Jane and I have been heavily involved in a project over the past few weeks that required us to spend an inordinate amount of time reading books. You will apparently be able to purchase these audiobooks, featuring our lovely voices, in time for Christmas, but we don't have the details as yet. We'll let you know when we know. In the meantime, we are now able to update the Scoop on a more regular basis. While we were otherwise occupied, these items made news:
An incident that was first reported as a "carjacking" has led to charges being brought against a Jackson County man. Police say 26-year-old Michael Gene Lynch of Seven Knobs Road, Gainesboro, was charged with being in possession of a stolen vehicle after he was stopped while driving a car that the owner claims was stolen from him at gunpoint. It happened Sunday afternoon when the victim explained to police that he had, quote, "robbed several drug dealers over the past few months" and, thereby made several enemies. He claims the carjackers contacted him to say that they would give him back his vehicle when he paid them their money. For his part, Lynch claimed that he had purchased the vehicle and produced a bill of sale, but the victim claims the name on that document was forged.
State Representative Henry Fincher of Cookeville says he is thinking about making a run for the Congressional seat held by Bart Gordon ... now that Gordon has announced he WON'T be running for re-election. Fincher, who was described by the Associated Press as " a vocal supporter of gun rights and an opponent of abortion rights in the state legislature," said he expects a Democrat with "rural values" to have a strong showing. He is quoted as saying, "A pro-life, pro-gun Democrat can go toe-to-toe with anybody the GOP has to offer." But he also admits that he, quote, "has a lot of company" among other Democrats who are mulling over a race for Congress.
December 28th is the court date for a west Tennessee woman who was arrested in Cookeville last week on charges of child abuse and neglect. Police say 38-year-old Amy L. Sullivan of Memphis was allegedly seen "staggering" in the parking lot of a local motel. When officers arrived on the scene, they claim that Sullivan was getting ready to drive away with her two children -- one an infant and the other four years old. But police reportedly convinced her to stay another night in the motel. It was in her motel room that police say they witnessed Sullivan inadvertently bump her baby's head into a TV set. She was then jailed under a ten thousand dollar bond and the children placed into DCS custody until their grandmother could come and pick them up.
An incident in the parking lot of a local tavern has resulted in charges being brought against a Cookeville man. Authorities say 22-year-old Aaron Joseph Borden of Paris Street is charged with aggravated assault and reckless endangerment. Warrants on file in the case allege that Borden had been in the Boondocks Bar in Baxter and had been in a fight. He then attempted to leave, and another man tried to stop him from driving by taking his vehicle keys. But Borden allegedly put the vehicle into gear and "and dragged the victim through the parking lot before stopping in a ditch on the property." Borden also allegedly ran into another man in the parking lot as he drove the vehicle. Both victims were injured, and Borden was later taken to jail, where his total bond was set at $3,500. He has a January 25th court date.
Christmas is not yet here, but the Cookeville police department's traffic division is already making plans for the New Year's holiday. Police say the Traffic Division will be conducting a Sobriety Checkpoint on Willow Avenue at the intersection of Jere Whitson Road on December 31, 2009. In their press release on the checkpoint, they say "The Cookeville Police Department encourages everyone not to operate a vehicle if alcohol has been consumed. If alcohol will be consumed, plan ahead of time to have a designated driver." The department is one of several that are expected to have high visibility throughout the holidays.
A misdemeanor drug citation, issued to an assistant football coach at Tennessee Tech University, has led to that coach's resignation. 28-year-old Matthew Schmitz, who has helped with recruiting for the past three years, was issued a citation after a traffic stop on Dry Valley Road earlier this month. Algood police allege that they found a small amount of marijuana during a search of the vehicle. He'll be in court on the charge in January. Meanwhile, Tech officials say he resigned from his position, effective this week. A joint statement issued by TTU Director of Athletics Mark Wilson and head football coach Watson Brown, said, quote, "Tennessee Tech athletics has high expectations of our coaches, student-athletes and staff. We represent the University and the community, and we want to uphold the high standards that are expected of us."
Officials with the Cookeville district of the Tennessee Highway Patrol say that a trooper, who works out of that office and is normally assigned to Overton County, is reported to be somewhat better after he was seriously injured in a one-vehicle crash on I-40 in Wilson County. 42-year-old Wendell Reagan was traveling east on Interstate 40 Monday afternoon -- in his SUV patrol vehicle -- when he was involved in what was described as a one-vehicle roll over crash. Reagan was airlifted from the scene, and authorities are still trying to determine just what happened and why. The accident is under investigation by the Nashville district of the THP and by the THP Critical Incident Response Team.
The second person indicted in the drug overdose death of an Overton County teenager has now been arrested. 27-year-old Andy Franklin of the Alpine community, reportedly turned himself in at the jail in Livingston after it became known that he had been charged with second degree murder in the September 29th death of 16-year-old Kayla Bilbrey. 26-year-old Tresta Stepp of Livingston has also been charged in the case. Stepp and Franklin, who were reportedly friends of Kayla Bilbrey, are accused of having provided Oxycodone to the teenager while the three were at the Franklin home in Alpine. Stepp later dropped Bilbrey off at the emergency room of Livingston Regional Medical Center and fled the scene.
Officials with the Cookeville Putnam County Chamber of Commerce are now out with a report on the the BlueCross Bowl, Tennessee's high school football state championship games held at Tennessee Tech University’s Tucker Stadium Dec. 3-5. Officials say with an estimated 5,000 to 8,000 people in the stands for each game, the crowd was more than expected. The paid attendance figure came out to be 21,305, which is a 9.3 percent increase over last year’s paid attendance number. They say the region felt the impact with dining, retail and lodging facilities receiving an extra boost. Karla Clarke, general manager of Fairfield Inn & Suites and chair of the Convention and Visitors Bureau Steering Committee, reported that the economic impact of hosting the games was very good. She says Fairfield was sold-out Thursday, almost sold-out on Friday, and about 75 percent on Saturday.
Another case of apparent identity theft has been reported to the Putnam County sheriff's department. The 56-year-old victim came to the department this week to report that a woman who lives in Los Angeles, California, had used HIS credit card information to make several purchases from the Home Shopping Network. He says he found out about the purchases of an XBox gaming system, a home theater system, and a digital camcorder after the Home Shopping Network contacted him. He also says he did not authorize this fraudulent use of his credit card, but says a similar issue occurred with his wife's debit card a couple of months ago.
A man who allegedly tried to avoid being arrested by giving police a false name is now facing additional charges. Officer Brian Long says 21-year-old Joshua Cain Jones of Broad Street was a passenger in a vehicle that had been stopped for a brake light violation. According to the police report, Jones did not have any ID on him, but told the officer that his name was Josh Young. But police say the driver identified his passenger as Joshua Jones, and they say Jones then allegedly admitted to giving a false name because he had failed to show up for a court date on a violation of probation charge. He also allegedly admitted to having two baggies of marijuana hidden in his underwear. Jones was arrested and also issued citations for criminal impersonation and drug possession.
Law enforcement authorities say would-be thieves in the area are doing some Christmas "shopping" by stealing valuable items from other people -- particularly those who leave their vehicles unlocked. A Maple Avenue man told police that a compound bow and a set of wrenches were taken from his vehicle, and a resident of North Pine Hill Road told the sheriff's department that a .32 caliber handgun had been taken from his truck. Meanwhile, a resident of 16th Street reported his 16-gigabyte Apple Ipod was stolen out of a locked truck sometime overnight Tuesday. And a couple on Buffalo Valley Road reported that they were gone from home for less than an hour when they returned to find someone had broken in and stolen a laptop. The thief also apparently tried to take their TV, but may have been scared off. In other cases, a home on West Whitehall Road was burglarized by someone who took an Xbox gaming system and a thirty-aught-six rifle and scope.
A Cookeville woman has been charged with driving under the influence after being pulled over on Willow Avenue early Wednesday morning. Officer Christopher Ferguson says he was patrolling about 3 am when he noticed a vehicle travelling north with only one headlight. When he got turned around, he says he observed the vehicle cross the yellow line twice and decided to conduct a traffic stop. The driver -- identified as 39-year-old Lisa Gail Flynn of Maplewood Drive -- allegedly admitted to having "a few drinks," but Ferguson says she refused to perform any field sobriety tests or to submit to a blood test to determine the alcohol and/or drug content of her blood. She was then transported to the Putnam County jail and her vehicle towed from the scene.
Charges of drug possession, resisting arrest and criminal impersonation are pending against a Wilson County man, who allegedly tried to shove a bag of cocaine into his mouth after being questioned during a traffic stop. 19-year-old Desmond McClenon of Lebanon was taken into custody after police saw the bag drop from his hands and float down the street in a heavy rainfall. They claim that McClenon even tried to "eat the item" as it floated away. Authorities later retrieved the baggie and found it to contain a white rock-like substance that they believe to be crack cocaine.
Congressman Bart Gordon has announced that he was able to secure funding for Tennessee Tech University to help complete construction of the Millard Oakley STEM Center. TTU will receive $400,000 for its STEM Center, a 20,000 square foot facility that will focus on teacher training and the research, development and application of the best teaching practices for students in preschool to college grade classes. Gordon says the money will help TTU get one step closer to completing the Center, which will train new and existing teachers in the Upper Cumberland area, enabling them to provide students with a strong grounding in math and science, which he says will be needed for the technical jobs of the future. TTU laid out its initial plans for the building several years ago. Construction of the actual facility began in 2008 and is expected to be completed in May.
Now that we're caught up, we'll try to get back to business as usual.