 noon at 513 Cora Road in Cookeville. There will be games, fire trucks, lunch, and a specially designed Scarecrow Fun Maze.

Child Seat Safety Checkpoint Scheduled

The Cookeville Police Department, First National Bank and the Putnam County Kiwanis Club will be hosting another Child Seat Checkpoint next week. This one will be at First National Bank located at 412 S. Jefferson Avenue in Cookeville, on Tuesday, September 15, 2009 from 2 to 5 p.m. Child Seat Technicians will be available to check child seats for correct installation and answer any questions that anyone may have about child seat safety and installation. Lt. Randy Brown of the Department's traffic division says that research on the effectiveness of child safety seats has found them to reduce fatal injury by 71 percent for infants younger than 1 year old and by 54 percent for toddlers 1 to 4 years old. But he says many parents and others who transport children do not understand the potential deadly results from not using a child seat or booster seat at all -- or using one that is not properly installed and secured in a vehicle.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Putnam Historic Site Added To National Register

A historic site in Putnam County has now been added to the National Register of Historic Places. White Plains is located three miles outside of of Cookeville. Once part of a large plantation, the house is now on a 15-acre parcel and surrounded by mature trees and shrubs. Built in 1848 and substantially remodeled in 1958, officials say White Plains is an important example of how 19th century houses were modernized with new architectural styles and amenities in the 20th century. In 1958 the house received a new brick exterior and side extensions, changing the farmhouse’s appearance into a modern Colonial Revival house. The interior was updated with new electrical features and some architectural detailing, but it still retains materials from 1848. The National Register of Historic Places is the nation’s official list of cultural resources worthy of preservation. It is part of a nationwide program that coordinates and supports efforts to identify, evaluate and protect historic resources.

Putnam Health Department To Offer Flu Clinic

The Putnam County Health Department will offer a seasonal mass flu clinic next week -- on Tuesday, September 15th, at the new health department location, 701 County Services Drive. The clinic will be held from 8 am to 5 pm, and no appointment is necessary. Health department director Lisa Bumbalough says the Department is urging everyone to get a seasonal flu vaccination to prevent the illness. She says the vaccine is particularly recommended for the elderly, young children and people with certain health conditions such as asthma, diabetes or heart disease since they are at high risk for complications from seasonal flu. The cost of the flu shot is $ 25.00. The Health Department will bill Medicare and other third party payors as appropriate. The Putnam County Health Department will also offer H1N1 vaccine when it becomes available. Bumbalough says the seasonal flu vaccine available now is not effective against the H1N1 virus, and both kinds of flu are expected to circulate this year.

Oreck Opening Outlet Store In Cookeville

Oreck will be opening the company’s first outlet store in Cookeville later this month. Cookeville is already home to the company’s manufacturing facility. At ten am on Friday, Sept. 25, founder David Oreck and CEO Bill Fry will join local and state officials for opening ceremonies at the new Oreck Outlet Store, located at 700 S. Jefferson Avenue. The Oreck Outlet opening in Cookeville also kicks off Oreck’s "Clean for the Cure" campaign supporting Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the largest source of nonprofit funds dedicated to the fight against breast cancer. October is national Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Store Video Leads To Arrest

Evidence from a store security camera in Cookeville has gotten a Jackson County woman arrested on theft of property charges. Detective Sgt. Yvette Demming says that she reviewed the video from the Aaron's Rent-To-Own store after one of their customers reported a missing purse. The victim told police that she had accidentally left her purse, containing $400 dollars in cash and several ID cards, on a sofa at the store. Demming says the video showed another customer in the store, identified as 49-year-old Brenda Lee Nowak of Gainesboro, leaving the business with the purse. Demming says she called Nowak, who initially denied knowing anything about the purse. But police say she changed her story after learning of the video. She then claimed that she was going to turn the purse in to police, while denying that it contained any money. Nowak also reportedly shredded all of the IDs in the purse, telling police she did so to protect the purse's owner from identity theft. She could not explain how police would have been able to find the owner when all of those ID cards had been destroyed. Nowak will be in court on the charge September 21.

National Rolley Hole Championships this Saturday

Standing Stone State Park will hold the National Rolley Hole Championships on Saturday, September 12. Organizers say the traditional marbles contest draws some of the country’s best players to a tournament where contestants use special flint balls on a smooth dirt surface. The event has been featured on ESPN, ABC, CNN, CBS and National Geographic. Standing Stone State Park covers nearly 11,000 acres in Overton County within a triangle formed by highways connecting Livingston, Gainesboro and Celina. The park takes its name from the Standing Stone, an eight-foot tall rock standing upright on a sandstone ledge, which was supposedly used as a boundary line between two separate Indian nations. When the rock fell, the Indians placed a portion of it on an improvised monument to preserve it. The stone is still preserved today in Monterey.

Philip Gibbons finalist for CMA award

Final nominees for the nation's top Country radio stations and broadcast personalities have been announced by the Country Music Association, and a longtime Putnam County resident is among the finalists. WHUB's Philip Gibbons has been nominated for his work on 94.7 FM. Five finalists are selected for CMA Broadcast Personality of the Year in four categories (small, medium, large, and major market). The categories are established by market size based on population. Entries are judged on aircheck, ratings, community involvement, and biographical information. CMA members who are full-time, on-air personalities and CMA member radio stations in the United States and Canada were eligible to enter.

DUI in Justice Center Parking Lot

A September 28th court date has been set for a Cookeville man charged with DUI after allegedly being involved in a wreck at the Putnam County Justice Center parking lot. Police say 54-year-old Peter Magura of Laurel Park Circle was driving a truck that hit a sheriff's department work van and knocked it into a new patrol car. Officer Brian Long, who witnessed the accident, alleges that Magura smelled of alcohol and was unsteady on his feet.

Wagon Wheel Arson Case

A nine-year prison term has been handed down to a Putnam County man, who pleaded guilty in an arson case. 26-year-old Derek Adam Holloway of Baxter was taken into custody following his plea to a charge of facilitation of aggravated arson. Prosecutors say Holloway and 26-year-old Tabatha Charmane Whittenburg of Algood had apparently been "kicked out" of the Wagon Wheel restaurant the night before a fire in March of 2008. They were later developed as suspects after a blaze destroyed the Wagon Wheel and a business next door to it. Whittenburg also pleaded guilty in return for an eight-year sentence, but will be back in court in November so that a decision can be made about how she will serve that time.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Chad Bell in Court Oct. 6

The next court appearance for a Cookeville man, charged with murdering his wife, will be October 6th. 36-year-old Chad Bell remains jailed on a charge of first degree murder and abuse of a corpse. He was indicted in the death of his wife, Sara Bell, who he had first reported missing last fall. Authorities allege that he killed her and tried to dispose of her body after the two had an argument. In Criminal Court this week, prosecutors revealed that Bell has been deemed competent to stand trial and that a psychological evaluation showed him to be capable of understanding the consequences of his actions at the time of the alleged murder.

Chamber Schedules Employer Workshop

The Cookeville-Putnam County Chamber of Commerce is hosting a workshop focusing on the Employee Free Choice Act.

The educational workshop will be held Tuesday, Sept. 22 at the Leslie Town Centre in the Estes Williams Conference Room. Attendees can choose to attend either the morning session from 8 until 11 a.m. or the afternoon session from 1 until 4 p.m. The cost to attend is $35 per person.

This workshop will prepare businesses for legislation that might change the way they conduct business, covering the legalities of EFCA. It will also help reexamine policies, practices, procedures and employee attitudes. All employers, CEOs, presidents, managers, supervisors and any one else who might benefit are encouraged to attend.

“Our local existing industry managers have asked for more information on the proposed EFCA, and we found two well-versed individuals to conduct sessions to meet their needs,” said Lillian Hartgrove, vice president of Economic Development for the Chamber.

Jeffery Jones and Gary Wright will present the workshop. Jones specializes in commercial transactions, governmental law, creditors’ rights and insurance defense. He is the current Putnam County attorney and former district representative for the Tennessee Young Lawyers Division of the Tennessee Bar Association.

Wright practices in labor and employment law, emphasizing on NLRB defense work, union avoidance, collective bargaining, contract administration and arbitration law. Wright is a Tennessee Supreme Court Approved Mediator and has served on the Executive Council of the Tennessee Bar Association and Labor Law Section. He is a member of the Labor and Employment Law Section of the Tennessee Bar Association and the American Bar Association.

For more information or to reserve your seat, contact Debbie Adams at the Chamber at 931-526-2211 or e-mail

"Elite" Baseball Camp Scheduled in Cookeville

The Tennessee Tech baseball team will be hosting two sessions of its elite baseball camp. Players can attend the camp on either Sept. 19 or Sept. 26. The camp is open to high school juniors and seniors, and runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Space is limited and the camp will be filled with the first applications received. At the camp, players will participate in morning skills clinics including hitting, pitching, infield, and outfield. Participants will be broken up into teams and compete in live game situations in the afternoon. The 45-dollar registration fee covers use of facilities and equipment, and includes lunch and a t-shirt for all attendees. For more information, or to register for the camp, please contact assistant coach Larry Bragga at (931) 372-3853 or

Fire Bomb Report Investigated

Cookeville police are investigating a report of a "fire bomb" which was tossed at a parked car. Officer Brian Long says it occurred in the parking lot of John's Place on W. Broad St. A witness told police that he was across the street in the Automotive Plus parking lot when he heard an explosion, looked up and saw a fireball. He also saw a maroon-colored Toyota Camry leaving the area. Long says someone in that vehicle had apparently put gasoline into a plastic bottle with a rag, lit it, and tossed it at Chevy Caprice that had been parked in the lot for some time with a flat tire. After the fire bomb hit the car, it bounced off and burned itself out on the parking lot pavement. Long says no one was in the parked Chevy at the time and the vehicle suffered only minor burn damage.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Early Morning Evangelist

The Putnam County sheriff's department is investigating an incident in which a man knocked on the door of a home at two o'clock in the morning, saying that God had sent him. It happened at a home on Lilly's Chapel Road when a man and his wife were awakened by someone knocking on their door. The suspect was apparently on his way back to his car before the homeowner got to the front door, but turned around when he saw the door opening. The large man reportedly had a Bible in his hand and said that God had sent him. But the victim closed the door on the man and called police. The would-be evangelist then drove away.

Illegal Prescripton Pill Sales Alleged

Two Putnam County residents are facing charges of selling drugs today after Cookeville police conducted an investigation at a home on W. 9th St. Officer Cary Matheney says he had gone to the home to investigate a report of drug activity and received permission to search the residence. That search allegedly turned up 31 Xanax pills and eleven hydrocodone pills, which Matheny claims were being offered for sale. 46-year-old Sarah Louise Sullivan of 9th Street and 43-year-old William McKinley Hamilton of Ellison Goolsby Road were charged with possession of drugs for re-sale and possession of drug paraphernalia. Police say that Sullivan's cell phone was receiving messages from would-be customers -- even while the search was in progress. A man who came to the residence allegedly looking to buy drugs was also issued a citation.

Traffic Stops Lead To Drug Charges

Two separate traffic stops in recent days have resulted in drug charges being brought. Cookeville police arrested 23-year-old Billy Joe White of W. Broad St. on a charge of possessing drugs for re-sale after his car was stopped on Jere Whitson Road. Officers claim that White had a three-ounce bag of marijuana on him. Meanwhile, the Putnam County sheriff's department charged 45-year-old Willard Garth Presley of Baxter with possession of drugs and drug paraphernalia after Deputy David Blackwell stopped his vehicle on Highway 70. Presley was also cited for tampering with evidence. Authorities say Presley allegedly tossed out a bag of marijuana and tried to grind it into the ground with his foot.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Cookevile Council OK's Annexation

The vote wasn't unanimous, but the majority of the Cookeville city council Thursday night voted to annex an area north of town into the city limits. The area is generally surrounded by Freehill Road and Choate Cemetery Road. Some residents of the area spoke against the idea at a public hearing conducting during the council meeting, saying they could see no real benefit to them for the extra taxes they will soon be paying. And at least two council members, Ricky Shelton and Sam Sallee, said they had concerns about how much it would cost the city of Cookeville to provide services to the annexed area. They said the current economic climate made the annexation proposal less than desirable, especially -- as Shelton said -- from a strictly business point of view.

Sparta Man Reaches Blood Donation Milestone

A White County resident has reached a blood donation milestone with the American Red Cross. Ronald Tungate of Sparta has been recognized for donating 25 gallons of blood over his lifetime. Tungate says he started donating blood in high school and never stopped, giving blood every time he could while he served in the U.S. Navy and later at jobs with Chrysler and Bridgestone. He reached the 25 gallon mark during a drive this year at the Sparta Civic Center. And he says, "As long as I am able to give, I will.."

Cookeville and Algood To Get Low-Interest Loans

Governor Phil Bredesen and Department of Environment and Conservation Commissioner Jim Fyke announced today two low-interest loans for communities in Putnam County. The city of Algood will receive $3.23 million and the city of Cookeville will receive $3.5 million for wastewater construction projects. The loans are funded through a combination of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and the State Revolving Fund loan program. Forty percent of the funding is in the form of principal forgiveness, which does not have to be repaid.

“The Recovery Act is helping critical drinking water and wastewater infrastructure improvements in Tennessee move forward, which benefits both public health and the environment,” said Bredesen. “The principal forgiveness provision of the Recovery Act is an important aspect of the program, allowing us to provide additional relief to local communities during difficult economic times.”

Algood will receive $3.23 million for a collection system expansion project to the Bear Creek area. The project will be funded with a 20-year, $1.94 million loan with an interest rate of 2.14 percent and $1.29 million in principal forgiveness that will not have to be repaid.

Cookeville will receive $3.5 million for a collection system upgrade and expansion via the systemwide installation of telemetry to pumping stations and the construction of a submersible sewage pumping station, force main and gravity sewer lines in the southwestern part of Cookeville in the Hudgins Creek drainage basin area. The project will be funded with a 20-year, $2.1 million loan with an interest rate of 2.5 percent and $1.4 million in principal forgiveness that will not have to be repaid.

“This program is important in protecting both water quality and public health for Tennesseans,” said Senator Charlotte Burks. “It allows communities like Algood and Cookeville to obtain loans for water and wastewater projects with lower interest rates than most could get through private financing.”

“This year, the Recovery Act funding gives communities even more benefit, by covering 40 percent of the project costs,” added Representative Henry Fincher.

Cookeville Hospital Restricts Young Visitors

The following press release is from Melahn Finley in the marketing department at Cookeville Regional Medical Center:

For increased protection and safety of our patients and visitors, effective immediately Cookeville Regional Medical Center will restrict children under the age of sixteen (16) from entering the facility for patient or family visitation until further notice. This restriction has been implemented in previous years during the regular flu season; however with the presence of H1N1 flu, Cookeville Regional is being proactive by starting this restriction earlier. The H1N1 strain of flu is being seen predominantly in young children and young adults. By restricting visitation, we are providing an extra measure of safety for our patients.

Adults and those over the age of 16 should also carefully consider the risks of visiting family or friends in the hospital since the risk of contracting the flu is likely to be much higher when exposed to concentrations of sick people as one might encounter in a hospital setting.

This change in the hospital’s visitation policy is in the best interest of our patients and the community as a whole.

Please be advised:

*Any visitor with symptoms of flu (cough, fever, etc.) must wear a mask upon entering the facility

* In the Emergency Room patients coming in with fever or cough will be required to wear a mask.

* Children under the age of 16 will not be permitted to visit our patients.

* Persons with flu-like symptoms are asked not to visit the hospital for their safety as well as the safety of our patients.

We are enforcing these precautions to help prevent the spread of influenza in our community. And remember, the best way to prevent the spread of infection is through proper hand washing.

Appeals Court Rules on Cookeville Dog Shooting Case

A federal appeals court has upheld a ruling in favor of a family whose dog was shot by a police officer in Cookeville during a 2003 traffic stop. The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in a ruling released Thursday denied an appeal by David Bush, a Tennessee Highway Patrol officer who was found guilty of excessive force when restraining driver James Smoak. While the family was ordered to kneel on the highway shoulder, their dog escaped from the vehicle through an open door. Cookeville police officer Eric Hall shot the 55-pound mixed breed pit bull, which could be seen wagging its tail in the video. Hall said he thought the dog was about to attack. A federal jury in 2008 awarded the family $9,000 in compensatory damages and $192,000 in attorney's fees. The Smoaks settled with the city of Cookeville for $77,500 in a separate lawsuit.

Woman Charged With Felony Evading Arrest

A Cookeville woman is facing felony charges of evading arrest today after she allegedly tried to flee from police investigating a fight call at a local nightclub. Police allege that 21-year-old Rachel Ann Dowell of Lee Avenue was driving a car that fled the scene of an incident at Club Jet. Officer Craig Wilkerson says he had yelled at Dowell to stop her vehicle, but she sped away -- only to hit a culvert a short distance away, effectively disabling her vehicle. The passengers in Dowell's vehicle told police that they had advised Dowell not to run, but that Dowell told them she had warrants out for her arrest. Those outstanding warrants were served on her when she was taken to jail on the evading arrest charge.

Seat Belt Violation Leads to Drug Charges

A seat belt violation has led to a Cookeville man being charged with possession of drugs for re-sale. Cookeville police officer Josh Ward says he stopped a car on Jere Whitson Road after noticing that the front seat passenger was not wearing a seat belt. That passenger was identified as 23-year-old Billy Joe White of Broad Street. Ward says he noticed an odor of marijuan and says that White consented to a search. The officer claims that while performing that search, he "felt an unnatural bulge" in White's crotch area. White then removed a plastic bag from his pants, which reportedly contained 84 grams of marijuana. He was then placed under arrest and booked into the Putnam County jail. He was also issued a citation for the seatbelt violation.

Annexation To Come Before Cookeville Council

The Cookeville city council will be talking about annexation when they meet this evening. The council will hold a public hearing and consider on first reading an ordinance which would annex several pieces of property in the area of Freehill Road and North Washington Avenue. The ordinance also calls for the adoption of what's called a "plan of services" for the area, detailing just when and how the new residents can expect to take advantage of city services. Some property owners in the annexation area are in favor of being taken in by the city, but others say the tax burden will outweigh any benefit they might receive. The issue comes before the council after having been recommended by the city's planning commission.

Putnam School Board To Talk About Zoning

The Putnam County Board of Education today may take another step toward limiting enrollment in some county schools. The board is set to consider the approval of a "district re-zoning committee" made up of elementary and middle school principals, along with central office administrators and the head of the school bus transportation department. A couple of years ago, an "Enrollment Management Advisory Committee" came up with suggestions about how to implement what some call "soft zoning" in the county schools. Under the current rules, parents may take their children to any school in the county -- if there is space available. If there is not, the admission of the child is based upon a number of factors, includng whether or not they live in the bus zone for that school. Now, officials say the planned opening next year of a new elementary and middle school south of I-40 provides a good opportunity to review the existing zones and, ultimately, re-draw them.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Custom Made BBQ Grill Stolen

The Cookeville police department is investigating the theft of a custom-made barbecue grill, valued at some $16,000. The victim told police that the sixteen-foot grill -- with red wheels, chrome hub caps and two large propane tanks -- was specially built by Stone Brothers Welding in Cookeville. It was taken from the east end of Collegeside Church of Christ, next to the canopy. Anyone with information should call the police department. Meanwhile, police are also investigating a burglary at Builder's Supply Company. Someone broke out a window to gain access and made off with about $250 in cash. The burglary was discovered by an employee of a neighboring business. Also today, police report that two computers and an electronic scale were stolen after a break-in at the Dacco warehouse on Bowser Road; a $1,000 roll of copper wire was stolen from Cookeville First Assembly of God church; and about ten catalytic converters stolen off of vehicles at a Cookeville car dealership. The loss there was placed at $2,800.

Cookeville Girl Named MDA Goodwill Ambassador

Middle Tennessee's Goodwill Ambassador for the Muscular Dystrophy Association is a nine-year-old Cookeville girl, who was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy. Brooke Malone is home schooled to protect her health, in part because the disease which confines her to a wheelchair can also affect her lung function. But doctors say that for patients like Brooke, survival into adulthood is common -- if respiratory health is monitored closely. She plays sports, through a structured athletes program for challenged children. And she loves the annual MDA camp - the one time a year she says she feels completely normal. The annual MDA telethon is coming up on Labor Day. It will air locally on Nashville's WZTV, Channel 17. You can see a story the TV station did about Brooke here.

Drug Arrest At Monterey High School

A September 28th court date has been set for a young Monterey man, who was allegedly found to be in possession of marijuana while at Monterey High School this week. 18-year-old Alfred Wayne Galloway of Jim Garrett Road was arrested on Tuesday afternoon by the school resource officer, sheriff's deputy Jennifer White. According to White's report, principal Sonya Farley and assistant principal Chris Pierce had found a plastic bag of the drug during a search of Galloway. Galloway was charged with possession of a controlled substance and with violating the Drug-Free School Zone law. His bond was set at $2,000.

A New Way To Check Out of the Hospital

Cookeville Regional Medical Center has opened a new unit to serve patients as they are being discharged from the hospital following an inpatient stay. The new Patient Discharge Center will cater to patients who are awaiting discharge due to transportation or other final discharge arrangements.

Once a family member or friend arrives to pick up a patient from the Patient Discharge Center, they will simply pull up to the entrance on the east side of the hospital (right next to the Emergency Room entrance) and press a button to notify the Discharge Center staff. The staff will then arrange to take the patient to the covered entrance for final discharge. With this process in place, the person picking up the patient will not have to enter the building but may wait there for the patient to be brought out to the car.

Not all patients will go to the new Discharge Center. If the patient has immediate transportation and no other pending discharge issues, he or she will be discharged directly from their patient room and will not go to the Discharge Center. For more information about the Patient Discharge Center, please call 931-783-2217.

Cookeville Regional continues to expand both its facilities and its services. This year the medical center opened its new six-story, 228,000 square-foot North Patient Tower. This new expansion includes a Cancer Center that is three times larger than the former facility, all private patient rooms, a new and expanded Intensive Care Unit, and many more facility improvements to serve both the patients and their families. For more information about Cookeville Regional and the services it provides, visit the website at

Tech Sports Team Selling Flowers

The Tennessee Tech softball team is offering fans and friends of the program a chance to support the Golden Eagles while adding some color to the coming fall season. The team is selling mums as a fundraiser.The cost of each plant is $15 if paid in advance, with the deadline for placing orders on Friday, Sept. 11. The pickup date is the following Friday, Sept. 18, and the cost will be $20 if paid on that date.The team will also deliver any order on the Tennessee Tech campus.The team is offering 10 different colors, and all except the dark purple will be in bloom upon delivery. The dark purple will bloom in October. The colors to choose from are: white, yellow, orange, burgundy, bronze, pink, light purple, dark purple, red and lilac.Orders can be placed on the telephone or via email with head coach Tory Acheson by calling (931) 372-6552, or by sending an email to

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Ribbon Cutting At Church's Chicken

For those that haven't noticed, the old Mrs. Winner's chicken restaurant on Willow Avenue has now been converted to a Church's Chicken, and Church’s Chicken will host a ribbon cutting and grand opening event Wednesday morning to celebrate its new location in Cookeville. In addition to officials with the Church's chain, city council members and Chamber of Commerce leadership will be on hand to help celebrate. As part of a weeklong grand opening celebration, the location will be giving away cupcakes on Sept. 3 and will be offering free sausage biscuits and spicy chicken with purchases on Sept. 4-6. The store opened in late August and has added new staff following the renovations that converted it from a Mrs. Winner’s location. In a press release, Church’s said it is committed to becoming part of the Cookeville community through efforts ranging from charity outreach to keeping the breakfast menu, which is popular in the area.

Putnam Man Indicted in Half A Dozen Burglaries

September 21st is the arraignment date for a Putnam County man, indicted in connection with half a dozen burglaries reported around the county last fall. Authorities arrested 23-year-old Kenneth Earl Hamilton, the Second of Hill Road after he was indicted on six counts of aggravated burglary, five counts of theft over $1,000 and one count of theft over $60,000. Investigators say Hamilton is the man they believe broke into two homes on Brotherton Mountain Road, two on Browns Mill Road, one on Poplar Grove Road and one on Mikonda Drive. He would steal televisions, guns, jewelry, computers, and sometimes cash and checks. His bond was set at $75,000.

Fraudulent Check Leads to Criminal Charge

A Monterey woman is facing charges of "criminal simulation" today after she allegedly passed a bad check at a check-cashing business. Monterey police chief Tim Murphy presented evidence in the case to the grand jury, which returned the indictment against 36-year-old Cynthia R. Clements of Lake Hill Rd. The indictment alleges that Clements presented what appeared to be a payroll check in the amount of $1,950 to a Monterey business last year. That check reportedly turned out to be worthless. Authorities say the business owner offered her a chance to make good on the check, but she failed to do so. She'll be in court on the criminal charges Sept. 21.

Cookeville Police Investigating Rape Case

Cookeville police are investigating a report by a local teenager, who says that she was raped by someone she met at the movies on Saturday night. Police say it was apparently Monday before the girl told her mother what had happened. The mother took the girl to the hospital for an exam and police were called. The victim then told officers that she and a friend had been at the movie theatre on South Jefferson Avenue when they met a couple of guys who took them to a vehicle in the rear parking lot. The girl then reportedly went for a walk with one of those male suspects, who forced himself on her. According to Lt. Carl Sells, an "active investigation" of the case is underway. Anyone with information that may help is asked to call the department at 526-2125.

Cookeville Motel Reports Internet Fraud

Cookeville police are investigating a new twist on a familiar report of Internet fraud. Authorities say it usually involves people who have been sent a fake check or money order for things they have offered for sale on the Internet. In this case, police say the would-be victim was the Alpine Lodge motel, where someone had apparently agreed to rent several rooms for a long period of time. The cost of the rental was estimated to be about $60,000, but a check arrived for more than $275,000. The motel owner also got an e-mail stating that she should go ahead and cash the check and send back the difference. But when she contacted the company whose name was on the check, she was informed that it was a forgery. The criminal investigation division is following up on the case.

Cookeville Woman Charged With Burglary

A Cookeville woman, who was seen taking items out of a car at a restaurant on Interstate Drive, is facing criminal charges today. Police say 22-year-old Ashley Lee Castillo of Virginia Avenue was arrested after the owner of the car recognized her. The victim told police he knew Castillo because she lived in the same apartment complex. He says it was about 2:30 Sunday afternoon when he saw her take several homemade music CDs, an MP3 player, and a speaker from his car while it was parked at Puleo's Grill. Police were able to track down Castillo based on the description he gave and they recovered all of the stolen merchandise. Castillo will be in court later this month.