Thursday, October 29, 2009

Copper Thieves At Work In Cookeville

Copper thieves may be a work once again in Cookeville. Police say a representative of Buck's Plumbing and Sewer Service reported that someone took a 350-foot roll of ten-gauge copper wiring from a service trailer that was parked outside the business on West Spring Street. The loss was placed at more than 12-hundred dollars. Meanwhile, thieves may have thought they were taking copper ... or may have simply been scared away from the Cookeville Water Department on South Jefferson Avenue. Police say someone cut through a fence there, loaded three buckets with brass water fittings and other brass items and also filled a canvas tool bag with brass fittings. But the thief then left the bag behind. There was $300 in damage to the fence.

First Death in Cookeville From H1N1

Cookeville has reported its first death from the H1N1 flu virus. Officials at Cookeville Regional Medical Center confirm that an adult patient died on Monday of complications from the flu. And while a number of deaths have been reported statewide, officials say this is the only one so far this season to be recorded at Cookeville's hospital. Health officials continue to encourage people to get vaccinated against the H1N1 virus and the seasonal flu when vaccines become available.

Burglary on Stargazer Drive Cookeville

A toothpick out of place was the first clue for a Cookeville man, who found his home burglarized. The victim, who lives on Stargazer Drive, told police that he had been leaving a toothpick in the area of his front door because he suspected that someone was getting into his residence -- but not taking anything. When he came home one day this week, the toothpick was not where he had left it, and someone had, in fact, broken in -- stealing a $2400 big screen TV, a GPS system, an antique telephone, some clothing and four jars full of pennies. Officers say it appeared that someone had pried on the back door and also attempted to kick it in before breaking out a window to gain entry. Investigation is continuing.

Counterfeit Bills Turning Up in Cookeville

First it was twenties; now, it's counterfeit fifty dollar bills that are turning up in Cookeville. On Monday of this week, officials at Walmart reported receiving two bogus bills -- one passed at register number three, the other at register fifteen. Both bills had the same serial number, just as the fake twenties passed at Cookeville businesses earlier this month had the same serial number. But, unlike those cases, police say Walmart cameras recorded the transactions on video and that video evidence may give investigators the break they need. Police also report that a counterfeit ten dollar bill was passed at Stroud's Barbecue on East Spring Street over the weekend.

Cooking On The Square

The 13th annual Cooking on the Square fundraiser to benefit Putnam County's chapter of Habitat for Humanity, has been scheduled for this Friday, Oct. 30, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The event features the opportunity for patrons to purchase a handcrafted bowl, which they can fill with all of the gumbo they can eat. The $15 cost also includes drinks from Coca-Cola, rice, bread from Great Harvest Bread Company and desserts. Money raised from the event will go toward construction of the fifth Cooking On The Square house, and the 55th house overall that's been built by Putnam County Habitat. This year, there will be two lines to pay for and pick up bowls -- one at the Jefferson Avenue-Spring Street intersection and another on Broad Street near the basement entrance to the Courthouse. Both will be open at 11 a.m. For more information, call 528-1711.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Averitt Express in Discussions With RR Companies

The website dcvelocity.com is reporting that Averitt Express is in discussions with two railroad companies, including CSX,. to carry more intermodal freight to the rails. The story quotes, an industry source, who asked not to be identified, as saying that at the recent American Trucking Associations annual meeting in Las Vegas that CSX was "opening the dialogue" with Averitt. Brad Brown, marketing and communications director for the Cookeville-based Averitt, said only that the company "is working to establish strategic relationships with the railroads." Speculation over discussions between Averitt and the two railroads come amid published reports that truckload carrier J.B. Hunt Transport Services is also in the advanced

Whitleyville Man Charged With DUI and Possession

A man from Whitleyville, Tennessee, has been charged with DUI and drug possession after a Cookeville police officer allegedly smelled the odor of marijuana coming from his vehicle. Officer Brian Long says he was assigned to traffic control during a marathon that was being run over the weekend when he noticed that an oncoming vehicle nearly failed to obey his instructions to stop for the crowd. He says when he went up to the driver to question him, he smelled marijuana. Long also claims the driver -- identified as 55-year-old Matt Albert Chalman of Crabtree Creek Road -- allegedly admitted to having four marijuana cigarettes on him. A search of his pockets also turned up a plastic bag with half of a brownie. Long says Chalman allegedly told him that the brownie also had marijuana in it. Chalman was transported to the hospital for a blood test "to determine the amount of THC in his system."

Two Men Given One Year in Jail and Six Years Probation

A year in jail and six years on probation. That was the sentence given to two Putnam County men, convicted in the killing their cousin in a barroom fight two years ago. Brian and Dewey Farley had initially been charged with second degree murder in the death of Terry Lee McCloud. But a jury convicted them on the lesser charge of aggravated assault resulting in serious bodily injury. They had applied for judicial diversion -- a form of probation that would have allowed them to avoid jail time, but prosecutors opposed that idea, saying jail time would serve as a deterrent. The brothers will get credit for the time they have already spent behind bars since being convicted in August of this year.

Centralized Accounting Discussed

No decisions were made, but a number of questions were asked Tuesday night as a meeting was held to once again discuss the possibility of implementing centralized accounting in Putnam County. Ben Rodgers with the County Technical Assistance Service says that Putnam County now operates under what he called "general law," which was established when the state of Tennessee was established more than 200 years ago. He says most businesses with the $114 million dollar budget that Putnam County has would employ a chief financial officer, but says the county continues to operate with at least three different people controlling accounting functions for the school system, the road department and the county's general government operations. Sue Neal, the chair of the fiscal review committee which organized the meeting, noted that the session was for "fact-finding and information-gathering." She said another meeting will be held on November 23rd to have more of a roundtable discussion.

Smith Co. Woman Charged with Cocaine Possession

A Smith County woman has been charged with possession of drugs for re-sale after allegedly being caught selling cocaine out of a Cookeville motel room. Police say 23-year-old Tanyia Marie Copeland of Gordonsville allegedly told them that she was trying to make enough money to pay the bills. Officer Brandon Tayes says he had received a tip about someone "selling crack cocaine at the Country Hearth Inn." According to his report, he stopped a vehicle seen leaving the motel because it had darkly tinted windows. The officer says Copeland gave him permission to search the motel room she had rented, and that search uncovered eight bags of crack cocaine, a bag of marijuana and $600 dollars in cash. Copeland's court date is November 16th.

Nov. 2 Court Date Set for Woman Charged with Child Abuse

A November 2nd court date has been set for a Cookeville woman, facing charges of child abuse, child neglect and DUI. Authorities say 27-year-old Amy R. Bilbrey of Thorn Gap Road, which is located near the Putnam-Overton county line, was allegedly found unconscious in her car with the engine running. The car was parked at the Algood Walmart at the time, and some passersby reported seeing Bilbrey allegedly inhaling the fumes from an aerosol can. Police claim she also sniffed the can twice after being awakened, and they say her 16-month-old son was in the back seat of the vehicle at the time. Total bond in the case was set at $29,000. The child has been turned over to the care of other family members while the Department of Children's Services investigates.

Stepped Up Law Enforcement for Halloween Night

As preparations begin for the Halloween weekend, a number of law enforcement agencies are stepping up enforcement. Officials say there's a possibility of increased criminal activity -- especially vandalism -- because the holiday falls on a Saturday night this year. Putnam County sheriff David Andrews is also once again offering the public the opportunity bring children's candy by the Justice Center to have it X-rayed as a safety precaution. That service will be offered from six to nine pm on Halloween night. Increased patrols are also expected from several area law enforcement agencies, including the Tennessee Highway Patrol, which has already announced that they will be conducting driver license roadside safety checkpoints on Highway 56 and on Highway 290 in Putnam County on Friday night. And the Tennessee Board of Probation and Parole is again enforcing restrictions prohibiting the sex offenders it supervises from taking part in Halloween activities. Every state-supervised sex offender in Tennessee received a document detailing the restrictions, which apply to any Halloween celebration, festival or other fall/harvest activity.

Teenagers Charged With Possession

The Hilltop Express newspaper in Monterey is reporting this week that two 17-year-old male juveniles, both from Cookeville, have been charged by Monterey Police with possession of a schedule II Drug and violation of the Drug Free School Zone Act. The charges came after Monterey Police K-9 Officer Larry Bates made an investigation. According to Bates, he was patrolling the parking lot near the Dollar General Store, next to Whittaker Park and noticed the driver of a vehicle watching him closely. Bates said that the driver got out of the vehicle and his hat came off his head, but the suspect did not pick it up, and continued walking into the store. Shortly after that, the driver and another suspect returned and got into the car and left. Bates conducted a traffic stop after noticing that the vehicle had a faulty brake light, and says he got consent to search the vehicle. That search allegedly turned up a ten dollar bill rolled up laying in between the door and the seat. Bates says the bill had a white powdery substance inside, which field tested positive for cocaine, but turned out to be Ritalin. The two suspects were taken into custody, pending an appearance in juvenile court.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Cookeville Police Stepping Up Enforcemenet of Child Pornography Cases

Cookeville police say they are stepping up their enforcement of child pornography cases -- with the help of law enforcement agencies across the state and across the country. Two area teenagers -- one from Putnam County and one from Overton County -- currently have cases pending in Juvenile Court for allegedly possessing images of child pornography on their computers. The local investigation is part of the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, which is centered in Knoxville. Their goal is to prevent distribution of child pornography on the Internet and to prosecute those who are engaged in such activity. The local cases involve a 15-year-old and a 16-year-old boy -- one of whom allegedly had more than a thousand illegal images on his computer.

Richard P. Savage Sr. Endowment Scholarships Available

The brother and sister-in-law of former Tennessee Tech math professor Richard Savage Sr. have now contributed to an endowment in his name. Savage was a member of the TTU mathematics department faculty for 30 years until his retirement in 1992. Over the years, Savage taught a number of courses including the modern algebra sequence. He directed the master’s thesis for several students in the area of number theory. Savage’s son, Richard P. Savage Jr., is currently a mathematics professor at the university. TTU Director of Development Jim Brock said endowments can be established at TTU for as little as $10,000. Brock also says TTU is experiencing record endowment growth. Richard P. Savage Sr. Endowment scholarships are available to students who are prospective or current undergraduates majoring in math with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or better. For more information about the scholarships, contact TTU’s mathematics department at 372-3441.

Sparta Man Charged With Manufacturing Meth

A Sparta man has made his first court appearance after being charged with manufacturing meth. Authorities say 33-year-old Jason Larry Russo was arrested after they received a tip that he was purchasing pseudoephedrine, one of the main ingredients in the illegal drug. They also reportedly found him with other components commonly used to manufacture meth. Russo was jailed under $50,000 dollars and also reportedly had warrant pending in Putnam County.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Putnam County Officials Discuss Centralized Accounting

This is the week that Putnam County officials will get back together to discuss the pros and cons of centralized accounting. Earlier this year, an effort to bring the county under the 1981 Financial Management Act failed to gain the required votes for passage, but some say there is enough interest in the idea to continue the discussion. Tomorrow night, all 24 county commissioners have been invited to such a discussion, along with school board members, the Director of Schools, and -- in fact -- all elected officials, department heads and supervisors.

Cookeville Planning Commission Meets Monday

The Cookeville Planning commission meets in regular session Monday night to consider a proposal that would re-zone several pieces of property along West 12th Street to allow for the construction of apartments. Several property owners in the area are requesting that they be put into an RM-14 multi-family residential zone. At least nine properties are involved, including two which are vacant lots. The planning commission will also consider for action the final plat of Walnut Commons Phase III, a 3-lot development located off South Walnut Avenue. And they'll consider the preliminary plant of the Brownstones, an eight-unit zero lot line townhome development, located on Stout Street.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Putnam Jobless Rate Drops Slightly

Putnam County's unemployment rate was back down again in September, according to the latest figures from the Tennessee Department of Labor. Officials say the jobless rate here was 9.7 percent, down six-tenths of a point from the month before. But they also acknowledge that the unemployment rate in September of 2009 is three points higher than it was in September of 2008. Some 3300 people out of a labor force of about 33,000 were looking for work last month. Meanwhile, in Overton County the rate was 12 percent and in Jackson County the jobless rate was 12.7 percent. It was 13.5 percent in White County. For a look at the unemployment rate in counties across Tennessee, click here.

Criminal Charges Filed In Two Cases

Criminal charges are pending today against two Cookeville men, charged in separate cases. Authorities say 47-year-old Mark E. Jackson of Parragon Road was arrested on a theft of property charge after an investigation by Detective Sgt. Tammy Goolsby. Jackson is accused of stealing a utility trailer from a home on Sugartree Pointe over the weekend. He goes to court on the charge November 23rd. Meanwhile, a November 9th court date has been set for a Jackson County man charged with burglarizing a Cookeville business last week. 27-year-old James Kendall Martin of P. Brewington Road, is accused of being the man caught on a store surveillance video at Builders Supply. The business, located on Scott Street, was broken into on October 14th by someone who apparently removed a window air-conditioner and stacked up a pile of stones to gain access. What the thief apparently didn't know is that his movements were captured on tape as he ransacked the office areas and stole about three hundred dollars.

Service Academy Nominations Sought

Congressman Bart Gordon is accepting applications from Putnam County students for nomination to the United States service academies. High school seniors interested in attending the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York; the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland; or, the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado, must receive a nomination from their member of Congress. The nomination places the student in a nationwide pool of applicants from which the academy may select to fill its class. To be eligible, a candidate must be a U.S. citizen between the ages of 17 and 23. While at the academy, the student will receive a free education, room and board, and a monthly stipend. Upon graduation from the academy, a five-year military committee is required. Eligible Putnam County students can contact Gordon’s Murfreesboro office at 615-896-1986 for more information or download an application through his website. Applications must be received by December 1st.

Theatre Convention In Town

The Tennessee Theatre Association will be holding its 42nd annual conference and convention in Cookeville this weekend. A variety of workshops, performances, and events will be held at the Cookeville Performing Arts Center, TTU Backdoor Playhouse, Wesley Foundation Arena Theatre, and Leslie Town Centre.Performances at CPAC are open to the public for $5 each or $10 for an all-performance pass. Call the box office at 931-528-1313 for more information. Officials say you should be aware that late comers cannot be seated during a performance, so arrive at least 15 minutes early for show.

BooFest Activities Announced


The Cookeville Department of Leisure Services is holding its annual BooFest Saturday at the Cane Creek Recreation Center. The event runs from noon until 4 pm. Activities include trick or treating with storybook characters, face painting, and making slime in the Slime Lab. You can also wear a Halloween costume and enter one of the two costume contests, being held at 1:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. Admission is $2 per person. For more information, contact Cara Sheets at 520-5297

H1N1 Flu Clinic Scheduled

The Putnam County Health Department will be offering the H1N1 flu vaccine today at the health department office on County Services Drive, just off South Willow Avenue. The clinic will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. No appointment is necessary to receive the vaccine, and it will be provided at no charge. Officials say this is the Flu Mist, which is appropriate for healthy people age 2 to 49 who are not pregnant. Anyone not among that group will not be able to receive the H1N1 vaccine. Officials also say that more late and weekend clinics will be offered as the local health department receives more vaccine in upcoming days and weeks. For more information about the H1N1 or seasonal flu vaccines, you can call the Heallth Department at 528-2531.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Local Democrats Decide To Hold Primary

Putnam County will be spending money to hold political party primaries next year after local Democrats voted this week to go ahead and have one. The county commission on Monday night had passed a resolution asking the parties to forego local primaries in order to save the county about $60,000. But officials say things were complicated by the fact that the District Attorney and some judges will be running in multiple counties. If Putnam County did not have a primary, they would have to accept the nominee of a county that did have one. Local Democrat Party Chair Beth Thompson said most of the membership did not like that idea and thought that if the primary was going to be held for those offices, it may as well be held for local offices.

Counterfeit Bills Resurface

A local bank has now been victimized by counterfeiters who have fake twenty dollar bills -- all with the serial number 93996596B. The phony twenties showed up at two convenience markets and a restaurant last week. And, this week, a man showed up at a bank with six counterfeit $20 bills and claimed he had received them at that bank the day before when he cashed a check there. The bank notified the police department, and the investigation is continuing.

Vehicle Burglaries On The Upswing

A rash of vehicle break-ins are under investigation today by the Cookeville police department, including one involving a school bus. Police say the bus was parked at the school bus garage on Veterans Drive when someone got into it and stole an AM FM CD radio with PA system. Meanwhile, someone broke into a truck parked at a building on South Maple Avenue and stole a CD player and several dozen CDs; a Garmin GPS and a DeWalt cordless drill were stolen out of a truck parked on Jackson Street; and a purse containing the owner's credit cards, checkbook, and prescription glasses was stolen out of a car on Neal Street. Police say in many of the cases the thieves did more damage breaking out the car windows than they got into value from the stolen merchandise. They say at least a dozen cases have been reported in the past week.

Astronaut Contest Deadline Extended

Students throughout the Upper Cumberland have more time to prepare questions to ask Atlantis space shuttle astronauts through Tennessee Tech University’s "Soaring Eagle Question Contest."

Just as NASA pushed back its launch date by four days to Nov. 16, TTU is pushing back the contest deadline by four days to Oct. 29, says Sally Pardue, interim director of the Oakley Center for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. The Oakley Center - an initiative to support the teaching and learning of science, technology, engineering and mathematics-related fields - sponsors the contest.

"We’ve already received 10 questions from college students and another 45 from students in grades K-12. I anticipate quite a few more will come in," Pardue says.

The launch is especially significant for residents of the Upper Cumberland and for TTU. Alumnus Barry Wilmore (electrical engineering, ‘85, ‘94) will pilot the mission, which is NASA’s fifth shuttle launch of the year. The mission will return space station crewmember Nicole Stott to Earth. Atlantis also will deliver parts to the space station, including a spare gyroscope. The mission features three spacewalks. Contest winners will ask questions via a live NASA education downlink on TTU’s campus scheduled for Nov. 22.

Drug Citation Issued After Search

A Texas man, who was reportedly enroute to "Bristol by way of Dallas" was cited on drug possession charges in Cookeville after police were notified of a man slumped over the wheel of a pick-up truck. Thomas Walker Oates of Arlington, Texas, was awakened by Lt. Ken Sircy and told police that he had run out of gas, so he had stopped at the Exxon Station on South Willow Avenue, where he ultimately fell asleep. Oates had no trouble completing a field sobriety test, but a search of his vehicle turned up a bottle of suspected methadone in the center console. Police say Oates also allegedly admitted to having a problem with abusing prescription pills. He was issued a citation and released.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Alleged Shoplifters Get Creative

A string of shoplifting cases have been reported to Cookeville police this week, including an incident in which a man took five T-bone steaks out of a grocery store and gave them to a female accomplice in the parking lot, who immediately returned to the store in an attempt to get a refund. Police say it happened at Spring Street Market and both Kacee Farley and Kenneth Christopher Lynn, who are reportedly neighbors on Maxwell Street in Baxter, were issued citations. They'll be in court on November 2nd. Meanwhile, what is described as a "mother and daughter" shoplifting team" were cited after allegedly being caught at J. C. Penney. Store officials say they saw Charlene Nicole Jones of Nashville Highway conceal more than a hundred dollars worth of shirts and underwear in her purse while her mother, Patricia Sue Jones of the same address, was the look-out. In a separate case, John Michael Randolph of Cookeville allegedly set off a back door alarm as he left the Sears store with some stolen tools. His vehicle was later stopped on West Stevens Street and the tools were located, as well as a pawn shop receipt. And three shoplifters were issued theft citations after stealing lingerie and other items from Rugged Warehouse. A store employee says she noticed one of the suspects go into a fitting room and toss items over the wall to an accomplice.

TTU Flood Victims Receive Help

Tennessee Tech University students, who were flooded out of their homes on Sept. 7, are being treated to $150 VISA gift cards by El Tapatio Mexican Restaurant. The cards can be used for the purchase of anything the students may need to replace what was lost in the flood. The restaurant dedicated 20 percent of its Sept. 22 sales to help the students, several of whom lost everything they own including their cars. About 20 TTU students have received help so far through a communitywide donation effort coordinated by the Student Activities Office, University Service Center and Fitness Center.

Supreme Court Rules on Boys State "Case"

Students attending Boys State in Cookeville over the summer heard the oral arguments in a case that the Tennessee Supreme Court has now ruled on. The court has decided that the arrest of a trucker on DUI charges did not violate his Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable search and seizure. The trucker had argued that a police officer did not have probable cause to question him because the officer was acting on an anonymous tip about a reckless driver and had not seen any reckless driving himself. The Boys State students heard arguments in the case as part of the Supreme Court Advancing Legal Education of Students program. Following oral arguments, the students had the opportunity to question the attorneys who argued the case. They will also get a copy of the Supreme Court opinion that was filed on Tuesday.

Fourth Offense DUI Alleged For Cookeville Man

A November 9th court date has been scheduled for a Cookeville man, who has been charged for the fourth time with drunk driving. Fourth offense DUI charges were brought against 31-year-old Jonathon Marshall Barlow of Laurel Avenue after patrol officer Chris Ferguson noticed his vehicle weaving in the roadway along Washington Avenue. Ferguson conducted a traffic stop and says that Barlow failed several field sobriety tests. A records check revealed that Barlow had been convicted of DUI in Putnam County on December 7, 1998, July 27, 2001, and January 17, 2003. He is free on bond, pending his court appearance.

'Possum Call Handled By Sheriff's Department

Some days, the calls to the Putnam County sheriff's department are more unusual than other days. On Saturday, sheriff's deputy Jamie Hunter was dispatched to a home on Glenn Road about three o'clock in the morning "in reference to an opossum in the closet." Hunter and Deputy Matthew Hickey "made contact with the opossum in the closet." The report says "we used a broom and a trash can to remove the animal and let it go outside." No word on how it got inside to begin with.

Students To Get Chance To Question An Astronaut

Students from college to kindergarten have the chance to ask an Atlantis space shuttle astronaut a question while the crew is working aboard the International Space Station during its November mission.The Millard Oakley STEM Center at Tennessee Tech University is sponsoring the “Soaring Eagle Question Contest” for students in the Upper Cumberland. Winners will ask questions through a live NASA education downlink on TTU’s campus scheduled for Nov. 22. Students will be divided into four age groups and five winners will be chosen from each group: kindergarten to fourth grade, fifth grade to eighth grade, ninth to 12th grade and college. TTU students majoring in any subject are encouraged to submit questions. TTU judges will make a blind selection of 30 questions from each age group and rank them. Then, the top five questions in each group will be sent to NASA for review. The 20 winners will sit on stage in TTU’s Nursing and Health Services Building and ask their questions directly to the astronauts via a live video feed. K-12 winners will be able to invite an adult to the event. What’s the first rule for writing a winning question? Organizers say if you could ask the same question of an astronaut standing on the ground, try again. The winning questions will be unusual and closely linked to some aspect of working in microgravity environments. Tennessee Tech alumnus Barry Wilmore is piloting the mission, the last slated space shuttle flight. The Atlantis is scheduled to launch Nov. 16, but because shuttle launches are often delayed by weather, the downlink is subject to rescheduling. The contest entry deadline is Sunday, Oct. 25. Invitations and winners will be announced on Oct. 29. Entries can be made online at www.tntech.edu/stem .

Monday, October 19, 2009

Putnam Commission Discusses Party Primaries

The Putnam County commission has now gone on record as being in favor of doing away with primary elections for local offices in the county. The commission voted, 14-to-9, Monday night to pass a resolution asking the county's political parties to forego primaries for offices on the local level -- including those for county commission, county executive, road supervisor, sheriff, county clerk and circuit court clerk. Primaries would still be held for state and federal offices. Proponents of the move to eliminate local primaries say it will save the county about $60,000 this year, but the ultimate decision is not up to the county commission. The membership of the Putnam County Democrat Party and Putnam County Republican Party will have the final say.

Police Want More Details On Woman's Death

Cookeville police detectives are trying to found out more information about the death of a woman in a local motel room. Authorities say they believe the death of 25-year-old Kristina Dianna Hernandez may have been drug-related, but they would like some additional details about the hours leading up to her death last Friday. According to a report by Officer Lester Langford, Hernandez had been staying with some friends in a room at the Alpine Lodge and had reportedly gone out with an unidentified individual last Thursday night -- returning to the motel "messed up really bad." She immediately went to bed and was found dead in the room the next morning.

Property Tax Notices Going Out


Putnam County Trustee Gail Glover says that 2009 property taxes are currently being mailed to property owners, and are due and payable upon receipt. She says the deadline to pay the taxes without penalty and interest is February 28th, 2010. You should call the Trustee's office if you do not receive your tax notice by the frist of November. And Glover reminds senior citizens that they may qualify for tax relief. They can call 526-8845 to find out.

Cookeville Teen Facing Sex Charges

A Cookeville teenager is facing charges today after allegedly sending sexually explicit photos by text message. 18-year-old William M. Pippin of Peach Orchard Road was arrested after an investigation by detectives from both the Putnam County sheriff's department and the Cookeville police department. Authorities allege that he sent the photos to a 14-year-old girl and then met with her with the intention of having sex. He's been charged with attempted statutory rape, solicitation of a minor, and sexual exploitation by electronic means. Officials say the case came to light after the girl's family reported what they had found on her cell phone. The arrest took place after Pippin and the girl were allegedly found undressed in a car that was parked in the lot of a Cookeville motel. Pippin will be in court on the charges October 26th.

Putnam County Commission Faces Busy Agenda

A number of issues will be facing the Putnam County commission when they meet Monday night -- including a resolution which would request that the local political parties forego having primary elections on the local level. State and federal elections are controlled by state and federal law, but officials say Putnam County Democrats and Republicans can make their own decision as to whether they want to nominate individuals for offices like sheriff, county executive and road supervisor. Also tonight, the commission will be deciding which county commissioners should serve on the fair board and whether or not to approve the certificate of incorporation for the Tennessee Central Heritage Rail Trail Authority. They're also scheduled to hear from a representative of the Chamber of Commerce on the Highlands Initiative.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

TTU Alert System Gets Positive Feedback

Tennessee Tech officials say their emergency alert system appears to have worked well during an incident last week in which a brief lockdown was ordered. According to police reports, the incident appears to have involved four non-students who were on the TTU campus. Darrion Jerome Brown, 19, of Nashville was taken into custody before 9 a.m. and arrested shortly after noon Wednesday, and Jerred Griggs, 20, of Sparta was placed under arrest Wednesday evening. Police say Griggs brought the two victims to the campus where they met Brown, who reported he was staying with a student there. He gained access to the residence hall by using a TTU student’s stolen identification card. Brown took one person into the laundry room of Dunn Hall and robbed him there, then tried to rob the other person outside. TTU police say he and Griggs conspired to commit the robbery together. The incident was drug-related. The campus was notified of the lockdown and all updates through an emergency text messaging system, the university home page, an emergency blog and Facebook postings. Students, faculty and staff members can register for the TTUAlert text system here.

"Battle of the Brains" Coming To TTU

IBM calls it the "Battle of the Brains." Tennessee Tech University hosts a regional round of the the 34th annual Association for Computing Machinery International Collegiate Programming Contest in Cookeville on Saturday. The decisive regional round includes nearly 70 computer science students from TTU along with 10 other regional colleges and universities. Martha Kosa, associate professor of computer science, coaches the TTU team. Battle of the Brains works this way: Teams of three students are challenged to use their programming skills and mental endurance to solve real-world problems. The deadlines are so grueling and the problems so complex that tackling them equals completing a semester’s worth of computer programming in an afternoon. TTU will host competitors from Austin Peay State University, Belmont University, East Tennessee State University, Maryville College, Middle Tennessee State University, Tuskeegee University, University of North Alabama, University of Tennessee-Knoxville, Sewanee: The University of the South and Vanderbilt University. The team that solves the most problems correctly in the least amount of time wins a coveted spot on the World Finals roster.

Cookeville Hospital CEO Gets Award


Cookeville Regional CEO Bernie Mattingly has been named one of Tennessee’s Top 25 Hospital Operators by BusinessTN magazine and is featured in the publication’s September 2009 issue. This second ever list of the state's top hospital executives spotlights facility operators from across Tennessee. With more than 30 years’ experience in health care, Mattingly has been at Cookeville Regional for more than ten years, overseeing the 247-bed facility with 1,700 employees and 140 physicians representing 36 medical specialties. Mattingly is a fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives. BusinessTN's editor Drew Ruble gathered the list based on peer review, physician input, recognized rankings and other knowledgeable sources in specific markets.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Hazardous Waste Collection in Putnam County Oct. 24

The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation’s mobile household hazardous waste collection service will be coming to Putnam County next week. They are scheduled to be at the Putnam County fairgrounds on Saturday, Oct. 24. On that day, any Tennessee resident may bring his or her household hazardous waste to Gate B of the fairgrounds between 8 am and 1 pm. Officials say the average home in Tennessee produces 20 pounds of household hazardous waste each year. Typical items to dispose of include cleaning fluids, pesticides, mercury thermometers and thermostats, swimming pool chemicals, paint thinner and automotive fluids. Also accepted are fluorescent bulbs and electronics, such as televisions, computer monitors, keyboards, computer mouse devices and computer processing units. Console televisions must be dismantled. For more information, call Nadine Armstrong at 537-3278.

Money Approved to Repair Center Hill Dam

Another $52.9 million dollars has been approved to continue repairs at Center Hill Dam over the next year. Officials with the U-S Army Corps of Engineers say that since its construction in 1951, seepage problems have cost millions of dollars for constant upkeep at the dam. The Corps has ranked Center Hill Dam as a Class I dam safety project -- the highest priority of all Corps dams. The bill passed by the Senate Thursday also includes $5.84 million for operations and maintenance of the dam. It must now be signed by the president before becoming law.

Vehicular Homicide Charges Filed

Vehicular homicide charges have now been filed against a Putnam County man, who was the driver involved in a fatal car crash in northern White County a week ago. The Tennessee Highway Patrol brought the charge against 22-year-old Daniel Garcia of Baxter. He was also charged with vehicular assault and DUI. Authorities say Garcia crashed his car into a tree on Wildcat Road early on the morning of October 9th. 32-year-old Putnam County resident Amy Tollison, a passenger in the vehicle, was killed in that wreck. Garcia is being held at White County Justice Center under a $250,000 bond.

2nd Person Charged in TTU Incident

A second person has now been charged in connection with an incident at a Tennessee Tech dormitory this week. Police say 20-year-old Jerred Griggs of Sparta is now charged with robbery, along with 19-year-old Darrion Jerome Brown of Nashville. According to TTU police, Griggs had met two individuals at a local pool hall who reportedly told him that they had drugs to sell and a large amount of money. Griggs then reportedly called Brown, who agreed to a meeting in the laundry room at Dunn Hall dormitory. Brown was reportedly going to buy drugs from the men, but ended up robbing the would-be drug dealer of all the money and the drugs. Tech officials say the individuals used a stolen Tech ID card to gain access to the building, although Brown had reportedly been living there with another student. Both will be in court on October 26th.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Counterfeiters At Work In Cookeville

Counterfeiters are apparently at work again in Cookeville. Police say fake twenty dollar bills -- with the same serial number -- have shown up at several businesses over the past week. The most recent report was at the Sunoco market on West Broad Street where a clerk told police that he accepted the twenty for a five dollar purchase during a time when he was busy with customers. After the rush of people cleared out, the clerk checked the money and found it to be counterfeit. Officer Cary Matheney says the serial number on the bill is the same as several passed recently at businesses on North Willow Avenue. The suspect in the case is described as a dark-haired, white male, about 5-10 and 150 pounds. He left the area in a tan Plymouth Voyager van, with a white female and a baby in the back. Later that same day, the Sunoco on South Willow Avenue was presented with a fake twenty, but the clerk refused it. The suspect in that case was described as a younger, red-headed male who left the store, saying he would return to pay for the items, but never came back. Meanwhile, police say a counterfeit twenty was also passed at Bellacino's restaurant on West Jackson Street. Investigation continues.

Cookeville Area Police Agencies Get Grant Money

A highway safety grant in the amount of $188,917 has been given to the District Attorney's office to support DUI prosecution. The money is part of the Governor’s Highway Safety Office mission to save lives and reduce injuries on Tennessee roadways. Grant awards are issued to agencies that successfully applied for funding based on problem and statistical need. Applications were reviewed and scored by the GHSO and external highway safety advocates. The agencies that met the criteria for funding received awards. In addition to the DA's office, a grant of more than $112,000 went to Tennessee Tech University to support a project director position. a grant of $33,443 was given to the Cookeville Police Department to support their "Cookeville Safe Streets" program. And the towns of Baxter and Monterey received $5,000 to conduct high visibility law enforcement campaigns. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration provides the funding for grants.

Arrest Made In TTU Lockdown Incident

A Nashville man is facing charges today after creating a disturbance on the Tennessee Tech campus Wednesday morning that caused officials to order a lockdown of some dorms. 19-year-old Darrion Jerome Brown, who officials say is NOT a Tech student, was arrested by Tennessee Tech Police on a charge of robbery in connection with an incident that began about 5 am. Authorities claim that Brown met with another person in the laundry room of Dunn Hall in order to buy drugs. But they say he allegedly made the other person give him "all the money and the drugs." Police have not revealed the identity of the alleged victim. The incident prompted TTU officials to issue a public alert and order a lockdown of the TTU dorm and buildings in the area. That lockdown was lifted a few hours later. Tech officials say no gunshots were actually fired, and no one was injured.

TTU Lockdown Lifted

The lockdown in Capital Quad residence hall has been lifted. University police report a person is in custody. At sometime around 5 a.m. this morning, TTU Police received a report of an armed robbery involving what could have been a gun in Cooper/Dunn Residence Hall. No shots were fired. No injuries were reported. There was no confirmation that a gun was definitely involved.TTU Police responded. Cookeville Police Department was notified, and officers were available to respond as needed. TTU police sent out a text alert and the Capital Quad residence area where Cooper/Dunn is located was placed on lockdown. TTU police urged everyone to avoid the area around the quad while the search continued. Around 8:50 a.m., University police reported a person in custody. The lockdown was lifted from Capital Quad, and the campus was notified.

The incident appears to have involved three non-students who were on the TTU campus. The person in custody gained access to the residence hall by using a TTU student’s identification card. TTU police say the incident was drug-related.The campus was notified of the lockdown and all updates using an emergency text messaging system, the university home page, emergency blog and Facebook postings. (From Karen Lykins)

Tech Alum To Be On Space Shuttle Flight


A Tennessee Tech alumnus, who is now a 46-year-old U.S. Navy captain and NASA astronaut, will pilot an 11-day mission on the space shuttle Atlantis to the International Space Station. The shuttle is scheduled to launch Nov. 12. Barry Wilmore got a bachelor's degree and a master's degree from Tennessee Tech University. He also holds a second master's degree from the University of Tennessee. Wilmore, who lives in Houston, credits his Tennessee education, team sports and the military as the building blocks that got him into NASA's space program.

Hospital Auxiliary Makes Donation To CRMC


The Auxiliary at Cookeville Regional Medical Center recently donated over $14,000 to purchase “high-task” chairs for the nursing staff on three nursing units at the hospital for use with their new “WOW’s,” or wireless computer “workstations on wheels.” A computer workstation on wheels is assigned to each nurse on duty caring for patients and allows nurses to enter and access electronic patient data at the patient’s bedside, thus improving patient care and efficiency. There are more than 125 active members of the hospital Auxiliary who provided more than 28,000 hours of service to the hospital during 2008. If you are interested in learning more about the CRMC Auxiliary Program, please call Karen Bailey 931-783-2740.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Cocaine Burger

Drug possession charges have been filed against a Jackson County man who allegedly tried to hide a stash of cocaine inside a hamburger he was eating. Cookeville police say it happened during a traffic stop on Willow Avenue. Officer Brandon Tayes says he pulled over the vehicle because neither the driver, nor the passenger were wearing seatbelts. According to police, the passenger, 22-year-old Austin Ryan Garrett of Gainesboro, was found to have a set of scales. They say a search of the vehicle also included a search of the burger Garrett was eating, and allege that two bags of powder cocaine were inside the burger. Ryan was charged with possession of drugs for resale, and several hundred dollars in cash he was carrying on him was seized.

Arsonists At Work in Putnam County

The Putnam County sheriff's department is looking into a number of incidents reported in recent days in which vandals are setting hay bales and farm buildings on fire. The sheriff's department says at least three incidents have been reported along Moss Road, Landscape Road and Lollar Road. The Putnam County fire department was able to put out the blazes each time, but substantial damage was done, and detectives say they suspect the cases may be related to the fact that school is out this week or that Halloween is coming up. In either case, they warn the firebugs that arson is a felony punishable by up to twelve years in prison.

Walmart Scammed Out Of Ipods

Cookeville police are reviewing video from Walmart security cameras in an attempt to identify two men who stole some electronics from the store. According to a report by Officer Myke Green, the two came into Walmart and placed a large amount of groceries into their shopping cart. They then went to the electronic section of the store where they picked up two Ipods and several video games. The electronics cashier rang up their groceries and one of the men laid down a debit card and told the clerk that he had to run and get a loaf of bread. That's when he and the other man slipped away with the Ipods and the games. Police say a similar incident was reported at a Walmart in Crossville. They have confiscated the debit card as the investigation continues.

Putnam Man Charged With Aggravated Assault

Aggravated assault charges are pending against a Putnam County man, who got into an altercation with a resident of Burgess Falls Road Monday morning. The victim told the sheriff's department that 22-year-old Darren Joseph Dyer had pulled into the driveway of his home and parked. When the man drove up behind Dyer and asked him what he was doing, the two reportedly exchanged words and the man said he then attempted to, according to the report, "get Mr. Dyer out of the car." At that point, Dyer allegedly hit the accelerator on his vehicle and dragged the victim down the driveway for 20 feet, causing injury to his back, shoulder and hand. Dyer told Deputy Joe Davis that he had come to the area to pick someone up and had parked in the other man's driveway so as not to wake up nearby neighbors. He was also cited for having an expired tag on his vehicle.

Financial Management Act To Be Re-Visited

Putnam County's Fiscal Review committee will be meeting once again in the coming weeks to, as they put it, "re-visit" the idea of bringing the county under some sort of financial management system which would incorporate more centralized accounting. Commissioner Bob Duncan brought up the issue, noting that 14 of the 24 commissioners recently voted in favor of putting the county under the state's 1981 Financial Management Act. That's a majority of the commission, but not the two-thirds majority which was needed for the idea to go forward. Under the act, the county would hire a Chief Financial Officer and all accounting functions across the school system and the road departments would go through that central office. There was some resistance to the idea last time around from school system employees, who argued that their accounting practices are specialized to reflect the specifics of education funding and would not benefit from being centralized. But Duncan says the school superintendent, the road supervisor and others should be able to come up with a compromise whereby some form of the idea could be implemented. The Fiscal Review committee decided to meet with those officials and with Ben Rodgers of the County Technical Assistance Service to further explore their options. No date has been set for that meeting.

Cost Of Gun Ban Signs Revealed

Four thousand, two-hundred and fifty dollars. That's how much it cost the Putnam County Parks and Recreation Department to purchase and install signs officially prohibiting the possession of handguns in the county parks and ballfields. The cost was revealed this week as the county's fiscal review committee approved budget amendments. County executive Kim Blaylock says the budget approved for Parks and Recreation this year did not include any expenditures for such signs, but she told park officials to go ahead and pay for the signs so they could be posted and promised that the county would re-imburse them for the cost. The signs became necessary when both the city of Cookeville and Putnam County opted out of a state law that would have allowed people with handgun carry permits to bring their weapons into local parks. By opting out, the local governments were required to post notifications in all of the parks they control that gun bans were in place.

Competition Brewing For Board Appointments

Putnam County commissioners will have some decisions to make next week when they choose who they want to be on the county Fair Board and on the county Beer Board. For the first time in a while, more people have expressed interest in the seats than there are seats available. There are, for example, three openings for county commissioners wishing to serve on the Fair Board, but four commissioners who say they want the job -- including Ron Chaffin, Scott McCanless, Anna Ruth Burroughs, and David (Crock) Randolph. Meanwhile, on the Beer Board, Joe Frank Adkins, Andy Honeycutt, and Mike Medley are up for re-appointment, but local businessman Eddie Kendrick has also expressed an interest in the seat. Rather than recommending one candidate over another, the county's nominating committee this week decided to send all of the names to the full commission for their vote.

Rail Trail Plans Move Forward

The certificate of incorporation for Putnam County's Tennessee Central Heritage Rail Trail Authority is on its way to gaining approval from the county commission. Putnam County's planning committee this week recommended approval of the certificate, which commissioner Sue Neal says will allow the authority to establish itself as a non-profit 501-C-3 organization under the rules of the IRS. That means they can officially begin accepting monetary donations that are tax-deductible by the donors. Neal says once the certificate is OK'd, the authority will bring back a set of by-laws for the commission's review. Meanwhile, she says that an overall design plan has been drawn up for the rail-trail, which may be available for public review in the coming months. The trail itself is expected to open in the latter part of 2010.

New Efforts Begin To Find Putnam Jail Annex

The newest members of Putnam County's Land and Facilities committee will take their time in getting up to speed on what needs to be done to deal with jail overcrowding and other building needs in the county. Newly-elected chairman Eris Bryant said that she will be scheduling a meeting in the next few weeks so the committee can review "where we've been, where we are now, and where we want to go." Over the past year, the committee has presented several potential sites to the full commission as possibilities for building a new jail annex, but none of them have received enough votes for passage, and many of them have been opposed by residents living near the proposed sites. The newest six appointments to the nine-member committee may also have different ideas on what needs to be done. Bryant says her main concern is to hold a meeting in which the committee is not rushed, but can take their time and review all options -- whether that takes one hour or five.

Sgt. York Day Activities Being Planned


A new print of the historic York Grist Mill will be available for the first time at the second annual Sgt. York Day on Saturday in Pall Mall. The limited edition print is of a watercolor by Bill Maffett, a Cookeville businessman and artist. Maffett, who only began painting in recent years, has depicted several of Tennessee’s historic places in his works, including the Cookeville Depot and Downtown Gatlinburg. His painting of the mill was inspired by the plight of the Sgt. York Patriotic Foundation to save the original building of York Institute in Jamestown from demolition. Maffett donated 70 unsigned 16x20 prints to the Foundation for sale in its York General Store and donated another 30 signed prints for the foundation to give as appreciation gifts for donors. For more information, visit the website www.sgtyork.org.

Burn Permits To Be Required

Putnam County residents who are planning to burn leaves or brush this fall are being reminded that they will be required to purchase a burn permit from the state Division of Forestry, beginning Thursday, October 15th. Officials say that while the county is experiencing a rainier-than-normal year, the threat of wildfires still exists. Burn permits are issued free of charge and can be obtained by calling the Putnam County Forestry Office at 526-9502. According to the state fire marshal’s office, 16 homes in Tennessee were lost to wildfires last year, and more than 500 others were threatened. Burning without a permit is a Class C misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to 30 days in jail and/or a fine. Wildfires caused by arson are a Class C felony, which is punishable by three to 15 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.

Monday, October 12, 2009

High Speed Chase Leads To Arrest

A high speed chase that started with the theft of a rifle from a Cookeville store ended up with the arrest of a White County man Monday. Police say a man came into Putnam Farm Supply about 8:30 Monday morning and stole a rifle from the store, leaving in what was described as a maroon-colored vehicle. Police soon spotted a car matching that description and attempted a traffic stop, but the driver took off, travelling at high speeds down Jefferson Avenue, South Maple, Ditty Road and then back north into town on Burgess Falls Road. That was where pursuing officers were able to deploy spike strips which disabled his vehicle, but the suspect jumped from the car and ran inside Plateau Mental Health Center just as police caught up to him. He was identified as 47-year-old Donny Lynn Hutchings of Doug Luna Road, Sparta. Hutchings is facing a number of charges today. Police say he was also cited over the weekend for possession of drug paraphernalia and resisting arrest after being found inside a car which was parked at a store on South Jefferson Avenue and allegedly refusing to get out of that vehicle.

Jewel Thief To Get Jail Time

A 45-day jail sentence has been given to a a Cookeville man, accused of shoplifting more than two thousand dollars worth of jewelry from the Belk store. Authorities say the actual sentence for 50-year-old Terry Wayne Phillips of Bennie Drive is four years. But the plea deal was worked out after he agreed to plead guilty in Criminal Court to felony theft charges. Phillips must also make restitution to the store and is banned from going on the premises again. After serving his 45 days, he'll be on probation for the rest of the sentence and could serve the entire four years if he gets in trouble again.

Committee Debates Local Primary Elections

The Putnam County commission next week will debate whether or not to pass a resolution in which the county's political parties are being asked to forego holding primaries next year. Proponents say if the parties agree to the plan, it could save the county about sixty thousand dollars. County commissioner Bob Duncan brought up the issue Monday night, saying he cannot recall any partisan issue that has ever come before the commission. But commissioner Kevin Maynard said he is a Democrat and runs as a Democrat. He and others expressed concern that the political parties would choose their candidates by caucus if primaries were done away with. Duncan says 38 Tennessee counties, including Wilson, Smith and Roane counties, don't currently hold primaries or caucuses for local offices -- treating such candidates as independents. The full commission will vote on the issue next Monday. It comes to them with NO formal recommendation.

Chamber Workshop Being Offered

The Cookeville-Putnam County Chamber of Commerce is holding a workshop later this month which focuses on the "Five Dysfunctions of a Team." The workshop is scheduled for Thursday, October 22 at the Leslie Town Centre, and attendees may choose from two sessions. The first is from 9 a.m. until noon and the second is 1 to 4 p.m. Greg Maciolek, president and owner of Knoxville-based Integrated Management Resources, Inc., will be the session facilitator. During the three-hour workshop, participants will learn to understand the expectations for a cohesive team, gain insight into the five dysfunctions of a team and understand the steps for eliminating those dysfunctions. The cost to attend the workshop is $30 per person for Chamber members and $35 per person for non-Chamber members. Registration deadline is this Friday, October 16th.

Varied Agenda Faces Putnam County committees

The standing committees of the Putnam County Commission meet tonight to discuss a variety of issues -- including some appointments to the county fair board. Appointments to the county beer board and Delinquent Property Tax Committee are also on the agenda. Meanwhile, commissioners will discuss the by-laws and Certificate of Incorporation for the Tennessee Central Heritage Rail Trail Authority. They'll also talk about alternatives to the 1981 Financial Management Act. An effort earlier this year to bring the county under that act failed to gain the number of votes needed. Finally, at the end of the night, the newly constituted membership of the county's Land and Facilities Committee will meet. Their major focus remains on finding a solution to jail overcrowding.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Tech MBA Program Among The "Best"

Calling Tennessee Tech University’s MBA program "flexible, affordable and student-oriented," The Princeton Review lists TTU’s College of Business as one of the "Best 301 Business Schools" in the nation in its 2010 guidebook released last week. TTU’s MBA program description focuses on the practical and interactive learning that students receive through research, case studies, computer simulation, business mentoring, workshops, and consulting assignments. Student surveys, which play a large role in determining the list, consistently mentioned cutting edge classes and solid preparation in finance, accounting, general management, computer skills and doing business in a global economy. You can see the full story here.

Fall Break Begins for Putnam Students

The Putnam County school system has not had any major issues with the H1N1 flu virus so far this year, but officials are taking a week off from classes anyway. Monday is the start of the regularly scheduled fall break for local students. They'll be out of class through Friday, October 16th. When they get back, the students will be in class until Thanksgiving. Meanwhile, at Tennessee Tech, classes are continuing in spite of a handful of reported swine flu cases. Health officials at the university say at least two dozen students have come down with the virus. They say students who have been diagnosed with either seasonal flu or swine flu are being directed to check with the health services department before returning to class.

Charges Pending in Fatal Crash

Charges are pending in a fatal crash which took the life of a Putnam County woman. Funeral services are being held today for 32-year-old Amy Denise Tollison of Baxter. Tollison was a passenger in a vehicle which crashed near Sparta early Friday morning. The highway patrol says the driver, 22-year-old Daniel M. Garcia, ran off Wildcat Road overcorrected and went back across the road, slamming the passenger side into a tree. THP investigators have said that they suspect that drinking was a factor in the wreck.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Cookeville Company Wins Defense Contract

A defense contractor, based out of the Cookeville area, has won yet another bid to do some work for the military. The company -- known as Mack Mechanical Incorporated -- has been given a $405,000 contract to upgrade sewage lagoons on Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana. The approximate start date for the contract is October 10th, and completion of the project is expected to be in May 2010. Mack Mechanical has handled several million dollars in government projects over the past five years -- much of that for the Air Force.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Local Party Primaries To Be Discussed

A committee of the Putnam County commission next week will consider a resolution relating to primary elections held by the county's political parties. A copy of the resolution has not yet been prepared, but it's expected to request that the county parties consider NOT holding a primary in 2010, in an effort to save money for the county. The county commission cannot force the issue, but state law gives discretion to the local party as to whether they want to choose candidates through the primary process or by a party caucus. They could also decide that no party affiliation is necessary to run for local offices. School board candidates, for example, do not run as either Democrats or Republicans. The issue will come up before the county's Fiscal Review Committee on Monday night.

New Alcohol Regulations Considered

The city of Cookeville is taking a look at a different way to help cut back on the sale of alcohol to people who are underage. The city's Alcoholic Beverage Control Board is considering making it mandatory that store clerks and servers undergo specialized training called Responsible Beverage Service, or RBS. Under the current municipal code, such training is voluntary, but officials note that clerks at several local stores have been caught selling alcohol to minors. They hope that if clerks and servers were trained by the same outside company, it would cut back on underage alcohol sales. Any ordinance to that effect would have to be approved by the City Council.

Drug Dealer Gets Fifteen Years In Prison

He's already been in jail for well over a year, but an Algood man will be spending several more years behind bars after pleading guilty to a series of crimes. Prosecutors say 22-year-old Raymond Wayne Hayden had been indicted on charges of robbery, aggravated robbery, joyriding and possession of cocaine for re-sale. They allege that he was dealing drugs on at least two occasions in 2007 and say that he was one of at least three people who stole cell phones and other items from two individuals in 2008. Hayden was also accused of taking a woman's purse at gunpoint in June of last year. He pleaded guilty to robbery in return for a six-year sentence and to selling cocaine, which garnered him a nine-year sentence. The case against one of his co-defendants is still pending. The other is already serving jail time.

Four Year Prison Sentence Given To Robber


A Cookeville man, accused of trying to rob a young woman at knifepoint earlier year, has entered a plea agreement to the especially aggravated kidnapping charges which had been filed against him. 44-year-old Timothy Mark Rector, who has been in jail since his arrest on the charges, went to court this week and pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of attempted aggravated robbery. In return for that plea, he got a four year sentence and credit for the time he has already served, which amounts to 130 days. According to a police report at the time, Rector had held a child at knifepoint while demanding money from her mother. Police say it happened on May 30th at the Children's Museum on W. 2nd St. The victim had just left the museum and was getting into the car with her three daughters when she heard a male voice from the passenger side say, "Give me twenty dollars and I won't hurt her." The mother then turned to see a large male subject grabbing her daughter's arm and holding a knife in front of her face. She told police that she reacted on instinct, grabbing the man's knife hand and beginning to struggle with him while she screamed for help. She also started honking the horn on her car "trying to create a scene." Those actions caused the suspect to run off, but police got a good description and a K-9 unit was able to track down Rector at a nearby home.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Sunshine Doesn't Help Softball Field

The sun was shining for most of the day Wednesday, but oficials at Tennessee Tech University say it didn't really help. The softball doubleheader between Tennessee Tech and Cumberland originally scheduled for Wednesday afternoon and evening had to be canceled because of field conditions. Officials in the athletic department say steady rain over the past two weeks has made the field unplayable. At this time, there has not been a makeup date scheduled. The Golden Eagles are still scheduled to take on Volunteer State in a doubleheader on Tuesday, Oct. 13 and could add another doubleheader to their fall schedule. So far in the fall, Tech is unbeaten at 4-0 and has yet to allow a run by an opposing team. The Golden Eagles last took the field on Sunday, September 27 when they defeated Chattanooga State, a top junior college program, 2-0.

Drug Charges Brought After Disturbance

A Cookeville man, who allegedly created a disturbance at an apartment on South Washington Avenue this week, has been charged with possession of a controlled substance after police say they found pills and marijuana on him. The suspect was identified as 24-year-old Jason Michael Murphy. According to a report by officer Chris Melton, Murphy had left the scene of the disturbance on foot by the time police arrived, but was identified by witnesses and arrested a short distance away. The drugs were allegedly discovered during a search incident to that arrest. Police say Murphy also had some outstanding warrants from previous cases that were served on him when he got to the jail.

Firearm Disturbance Turns Out To Be False Alarm

The Putnam County sheriff's department says a man who reported this week that one of his neighbors was pointing a gun at him later found out that the "gun" was, in fact, a cordless telephone. Deputies say it began when a man who lives on Cheyenne Trail called to report that one of his neighbors had stepped out in front of him on that road and pointed a gun. The man says he put his vehicle in reverse and backed away, travelling through another neighbor's yard and taking out her mailbox. But when deputies got on the scene, they learned that the alleged agressor did not, in fact, even own a gun. He told them that he was carrying a black cordless house phone, but said that he DID want to speak to the driver, who he claims travels down the road in a reckless fashion. Deputy Michael Hicks says the two "talked everything over and shook hands." He says the driver also plans to replace the other neighbor's mailbox.

Gun Incidents Reported in Cookeville and Baxter

Two separate incidents involving people with guns have been reported to police recently -- one which resulted in an arrest, and one which did not. The Putnam County sheriff's department says they answered a call involving the alleged use of a weapon on school property at Upperman High School. The victim told Deputy Roger Cooper that he had gone to the school to pick up his younger brother when he got into an argument with a man who claimed that they were driving recklessly. The two sides exchanged words and the man admitted to displaying a handgun after, he said, he felt threatened by the young boys. Cooper says the man had a valid gun carry permit and was lawfully able to have a gun in his vehicle, as long as he didn't carry it on to school property. After consulting with the DA's office, no charges were brought, although the parties involved were advised that they could press charges against each other if they chose. Meanwhile, on Tuesday, Cookeville police responded to a call of a man with a gun at a residence on West Stevens Street. 38-year-old Robert Kyle Addair of Milkbarn Lane, was charged with aggravated assault after allegedly taking a long gun up onto the porch of a home there. He reportedly propped the gun up beside the front door and walked into the home, but left when residents called police. He was arrested after being stopped a few blocks away. He'll be in court on the charge October 19th.

Trial Date Set in Cookeville Murder Case


A Cookeville man, indicted for killing his wife in October of 2008, will go on trial for the murder in February of 2010. The trial date for 36-year-old Chad Bell was scheduled this week during a brief hearing in Putnam County Criminal Court. Prosecutors say Bell is the man who had first reported his wife missing -- both to family members and to law enforcement -- before allegedly confessing to her murder. Sara Bell was reportedly strangled by her husband after the two had gotten into an argument. He then took her body from their home on Walton Trail to his place of work on Willow Avenue and placed it in the back of a work van. Attorney Bill Cameron is representing Bell on the charges, which include first degree murder and abuse of a corpse. Any motions to be filed in the case will be heard on January 12th of next year, and the trial will start on February 1st, unless a plea agreement is reached. Bell remains in jail.

Cummins Filtration Meeting

Some of the soon-to-be laid off employees of Cummins Filtration in Cookeville will be meeting with managers this month to discuss a possible voluntary buyout offer. Cummins has been working with representatives of the United Auto Workers union for several weeks, after making the official announcement last month that some 140 production line jobs would be moving from the Cookeville plant to one in San Luis Potosi, Mexico. The retirement package will be offered to those workers who are at least 60 years old and who have 30 years of service with the company. Spokesman Mark Land says that those electing to take the retirement package will receive a $7,000 lump sum payment in addition to their pension. Severance packages for other employees will be determined by their annual salary and their length of service.

State Park Events This Weekend

A number of events are planned this week for the state parks in the Cookeville area. Cordell Hull’s Birthday and United Nations Day will be celebrated on Thursday, October 8, beginning at 7 p.m., at the Cordell Hull birthplace near Byrdstown, north of Cookeville. The 57-acre site includes a representation of Hull's log cabin birthplace, an activities center and a museum. At Edgar Evins State Park in Dekalb County on Saturday, the 4th Annual History Hayride will be celebrated. Admission is $10 per person, with all proceeds benefiting the Friends of Edgar Evins State Park whose efforts help improve and preserve the park. Finally, car enthusiasts are encouraged to visit Standing Stone State Park in Overton County on Saturday, October 10, for the park’s Annual Car Show - featuring antique cars, trucks and hot rods. More than 300 vehicles will be shown and judged at this year’s event.

Road Rage Quelled

A Putnam County sheriff's deputy was able to calm down what could have turned into a road rage incident this week. Corporal Jamie Greenwood says it started when a company was moving a mobile home on Grider Road Monday evening. The trailer got stuck in some mud and ended up blocking access to the road. When Greenwood arrived, he was approached by a number of bystanders, including two women who said that one of the workers had yelled at them, and by a man, who was -- in the deputy's words -- agitated about his girlfriend being yelled at. Greenwood told the man to calm down and later found out that the workers were not the ones who had yelled at the women. The man who did said he was simply telling them that he didn't know how long the road would be blocked because he didn't work for the company. Greenwood gave the company a warning about impeding traffic, but issued no citations.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Oxycontin Investigation

Cookeville police say further charges may be pending as they continue an investigation which began when someone noticed a man slumped over the wheel of a car at Mike's Market on East Spring Street. Officer Darrin Stout identified the man as 39-year-old Marty Wayne Robbins of Randolph Road in Crossville. Robbins allegedly told the officer that he "shoots up oxycontin," but that he was out of the drug. Police say a search of Robbins' wallet turned up more than 12-hundred dollars in cash, which Robbins claimed did not belong to him, but to a friend who had asked him to hold on to it. Authorities say they believe the money came from drug sales, so they seized it and also questioned several individuals at a motel where Robbins claimed to have been doing drugs. When Robbins got to the Putnam County jail, officers allegedly found two syringes and a spoon in his pockets. He was charged with public intoxication, possession of drug paraphernalia and introduction of contraband into the jail. He'll be in court later this month.

Woman Jailed on Felony Fugitive Warrant

A woman who Cookeville police started out to trying to help ended up going to jail on a felony fugitive warrant. Officer Jamey McCurry says it happened when he was dispatched to Kroger to assist a female who was stranded. McCurry says the woman told him that she was staying at a domestic violence safehouse and could not find her way back. But McCurry later learned that the woman had been banned from the property for violating its rules. He says that she also could not be left at the Putnam County Rescue Mission because she had been drinking. The woman initialy identified herself as a "Mrs. Kennedy," but police say she had an ID card on her which gave her real name as 30-year-old Elizabeth Crabtree of Jamestown. And they say a records check showed that Crabtree was wanted in Alabama on several warrants. She was taken into custody and held without bond for extradition.

Money Order Scams Still Being Reported

Putnam County residents may be getting more familiar with a scam that's been reported off and on for well over a year now. Authorities say they've received at least two reports in recent days of local residents receiving checks or money orders with instructions to cash them and return some of the money to the sender. In one incident, a woman who was advertising an apartment rental received the bogus check; in the other case, a man who offers tour guide services got three large money orders. Neither of them was cheated out of any money, although the man did apparently go to a local check cashing business to see if the money order was legitimate. Meanwhile, a Cookeville man told police that some $1,500 dollars had been taken from his bank account after he lost his checkbook while riding a bicycle. By the time he discovered it missing, the thief had been able to cash two checks on his account at two different bank branches.

State Park Celebrations on the Calendar

A number of events are planned this week for the state parks in the Cookeville area. Cordell Hull’s Birthday and United Nations Day will be celebrated on Thursday, October 8, beginning at 7 p.m., at the Cordell Hull birthplace near Byrdstown, north of Cookeville. The 57-acre site includes a representation of Hull's log cabin birthplace, an activities center and a museum. At Edgar Evins State Park in Dekalb County on Saturday, the 4th Annual History Hayride will be celebrated. Admission is $10 per person, with all proceeds benefiting the Friends of Edgar Evins State Park whose efforts help improve and preserve the park. Finally, car enthusiasts are encouraged to visit Standing Stone State Park in Overton County on Saturday, October 10, for the park’s Annual Car Show – featuring antique cars, trucks and hot rods. More than 300 vehicles will be shown and judged at this year’s event.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Woman Cited For Filing A False Police Report

A Cookeville woman has been charged with filing a false police report -- after allegedly telling authorities that her purse and the medication inside of it had been stolen. Officer Adrienne Lintz says that 31-year-old Janice A. Hall of South Creek Road seemed to be mostly concerned about trying to refill the prescriptions for her medications and became agitated when she was told that it would take several days to complete the paperwork. Hall had told the officer that 90 tablets of Lorazepam and 60 tablets of hydrocodone had been stolen along with her purse. But, according to Lintz, Hall later changed her story after Lintz found the "stolen" purse in a vehicle that Hall was riding in. She then claimed that the thief had emptied the pill bottles, but left the bottles and the purse behind. That's when the citation was issued for filing a false report.

Cookeville Man Charged With 5th Offense DUI

Fifth offense DUI charges have been filed against a Cookeville man, who was stopped by police after they got a call from a concerned citizen who had seen an apparently intoxicated man getting into a vehicle. Officer Michael Herrick spotted that vehicle at the intersection of Broad Street and Walnut Avenue and later identified the driver as 55-year-old Roger Glenn Smith of Lynn Chapel Road. Smith allegedly admitted to drinking half a pint of liquor and failed several field sobriety tests. Officer Herrick says a breathalyzer test revealed Smith's blood alcohol level to be .189. The legal limit is .08. Police say a records check indicated that Smith had been convicted of DUI in 1994, 1996, 1997, and 2002. He goes to court on the latest charge on October 28th.

Salesman Charged With Disorderly Conduct

A door-to-door salesman, who was allegedly trying to intimidate local residents, has been charged with disorderly conduct. Police say the charge stems from a disturbance at two homes on Maple Avenue last week. 27-year-old Joshua Ray Gaylor of Tallapoosa, Georgia, allegedly insisted that his would-be customers call police after one of them changed his mind about ordering a magazine subscription. Police say they had received complaints about the group and had cited several individuals for selling without a license. They say their attempts to speak with Gaylor were met with loud and disruptive behavior. He was arrested and taken to jail after refusing several requests to be quiet.

Dogbite Victim Treated At Cookeville Hospital

A Putnam County man has learned the hard way that it's probably not a good idea to try and break up a fight between dogs. The man showed up at Cookeville Regional Medical Center with bite wounds to both of his hands. He told Deputy Chris Brown that his dog and another dog were trying to fight and he stepped in to break it up. That's when one of the dogs -- described as a white bulldog -- bit him. The victim told Brown that the dog has had its rabies shots this year, but Brown advised keeping the animal quarantined for ten days -- just in case.

Local Airport Gets Major Grant

Governor Phil Bredesen announced today that an aeronautics grant in the amount of $450,000 has been approved for Upper Cumberland Regional Airport, which is co-owned by the governments of Cookeville, Sparta, Putnam and White counties. Funds from the aeronautics grant will be used for a new T-Hangar at the airport. The grants are made available through the Tennessee Department of Transportation’s Aeronautics Division.

"This division administers federal and state funding to assist in the location, design, construction and maintenance of Tennessee's public aviation system," said TDOT Commissioner Gerald Nicely.

Except for routine expenditures, grant applications are reviewed by the Tennessee Aeronautics Commission (TAC), which is a five member board charged with policy planning and with regulating changes in the state airport system plan. The TDOT Aeronautics Division has the responsibility of inspecting and licensing the state’s 126 heliports and 75 public/general aviation airports. The Division also provides aircraft and related services for state government and staffing for the Tennessee Aeronautics Commission.

Cookeville Police Cars Get New Cameras


The Cookeville police department will soon have digital in-car cameras for almost all of their patrol vehicles. Police chief Bob Terry told the city council this month that the purchase of five new cameras with federal grant money helped the department accomplish that goal. He says everyone from sergeant on down will now have an in-car camera, with about three spare cameras being available for back-up. He says the video from the cameras is downloaded daily to a computer server which keeps track of it for any pending criminal cases or potential complaints that may be filed against officers. The photo of Terry, at the left, is from the city's website.

Shakespeare Returns to Cookeville Park


The latest production of the Cookeville Department of Leisure Services is the annual "Shakespeare in the Park" event, which continues tonight and tomorrow night at Dogwood Park pavilion on Broad Street. Performances are also scheduled for Thursday, Friday and Saturday night. The production this year is "The Tempest." Producer Chad McDonald says this is the sixth consecutive year for the department's "Shakespeare in the Park" production, which is free to the public. Showtime is 7 pm. For more information on the show click here.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Court Hearing Set For Alleged Dog Thief

A November 17th court date has been set for a Putnam County man, who has been indicted for stealing dogs from the county's animal shelter. Authorities say 31-year-old Anthony Ray Thomas of Clover Avenue in Cookeville allegedly broke into the shelter on at least two occasions. The first time, they say he took two pit bull dogs that authorities say had been taken from his home after police investigated complaints about them. A few months later, the dogs were once again taken to the shelter and Thomas allegedly ran his pick-up truck through the fence there in an atttempt to get them back, but was unsuccessful. He was arrested after Detective Tim Terry presented evidence in the case to the grand jury, which issued a three-count indictment charging Thomas with burglary, vandalism over $1,000, and theft under $500.

Senator Corker To Hold Town Hall Meeting


Tennessee's U.S. Senator Bob Corker will hold a town hall meeting in the Cookeville area next week. Corker is scheduled to be at the Town Diner in Gainesboro on Tuesday, Oct. 13, to speak with citizens and community leaders about health care reform and the economic challenges that lie ahead for the state and country. It will mar, the 25th town hall meeting Corker has held since the beginning of August. The Town Diner is located at 440 N. Grundy Quarles Highway in Gainesboro. Meanwhile, if you're interested in the current health care reform proposals, you're invited to view and discuss the PBS documentary "Sick Around The World" on Thursday, Oct. 8th, 7pm, in the TTU School of Nursing Auditorium. You can call 432-4210 for more information.

Cookeville Hospital's Heart Program Re-Certified


For the third consecutive time the Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehabilitation Center at Cookeville Regional has attained re-certification from the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation. Hospital officials say this certification ensures that programs meet the essential standards of care. There are currently more than 1,400 programs nationwide that have met the high standard of certification. Officials say certification helps patients and families to identify which programs are considered the best. It also helps improve standards of care and helps programs meet essential standards. The Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehabilitation Center is a department of The Heart and Vascular Center at Cookeville Regional. In the PHOTO: (left to right) Jennifer Rose, Libby Lee, Danielle Ulmer, Vickie Horn, Ruth Spencer, Colleen Childress, Angie Rogers, Debbie Baker, Director of Cardiac & Pulmonary Rehabilitation at Cookeville Regional

Friday, October 2, 2009

Tennessee Tech University Still A "Best Buy"

For the fifth straight year, Tennessee Tech University holds a place as one of "America’s 100 Best College Buys." Issued each year by Institutional Research & Evaluation Inc., an independent research and consulting organization, the "best buy" list identifies the 100 American colleges and universities providing students the highest quality education at the lowest cost.This recognition comes on the heels of a U.S.News & World Report release listing Tennessee Tech as the only Tennessee school ranked for students who graduate with the least amount of debt. According to that report, 60 percent of TTU’s students graduate debt free.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

False Imprisonment Alleged


False imprisonment charges are pending against a Putnam County couple who allegedly forced a neighbor into their apartment this week. Sheriff's deputy John Osteen says that Richard and Leah Woolery of Dodson Branch Road had apparently complained on several occasions of people getting into their apartment from the attics and air vents of adjacent apartments. One of their neighbors claims that on Monday of this week, Mr. Woolery approached her with a rifle and told her that she needed to "see something" and began to show her various locations where he believed the burglars were "getting in." The victim says she did not want to go with Woolery, but felt she had no choice because he was holding a gun. Osteen says he brought the charges against the couple after consulting with the District Attorney's office.

Alleged Car Thief Arrested After High Speed Chase

Officers from the Putnam County sheriff's department, the Monterey Police Department and the Tennessee Highway Patrol were involved in a high speed chase this week, which resulted in the arrest of a man who had tried to flee form a traffic stop. Authorities say 28-year-old Christopher D. Wharton of St. Louis, Missouri, was arrested after leading officers on a high speed chase eastbound on I-40 from at least the 293 mile marker, up to the Monterey exit at mile marker 300, and then back down the mountain toward Cookeville on Highway 70. Wharton eventually stopped his car when he ran over some spike strips that Deputy Sgt. Joe Nash had placed across the highway near Cherry Creek Road. Authorities say the car had been reported stolen out of Louisiana. Meanwhile, the sheriff's office is investigating the burglary of a home on Burgess Mill Road. The homeowner says that someone apparently broke in through the basement and made off with several hundred dollars worth of firearms.

Cookeville College Student Hurt In Wreck

A young Putnam County woman was seriously injured in a wreck in southeast Tennessee on Thursday. The highway patrol says 18-year-old Anna Sums of Cookeville was airlifted from the accident scene to Erlanger hospital in Chattanooga, where she was listed in stable condition. Sums is a student at the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee, which is in Franklin County. She was a passenger in a car that was involved in a wreck with an 18-wheeler. The THP says two people died in that wreck, and two others were injured. The students were reportedly traveling east on Missouri Avenue in Sewanee, when they crossed U.S. Highway 41 into the path of an oncoming tractor trailer.Sewanee Police Chief Robert White said the students were traveling to crew practice at Lake Dimmick about 6 a.m. when the accident happened.

Sex Offender Arrested In School Zone


Another Putnam County man is facing charges of violating the rules which apply to the state's sex offenders. They are prohibited from being near a school, but authorities say that's just where 46-year-old Bruce Housley of Post Oak Road was this week when he dropped off a child at Northeast School. Sheriff's detective Jimmy Patterson, who made the arrest, says the child is not Housley's biological child, and alleges that Housley had "previously transported the child to and from the school" on three other occasions. Housley is also charged with violating sex offender residential restrictions by "living on the same property as two minor children" who are not his biological children. The Tennessee Sex Offender Registry says Housley was convicted of aggravated sexual battery on April 30, 1991. He goes court on the charges on October 26th. You may remember a similar incident from August of this year.