Monday, November 30, 2009

Football Championships Come To Cookeville

Now that another Cookeville Christmas Parade is in the books, the Chamber of Commerce is turning its attention to promoting the state high school football championships which will be held in town later this week. Starting on Thursday afternoon, the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association will hold its annual championship games for both private and public schools. On Thursday at 3:30, Knoxville Webb will play USJ for the Division II-A championship. Then, at seven o'clock on Thursday, Memphis University School will take on MBA for the Division I-AA championship among private schools. On Friday at noon, South Pittsburg plays against Union City for the Class 1-A championship; Alcoa takes on Milan for the Class 3-A championship, starting at 3:30; and at 7 pm Friday, Beech High School will play Columbia for the Class 5-A title. On Saturday at noon, Trousdale County meets Boyd-Buchanan in the Class 2-A championship game. At 3:30, Greeneville takes on Giles County for the Class 4-A title; and at 7 pm, Maryville will meet White Station in the 6-A title contest. All the games will take place at Tennessee Tech's Tucker Stadium. Tickets are twelve dollars apiece and cover all the games on a single day. They are available at the Chamber or at the gate.

Citation Issued For Drug Possession

A woman who reportedly told authorities that she had just gotten out of jail on a probation violation may be headed back there after a traffic stop conducted by Cookeville police. Officer Cary Matheney says 33-year-old Michelle Y. Knight of Smith Lane, Cookeville, was a passenger in a car he stopped on Saturday evening. He says a pat down search of Ms. Knight allegedly turned up eleven Xanax bars in a prescription bottle with the label torn off. Matheney says two used hypodermic needles were also found in Knight's purse. He issued her a citation for simple possession of drugs. Authorities say remaining drug-free is usually a condition of probation.

278th Deployment Ceremony Planned

A special deployment ceremony for the second squadron of the 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment has been scheduled for this Wednesday night at six o'clock in the Avery Trace Middle School auditorium. The keynote speaker will be Lt. Colonel John Krenson, the commander of the second squadron. The unit's chaplain will also speak, as will local and state elected officials. The 278th is scheduled to deploy to Iraq early next year and will be leaving for training at Camp Shelby in Mississippi later this week.

Meth Charges Pending Against Local Residents

Two Putnam County residents will be in court this Friday in Sparta after being charged in connection with a meth lab operation. Authorities say 23-year-old Stephanie Joanne Gray of Baxter and 23-year-old Sarah Kay Greene of Cookeville were both arrested, along with Sparta resident Lamar Mendell Cullom, earlier this month. White County sheriff's detective Dale Bumbalough was reportedly conducting a routine check of the area around the boat ramp on South Church Street, when he came into contact with the three individuals in a parked car. Bumbalough alleges that as he approached the vehicle, he noticed a strong chemical smell consistent with meth. He also noticed tubing and other materials used to make meth. All three were charged with intent to manufacture, deliver, or sell a controlled substance. Meanwhile, December 14th is the court date set for a Cookeville man, accused of running a meth lab operation in a rented house. Members of the Community Nuisance Eradication Team of the Cookeville Police Department arrested 35-year-old Christopher George Cowan this month after a long-running investigation into complaints about the house he rented at 5496 South Jefferson Avenue. Officers claim a search of the home turned up several different kinds of prescription drugs, as well as the ingredients commonly used in the manufacture of meth, including hydrogen peroxide, pseudoephedrine, acetone and coffee filters.

Counterfeit Check Ringleader Convicted

Sentencing has yet to be determined for a Tennessee man, who was convicted last month in federal court of stealing thousands of dollars from Cookeville-area businesses in a check-cashing scam. The U-S Attorney's office says that 30-year-old James Christopher McWhorter was found guilty on a five-count indictment. The investigation of his counterfeit check cashing ring began three years ago after one of the defendants dropped a driver's license in Sparta at the scene of one of the fraudulent attempts to cash a counterfeit check. Further investigation revealed that the ring had been operating in Cookeville, McMinnville, Nashville and Murfreesboro. The exact amount of money that they defrauded from local businesses has not yet been determined, but authorities say McWhorter could be going to prison for more than 15 years.

Smoke Detector Scam Reported In Cookeville

Cookeville police are investigating an incident in which a local resident lost money to con men. A resident at an apartment on Walnut Avenue told police that a man came to her home on Saturday evening, identified himself as working for the Housing Authority, and told her that he needed to check her smoke detectors. The victim told the man that she needed a smoke detector for the bedroom of the unit and the man returned a minute or two later with another individual that he identified as his "boss." Both men went to the bedroom of the apartment, stayed several minutes, and came back out telling the resident that they would return to install her smoke detector. But after they left, the woman says she noticed that they had gone through the dresser in her room, stealing five dollars in cash, about fifteen dollars in quarters, and several prescription medications. The suspects were described as white males -- one with a medium build, about 5-10, 40 years old, wearing a cap, a gray coat and camouflage pants, the other with a slim build, about 30 years of age, with blonde hair and wearing a black and white sweater. Anyone with information about the case is asked to call the police department.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

More Developments In Police Chief Resignation

More developments to report today in the sudden resignation of Monterey police chief Tim Murphy last week. The Hilltop Express newspaper, which is run by Monterey Alderman Dale Welch, is reporting that even as rumors fly, town officials have been asked to remain quiet about the matter as an investigation begins involving the district attorney’s office and state auditors. Welch says applications for police chief are being taken at Monterey City Hall now through November 30th. Starting wages for Monterey police chief begin at $16.81 per hour. After a six-month probationary period, it goes to $17.46; and, after a year, to $18.74. K-9 Officer Larry Bates is currently serving as interim police chief.

Cookeville Man Beaten and Stabbed

Aggravated assault charges are pending today against a Cookeville man, who allegedly attacked another man at a home on 17th Street over the weekend. The 23-year-old victim told police that he was outside his home early Saturday morning when he heard tires squealing and was approached by two white males and one white female. One of the suspects hit him in the face with a baseball bat, while the other stabbed him in the right foot and right thigh. The victim says the female was yelling, "you got what you deserved" during the incident. The three then fled the scene, but friends of the victim were able to follow them to an apartment on 18th Street, where police later found 25-year-old David Shawn Thompson. Thompson denied any part in the affair, but was positively identified by a witness. After being asked again about the incident, Thompson allegedly said, "I need a lawyer." He was then placed under arrest, and police say other charges may be filed as the investigation continues.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Attempted Criminal Homicide Charges Filed

Attempted criminal homicide charges have been filed against an Overton County man, who allegedly stabbed someone outside of a Putnam County nightclub over the weekend. A December 21st court date has been set for 35-year-old Timothy Daryl Richardson of Clark Street, Livingston. Authorities say Richardson is accused of stabbing 42-year-old Frankie S. Webb of Robinson Road, Cookeville, several times in the throat and arms. The incident reportedly took place as the two were sitting in Webb's vehicle, which was parked outside Club Forbidden on Miller Road Saturday night. Richardson allegedly fled the scene after the stabbing, but was tracked down by law enforcement officers and jailed without bond. No motive for the stabbing has yet been reported.

Alleged "Sexting" Gets Cookeville Man Arrested

A Putnam County man who allegedly texted sexually explicit messages to a cell phone he thought was being operated by a teenage girl is now in trouble with the law. Authorities say 34-year-old Sammy R. Stout of Pippin Road was charged with solicitation of a minor. Warrants on file in the case claim that a law enforcement officer -- posing as a minor female -- received text messages from Stout in which he allegedly requested that she send pictures of herself to him, and requested that the female have sex with him. His court date has been set for December 14th.

Local Students Speak To Shuttle Astronauts

Do magnets work in space? And how does a space shuttle, travelling more than 17-thousand miles an hour, find a landing strip on a rotating Earth? Those were among the questions posed by Cookeville area students to astronauts aboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis this week. Shuttle pilot Barry Wilmore is a Tennessee Tech alumnus and says his education is what helped him achieve his goals in life. The "Ask An Astronaut" event was held by TTU's Stem Center, a program that emphasizes the teaching of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. You can see the entire program at this link.

Monterey Teenager Killed In Wreck

The Hilltop Express newspaper is reporting that one Monterey teenager was fatally injured and three others were hurt as they were returning to Monterey on Interstate 40 Sunday after they had been to see a movie in Crossville. According to Tennessee Highway Patrol Trooper Scott Bilbrey, 18-year-old Matthew Harris was driving a 2004 Ford Escape in the westbound lane near the 303-mile marker. Trooper Bilbrey said an unknown semi-truck tried to pull over into Harris’ lane forcing him off the road. Trooper Bilbrey said that Harris hit a guard rail and the truck kept going. Another semi-truck in the back of the Harris vehicle saw what was going on and went into the left lane trying to avoid the the wreck, but the Harris vehicle, after hitting the guard rail, bounced back out and hit that semi-truck. At that point, Trooper Bilbrey said, Lindsey Toft, 18, of Evergreen Lane, Monterey, who was sitting in the back passenger-side seat was ejected through the back window and landed some distance from the vehicle on the other side of the guard rail in the grass and was killed. Matthew Harris, who was wearing a seatbelt, was taken by the Putnam County Ambulance Service, first to Cookeville Regional Medical Center and then, by the ambulance service to Vanderbilt Hospital, in Nashville. His sister, Kayla Harris, 19, who was wearing her seatbelt and was in the front passenger side, was not seriously injured. Jessica Toft, 17, who Trooper Bilbrey said was not wearing a seatbelt and was in the back seat on the driver’s side, was taken to the hospital by personal vehicle.

Governor Bredesen Attends Fincher Fundraiser

Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen came to Putnam County last week as the special guest of State Representative Henry Fincher of Cookeville. Fincher held a fundraiser at Delmonaco Winery in Baxter. More than 100 people attended and heard remarks from the Governor, State Senator Charlotte Burks, and Fincher himself. All three spoke of the need to work hard to bring jobs to the Upper Cumberland and for government to live within its means and not raise taxes on working families.

"I thank my friend Gov. Bredesen for all he has done for Putnam County," Fincher said. "I appreciate him coming up here tonight to show his friendship. And when I went to Nashville, I knew I already had one friend - Charlotte Burks. She's smart, hard working and wise, and it's a pleasure to work with her to try to make some things right."

Putnam County Debates Finance Issues Again

Another meeting of the committee studying Financial Management Acts will be held Monday night at the Putnam County courthouse. Proponents of putting the county under the 1981 Financial Management Act argue that doing so would save money in the long run and would keep the county from being written up in their audit every year for not having centralized accounting. Opponents claim the Act does nothing more than establish a new department of county government to handle functions already being taken care of. Earlier this year, a majority of the members of the county commission voted to go under the act, but the votes fell shy of the two-thirds majority that was needed for passage. The meeting tonight is intended to be a roundtable discussion of the issue. It begins at six o'clock.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

MADD Holds Candlelight Vigil

The 17th annual candlelight vigil to commemmorate the victims of drunk driving and crime, in general, was held Sunday in Cookeville. Norris Skelley is with the local chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, and says his wish is that the organization did not have to exist. He says the vigil yesterday is intended to honor both victims and families. He also says the group plans to encourage local restaurants to establish designated driver campaigns and hopes to have local drivers commit to enjoying the holidays without drinking and driving. For more information about the local MADD chapter, you can call 520-6233.

Lincoln Lecture Looming

"Abraham Lincoln and the First Person Plural" will be the topic of Tennessee Tech University’s study in leadership sponsored by the history department at 7 p.m. tomorrow in Foster Hall, Room 233. Focused on one of the greatest leaders in American history, the forum will examine Lincoln’s use of leadership and language during one of America’s worst conflicts. The study will also explore how Lincoln’s use of the first person plural served to construct a new world of collective subjects. The guest speaker is Peter S. Field, a former TTU assistant and associate professor. Field is currently a visiting scholar at Princeton University. The event is free and open to the public.

Overton County Woman Killed In I-40 Wreck

An Overton County woman was killed over the weekend in a traffic crash on I-40, which caused the interstate to be shut down for several hours. Officials with the Cookeville district of the Tennessee Highway Patrol identified the victim as 64-year-old Donna Brennan of Livingston. Troopers say Brennan lost control of her 1997 Mercedes C23 and crossed the median. They say her vehicle hit a tractor trailer driven by Albert Galvin head on. That's when Galvin's truck slammed into another tractor trailer causing it to immediately burst into flames. Troopers are still investigating but they say everyone involved was wearing their seatbelt. They don't suspect drugs or alcohol played a factor.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Road Construction Contract OK'd

Highways, Incorporated has gotten the bid to do a road construction project in south Cookeville. They'll be expanding West Cemetery Road, and Cookeville public works director Greg Brown says he hopes the work can be done quickly. The new Prescott South Elementary and Middle schools plan to use the road as an access point. Also Thursday night, the council OK'd an amendment to its municipal code as it relates to the collection of business tax. Taxes will now be paid directly to the state of Tennessee, although business licenses must still be purchased through the city or county. The council also gave approval to an ordinance which city officials say they hope to use to encourage the development of owner-occupied townhouses in Cookeville.

Alleged Perfume Shoplifter Caught

A January 11th court date has been set for a Jamestown woman who may have come to Cookeville to do some early Christmas shoplifting. A theft of property citation was issued against 61-year-old Jerlene Howard Richards of Coon Hunter Lodge Road after she was allegedly caught stealing perfume and cologne products from the Walmart store. Store officials say she concealed more than ten bottles of cologne in her purse, along with three toothbrushes and some skin cream. They claim she went through the checkout to pay for other items, but attempted to leave the store without paying the items in her purse. Meanwhile, there is no apparent connection, but police say three white males and a white female -- all in their twenties -- came into Cosmo Pro Supply on South Willow Avenue this week and shoplifted a make-up brush kit, valued at thirty dollars. They left in a newer model Mustang with a large white decal in the rear window.

Cookeville Road Project Up For Approval

The proposed extension of West Cemetery Road -- from South Willow to South Jefferson Avenue -- could take another step forward this evening as the Cookeville city council meets. The council is scheduled to award the bid for that road construction project, which is being undertaken in conjunction with the construction of a new elementary school being built in the same area. Officials also say the proposed new road is part of their long range transportation plan to provide an east-west corridor through the portion of town that is located south of I-40. Although weather delays may impact the schedule, the school is expected to be ready to open for class by next fall, and school officials hope to use the new road as one of their access points to the school. Also tonight, the council will consider amending the municipal code as it relates to the business tax; they'll discuss several ongoing projects of the water and sewer department; and they'll consider approval of yet another acquisition of property near the campus of Cookeville Regional Medical Center. The meeting begins tonight at six.

Oil Thievery Investigated

Some people steal gasoline without paying for it, but Cookeville police are investigating a case this week in which three men are suspected of stealing oil from the Pilot Station on S. Jefferson Avenue. A clerk says the men came into the store Tuesday afternoon and took two gallons of what was described as "Lucas Oil" out of the business without paying for out. They then got into a small, gray vehicle and headed west on Bunker Hill Road. The oil was valued at about $55. According to the report, the man who carried out the oil comes into the Pilot store several times a week. Police advised the business to call them if he came back in.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

TTU Basketball Featured on ESPN

Exactly two weeks into the 2009-10 basketball season, the Tennessee Tech men's basketball team will visit the No. 1 ranked team in the country, the Kansas Jayhawks, and Golden Eagle fans all over the country can catch the action. Tech will visit historic Allen Fieldhouse to take on KU on Friday, Nov. 27, at 7 p.m. ESPN Full Court announced it has picked up the Jayhawk TV Network's broadcast of the game. Fans will be able to access the game through Direct TV or most cable systems. TTU head coach Mike Sutton called Kansas "essentially, the birthplace of college basketball." In addition to the Golden Eagles and Jayhawks being televised on ESPN Full Court, Tech will appear on ESPNU on Jan. 14 when they visit UT Martin, and may be on television during the semi-finals and finals of the OVC tournament on March 5 and 6.

Space Shuttle To Downlink To Cookeville

Tennessee Tech University alumni and students, and K-12 students from across the Upper Cumberland region will have an opportunity on Sunday to talk with NASA Astronaut Barry Wilmore, a TTU graduate, during a live videoconference from the International Space Station. The 30-minute downlink will be broadcast Sunday morning on Cookeville's public television station. And officials say that as Wilmore works aboard the space station after piloting the Space Shuttle Atlantis, he follows a long line of TTU alumni and Upper Cumberland natives who have gone on to work for NASA and in the aerospace industry. Roger Crouch was TTU's first alumnus to travel into space. The Jamestown native served as a payload specialist on two flights aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia in 1997 and took with him a TTU pennant and replica of the university seal. On both of Crouch's missions, two TTU alumni served in direct support positions on the ground - Teresa Vanhooser as mission manager and Mike Robinson as mission scientist. And eight years before Crouch's missions, in 1989, Michael McCulley of Livingston flew aboard the same Shuttle Atlantis that Barry Wilmore is piloting on this mission. McCulley is a member of TTU's Millard Oakley STEM Center advisory board.

Cookeville Woman Indicted For Child Abuse

Child abuse charges are pending against a Cookeville woman who was indicted after a spanking she gave a four-year-old caused bruising. The investigation of 20-year-old Amanda Christine Winebrenner of Carr Avenue began after the child's mother took him to the emergency room last month. Authorities say it was at the hospital that the bruising allegedly caused by a spanking was documented. Meanwhile, the grand jury also indicted a Cookeville man for the sale of cocaine. An agent from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation presented evidence against Daniel Delape.

Tech Employees Given Awards

Five Tennessee Tech University employees have won 2009-10 Outstanding Clerical and Support Staff Awards for their ongoing dedication to the university, stellar job performance and great attitudes. Sharon Buckner, executive aide at the Angelo and Jennette Volpe Library and Media Center, and Shannon Terry, administrative secretary at the Joe L. Evins Appalachian Center for Craft, won clerical awards. Custodians Ruth Snyder and Rosemary Taylor, and Joe Williams, mason supervisor, all Facilities and Business Services support staff, received support staff honors. Established in 1989, the awards show appreciation to our most dedicated and outstanding clerical and support staff members. These awards are based on job performance, attitude toward work and the university, attendance and perseverance, professional development and suggestions for improvement.

Valeri Oliver with the Tech public affairs office put together the following profiles:

Sharon Buckner

This has been a standout year in Sharon Buckner’s career. When the library’s director asked to be re-assigned, Buckner didn’t miss a beat. Her knowledge of all aspects of the library’s administration – from service to budgets, personnel, policies and vendors – played a critical role in keeping operations humming smoothly.

“If you did not know we had a change in leadership this year, much of the credit is due to Ms. Buckner,” said Deanna Nipp-Kientz, the library’s interim director. “Ms. Buckner’s attitude is: ‘If it needs to be done I’ll do it.’ And not only does she get things done, but she also identifies what needs to be done.”
Buckner is quick to step up and take on additional responsibilities. She serves on the staff advisory committee to TTU President Bob Bell, the evaluation committee for the university’s office supply contract, the library’s social committee and the library’s disaster preparedness committee. Buckner, who began working as a library clerk in 1983, holds a certified professional secretary rating and is an active member in the association that supports the ratings program, the International Association of Administrative Professionals. She also holds a bachelor of science in business administration. She regularly attends seminars and workshops to expand her knowledge and skills.

Shannon Terry

Shannon Terry may just be the Appalachian Center for Craft’s secret weapon when it comes to student recruitment. Terry takes such an interest in attracting new students, she doesn’t mind giving prospective freshmen her personal phone number in case they have questions on Terry’s days off.

“When I asked her about it she said, ‘Everyone was a freshman at one time. It can be overwhelming.’ It is this personal investment that she makes in developing relationships and her commitment to helping others that makes her stand out so much,” said Curtiss R. Brock, professor of art.
Terry joined the center in 2003 after graduating from TTU with a bachelor’s degree in English-journalism. As a student, she covered the center’s activities for The Oracle student newspaper.
“I fell in love with the place immediately. I had no idea how working here would change my life and give me a place to grow,” she said.
Terry is considered the “go-to” person for questions of any nature when it comes to the Craft Center. She works tirelessly to organize procedures and special events for the Craft Center, said Kathie McGlamery, assistant director for the center.
“Shannon is the most dependable employee at the Craft Center,” McGlamery said. “Many students said that Shannon was the reason that they made their final decision to attend here.”

Ruth Snyder

Ruth Snyder, as custodian at Cooper/Dunn residence halls, said she like to think of her job as “cleaning up the world one small space at a time.” Her dedication hasn’t gone unnoticed by students and co-workers alike.

“I have never seen a bathroom unstocked or dirty. After the weekends when there are messes everywhere, she makes them disappear. When I go to my 8 o’clock classes, I see her even separating the recyclables from the trash! Her work ethic is higher than any I have seen,” said student Mary Christine Niver.

Snyder just received her five-year service pin and is often called upon to perform additional duties because her work is so admired by others.

“When I was promoted to lead worker in Capital Quad, I often asked Ruth to train the new employees due to her outstanding job performance and ability to consistently get the job done,” said Lyn Littrell.

Snyder says she doesn’t just view her job as one as just “janitor.” She enjoys mentoring the students as well. “Some of them have never been away from home before now. As an older person with many experiences, some of the students benefit from my listening to them and offering advice.” During her time at TTU, Snyder has taken advantage of the employee benefit to take one free university class per semester. She’s now a sophomore.

Rosemary Taylor

The faculty, staff and students who work and study in Johnson Hall regularly tell College of Business Dean James Jordan-Wagner that the building is the cleanest on campus.
Custodian Rosemary Taylor, who joined TTU in 2004, is the reason why.

“Ms. Taylor’s performance of her duties is second to none. I regularly receive comments about the cleanliness of our building from faculty, staff and even students,” Jordan-Wagner said.
It isn’t uncommon for Taylor to be found working in the building before regularly scheduled work hours to handle a problem that has or may arise, the dean said. “We have occasional problems with flooding in Johnson Hall, and Ms. Taylor has come in during periods of heavy rain just in case there is a problem. This attitude and dedication has saved the university significant money in averting repairs."

Taylor’s work ethic and commitment are enough to set her apart for the staff award, said Curtis Armstrong, decision sciences and management chairperson.

“But it is her positive attitude that really distinguishes her. She always has a smile and a warm hello.”

Joe Williams

Joe Williams is a mason supervisor for Facilities and Business Services, but the first objective listed on his resume is to “serve as an ambassador of TTU and as a positive role model.”
According to many, his contributions to TTU go well beyond what his job title might imply. He joined TTU in 1993 after 35 years of commercial work in masonry. Williams has been instrumental in finding innovative ways to maintain campus roofs and sidewalks as well as water proof buildings. His work has saved the university tens of thousands of dollars. His talent and critical thinking were instrumental in the oversight of high quality masonry work done at the new School of Nursing and Health Services Building.

“Joe’s work and experience is nothing short of superior and he is willing to do anything, anywhere, anytime when asked,” said Don Shockley, director of maintenance services.

As a master brick mason, Williams is always willing to help co-workers with problems and is the first to volunteer to find new ways to prevent maintenance problems.
Among Williams’ strongest assets is his ability to build and maintain effective relationships, especially with is co-workers.

“His caring, service-oriented attitude is very effective in his work with others both in the unit and across campus,” said Susan A. Elkins, Extended Programs and Regional Development vice president and School of Interdisciplinary Studies dean.

Williams’ attention to detail is probably best shown by the work he and his crew did transforming an unexciting concrete wall at Tucker Stadium into a structure rich in character, said Glenn B. Binkley, Facilities and Business Services assistant director.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Motorcyclist Charged With Reckless Endangerment

A variety of charges are pending against a Putnam County man, who allegedly led police on a high speed motorcycle pursuit. Officer Christopher Ferguson says he was patrolling the area of South Jefferson Avenue about one o'clock in the morning when he saw a motorcycle travelling at what he described as "a very high rate of speed." He turned on his emergency equipment, but claims that the cyclist refused to stop, crossing Fairground Street over to Willow Avenue and then taking a left on West Jackson Street. Ferguson was finally able to make a stop on the vehicle at the intersection of Jackson and Broad Street, where he says the rider refused several commands to get off the bike. The officer says he then performed a controlled takedown on the subject and took him off the bike to the ground. The man was identified as 18-year-old Aifer Paciunas of Brown Ridge Road, Baxter. He allegedly told the officer that he ran because he didn't have a license to be driving a motorcycle. He has now been charged for driving without a license, and also with reckless endangerment and evading arrest. He was also issued six citations for allegedly running two stop signs and four red traffic lights.

Monterey Police Chief Resigns

Monterey police officer Larry Bates has been named interim police chief in Monterey after the sudden resignation this week of former chief Tim Murphy. Murphy reportedly submitted a letter of resignation saying only that he was going to pursue "other interests." Murphy started work for the Monterey Police Department after being hired as a patrolman in 1996. He worked a couple of years for the county sheriff's department, but returned to the city department in the year 2000 and was named chief in 2008.

Burglaries Under Investigation

A Virginia Avenue resident who arrived home last week to find her laptop computer missing also soon discovered that thieves had taken a digital camera. The burglary apparently happened during a four-hour time period when the residents were not home The victim says the laptop went missing from a table in the living room, while the camera was taken off a bedroom dresser. Police say there did not appear to be any signs of forced entry. Meanwhile, police say there was a forced entry at the Affordable Dentures business on Old Salem Road. Someone took a large flathead screwdriver and pried open a door, but did not apparently get away with anything.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Cookeville Police Recover Stolen Vehicle

Cookeville police say a vehicle that had been reported stolen out of Jackson County was located cruising the streets of Cookeville about three o'clock in the morning. Officer Jeff Glass reports that he noticed the silver Chrysler van and confirmed that the tag number matched that of the stolen vehicle. He and other officers conducted what is called a "high risk traffic stop" near the intersection of Boatman Street and Darwin Street. They found two people in the van and took both into custody. After questioning, they let the passenger go, but charged the driver -- identified as 18-year-old Anthony Matthew Goldsmith of Jackson Passage in Bloomington Springs -- with theft of a motor vehicle. Goldsmith will be in court later this month.

Man Arrested on Drug Charges Two Days in a Row

The Hilltop Express newspaper is reporting that a Monterey man was arrested on drug charges -- two days in a row -- as the local drug task force conducted an investigation. 66-year-old Donnie Billy Fritts, of 1833 Mackie Road, Cookeville, also has 512 S. Poplar St., Monterey, listed as an address. He was first charged on Nov. 9 with possession of a controlled substance. Warrants taken by the Drug Task Force allege that an undercover agent sold 100 Oxycontin pills to Fritts. He was arrested outside CVS Pharmacy on Jackson St., in Cookeville and later released on bond. The next day, Task Force agents arrested him again on warrants, alleging that they found Oxycontin pills and Xanax pills hidden in a car they had seized from Fritts. Fritts is set to appear in Putnam County General Session Court on Nov. 30.

DUI Charges Filed In Two Separate Incidents

A Cookeville man who allegedly crashed his vehicle into an apartment building on North Walnut Avenue is facing charges of DUI today. Police say they arrived at the crash scene about 3 am Saturday morning and found a white Ford Ranger pickup truck against the side of the building.One of the residents -- identified as 36-year-old Michael Wayne Autrey -- was sitting in the driver's seat with the door open. Autry allegedly told police that he had just come from a local bar. He failed two field sobriety tests and was taken into custody. Meawnhile, DUI charges are pending against a Baxter woman, who was allegedly going some 40 miles an hour through the 15 mile zone on the campus of Tennessee Tech. Police say they pulled over 42-year-old Jeanetta Ruth Ann Hickey of Jones Road after getting complaints from other drivers that Ms. Hickey had been "all over the road, almost striking several vehicles." The incident was reported about 9 am on a Saturday morning, and Hickey was pulled over near the intersection of Dixie Avenue and Broad Street. Hickey allegedly failed sobriety testing and was taken to the hospital to have a blood alcohol test done. She was then charged with DUI.

Police Arrest Alleged Drunk With A Gun

A man who was allegedly trying to sell a handgun on the streets of Cookeville Sunday afternoon is facing criminal charges. Officer Chris Melton says 22-year-old Jeremy Travis Reels of North Cedar Street was arrested on charges of public intoxication and possession of a weapon while under the influence. Melton says he was dispatched to the area of 6th Street and North Walnut in reference to an apparently intoxicated individual with a handgun. He says that individual had reportedly been showing the gun to people on the street trying to sell it. Police say they recovered a Jennings J-22 pistol and one bullet from Reels' right front pocket. The pistol was placed into evidence.

New Technology Leads To New Complaints

The Putnam County sheriff's department is investigating several instances in which local residents report being harassed by cell phone or computer. A man told Deputy Mike Hicks that his 14-year-old daughter had been getting inappropriate text messages from a relative, who is in his thirties. Authorities advised the man to go to his cell phone provider and get a copy of all of the text messages that were coming and going from his daughter's phone. Meanwhile, Hicks also fielded a complaint from a Baxter woman who says that a drug dealer has been texting her 17-year-old son's cell phone, offering to sell him marijuana. She wanted a report done so that "maybe someone could catch the ones dealing drugs to her son." Corporal Jamie Greenwood, meanwhile, filed a report concerning instant messages that a Cookeville woman has been receiving from an ex-boyfriend. The messages, which the woman says are threatening, have been popping up on her MySpace page. And Deputy Tony Sherrell took a report from a woman who encountered a threatening individual in a computer chat room. Authorities say they have a copy of the communications and are investigating.

Putnam Commission Meets Tonight

Budget amendments and quarterly reports are among the items on the agenda as the Putnam County commission meets tonight. But commissioners will also be deciding whether or not they want to go forward with a program intended to make some county buildings more energy efficient. It would involve replacing and retro-fitting a number of light fixtures. And it would cost nearly a million dollars to achieve, although proponents say some of that cost may be covered by grants. They also estimate that the county would recover the cost in annual energy savings over the next thirteen years.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Fincher Proposes Insurance Mandate

State representative Henry Fincher of Cookeville is the sponsor of legislation that may force insurance companies to pay for routine cancer screenings. According to the Tennessean newspaper, Fincher and others will propose a law next session that would require insurers to cover colonoscopies and launch a state-funded colorectal screening program similar to Tennessee's breast and cervical cancer screening program. Fincher tells the paper, "I think this is a logical, modest step where we can save a bunch of lives for a little bit of money." The American Medical Association recommends colonoscopies once a decade starting at age 50 or earlier if patients have symptoms or a family history of colorectal cancer - the same guidelines Fincher wants on the state coverage mandate.

Bank Mistake Cleared Up

It was just an honest mistake. That's what a Putnam County woman says about a deduction from her bank account that she did not authorize. The woman told the sheriff's department this month that $475 had been withdrawn from her account without her knowledge. She noticed it when she checked her account balance online, and she suspected that some form of identity theft or other criminal activity may have been involved. But the woman called back a few days later to report that it was a data entry error. After she contacted her bank, they investigated the matter and found that a clerk at a Christian school in Atlanta, Georgia, had mistakenly punched in the wrong numbers from which to debit an account. The victim says the bank later straightened everything out with her account.

Former Sheriff's Deputy Indicted

A December 14th arraignment has been set for a former Putnam County sheriff's deputy, indicted on charges of official misconduct and tampering with evidence. The allegations stem from the arrest of former Deputy Chris Muncy in Coffee County earlier this year for allegedly soliciting a prostitute. The 31-year-old was arrested in February after he allegedly offered to trade drugs for sex. He was terminated from his job in Putnam County and was indicted by the Putnam County grand jury last week on the official misconduct charges -- including allegations that he knowingly "refrained from performing a duty ... this is clearly inherent in the nature of his office." The evidence tampering charge reportedly relates to Muncy's attempt to conceal marijuana he had with him at the time.

Naked Pictures Lead To Indictment

A Putnam County man has found out that you cannot send naked pictures to young people -- even if they want you to. 41-year-old Timothy Alan Clouse of Edgewood Drive in Cookeville has been indicted by the county grand jury on charges of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and of the "sale, loan, or exhibit of material to minors." He allegedly sent nude pictures by cell phone to a 14-year-old boy who then forwarded the pictures to other students at his school. The sheriff's department began investigating after the other students -- and their parents -- complained. The 14-year-old's cell phone was confiscated and the investigation led to the indictment of Clouse.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Tour De France Doping Scandal Discussed At TTU

Fans of the Tour de France and professional cycling have a chance to hear a forensic analytical chemist talk about the Floyd Landis doping scandal when the Nashville section of the American Chemical Society hosts its November meeting at Tennessee Tech University. Robert D. Blackledge, a retired NCIS senior chemist, will evaluate the case in a talk at 7:30 p.m., Monday, Nov. 16, in TTU’s Foster Hall, Room 233. Landis, a professional bicycle racer from Murrieta, Calif., won the 2006 Tour de France. However, not many days after the race's conclusion, information was leaked to the press from the Laboratoire National de D├ępistage du Dopage that a urine sample obtained from Landis after stage 17 had been found to be positive for a form of synthetic testosterone. An upheld finding would mean Landis would be stripped of his title and also banned from participation in the sport. Landis denied any sports doping and his strategy in fighting these charges has been to try to generate public support and to make all of the documentation of the LNDD tests available to the public. GC/MS is used by LNDD for preliminary sample screening, and carbon stable isotope ratio mass spectrometry is used for final confirmation. Blackledge will address the issue from the standpoint of a forensic analytical chemist with experience in forensic laboratory accreditation standards. His presentation will examine the analytical data and correspondence from the Landis case in terms of chain of custody requirements, World Anti-Doping Association guidelines and LNDD SOP, and reasonable standards of good laboratory practice. The public is invited to have dinner with the speaker at 5:30 p.m. at Logan’s Roadhouse, 1395 Interstate Drive., Cookeville. Reservations must be made for dinner by noon on Monday. To make dinner reservations or for more information, contact David Crouse at

Wii-Habilitation Begins At Cookeville Regional

Through a joint donation from the hospital’s Auxiliary and the “Button Fund,” the Outpatient Rehabilitation Center at Cookeville Regional Medical Center received a Wii gaming system to use with patients undergoing rehabilitation. The use of the popular gaming system in physical rehabilitation – referred to by many as “Wii-habilitation” - is a growing trend at rehabilitation centers across the country.

“The Wii allows patients to regain movement and motor skills as well as regain balance and stability,” says Bruce Elswick, Director of Outpatient Rehabilitation at Cookeville Regional. “It doesn’t replace traditional therapy, but our patients enjoy the variation and fun that comes with using the system.”

The Outpatient Rehabilitation Center at Cookeville Regional offers a wide range of rehabilitation services for patients from pediatrics to geriatrics – from physical therapy to occupational and speech therapy. Many of the staff members are certified in specific areas of therapy. For more information, call 783-2900.

The hospital Auxiliary has more than 125 active members who provided more than 28,000 hours of service at the hospital last year. To become a member, call 783-2740. The “Button Fund” is a part of the hospital’s Foundation and is named in honor of Cookeville Regional’s pet therapy dog Button. The fund is designed to raise money for rehabilitation needs at the hospital. To make a donation or for more information about the Button Fund or the Foundation, call 783-2037.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Pet Ordinance Draws Debate In Baxter

Residents in one Putnam County town are complaining about a proposal to limit how many cats and dogs people can have at their homes. The ordinance has been proposed by the codes inspector in Baxter, Bob Lane, who says he's had dozens of complaints regarding vicious dogs, bad smells and incessant barking from homes that have large numbers of pets. His ordinance proposed for both Baxter and Algood would limit pets based on the amount of space or property. Michelle Tackett, a pet owner in Baxter, told WSMV-TV that it would be like someone telling her that she couldn't have children. Lane said other residents are supporting the proposal, but Baxter Mayor Jeff Wilhite told the Cookeville Herald-Citizen that there's no pet overpopulation problem in the community and he doesn't agree with the proposal. And Baxter's newly appointed animal control officer Jeremy Helm said the complaints are more about cats than vicious dogs or dogs running free.

Horse Thieves At Work In Putnam County

The loss is estimated at $6,000. That's what the owner of several horses that were apparently stolen from some property on Old Cane Creek Road says they were worth. The owner says he first noticed that the four animals were missing on Saturday. He told sheriff's deputy Bill Hunter that he checked the property and the surrounding area for signs that the horses may have wandered off, but didn't find anything and believes they may have been taken illegally. An investigation is underway.

Stolen Social Security Numbers Investigated

An investigation is underway into the possibly illegal use of social security numbers in Putnam County. According to a report by Sheriff's Deputy Ron Harris, two women allegedly tried to use invalid social security numbers to obtain electric service through the Upper Cumberland Electric Membership Cooperative. An employee of the co-op ran a credit check on one of those numbers and found that it came back to someone who was listed as being deceased. The other social security number came back to a man, not a woman. One of the suspects told Deputy Harris that she would turn over the ID card with the fake number, but the report does not indicate just how she came to be in possession of it.

Putnam County Tries For Energy Efficiency

Putnam County executive Kim Blaylock is hoping to use block grant monies to pay for part of an effort to retrofit and upgrade the lighting in county buildings to make them more energy efficient. Lights in the old courthouse, the library, the juvenile detention center and the justice center would be replaced, and the fire alarm system at the justice center would also receive an update. But the upgrade doesn't come without cost -- estimated to be $965,141. Blaylock says grant money will pay for part of that and the rest will come from the capital projects fund ... or it will be borrowed from the Local Government Energy Loan program. Once the project is complete, Putnam County is expected to save about $75,000 a year in energy costs, meaning it will take about thirteen years to pay for itself. And proponents say the newer equipment will also reduce greenhouse gas emissions, taking 2.7 million pounds of CO2 out of the atmosphere. The full county commission will vote on the proposal next Monday.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Vacuum Cleaner Scam Fails For Sparta Man

Charges of theft and evading arrest have been filed against a Sparta man, who allegedly purchased one vacuum cleaner and then tried to steal a second one from the Cookevlle Walmart store. Police say the suspect is 41-year-old Brian Eric Packard of Everitt Street. They say he came into Walmart and loaded a Dyson Vacuum Cleaner into his shopping cart and attempted to leave with it. When he was confronted by store security, Packard reportedl produced a receipt for a Dyson vacuum cleaner. But store officials say the receipt did not match the serial number for the vacuum he had. They told police that Packard had come in earlier and purchased an identical vacuum cleaner -- just so he would have the receipt. But as they were questioning him, he took off. Officer Mitch Harrington saw him running through the grass near Hollywood Video and claims that Packard refused several commands to stop. Harrington caught up to him on foot and took him to the ground to be handcuffed and returned to the store for identification.

Prowler Shot At On Brotherton Mountain Road

A Putnam County resident used a gun to defend himself and his property this week after coming upon a prowler near a storage shed. The resident of Brotherton Mountain Road told the sheriff's department that his mother had heard someone trying to get in the kitchen door so he went outside to look around. He says he saw someone in the back by a storage building and claims that the suspect raised a long gun toward him. The victim then started firing his .45 caliber pistol at the man, while running back into his house. He fired off eight rounds, but apparently didn't hit anyone. Authorities say an attempt to track the would-be burglar with a police dog was unsuccessful.

Police Investigate Cookeville Dog Shooting

The dog is called a "Yorkypoo" and its name is Buster. The mixed breed poodle-Yorkshire terrier animal had been let out of his house on 17th Street last week to use the restroom. The owner told police she then heard a gunshot and says her dog began to yelp and ran back inside. Officer Jamey McCurry says an entry and exit wound made it clear that the dog had been shot with a firearm and not an air gun. The officer says that several people in the apartment complex heard the shot, but no one saw anything.

Child Nearly Hit In Church Parking Lot

Reckless endangerment charges are pending against a Cookeville man who allegedly came close to hitting a five-year-old child in a church parking lot this week. Sheriff's deputy Sam Lee says he was off-duty when he noticed two men running around the back of the Rocky Point Baptist Church. He says they were chasing the driver of a truck which had pulled into the parking lot of the church at a high rate of speed. That driver was identified as 71-year-old Poteet Bohannon of North Chestnut Street in Cookeville. He allegedly told deputies that he accidentally got to going too fast on Rocky Point Road and that he did not see the small child in the parking lot when he pulled in.

TTU Prof Named To Head Of State Organization

Tennessee Tech University’s Christy Killman has been selected president-elect of the Tennessee Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance. Killman is TTU assistant professor of exercise science, physical education and wellness. She was elected during the organization’s 40th annual convention held in Murfreesboro. The 900-member group promotes physical activity and positive health behaviors for Tennesseans through continuing education for professionals in related fields. Killman will begin her service in February 2010. She also will be a co-presenter with faculty members Mike Phillips and Rhonda Folio at the National Association of Kinesiology annual conference to be held in Scottsdale, Ariz., in January 2010.

Waking Up To A Burglar

Cookeville police are investigating an incident in which a man awoke in the middle of the night to find a burglar in his home. It happened about 2 am Sunday at an apartment on Summerhaven Drive. The 21-year-old victim told police that he was asleep when he heard his bedroom door open. He awakened to find a man standing in his doorway. The suspect was described as being about 5' 6" tall and wearing a black hat and black shirt. When the burglar realized someone was in the room, he shut the door and ran off -- apparently leaving through the back door. Police say he had gained entry by breaking out a window. Nothing was reported missing.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Dealing With Life-Changing Medical Conditions

How does each generation deal with life changing medical conditions? The AWAKE Support Group will be discussing this topic at its meeting on Thursday, November 12 from 6 to 8 pm at Cookeville Regional Medical Center in Education Rooms 2, 3 and 4. Kathryn Smith of Franklin will be this month’s speaker. She is a native of Birmingham, Alabama and graduated from Trevecca Nazarene University in Nashville with a Bachelor’s of Art degree in Interpersonal Communications and Human Relations. Sponsored by the Sleep Center at Cookeville Regional, the A.W.A.K.E. support group is for people in the Upper Cumberland area with sleep disorders, and anyone with a sleep disorder is encouraged to attend. For more information, call 783-2753.

Woman Charged With Trespassing and Theft

Charges of theft and criminal trespassing have been filed against a Jackson County woman, who was allegedly caught shoplifting at Walmart. Police say it happened Friday night when store security allegedly caught Rachel Judith Budinger of Poor House Hollow Road, Gainesboro, going to the self-checkout aisle, scanning one item, and placing it into a bag with other unscanned merchandise. Police say she was then observed taking the items out to the vehicle of an accomplice, identified as Robert Heady. Heady was also observed putting a ballcap on his head and leaving the store without paying for it. Because Budinger had been caught shoplifting in the store back in 2000, she had signed what police described as a "banishment form," prohibiting her from being on Walmart property. It was the violation of that agreement that led to the trespassing charge.

TTU Volleyball Player Earns Another Honor

Senior Katie Kenline has put together an impressive 2009 season in which earned several all-tournament team honors and rewritten both the Tennessee Tech and Ohio Valley Conference record books. On Monday, the libero added her second OVC Defensive Player of the Week honor to that list. Kenline, a marketing major, led all players in digs in both of the Golden Eagle matches last weekend. She had 19 digs in three sets (6.33 digs/set) against Tennessee State and 30 digs in four sets (7.50 digs/set) against Austin Peay. Kenline extended her streak with 10-or-more digs to 23 matches, and she did not commit a reception error in 52 attempts. Kenline and the Golden Eagles split its two matches last weekend, winning on Dig Pink night against Tennessee State before dropping a close, four-set match against Austin Peay on Saturday.
Earlier this season, Kenline received OVC Defensive Player of the Week honors when she totaled 71 digs at the Appalachian State Invitational to lead all players and earn all-tournament team honors. Kenline recorded a season-high 32 digs in TTU's win against William & Mary and also put up 20 digs against Appalachian State and 19 versus North Florida. The Golden Eagles also played pre-conference tournaments at Tennessee and Louisville this season, and Kenline earned all-tournament team honors at both as well. Now a nine-time OVC Defensive Player of the Week honoree, Kenline became the first Golden Eagle to surpass 2,000 career digs earlier this season and is now just 67 saves away from becoming the all-time OVC leader in digs. Kenline has amassed 2,388 digs so far in her career at Tech. This season, Kenline leads the team with 503 digs and a 5.03 digs per set average. She has posted double-digit digs in 24 of TTU's 25 matches this season. The Tennessee Tech volleyball team returns to action this weekend in its final two matches of the regular season. The Golden Eagles travel to Morehead State on Friday evening before taking on Eastern Kentucky on Saturday.

Monterey Woman Charged With Rape

A December 14th court date has been set for a Putnam County woman, accused of having sex with a minor and of sending nude photos of herself to the boy’s cell phone. 40-year-old Sherry D. Barnes of Monterey was charged with statutory rape and soliciting sexual exploitation of a minor in warrants taken out by Putnam County Sheriff’s Investigator Jimmy Patterson. Patterson says he began his investigation after the 17-year-old boy, who was on probation out of Juvenile Court, began skipping school. According to the warrants, Barnes allegedly engaged in sexual intercourse with the boy at her house in September of this year. The warrants also allege that she sent nude images of herself to the teenager's cell phone in the month of August. Barnes was arrested on the warrants last Friday, and bond was set at $5,000 for each offense. One of the bond conditions is that she have no contact with the alleged victim in the case..

Road Closing To Be Discussed

The standing committees of the Putnam County commission meet this evening to discuss a number of topics -- including a proposal to close D. Farley Road. That's a county road that runs off Highway 84, (the Calfkiller Highway), south of Monterey. A public hearing on the proposed closing will take place at 5:30 this evening and the county's planning committee will take up the issue at six. Meanwhile, the planning committee will also consider setting a speed limit for Old Walton Road, while the Fiscal Review committee will hear from Shelba Hodges of Plateau Mental Health Center and from county executive Kim Blaylock. Blaylock will be talking about energy efficiency and conservation block grants, as well as the Local Government Energy Loan program.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Local Goodwill Store Among Top Performers

Officials with the Goodwill organization say the store in Cookeville is one of the top three performers in the state. Goodwill accepts donations that include clothing, household items, electronics, furniture, books and jewelry to resell to the public in the company's retail stores. Sales overall at Goodwill stores in Middle Tennessee have been up since the economic downturn. One officials says, "What we've found is that people in the past who shied away from shopping at Goodwill have discovered us, and they are sticking around.'' The other two top performing stores, besides the one in Cookeville, are in Clarksville and Madison, Tennessee.

Environmental Office To Help Charity

The Cookeville office of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation will host a shoe collection drive this month to support "Soles4Souls," a Nashville-based charity that facilitates the donation of shoes to those in need worldwide. TDEC will provide a shoe collection station at their regional field office, located at 1221 South Willow Avenue, for a two week period beginning November 9th and going through November 20th, 2009. TDEC staff, state employees in other nearby offices, as well as the general public in the surrounding communities are invited to participate. The event is being held in conjunction with America Recycles Day on November 15th -- as a way to both promote recycling awareness, as well as to support a charitable cause.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Gas Drive-Off Leads To Theft Citation

Misdemeanor theft charges are pending against a Cookeville man who allegedly admitted to pumping gas at the BP Station on West Jackson Street and then driving off without paying for it. According to a report by Officer Charles Quiett, 19-year-old Brandon Allen Ferguson of Christmas Lane "confessed to driving off without paying" after he was stopped at a nearby intersection. Quiett confirmed that a gas drive-off call had been received from the business and that Ferguson's vehicle matched the description. He issued Ferguson a citation in lieu of arrest.

Overton County Woman Charged With Aggravated Assault

Aggravated assault charges have been filed against an Overton County woman who is accused of allegedly trying to run from police. Officer Adrienne Lintz says that 21-year-old Patti Jessica Hall of Palestine Road in Allons, was also charged with reckless endangerment, evading arrest, and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. According to Lintz, she first initiated a traffic stop on Hall's vehicle after noticing that Hall wasn't wearing a seat belt. As the officer was about to put her patrol car into park, she noticed another female get out of the back seat and begin running from the scene. Lintz gave chase on foot, and alleges that Hall then began accelerating up the hill toward her. She says that Hall also nearly hit Officer Josh Ward's car head-on. After what was described as a "lengthy vehicle pursuit around town," Ms. Hall finally stopped, and she and her passenger were taken into custody. The passenger turned out to be a runaway from New Jersey, who was charged with possession of drug paraphernalia, resisting arrest and criminal impersonation.

Medical Offices Targeted By Burglars

Cookeville police say a number of doctor's offices have been targeted by burglars in recent days -- most of whom are taking cash and other items, not drugs. Break-ins have been reported at Dr. Kenny Lynn's office on North Cedar Street, Hintz Family Dentistry on North Willow Avenue, the Dental Arts Building on Shipley Street and the Pain Relief Center on Lowe Avenue. Investigation continues.

Drunken Gunplay Alleged

A man who was allegedly intoxicated at a party over the weekend is facing charges today after he reportedly pulled out a handgun. According to a report by Officer Derrick Springs, police were dispatched to a home on Briarwood Drive in reference to someone shooting a handgun. The officer says the complainant told him that he and his roommates were having a party when one of their guests -- identified as 25-year-old Matthew David Wampler of Kingston -- pulled out a handgun and shot it three times in an unspecified direction. No one was hurt in the shooting incident and some other partygoers were able to get the gun away from Wampler, who then fled the scene. Police say they located a vehicle in a ditch on Jackson Street a few minutes later and saw Wampler walking out of a field adjacent to the vehicle. They say Wampler allegedly admitted to driving the vehicle and also stated that he was the owner of the handgun in question. He was charged with DUI and possession of a gun while intoxicated.

Council Rejects Fountain Bids; Approves Pilot Project

As expected, the Cookeville city council Thursday night rejected all of the bids that had come in for the construction of a "fountain plaza" at Dogwood Park. The action came at the recommendation of Leisure Services Director Rick Woods. The project will be re-bid within the next two weeks. Meanwhile, the council approved a proposal by the Cookeville electric department to offer homeowners in town the chance to improve the energy efficiency of their homes. It will take place through a pilot program being offered by the city and the Tennessee Valley Authority. Electric Department Director Tony Peek says a certified inspector will do the evaluation, and the homeowner will be re-imbursed up to $500 if he makes the recommended energy-efficient changes. Anyone interested in the program can call the electric department.

Putnam Murder Case Bound Over To Grand Jury

Second degree murder charges against a Putnam County woman have now been bound over to the grand jury. A preliminary hearing was held this week for 28-year-old Dana Kay Garrett of Claude Loftis Road in the Double Springs community. After hearing testimony from sheriff's deputies who investigated the incident, Judge John Hudson found probable cause to bind the case to the grand jury. Garrett was arrested in September after allegedly stabbing her husband in the chest. Police say Garrett at first told them that she didn't know what had happened to her husband, and later said he threatened her with a knife and that he was killed as they struggled with the weapon. Police say the couple had a history of domestic violence. Garrett remains jailed under $100,000 bond.

Overton Man Charged With Assault

A General Sessions court date of November 23rd has been set for an Overton County man, charged with four counts of aggravated assault. 24-year-old Daniel Jeffrey Keyes of Rickman Road is accused of using his car in an attempt to run another vehicle off the road. Police say that other vehicle was being driven by his ex-girlfriend and also had three other passengers. Officer Calvin Anderson says the incident began at the Cookeville Hardee's and allegedly continued to the other side of town. He says at the time of the incident Keyes was out of jail on bond in connection with an Overton County case of domestic violence against his mother.

Tennessee Tech Gets DOE Grant Funding

Tennessee Tech University has been awarded $125,000 by the U.S. Department of Energy to provide technical support and help local industries reduce overhead costs. The grant will help pay for studies that provide concrete ways for manufacturers to increase energy efficiency and reduce waste production. TTU will use the $125,000 grant to provide assessments for the Kellogg Plant and SFI Steel Fabricator Industry in Memphis. The Industrial Assessment Center will also build on existing relationships with its regional distributors to identify small to medium plants that could benefit from its industrial energy assessments. Ken Currie, Director of TTU’s Center for Manufacturing Research, says the grant "will give students a chance to gain engineering experience, providing them with an opportunity to evaluate how a plant's energy and waste issues are managed."

ATM Fraud Investigated

Cookeville police are hoping to use surveillance cameras to help them solve a case of ATM fraud. The victim told authorities that she first noticed an unauthorized withdrawal from her account late last month and began investigating. She found additional ATM debits had taken place starting back in September. The woman told police that she had no idea how the money could have been withdrawn because she still has her debit card. Authorities say she could be the victim of what is known as debit card "skimming" where devices are illegally attached to ATMs and are able to read the cards information. Four incidents took place on the campus of Tennessee Tech, but two others occurred at convenience markets which may have video of a suspect.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Shotgun Incident Leads To Assault Charges

An Algood woman has been charged with domestic assault and aggravated assault after an incident in which she allegedly fired a shotgun at her boyfriend. According to police, 33-year-old Laurie Lynn Griffis of Third Avenue South had allegedly gotten into an argument with a man she was dating. The disagreement started at a Cookeville restaurant and apparently continued after the couple returned home. Warrants allege that Griffis grabbed a shotgun that discharged as the victim tried to take it away from her. He then reportedly got into his truck to leave and she re-loaded, firing at the vehicle. No one was injured.

Sixth Offense DUI Charged

Sixth offense DUI is the charge facing a Cookeville man, who was stopped for speeding on South Jefferson Avenue. Police allege that 40-year-old John David Teague of West 5th Street failed two field sobriety tests and also refused to submit to blood alcohol test. A check of his driving history revealed five other drunk driving convictions -- all of them reportedly occuring in Putnam County over the past eight years. Teague's bond was set at $8,000 and he'll be in court on November 16th.

Child Neglect Alleged At Algood Walmart

A November 23rd court date has been set for an Overton County woman, charged by Algood police with child neglect. Chief Jim Eldridge says 41-year-old Donna Sharline Huffman of Hilham allegedly drove to the Algood Walmart Monday night, left the engine running on her car, and went inside to shop. He says that someone passing by saw the 9-month-old baby alone in the vehicle and called police. The infant was in a child restraint seat, but police say no one else was in the vehicle, which had been left in the fire lane. Huffman was located inside the store, and authorities say their investigation indicates that the child had been alone for up to twenty minutes. The Department of Children's Services is investigating.

Putnam Deputies Catch Up To Illegal Hunters

Two Sparta men, who were caught spotlighting a deer in southeastern Putnam County Monday night, have been issued a series of citations by state wildlife officials. According to a report by sheriff's deputy Randy Brown, 18-year-old Michael T. Phillips of Randolph Mill Road and 19-year-old James C. Hatfield of Dyer Cove Road were both cited by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency for killing big game out of season, spotlighting, and shooting from a vehicle. The case began when a resident of Whittaker Road noticed the two shoot at a deer from the road. Brown arrived on the scene a few minutes later and got a description of the vehicle -- a low rider truck with loud mufflers. He and Sgt. Joe Nash were able to track down that vehicle, which had apparently travelled up and down Phifer Mountain Road at a high rate of speed and was headed toward White County on White Oak Flatt Road when Nash got it pulled over. The two young men allegedly admitted to spotlighting the deer. Hatfield allegedly shot the animal, while Phillips was driving. The TWRA confiscated the rifle and scope used in the incident, and the two will be in court later this month.

Cookeville Woman Reports Being Robbed

A Cookeville man will be back in court tomorrow on charges of robbery. Police say 28-year-old Wilmoth Earl Denson of East Spring Street is accused of taking a cell phone and $70 in cash from a woman who he apparently believed owed him money. The victim says that she was walking along West Broad Street, near West End, when a car pulled up and Denson got out, knocking her to the ground and taking her money. She told police that she and her boyfriend later went to Denson's home to retrieve the items, but he refused to give them back. When police arrived to question Denson, he denied having seen the woman, but was arrested and taken to jail. Police also charged him with possession of drug paraphernalia after he allegedly took a syringe out of his boot while being booked in.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Tech Athletics To Earn Big Money This Weekend

Tennessee Tech University's Athletics Department will be earning $475,000 when the Golden Eagles travel to Georgia this weekend to take on the Bulldogs. Tech Athletic Director Mark Wilson is quoted in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution as saying the University looks for games that will, "offer the most amount of money." Typically, that's one "money" game per year. But this season, in part because of the economy, Tech scheduled both Kansas State and Georgia. The $475,000 check from UGA will amount to approximately five percent of TTU's annual $9 million dollar budget for athletics. Of the $475,000, $300,000 goes to Tennessee Tech's athletics department general budget. The rest goes to the football budget. Last year, coach Watson Brown used the payout money from playing Louisville and Western Michigan to buy headsets for the coaching staff. Some of the other money bought a video editing system that the entire department uses.

Chase Leads To Third Offense DUI Charges

Third offense DUI charges have been filed against a Putnam County man who allegedly led authorities on an extended chase over the weekend. The sheriff's department says it began at the Kroger store in Cookeville where a man had left his car parked in the fire lane, with the engine running, while he went inside. The car, a 1996 Mustang, was gone by the time he returned. A short time later, sheriff's deputy Scott Stockton was dispatched to a report of a reckless driver on Buffalo Valley Road, and found the vehicle to be that missing Mustang. Stockton says he stopped the vehicle, but says the driver -- identified as 35-year-old Houston Howard Jared of Rock Springs Road -- allegedly took off just as he was approaching the car. That began a chase which led officers down Buffalo Valley Road, through Baxter, to Ensor Hollow Road and ultimately to a home on Rock Springs Road. Jared was taken into custody and charged with drunk driving for the third time, as well as reckless endangerment, theft, evading arrest, resisting arrest, and driving on a suspended license.

A Reminder From The Sheriff's Department

The Putnam County sheriff's department is reminding people who may be selling things door-to-door that they need to first obtain a permit from the county clerk's office. Deputy Bobby Lane investigated a call of suspicious people knocking on doors in the West Haven subdivision over the weekend, and found them to be two young men who were apparently working for a California company and trying to sell a cleaning solution. A warrants check on the individuals didn't turn up any issues, but they were advised to obtain a permit if they wanted to keep selling.

Cookeville Trucking Company Wins Award

Cookeville-based Averitt Express has been given the Clean Diesel Leadership Award from the Tennessee Trucking Association. According to the TTA, the award -- which is in its first year -- is designed to recognize organizations within the transportation industry that have made "significant, measurable improvements in air quality through the development and/or implementation of clean diesel actions." These actions range from educating drivers on fuel efficiency to equipping tractors with auxiliary power units to using alternative fuels.

Animal Cruelty Charged

A young Cookeville man has been issued a citation for animal cruelty after allegedly dropping a dog off on the side of the road. Bill Hunter, the animal control officer for the Putnam County sheriff's department, says the young man was apparently upset when the animal shelter refused to take the dog one morning last week because they were not yet officially open for business. Shelter hours are from noon to four pm Monday through Saturday, although workers are on the scene before that time, taking care of the animals. Hunter says this particular individual was upset that one of those workers would not accept his dog and told the deputy that he would simply let the dog loose. Hunter warned him that doing so would result in a citation, and a few hours later, the deputy received a report from the city of Cookeville's animal control officer that a dog had indeed been dropped at the side of the road. Hunter identified the animal and then issued its owner a citation. The owner denied any wrongdoing.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Local Talk To Focus On Flu Pandemics

Cookeville-area residents are being invited to learn about how pandemic influenza can change history from the author of "The Great Influenza" at this year’s Stonecipher Lecture on Science and Society. The speech is scheduled for seven o'clock Tuesday night in Tennessee Tech University’s Derryberry Hall Auditorium. John M. Barry, a prize-winning and best-selling historian who has advised the Bush and Obama administrations, the World Health Organization, and the private sector on pandemic influenza, will present a talk called,"Nature Against Man: Past, present, and future of pandemic influenza." In 2005 the National Academies of Science named his book, "The Great Influenza," which is a study of the 1918 pandemic, the year's best book on science or medicine. He also won the "September 11th Award" for his contribution to pandemic preparedness. The Stonecipher Lecture, which is free and open to the public, was created to fund the appearance of leading scholars and thinkers to address the interrelationship between science and contemporary society.

More Flu Clinics Scheduled

Officials with the Putnam County Health Department say they have now received a limited supply of H1N1 flu shots. They'll have a clinic from five to eight o'clock Monday night, November 3, to give out those shots. You can call 528-2531 to schedule an appointment. Individuals deemed to be in high risk groups will have priority for the shots. That includes health care workers, pregnant women, children, and people with chronic health conditions. Meanwhile, the department is also having a clinic on Tuesday, starting at 10 am to give out seasonal flu vaccines. No appointment is necessary for those, and the cost of the shot is $25. 

Tech Pride Sausage Unveiled

You may have heard of Tennessee Pride sausage, but several batches of specially prepared Tech Pride sausage and Tech Pride bratwurst will be available for alumni to sample in the President’s Box during this weekend’s football game against Tennessee State University. Eventually, the sausage produced from hogs raised at TTU’s own 1,800-acre Oakley farm in Overton County will be made available for campus consumption and for sale at local grocery stores. Wampler's Farm Sausage Company, owned by TTU business school grads Ted Wampler Jr. and Jim Ed Wampler, processed the special blend at its Lenoir City plant. It was introduced last week during a gathering on campus of the Tennessee Farm Bureau.

Meth Lab Dump Site Disposed Of

Officials describe it as a "clandestine meth lab dump site." Putnam County sheriff's Deputy Steven Elrod says he was dispatched last week to Hilham Highway in the area of the Overton County line after someone driving down that highway called the department to report seeing some bottles and trash along the side of the road. Upon arrival, Elrod says he found a white trash bag that had broken open. He says the trash contained several items commonly used in meth production -- including hydrogen peroxide, lighter fluid, coffee filters, plastic tubing...and a beach ball. The deputy says all of the items were packaged and disposed of.

Women Face DUI Charges In Separate Incidents

DUI charges are pending today against two Cookeville women -- arrested in separate cases. Police say 22-year-old Suzanna N. Mitchell of Heritage Green Way was charged with DUI and with aggravated assault after she allegedly ran into a pedestrian while driving drunk. It happened about 3:30 in the morning at an apartment complex on North Dixie Avenue. Officer Alex Lazcos says that Mitchell told him she was standing by her car in the parking lot when she saw the victim get hit by another car. But the victim told the officer that Mitchell had passed the entrance to the apartment complex and he had walked into the street to guide her back in when she allegedly backed her vehicle into him, causing him to fall and hurt his head. He was treated and released at Cookeville Regional Medical Center. In the other case, 50-year-old Joyce D. Jestes of Fisk Road was charged after officer Brandon Tayes noticed her vehicle weaving on 12th Street. He alleges that the car ran into the grass on the right side of the road at least twice and says that Jestes failed several field sobriety tests. She also had one prior DUI on March 10, 2006 in Putnam County.