Sunday, January 31, 2010

Financial Aid Seminar Set At TTU

Putnam County high school seniors and parents can learn about applying and paying for college by attending College Goal Sunday from 2 to 4 p.m. Feb. 14 at Tennessee Tech University. During the free session, financial aid experts will guide students and parents through the completion of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Volunteers will explain the FAFSA line by line and give one-on-one information, as well as host question and answer sessions addressing other financial aid issues. The free workshop will enable students to complete applications for several awards: the Tennessee HOPE lottery scholarships, federal Pell and supplemental grants, federal work study awards, federal loan programs, TTU need-based scholarships and State of Tennessee need-based grants. Tennessee Tech will have a dedicated computer lab set up so that participants can finalize the application process before leaving the workshop. For more information, call 372-3073.

Potential Murder Witness Being Sought

Here's the picture of a man Cookeville police say they want to talk to in regards to a shooting last week. The press release from the Department is below:

At approximately 10:00 p.m. on Thursday, January 28, our officers were dispatched to a reported disturbance and shooting at 260 Carr Avenue, apartment K. Upon their arrival, they found several persons at the location and immediately located one person who had been shot.

Franklin Todd Crabtree, a white male, age 32, from Knoxville had been shot multiple times by unknown assailant(s). He was transported to Cookeville Regional Medical Center and then flown to Erlanger Trauma Center where he died early this morning around 4 a.m.

According to several witnesses, some type of altercation took place between the victim and the two suspects that ended in the shooting. These suspects had left the scene prior to our arrival.

Both suspects are described as white, male, possible ages between 20 and 25. No further confirmed suspect physical description information is available at this time. We believe these suspects left the scene in an unknown vehicle.

This investigation is active and ongoing; we will provide additional updates as information is available.

In conjunction with this investigation, the Cookeville Police Department is attempting to locate Dallas Carl Allen. Mr. Allen is 49 years old, 5’7”’, 170 lbs., and has dark blond colored hair. It is believed Mr. Allen possesses information that would assist in this investigation.

Four Candidates Now Running For State Rep

There are now at least four candidates in the running for state representative from Cookeville -- although the only contested race so far may be in the Republican primary. Both Bill Cody and current Cookeville city council member Ricky Shelton have now picked up papers to run as Republicans for the 42nd District House seat in the Tennessee General Assembly. Independent candidate Jeffrey Judd has also filed papers to run for the seat, and incumbent Democrat Henry Fincher is running for re-election. The primary for that race will be in August, with the General Election to be held in November. Candidates for state representative have until April 1st at noon to file qualifying papers.

Schools Taking Another Snow Day

Putnam County school officials say most of the roads in the area are not yet clear enough for them to safely transport students, so Monday is another "snow day" for the school system, and Tuesday is looking like it could be one as well because officials say -- based on the forecast -- the shadier spots on many of the side streets and back roads may not melt today, or if they do, will re-freeze tonight. Officials say school buses are heavier on their front end, which means it's easier for them to slip and slide on slick surfaces, something they don't want to happen with students on board. The official decision on whether or not to close schools comes from the director, in consultation with the transportation supervisor.

Cookeville Water Issues Should Be Resolved

Cookeville residents should not be having any more troubles with discolored water today, now that a 12-inch water line that ruptured Friday afternoon on South Maple Avenue has been repaired. Water Department director Ronnie Kelly says the rupture occurred around 2:30 pm on South Maple Avenue just south of the Neal Street intersection. He says the break was isolated within 45 minutes and was contained in such a way that all customers remained in service. But Kelly says the break in the waterline DID cause water that normally flows in one direction to reverse course, and that reversal caused some discoloration of the water in large parts of the system. Crews flushed out the lines over the weekend to remove as much of that as they could, but officials say if you still have discolored water today, call them at 526-9591.

Local Jobless Rates Increase Again

Putnam County's unemployment rate took another significant jump in December, according to the latest figures from the Tennessee Department of Labor. The county is now in the double digits when it comes to joblessness. The jobless rate here is 10.1 percent -- up seven-tenths of a point from November and two and a half percent higher than it was a year ago. In fact, all of the counties in the Cookeville micropolitan area saw their jobless rate increase by that same seven-tenths of a point. Overton County went from 11.5 to 12.2 percent, while Jackson County's jobless figure increased from 12.4 to 13.1 percent. And in White County, the rate was 14 percent, up half a point from last month. Officials say the estimated unemployment rate in Cookeville itself is somewhat better -- standing at 9.2 percent.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Another Long Weekend For Putnam Schools

Putnam County school officials didn't wait for the wintry weather to start Thursday before deciding to call off classes for Friday. Authorities say the forecast for bad weather was enough for them to make the decision. The school calendar has several snow days built into it that officials can utilize without having to worry about making up those days at the end of the year, and officials say it's safer to keep children at home than to have them in school when bad weather begins to create issues on the roads.

Alleged Shoplifter Injured In Fall From Truck

Theft of property charges are pending against two men accused of shoplifting from two different Cookeville stores this week. Police say 29-year-old Kasey Lee Frazier of Baxter and 41-year-old Andreas Bethel Allen of Sparta were issued citations after an investigation that started at Tractor Supply. The manager there told Officer Adrienne Lintz that a suspected shoplifter had just left the store. Lintz noticed the man jump into a truck and speed away. She pursued the vehicle toward Clover Hill Drive where she noticed a man lying in the middle of the road. That man, police say, was Allen who had either jumped or fallen out of the truck as it was being driven by Frazier. He was taken to the hospital for treatment of his injuries, while another officer stopped the vehicle a few blocks away. Police say they found eight pairs of gloves and two flashlights from Tractor Supply in the back seat. They also found two shopping baskets filled with groceries from Kroger.

More Information Released On Hospital Shooting

Cookeville police today issued a press release with more information on a shooting incident that occurred Wednesday night in the parking lot of Cookeville's hospital. Police say that "at approximately 7:15 p.m. on Wednesday, January 27th, we received reports that a shooting had just occurred outside the main (northwest) entrance of Cookeville Regional Medical Center. As officers were responding they were notified by employees of the hospital that a shooting victim had just arrived at the emergency room."

That victim, Mark A. Ray, age 43 of Sparta, had suffered a gunshot wound to the right side of his chest. A short time later, police were notified that another man had entered the lobby of the Putnam County Sheriff’s Department and told personnel there that he had “just shot a man.” That man, identified as William H. Cox, age 51 of Hermitage, was escorted to the Cookeville Police Department for questioning.

After the preliminary on-scene investigation, some witness interviews and after the interview with Mr. Cox, police say they now believe that Mr. Cox drove from Hermitage to Cookeville to confront his wife, Susan Cox and Mr. Ray. That confrontation took place in the hospital parking lot, where Mr. Ray was shot by Mr. Cox. Cox has been charged with Attempted 1st Degree Murder. He is being held at the Putnam County Criminal Justice Center. Ray is expected to recover from his wound.

Cookevile-Sparta Basketball Game Moved Up

Due to the impending inclement weather forecast for not only the Upper Cumberland, but also most of the state of Tennessee, administrators have decided to move up the key District 6AAA encounter between White County High School and Cookeville.The game, originally set to be played Friday night, will now be played Thursday at Roy Sewell Gymnasium in hopes of beating Mother Nature to the punch and getting the critical game for the league standings played before the bad weather hits the area. The girls’ game will still tip off at 6:30 p.m. Details can be found at the Sparta Expositor web page.

Cookeville Soldier Gets Valentine From Schoolkids

WBIR-TV reports that some third grade students in Knoxville are already hard at work making some very special valentines. The cards aren't for each other, but for members of the 278th Armored Calvary Regiment who deploy for Iraq in February. The class has teamed up with Country Inn and Suites off Cedar Bluff to support the 278th.

"They may hear it on the news about soldiers being deployed. Now they get to do something personally to help," says Renie Carroll with Country Inn & Suites Cedar Bluff.

Some of the students are thinking of one soldier in particular.

"I've drawn him and me, and I'm giving him a Valentines card," says a third grader named Eric. "Aaron is serving in the National Guard to keep us safe."

Aaron is the hotel's "Soldier of the month."

"He's twenty, and he's from Cookeville," says Carroll. "And he loves football and reading."

In addition to the cards, the students are also writing Aaron words of encouragement in a journal. They hope it will bring him comfort in the long months ahead.

Cookeville Resident Inducted Into Hall of Fame

South Carolina's Winthrop College will induct five former student-athletes into the 2010 class of the Winthrop Athletics Hall of Fame. The induction dinner and ceremony is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on Friday in McBryde Hall on campus. The inductees include Carl Dale of Cookeville. Dale was the first Winthrop baseball player to reach the major leagues. The right-handed pitcher was drafted following his junior year at Winthrop. He was taken in the second round of the 1994 Major League Baseball draft as the 53rd overall pick by the Oakland Athletics. He was called up by the A’s but didn’t make his big league debut until 1999 for the Milwaukee Brewers. But he tells the Rock Hill, S.C. Herald, “Just getting there and hearing your name called over the PA was great.” Dale ranks among Winthrop’s finest in five career pitching categories: wins (22), games started (39), complete games (21), strikeouts (236), innings pitched (280 1-3). Today, Dale works in the maintenance department at Tennesee Tech in his hometown of Cookeville. He coaches a Babe Ruth team and gives baseball lessons.

Man Shot In Parking Lot of Cookeville Hospital

A man was reportedly shot in the parking lot of Cookeville Regional Medical Center Wednesday night, causing the hospital to go on lockdown for a brief period of time. It happened about 7:30 pm, and hospital officials say the lockdown continued until 8:05 pm. Authorities say the 43-year-old victim was not a hospital employee and was not a patient there at the time of the shooting. He was treated at the hospital after the shooting incident and was reported to be in stable condition. The alleged shooter reportedly turned himself into police a short time later, but authorities have yet to release the names of either the suspect or the victim.

Road Crews Preparing For Winter Storm

Tennessee Department of Transportation maintenance crews are placing salt brine on roadways in the Cookeville area in preparation for Friday's predicted winter storm. City and county road crews are also making preparations today. A wintry mix of ice and snow is expected to fall across the region Friday, and TDOT says it is reminding drivers of the adage -- "when there's ice and snow: take it slow - slower speed, slower acceleration, slower steering and slower braking." State road crews are applying salt brine to state roadways today in anticipation of the potential winter weather. They say salt brine is a mix of salt and water that helps prevent snow and ice from bonding to the road surface making it easier to plow the roadway.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Phone Scammer Turns Threatening

Cookeville police say telephone con artists are getting bolder in their approach. A local woman reported this month that one such caller even threatened her life when she refused to wire him any money. She says the call had begun with a claim that she had won a Mercedes Benz, but would have to wire some $350 dollars to the caller in order to get the car. When the woman hung up on him, he reportedly called back and threatened her. That's when she called police. Officer Brandon Tayes says the call apparently originated from Jamaica, but says when he spoke to the scam artist, he was given specific instructions on how and where to wire the money. Police say people should generally be suspicious of any offer that sounds too good to be true and should always report threats to the police department.

Neighborhood Garbage Thief Identified

The Putnam County sheriff's department says they now believe they know who may be going through the trash in one local neighborhood. Several residents of Castlebrook Lane had told authorities that their trash bags had been stolen, and officials at first thought the suspect may have been a potential identity thief. They advised the victims to invest in a shredder so that no personal information ended up in the trash. But, upon further investigation, authorities say they now believe it was a neighborhood dog -- not a person -- getting into the trash. Still, they say the advice about properly disposing of personal information is still valid.

TTU Basketball Coach Featured In NY Times

Tennessee Tech University basketball coach Mike Sutton was featured Wednesday in the New York Times. The story noted that "basketball is the essence of who Sutton is and how his career survives." Sutton acknowledged that some people are taken aback by his appearance as he deals with Guillian Barre syndrome, but is quoted as saying he does not have time to consider the picture of himself. He says, quote, "When you can’t scratch your nose and you are being fed through a tube and you have to train your bowels to work again, you don’t worry how you look with a cane." Tech will play host to Eastern Illinois in a game Thursday night in Eblen Center.

Drug Dealer Given 15-Year Prison Term

A convicted drug dealer will begin serving a 15-year prison term next month, after accepting a plea agreement in Putnam County Criminal Court this week. Officials say 24-year-old William Joseph Givens of Carthage pleaded guilty to possessing more than half a pound of cocaine for re-sale. He must also pay a two thousand dollar fine as part of the agreement, but the prison term will run concurrently with one he will be serving on drug charges out of Smith County. Givens was already on probation on a drug-related offense when he was arrested by the highway patrol after a traffic stop on Willow Avenue. The initial purpose of the stop was a window tint violation, and Givens' lawyer had argued that the search which turned up the cocaine was illegal. But a court ruled otherwise.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Tennessee Tech Creates PET Care Campus

Tennessee Tech University will collaborate with local government agencies and animal welfare groups to create a one-of-a-kind PET Care Campus to train university students and the public to address issues of pet overpopulation and responsible pet ownership. The partnership will link TTU with Friends of Cookeville/Putnam Co. Animals (FCPCA), the Humane Society of Putnam County Spay/Neuter Clinic, the City of Cookeville and Putnam County officials to develop a program to provide university pre-veterinary students hands-on experience while working in and supporting shelter, spay and neuter, and adoption programs to benefit the community. Founders have coined the program the PET (pet, education, training) Care Campus, an educational and service project that would focus community efforts and academic programs on the caring for abandoned companion animals, primarily cats and dogs, in the community. It would link pre-vet students’ education and hands-on training with the well-being of animals in the Upper Cumberland region. A website,, has been created to provide information about the project and participants as it proceeds.

TTU Coaches, Players Featured At Chamber Event

When members of the Cookeville/Putnam County Chamber of Commerce gathered Tuesday morning for their monthly "Before Hours" event, the featured guests were Tennessee Tech basketball coaches Sytia Messer and Mike Sutton, and several members of their teams. Messer, in her first year as head coach of the women's basketball team, spoke to the group about her team's progress in 2009-2010. She introduced her assistant coaches and players who were on hand. And, she thanked the group for their support and attendance at the recent games in Eblen Center. Sutton entertained the audience wth a couple of anecdotes and encouraged continued support for both the women's and men's teams over the final month of the season. Tech hosts two doubleheaders later this week, with Eastern Illinois coming to Eblen Center Thursday night and Southeast Missouri coming to town Saturday.

Five People Charged In Burglary Investigation

Two Nashville men have been charged with theft, while aggravated burglary charges are pending against two local men -- all as the result of an investigation prompted by a call to the police department last Friday. Authorities say someone saw a man getting out a truck and concealing what appeared to be a crowbar. When police arrived on the scene on an apartment complex on Summerhaven Drive, they arrested 20-year-old Lowell Tyler Will Ambs of Cookeville and 19-year-old Jordan Lee Key of Rickman. They claim the two had burglarized three apartments and had been getting ready to make off with thousands of dollars in merchandise. Further investigation led police to a home on Freedom Avenue where some stolen merchandise was allegedly being sold. That's where they arrested the two Nashville men, along with Freedom Avenue resident Tracie Leight McBee. And police say more arrests may be made, pending the results of the investigation.

Baxter Men Charged With Drug Possession

Drug possession charges are pending against two Baxter men, who were stopped in Cookeville after a police officer noticed that the registration on their car was incorrect. Officer Jimmy Blankenship says both the driver and passenger appeared nervous when being questioned and claims he found a hypodermic needle in the driver's pants, as well as two baggies of an off-white crystal type substance. A pat down search of the passenger allegedly turned up two containers of a leafy green substance, believed to be marijuana. Police say they also turned up other baggies of what they believe to be crystal meth in the car, along with nearly $400 in cash. That money was seized and paperwork was filled out to seize the truck as well. Both suspects were charged with possession of a controlled substance. The driver, identified as 30-year-old Clay Brandon Sherrell was also issued a citation for possession of drug paraphernalia, while the passenger, 26-year-old Shawn Patrick Gibson was cited for possession of marijuana. The cell phones of both men were seized as evidence because, police say, they contained "possible text messages indicating drug deals."

Realtor Opens Commercial Division In Cookeville

Crye-Leike Realtors is launching a new, Cookeville-based commercial division to supplement its residential division. The office will be led by managing broker Bill Monday. He says the move is based on many positive indicators on the outlook for the region and commercial real estate as a good investment. Monday said Cookeville is the state’s strongest "micropolitan" area - an area too urban to be called rural, but too rural to be called urban. A Crye-Leike news release called Cookeville the "mother town" of the region between Nashville and Knoxville. The division currently includes four licensed business brokers offering auction and real estate sales services. Monday said the division is already seeing interest in the area.

Vending Machine Vandals Strike Again

Like many other things, criminal activity sometimes occurs in cycles. Cookeville police are now reporting another spike in reports of vending machine vandalism. Over the past few days, at least five cases have been reported where someone goes up to either a Coke or Pepsi machine and tries to pry open the dollar bill validator. Police say in almost all of the cases, the damage to the machine is more than the money inside of it. Current cases under investigation include incidents at machines on South Willow Avenue, West Broad Street, Bunker Hill Road, and West 8th Street. Meanwhile, police say new technology also means new temptations for thieves. They are investigating a handful of cases in which GPS systems or satellite radio units have been stolen out of cars.

Monday, January 25, 2010

TTU Moves To Improve Retention Rate

Tennessee Tech University hopes to improve its retention rate by 8 to 10 percent within about five years. School officials say the figure has been at 72 percent for several years. The retention and graduation rates are already among the highest of Tennessee Board of Regents four-year schools. Several new or newly redesigned retention efforts are being used, including the revamping of the first floor of the Angelo and Jennette Volpe Library to create a learning commons; creating what are called "learning villages" in residence halls; and tweaking the University 1020 (First Year Connections) course to meet student needs better.

Identity Thief Charged With Violating Probation

Monterey's Hilltop Express newspaper is reporting that a former Monterey
man wound up in the Jackson County Jail on violation of probation charges after
he was finally found living in Cookeville apartment. 29-year-old Ben Bowman had reportedly been convicted on charges of felony identity theft in Jackson County Criminal Court and had been placed on probation for a term of four years. But he allegedly failed to report to his probation officer, missed several scheduled appointments and failed to report a permanent address. He had also not paid supervision fees or had a DNA test completed. Authorities reportedly tracked him down through the internet services MySpace and Facebook, where he was allegedly using someone else's identity there as well.

Police Seek Tips In Fake Check Cases

Cookeville police have released a photo from a surveillance video that they hope the public can use to help them identify a man who is described as a "person of interest" in a case involving forged checks. Authorities say the fake checks appear to be official payroll checks from the city of Cookeville, and appear to have been made on a computer. They were passed earlier this month at a liquor store in Baxter and at a gas station in Sparta. The person seen in the surveillance video is described as a black male, heavy-set, with what appears to be a moustance and goatee. He may have been driving a light-colored car, also visible in the video. Anyone with information on the case or anyone who recognizes the man in the photo is asked to contact the Cookeville Police Department at 526-2125 or to call Crime Stoppers at 520-7867

Court Hearings Scheduled In Separate Drug Cases

Can an alleged drug dealer use drug money to post his bond and get out of jail? That's a question which will be the subject of a hearing in General Sessions court later this week. 66-year-old Donnie B. Fritts of Mackie Road was out on bond after being arrested on drug charges when he was picked up again last week -- allegedly selling oxycontin pills in the parking lot of the Walmart store. He is now being held without bond until a hearing on Wednesday in which the District Attorney's office is expected to argue that any money Fritts has made from drug-dealing cannot be used to help make his bond. Depending on the ruling in the case, Fritts may be held in jail without the opportunity to make bond until the charges against him are resolved.

Meanwhile, a criminal court arraignment is scheduled today for two men charged with selling drugs in a school zone. Authorities say 20-year-old Mahad Abdi of Antioch and 28-year-old Ivor Odarkwei Hansen of Cookeville were indicted after evidence was presented to the grand jury. The two are alleged to have sold marijuana to an undercover Cookeville police officer in October of 2009. The sales allegedly took place near the campus of Tennessee Tech, but also occurred within a thousand feet of Prescott Central Middle School. Officials say the penalty for selling drugs in a school zone is more severe than it would be otherwise for a drug conviction.

Cookeville Hospital Offers Advice On Bills

Efforts are underway at Cookeville Regional Medical Center to help relieve some of the anxiety that comes with receiving a hospital bill. The city-owned hospital's director of Patient Financial Services, Charlotte Cummins, says they are continually working to provide assistance when patients are faced with the expense of their hospital stay. Not only does the hospital provide convenient payment options, but staff are also available to work with patients to develop payment plans and to even identify resources to help with payment in certain circumstances. As a matter of fact, the hospital has placed a Patient Financial Representative in the Registration area of the hospital’s main lobby in the new North Patient Tower to talk in person, one-on-one with patients. Karen McNair is available daily, Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., in the Registration department to help individuals on a one-on-one basis to discuss their situation and to help them out with their bill. Representatives are also available in the Patient Financial Services Department at the hospital to help patients as well.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Students Invited To Enter Regional Science Fair

The 56th Annual Cumberland Plateau Regional Science and Engineering Fair will hold an opening ceremony to kick off this year’s fair events on Friday, March 19, in Derryberry Auditorium beginning at 7 p.m. with a guest speech delivered by former NASA astronaut and TTU alumnus Roger Crouch. Two senior exhibitors will win a trip to San Jose, Calif., in May to exhibit their projects at the INTEL International Science and Engineering Fair as well as a $3,000 scholarship to Tennessee Tech. Two more senior exhibitors will be selected to win a $1,500 scholarship each. Team projects will be accepted this year, and an engineering category has been added. There will be cash prizes that accompany various awards. The fair, sponsored by TTU, will be held at the Roaden University Center. The fair is open to all fourth through 12th grade students attending public, private, parochial, or home schools in Putnam and 15 other counties in the area. If there is enough interest, the fair will hold a non-competitive category for third grade students referred to as "Early Eagles." Registration forms can be found at

County Office Contenders Change As Deadline Nears

There are now just two potential candidates running for the office of Putnam County executive later this year. Vern Crabtree, who had qualified to run as an independent, has dropped out of the race, leaving the contest between incumbent Kim Blaylock and former county commission member Dennis Tennant. Meanwhile, there are two candidates in the races for sheriff and county clerk, but just one so far -- incumbent Marcia Borys -- to be the circuit court clerk. Five people have expressed interest in the road supervisor's job, for which incumbent Red Lamb is NOT running for re-election. And at least seven have said they may run for county trustee, the office that incumbent Gail Glover is giving up. The deadline for qualifying to run in those races is noon on February 18th.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Council To Discuss Sinkholes, Adult Businesses

The Cookeville city council meets in regular session this evening to receive a report on the sinkholes in town and how well they drain stormwater during periods of heavy rain. The report has been prepared with the cooperation of Dr. Evan Hart in the Earth Sciences Department at Tech. While the city of Cookeville has several large storm drains along various roads, officials have long relied on an underground cave system and the sinkholes that feed those caves to disperse water. The council is not expected to take any action on the sinkhole report this evening. Meanwhile, they WILL be taking action on some revisions to the city ordinances related to adult-oriented businesses. They plan to repeal an entire section of the city code and replace with a newly written chapter that takes much of its wording from state law.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Airport Board Discusses Potential Conflict

The Fixed Base Operator (FBO) for the Upper Cumberland Regional Airport is now also the FBO for the airport in Livingston, but says there is no conflict of interest between the jobs. The issue was addressed this month at a meeting of the airport board. The Upper Cumberland Airport is jointly owned by Putnam and White Counties, along with the cities of Cookeville and Sparta. They contract with a group called Region Air to run the facility. Eric Walker with Region Air told the the Board this month that the company would be taking over the management operation services for Livingston Municipal Airport. But he says it’s a different kind of operating lease. Basically, he says, they've been contracted to keep the doors open in Livingston and keep fuel in the ground. He told airport board members that he would let them know if any potential conflict between the two jobs arises.

Drunk On Dust Removal Spray

DUI charges are pending against a Cookeville man who police say was driving under the influence ... of an aerosol spray. Authorities say 22-year-old Justin LeWayne Bennett of Winston Drive was allegedly huffing a can of dust removal spray when he was involved in a wreck. Officers claim they found Bennett passed out behind the wheel with the spray can in his hand. He had struck a yellow concrete barrier in a parking lot off Depot Street. When he was awakened, Bennett allegedly admitted to police that he had been inhaling the contents from the aerosol can.

Local Arts Groups Receive Grants

The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee says it has distributed more than $10,000 in Arts Build Communities grants and nearly $3,400 in Student Ticket Subsidy grants to Putnam County institutions to nurture artists and help students experience cultural events. The Arts Build Communities grant program aims to strengthen communities by funding projects that nurture artists and arts organizations. Among the Putnam County organizations that were awarded ABC grants are:

  • the Bryan Symphony Orchestra Association, which has received a grant to present scenes from Mozart's opera The Marriage of Figaro.
  • Mastersingers, which has received a grant to present a choral presentation of Haydn's Lord Nelson Mass.
  • the Upper Cumberland Broadcast Council, which has received a grant to support the production related costs for the Jammin’ at Hippie Jack's television music series.
  • and Upperman High School, which has received a grant to showcase the talents of the students in visual arts, choral music, instrumental music and performing arts classes.

Meanwhile, in Putnam County, 1,081 students are participating in arts and cultural events with the help of Student Ticket Subsidy grants.

  • Baxter Elementary School, Jere Whitson, Northeast, and Park View have all received Student Ticket Subsidy grants for students to attend Cookeville Children's Theater productions.
  • Capshaw Elementary School has received a Student Ticket Subsidy grant for students to attend American Heritage Theater.
  • and Sycamore Elementary School has received a Student Ticket Subsidy grant for students to attend Global Education Center.

Grammy Winning Fiddler Coming To Cookeville

Multi-Grammy Award winning fiddler and violinist-composer Mark O’Connor brings his "American String Celebration" to Tennessee Tech University’s Center Stage performance program on Feb. 2. The 7:30 p.m. event is free and open to the public. The performance will be in Wattenbarger Auditorium of the Bryan Fine Arts Building on campus. Arrive early. Tickets are not required, but seating is limited. Country and bluegrass music fans may know O'Connor from his collaborations with Vince Gill, Ricky Skaggs and Steve Wariner.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Putnam Schools Get $210,000 Grant

The Putnam County school system has received more than $210,000 as part of the Energy Efficient Schools Initiative. That word today from EESI director Ron Graham. Tennessee’s General Assembly passed the Initiative in 2008 to provide funds to K-12 schools for energy efficiency projects. The school system can qualify for up to $22 per student, depending on the project. Schools director Dr. Kathleen Airhart says Putnam County's project will be to replace lighting in several schools with more energy efficient units.

Putnam Residents Face Charges for Illegal Voting

More than a dozen Putnam County residents will be arraigned in Criminal Court later this month after being indicted on charges of illegal voting. District Attorney Randy York says the indictments were returned after evidence was presented to the grand jury earlier this month. York says the state of Tennessee is working with local election commissions to identify individuals who may have registered to vote after being convicted of a felony. The state's list of known felons is being compared with local voter rolls, and any apparent matches are turned over to the DA's office for further investigation. A conviction for illegally voting is also a felony -- punishable by up to four years in prison.

Putnam County OKs Voing Precinct Upgrades

Almost every vote was unanimous as the Putnam County commission met Monday night. Commissioners voted 21-to-0 to take $10,000 from the county's fund balance in order to pay for upgrades needed to bring voting precincts into compliance with handicapped accessbility standards. They also voted unanimously to approve the application for a $300,000 community development block grant, which -- if approved -- would help pay for the purchase of a new fire truck. Any excess funds from the grant could be used to purchase other fire equipment. There was, however, some disagreement over the appointment of a member to the Parks and Recreation board, as one commissioner cast a "no" vote. Meanwhile, a separate commissioner voted "no" on the ratification of the county's budget committee, which began their work with an organizational session after the commission meeting.

Putnam County Commission To Meet

Putnam County Executive Kim Blaylock has named nine members of the county commission to serve on this year's budget committee -- and the full commission tonight will be voting on whether to ratify that membership. Among those nine appointments are representatives from the Monterey, Baxter and Algood areas, as well as other parts of the county. Meanwhile tonight, the county commission is expected to ratify the by-laws of the Tennessee Central Heritage Rail-Trail Authority. The ratification of those by-laws is necessary for the authority to achieve official non-profit status. And they'll consider a resolution to apply for a grant which would provide $300,000 to purchase a fire truck for the county. If the grant is awarded, the county's matching money would come to about $45,000.

TTU Trumpet Concert Tonight

Tennessee Tech University trumpet professor Charles Decker presents a free recital at 7:30 tonight in the Bryan Fine Arts Building on the Tech campus. The program continues the Trumpet Festival 2009-10 concert series celebrating the art of trumpet performance. The series of 12 concerts features faculty and students in solo and ensemble performances. Joining Decker is pianist Joy Rachor, music director at the Cumberland Presbyterian Church of Cookeville, saxophone professor Phil Barham, and students from the trumpet studio at TTU.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Excursion Trains On The Way?

Monterey's Hilltop Express newspaper is reporting that if things go as planned, excursion trains between Monterey and Cookeville could start as soon as May. The excursion train task force, put in place by the Cookeville-Putnam County Chamber of Commerce, has been studying the feasibility of rail excursions for several months. The newspaper says it's their plan, along with the Tennessee Central Railway Museum, in Nashville, to place at least two passenger cars somewhere on the Eastern end of the rails to make it easier for patrons to take short train rides for this end. In the meantime, at least two excursions will include trips to Monterey - in the spring during the Mountain Dogwood Festival on May 1; and in the fall on Standing Stone Day on Oct. 9.

Cookeville Man Charged With Drug Fraud

A February 22nd court date has been set for a Cookeville man charged with drug fraud. Police say 25-year-old Ryan Matthew Thornton of Gainesboro Grade allegedly used a forged prescription to obtain 30 percocet pills from a pharmacy on Tenth Street. The pharmacist called police when he became suspicious of the transaction. Police say the scrip had been written on the pad of a physician who is Thornton's stepfather, but that doctor says he did not write the prescription.

Burglary Alleged In Dog Death Dispute

Aggravated burglary charges are pending against two Putnam County residents who were allegedly involved in a dispute over dogs. The sheriff's department says 55-year-old Joyce Papacsi of Grider Road and her 20-year-old grandson, Christopher, are charged in the case which began when their chihuahua was killed by a neighbor's pit bulldogs. The neighbor alleges that after the incident, the two came to her home, kicked open the door and attacked her, taking her cell phone. Joyce Papacsi told Deputy Chris Brown that no such break-in occurred and that the neighbor actually encouraged the pit bulls to attack their chihuahua. The incident will now have to be hashed out in General Sessions court.

Cookeville Doctor's Office Relocates

A Cookeville physician will be re-locating to a new office as of today. Dr. Mark Pierce, Infectious Diseases specialist with The Physician Associates at Cookeville Regional Medical Center, has relocated his office to Cookeville Regional Medical Center. His office is located in the former location of the Cancer Center, just inside the West Entrance of the hospital with parking available for his patients in Lot D at the corner of Fourth Street and Hickory Avenue. In addition, Dr. Pierce will continue to provide The Travel Clinic -- designed to provide travel advice and vaccinations for those planning overseas trips.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Overton County Men Charged With Theft

A February 1st court date has been set for two Overton County residents accused of trying to return stolen merchandise to the Algood Walmart for a refund. 41-year-old Russell Allen Cox and 30-year-old Jason N. Goolsby of Hilham were arrested after an investigation by Algood police. Authorities say the two men went to the Algood store on January 12th, took a vacuum cleaner and a 10-piece cookware set -- and walked out of the store without paying. They then allegedly returned the next day and tried to get a refund for the items. They also had reportedly tried and failed to return the items for a refund at the Cookeville Walmart.

Rotarians Join Drive To Help Haitians

The Cookeville Rotary Club is one of many organizations putting together earthquake relief efforts in Haiti. Pat Ryan is with the Breakfast Rotary organization. He says Rotarians were out at Walmart Sunday afternoon and are also encouraging donations through the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army. And, like Pam Ealey of the local chapter of Habitat for Humanity, Ryan also encourages anyone who makes a donation to be wary of scam artists.

State Supreme Court Rules on Local Lawsuit

It is not a moot point. That's the gist of a ruling from the Tennessee Supreme Court over a nearly two-year-old lawsuit between the city of Cookeville, Putnam County and a local property owner. The ruling involves the obligation of local governments to obtain a certificate of public purpose and necessity in order to condemn private property to develop an industrial park. It pertains to the park being developed south of I-40. Although the history is complicated, the main point made by the Supreme Court is that the issue should be sent back to the circuit court for a hearing. The city and county had argued that such a hearing was moot because the plaintiff's property was no longer a part of the proposed business park. But the Supreme Court opinion said, quote, "Tennessee courts do not apply the mootness doctrine mechanically. Rather, when the question of mootness is raised, they consider many factors, including the reason that the case is alleged to be moot, the stage of the proceeding, the importance of the issue to the public, and the probability that the issue will recur." You can read the entire opinion by clicking here.

Fincher Explains "No" Vote on Education Reform

State representative Henry Fincher of Cookeville continues to defend his decision to vote against Governor Phil Bredesen's education reforms. Bredesen had called the package "the right thing to do for our children and schools," but Fincher says he's not so sure. Fincher says the so-called "Race To The Top" money is not guaranteed and puts teachers at risk. The governor, meanwhile, now says he also wants members of the General Assembly to adopt measures he has outlined to increase college graduation rates.

Friday, January 15, 2010

MLK Day Speaker Announced At Tech

A mid-state historian will lecture on the civil rights movement in Tennessee during a presentation at Tennessee Tech University on Martin Luther King Day, Monday. Organizers say that while many books have focused on the national civil rights movement and prominent leaders such as King and Malcolm X, Bobby L. Lovett, a history professor at Tennessee State University, has written the first book to examine Tennessee’s civil rights movement. Lovett will present "The MLK Connection to the Civil Rights Movement in Tennessee, and How the Civil Rights Movement in Tennessee influenced MLK," at noon in Derryberry Auditorium. The lecture will be followed by a book signing. The event is free and open to the public.

Chamber of Commerce Announces Promotion

Laura Canada has been promoted to vice president of communications and programs for the Cookeville-Putnam County Chamber of Commerce. Canada will now oversee the membership services, community development and public policy divisions of the Chamber. She will also continue to serve as Convention and Visitors Bureau director and oversee the operations of the Highlands Visitor Center. Canada joined the Chamber in January 2007 as Convention and Visitors Bureau coordinator. In that position, she successfully spearheaded opening the new Highlands Visitor Center and bringing the TSSAA Football Championships to Cookeville. She also facilitated the creation of 

Putnam Habitat For Humanity Helps Haiti

The executive director of the Putnam County chapter of Habitat for Humanity says the local organization will be doing its part to help out in Haiti. Pam Ealey says Habitat affiliates tithe to the international work of Habitat, and for many years, the Putnam County chapter gave money to Honduras. Ealey says she will be asking the board at its January meeting to consider a tithe to Haiti for the next few months, in part, she says because Habitat is well prepared to mobilize volunteers in the relief efforts. Ealey also says the public can donate directly through the website

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Dogbite Lawsuit Settled

The city of Cookeville is paying $20,000 to settle a lawsuit over one of its police dogs. The plaintiff in the suit, Ryan Patrick Moody, was working at a local nightclub two years when he was the subject of an unprovoked attack by the dog, which had gotten away from its handler. He suffered severe bite wounds and had to undergo surgery. When he first filed the suit, he was seeking two million dollars. But court records indicate that lawyers on both sides were able to come to an agreed settlement of $20,000, although the city says that, by settling, they are in no way admitting liability in the case. The police dog involved has since been taken out of service.

Illegal Driving Alleged -- For The 9th Time

A charge of counterfeiting has been filed against a Cookeville man, but police say it wasn't fake money he manufactured, but a phony sticker he put on his license plate. Officer Brandon Tayes reports that he stopped a vehicle being driven by 38-year-old Jamie Ralph Heady of Hunter Avenue because he had prior knowledge that Heady had a revoked driver's license. According to the officer, the 2010 license plate sticker that was on the vehicle did not match the license plate number. Heady allegedly told police that he had gotten the sticker from the same man who sold him the truck, but said he had it put on an old license plate in order to avoid being pulled over for having expired tags. According to the report, Heady's license was originally revoked back in 1993 when he failed to satisfy a judgment out of Montgomery County. He has eight prior convictions for driving on a revoked license and has now been charged for the 9th time.

Tech Alum Debriefs Congressman On Space Mission

Tennessee Tech alumnus and NASA space shuttle pilot Barry Wilmore briefed Congressman Bart Gordon Wednesday about his November mission aboard the space shuttle Atlantis. Gordon worked with NASA to arrange a special videoconference between Cookeville-area students and Wilmore and his fellow astronauts at the International Space Station. The event, held at Tech, gave students an opportunity to ask questions to the astronauts about their experiences in space. Gordon said Wilmore is a "great ambassador to inspire future students to pursue careers in math and science, which will give them the skills they need to compete for the jobs of the future."

TTU Named "Best Value" in USA Today

Tennessee Tech University is one of the nation's 50 "Best Value" public colleges and universities according to The Princeton Review. Tennessee Tech is one of only three universities in Tennessee, and the only Tennessee Board of Regents institution, to make the list, along with Sewanee-The University of the South and the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. The Princeton Review teamed with USA Today to feature 50 public and 50 private colleges and universities. Of the 50 schools chosen in each category, the top 10 are ranked 1 to 10, and the remaining 40 are listed in alphabetical order. The Princeton Review selected the institutions as its "Best Value" choices for 2010 based on its surveys of administrators and students at more than 650 public and private colleges and universities.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Putnam Schools Get Distance Learning Grant

The Putnam County school system will receive a $314, 000 distance learning grant from U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development this year. Officials say the grant will enable Putnam County schools to purchase and install equipment to create an interactive online network for students, teachers, health professionals and community members to participate in workforce development training. According to grants coordinator Sandra Koczwara, the project will initially connect six schools including three high schools, one middle school and two elementary schools in the area. She says the school system is working with local officials to raise additional funds to ensure Putnam County schools continue to provide competitive access to distance learning opportunities. Expanded course offerings, vocational education, skills training and improved access for home-bound students will be some of the first benefits when the network starts serving residents in the fall.

Cookeville Hospital To Host Health Fairs

Cookeville Regional Medical Center will be hosting several Health and Fitness fairs throughout this year -- including one later this month. The quarterly fairs will be on January 23, April 17, July 24 and October 16 from 7:00 am to 10:00 am. Hospital officials say the health fairs provide an opportunity for community members to participate in affordable screenings to keep health and wellness top of mind throughout the year. They are open to the public and provide screenings for blood pressure, cholesterol, Vitamin D level, and bone density, among other things. The fairs will be held in the Education Center located inside the East entrance of the hospital beside the emergency room. Registration is required to attend. You can call The Community Wellness Department for complete pricing, questions or to register. Their number is 783-2587.

More Details Released In Murder Case

January 25th has been set as the arraignment date for a man, charged with murdering his neighbor during a robbery attempt and then setting her home on fire. Authorities initially gave a Gainesboro address to 31-year-old suspect, Stephen Dewayne Baker. They now say he had been living in a trailer on Buck Mountain Road, next door to the victim, 54-year-old Jennifer Smith. Sheriff David Andrews says Baker is accused of stabbing Smith to death late last Friday and later returning to her home and burning it. He says they have both witness statements and physical evidence to support their case, but declined to go into details. The sheriff did say that the investigation was ongoing and that further charges may yet result from it.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Tech Cheerleaders Going To National Competition

Tennessee Tech University’s all-girl and co-ed cheerleading squads will attend the Universal Cheerleading Association Collegiate National Championships on Jan. 16 and 17. Organizers say this meet is the largest and most respected collegiate national cheerleading competition in the world. Held in Orlando, Florida, at Walt Disney World, it will be televised on ESPN in February. Teams are placed in divisions by their football team division so TTU is Division 1 co-ed and Division 1 all-girl. Both squads will compete against teams including Morehead University, Western Kentucky University and Texas State University. Officials say these are the first cheerleading squads in TTU history to qualify for and attend this event.

Shoplifting Case Leads To Other Charges

An apparent attempt by a Cookeville woman to avoid being arrested ultimately led to her arrest on charges of criminal impersonation. Cookeville police officer Josh Ward says he was investigating a shoplifting incident at the Kohl's store on West Jackson Street Monday night in which two women were accused of trying to steal more than a hundred dollars worth of clothing. One of the women -- identified as 48-year-old Saundra Sue Johnson of Gainesboro -- was issued a citation and released from the custody. But Ward says the other woman gave him a false name and claimed not to have any ID or to remember what her social security number was. It was on her way to jail that the woman allegedly told Ward her real name -- Angela Lackey. A computer check revealed that the 33-year-old Lackey of West Broad Street had two outstanding warrants for her arrest in Jackson County. Meanwhile, police say the same incident resulted in yet another charge against a Jackson County man who was on the scene as well. 58-year-old Richard Dale Stafford of Gainesboro was advised by Officer Ward that he could not be driving a vehicle because his license had been suspended for a DUI. A few minutes after Ward left the scene, a Kohl's employee called police to say that Stafford had indeed driven away from the store. Officer Brian Long then stopped him and issued him a citation for driving on a revoked license.

Disorderly Conduct Alleged in Two Cases

Disorderly conduct charges are pending against two Putnam County residents who had a run-in with the law on two separate occasions. Deputy Jamie Hunter says the first case involved 41-year-old Tina Marie Grandell of Brown Ridge Road who called the sheriff's department Friday night with a complaint. Deputy Hunter says that when she and Deputy Jason Shapton arrived on the scene, they both asked Grandell several times to stop yelling so that they could conduct a proper investigation. When she allegedly refused to do so, she was placed under arrest. Meanwhile, a few hours later, Deputy Hunter was dispatched to a call on Double Springs Road in which a man was reported to be cussing and throwing things at his mother. Hunter says she witnessed part of the incident, although the suspect's mother told officials that she was not in fear and did not believe her son was throwing anything AT her. Still, 47-year-old Mark Nathan Scott was charged with disorderly conduct for the actions.

Cookeville Police Officer Injured in Motorcycle Wreck

A Cookeville police officer is expected to make a full recovery from a concussion he suffered in a motorcycle accident on Tuesday. Authorities say Lt. Randy Brown, a 20-year veteran of the department, was operating a police motorcycle westbound on Neal Street when he hit a patch of black ice near Maple Avenue, causing the cycle to skid and then strike a curb. Brown was thrown from the cycle and -- as a result -- suffered a concussion. He was transported to Cookeville Regional Medical Center for treatment, where he was listed in guarded condition. Police say Brown was taking the motorcycle to have a video camera installed on the unit.

Cookeville Woman's Murder Solved

A Jackson County man has been indicted in the death of a Cookeville woman, whose burned body was found inside the rubble of her home on Saturday. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation today arrested the man after he was indicted by the Putnam County Grand Jury on murder charges. 30-year-old Steven Baker of 195 Harve Henson Lane, Gainesboro, was indicted on one count of first degree murder, one count of felony murder, one count of aggravated robbery, one count of arson and one count of tampering with evidence. On January 9, 54-year-old Jennifer Smith, of 5201 Buck Mountain Road, Cookeville, was found dead in her burned home. The TBI along with the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office and the State Bomb and Arson unit worked the investigation. Authorities say Baker was already in jail on unrelated charges when he was served with the additional indictments. He is now being held on a $500,000 bond, pending his court appearance. Investigators have not yet released any details as to the circumstances of the crime or what led them to their suspect, although Baker had been arrested on Saturday in connection with the theft of a Kawasaki dirt bike in December. He was jailed, and his bond was set at $10,000. On Monday, Putnam County Sheriff's Detective Randy Roland went to Baker's jail cell and served him with the grand jury indictments charging him with several counts of selling hydromorphone, a pain medication. The indictments allege that Baker sold and delivered the substance on at least three occasion in 2009. He is charged with three counts of selling the drug, three counts of delivering it, and one count of possessing the drug "with intent to sell and deliver." His total bond on the drug charges was set at $70,000. He was in General Sessions Court on Monday on the theft charge, and the Public Defender was appointed to represent him. Putnam jail records list his address as Harve Henson Lane, Gainesboro, but the arrest report filled out by Detective Roland lists his home address as 5171 Buck Mountain Road -- just down the road from the victim.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Man Scammed In Internet Deal

The Latin phrase is "caveat emptor." Buyer beware. That's what Cookeville police are advising after taking a fraud report last week in which someone paid several hundred dollars for a computer, but ended up with just the box the computer came in -- and several dozen DVDs. The victim told police that he had negotiated online with someone offering to sell an HP Pavilion computer. They agreed on a price of $525 dollars, and the victim sent his son to the Walmart parking lot to exchange the cash for the PC. His son took possession of a HP Pavilion box that appeared to contain the machine, but later found that it was instead stuffed with two leather cases containing DVDs. The suspect in the case is described as a white male, about 30 years old, and five-feet-five inches tall. He was driving a grayish BMW at the time of the scam.

Catalytic Converters Catch The Eye of Thieves

Cookeville area thieves are once again vandalizing vehicles to get to their catalytic converters. Authorities say the smog control devices contain aluminum and other metals that many thieves attempt to sell for scrap. Officials at the Upper Cumberland Human Resource Agency office on Williams Enterprise Drive told police that someone had stolen the converters off of ten vehicles which were parked at their building. A battery was also stolen from one of the vehicles. The loss was placed at more than five thousand dollars.

Committee Recommends Voting Precinct Upgrades

Putnam County's fiscal review committee has recommended spending up to ten thousand dollars to bring several voting precincts in the county up to the standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act. County maintenance director Dennis McBroom says that he expects the cost of the improvements to be in the range of seven thousand dollars, but says the cost of rebar and concrete change on an almost daily basis. Many of the upgrades involve paving a handicapped accessible parking space at various community centers which serve was polling places. The money for the improvements would come from the county's fund balance -- if the expenditure gains approval from the full county commission next week.

Domestic Dispute Blamed In Murder-Suicide

Authorities say they may never know the source of a domestic dispute that ended up as a murder-suicide case in Monterey on Saturday. Police say 31-year-old Aundria Padgett had gone to the North Chestnut Street home of her former boyfriend, 47-year-old Richard Mackie, and the two got into an argument while two of Padgett's children were still strapped into their car seats. Officials say Mackie apparently shot Padgett at least twice and then went inside his house and shot himself. Mackie and Padgett reportedly had at least one child together, and both had children from other relationships as well.

Witness To Fatal Fire Sought

An autopsy is being conducted on the body of a woman who died in a fire on Buck Mountain Road over the weekend, but sheriff David Andrews says that his department is treating the case as a homicide. He says investigators believe the victim, 55-year-old Jennifer Smith, had been murdered and that the house may have been set on fire. But officials have yet to say just how the fire started or why they suspect foul play. They DO want to talk to the man who first saw the fire and asked a neighbor to call 911.The sheriff says that witness is NOT considered a suspect, but may have information that would help in the investigation. Smith was a home health nurse, who reportedly lived alone in the house. Authorities say she had reported a burglary there last month in which someone broke in and stole a television, but they don't know whether the two incidents are related.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

A Woman's Heart Event Feb 4th

The Heart and Vascular Center and The Foundation at Cookeville Regional Medical Center will be sponsoring the third annual "A Woman’s Heart" event for women in honor of American Heart Month and to raise money to promote awareness about women and heart disease. This year, "A Woman’s Heart" will be held on Thursday, February 4 from 5 to 8 pm at the Leslie Town Centre. The event will feature a fashion show and a live auction. Hors d’oeuvres, wine and other beverages will be available and all attendees will receive a gift bag. In addition, Cardiologists Bunker Stout, and Stacy Brewington, of Tennessee Heart as well as Cardiac Physicians’ Assistant Craig Ingermann, will talk about women and heart disease. All women in the Upper Cumberland are invited to attend the event. Tickets are $20 dollars per person, and advanced registration is recommended. All proceeds from the registration and silent auction will be used to raise awareness for women’s heart health. For more information or to register, call The Foundation at Cookeville Regional at 783-2037.

Salt Trucks Ready For Winter Weather

A full bin of salt and six salt trucks. That's what the Putnam County Road Department says it has on hand to deal with snowy conditions today. They have 28 employees who remain on-call to spread that salt. The distribution is based on known trouble spots and on places where law enforcement officers tell them there's a problem. Meanwhile, state road crews got a head start on Wednesday, putting the first layer of salt down on roads like Willow Avenue -- while the sun was still shining.

Fincher Not Running For Congress

State Rep. Henry Fincher says he won't run to succeed fellow Democrat Bart Gordon in Congress. Fincher, a Cookeville attorney, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that he would have to take 10 months off and raise at least $2 million to mount a successful bid. In Fincher's words: "It's a shame that it's a rich man's game in Washington." Gordon announced last month that he won't seek a 14th term for the 6th Congressional District seat represents 15 counties ranging east from Nashville's fast-growing suburbs to the Cumberland Plateau. Fincher joins fellow Democratic Rep. Mike McDonald of Portland in deciding against a bid.

Putnam Co Soldier Surprises Daughters At Capshaw Elem.

A Putnam County father stationed in Iraq for the last six months surprised his daughters this week by showing up at their school during a presentation. It happened on Tuesday at Capshaw Elementary School. Captain Gary McKenzie, who has been in Iraq for six months serving with the Tennessee National Guard, surprised his daughters, Brooklyn and Samantha. They had gone with their classes to the cafeteria, thinking they were getting a letter and an American flag from their dad. The letter thanked the students for sending care packages to his brigade last year. But after the letter was read, Captain McKenzie walked out onto the stage and was immediately mobbed by his daughters. His response: "It was great, really great." McKenzie was back in Cookeville for his two-week leave. He will soon return to Iraq to serve the rest of his tour there with the 194th Engineering Brigade, and is expected to come home again sometime in April.

UCHRA On Schedule With Mass Transit Service

Officials with the Upper Cumberland Human Resources Agency say they are still on schedule to start offering a mass transit bus service in Cookeville next month. The buses are due to be delivered next week and will be part of the CATS system, which stands for Cookeville Area Transit Service. Three routes have been planned with numerous bus stops along the way. One includes an area around Tennessee Tech; one will circle the city of Cookeville, and a third will be offered on evenings and weekends, specifically to serve restaurants and movie theaters. The cost of a bus trip will be one dollar, and officials say they hope to have the service up and running by February 6th.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Census Bureau To Hold Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

Putnam County Executive Kim Blaylock, Cookeville Mayor Sam Sallee and other dignitaries will formally kick off the 2010 Census in Cookeville and 20 surrounding counties at a ribbon-cutting ceremony to open the Cookeville Local Census Office next week. The Livingston Academy Marching Band will perform, and York Agricultural Institute will present The Colors. The 2010 Census Portrait of America Road Tour vehicle will also kick off its Tennessee journey in Cookeville with a visual, interactive representation of the 10-question census form. The event is scheduled for Thursday, January 14th, at 11 am. There will be a ribbon-cutting ceremony, a reception and an office tour scheduled at end of one-hour program, which takes place at 851 South Willow Avenue, Suite 104, in the Times Square shopping center.

Felony Fugitive Captured In Putnam County

A felony fugitive, wanted out of the state of Texas, has been apprehended in Putnam County -- after reportedly running his car into a ditch. Police say 37-year-old Frank Allen Williams of Buck Mountain Road, backed his car into a ditch at about 4 am on New Year's Day. When authorities arrived to help, they ran a routine criminal check on Williams and learned that he was wanted in the town of Belton, Texas on a charge of passing a forged check. Officials in Texas have indicated that they are willing to extradite Williams back to their state, although a court hearing on the matter is scheduled for January 15th.

Child Rapist Given 20-Year Prison Term

A 20-year prison sentence has been handed down to a Putnam County man, convicted of child rape. 20-year-old Roger David Mitchell of Joe Rawlings Road pleaded guilty in the case in which he was accused of sexually abusing a 12-year-old girl. Mitchell had been indicted in March of last year after an investigation began when the girl became pregnant. He has been in jail since the indictment was handed down and will now be transferred to a state prison to serve out the remainder of his 20 years. He will also be placed on the state's sex offender registry.

Snowy Weather Predicted For Cookeville

The National Weather Service says a winter storm watch remains in effect for the Cookeville area from late Wednesday night through Thursday afternoon. Forecasters say the main impact is expected to be two to four inches of snow accumulation -- followed by blowing & drifting snow. They say residents should plan ahead for the potential snow and the extreme cold to follow. Precautions should be taken to keep water pipes from bursting and livestock and pets will need care from the cold.

TTU To Present Church Tax Seminar

Tennessee Tech University’s accounting department will present a no-charge seminar entitled "Financial/Tax Issues Facing Churches and clergy" from one to three p-m next Monday, January 11th, in the Tennessee Tech Multipurpose Room (located in the University Center.) Clergy, religious personnel, and their advisors are advised to attend. Organizers say this two-hour seminar will focus on financial support packages, the importance of church-provided insurance, NEW COMPLIANCE ISSUES FOR 403b retirement plans, best practices for handling ministry-related expenses of ministers, and determining and documenting housing allowances of ministers. Seating is limited at this free, public-service seminar. To make your reservations, call T-T-U’s accounting department at 372-3358.

Woman Refuses Cab Ride; Charged With DUI

Cookeville police say DUI charges are pending against a woman who was reportedly put into a taxi, but returned to a local nightclub and drove her car away. A witness then reported the incident, and police pulled over 35-year-old Tracey Lynn Brook of Big Orange Drive. Brook allegedly told Officer Jamey McCurry that she had refused the cab ride because she had consumed just three beers. But McCurry says Brook failed three field sobriety tests and was arrested for DUI. She agreed to give a blood sample to determine her blood alcohol level and will be in court on the charge later this month. Meanwhile, 31-year-old Robert J. Goldstein of Rickman was also charged with DUI after police stopped his car on North Jefferson Avenue. Police say he also failed several sobriety tests, but refused to consent to a blood test and was, therefore, charged with violating the implied consent law.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Monterey Man Charged With Assault

The Hilltop Express newspaper is reporting that a Monterey man faces aggravated assault charges after allegedly pointing a gun at another man. 60-year-old David L. Nagucki of E. Price Ave., was charged after police were dispatched to a disturbance call. Officer John Pettit said in his report that he approached Nagucki’s driveway from a neighbor's yard and saw him standing in the driveway with a handgun in his right hand. The report said that Officer Pettit took aim and ordered Nagucki to put the gun down. Nagucki immediately complied. The complainant told officers that Nagucki had been waving a gun in a threatening manner at him. He also alleged that Nagucki had pointed a gun at him the day before, but he chose not to call the police at that time. Police say Nagucki claimed that the complainant had pulled up in front of his house and revved up his engine, starting the dispute.

Musician Arrested At Cookeville Concert

A man who was performing as a musician in a show at the Cookeville Performing Arts Center over the weekend ended up being arrested by police on an outstanding warrant from Humphreys County, Tennessee. Police say 47-year-old William Dale Perry of Bristol was performing as part of the backing band for Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver. They say the Humphreys County Sheriff's Department had taken out a warrant against Perry on a domestic assault charge. Local police coordinated with the C-PAC staff to have the band take a brief intermission. Authorities then spoke to Mr. Perry, who allegedly told them that he was aware of the outstanding warrant. He was then taken to the Putnam County jail to await extradition -- and the show apparently continued without him.

Candidates Begin To Show Interest In Council Race

At least four individuals have already picked up papers to run for Cookeville city council -- including one incumbent, Alma Anderson. Anderson and Ryan Williams are the only two current council members who are eligible for re-election. Also expressing interest in the race for city council are former Putnam County commission member John Donnelly and current county commissioner Larry Epps. Long-time Cookeville resident Connie Albrecht has also picked up papers. Meanwhile, school board chairman David McCormick picked up papers on Monday, seeking another term on the board. And Henry Fincher has picked up papers to run for re-election as state representative for the 42nd District in the Tennessee General Assembly. He has no opponent in the primary yet, but will face opposition in November from independent candidate Jeffrey Judd.

Putnam Students Headed Back To Class

Students in the Putnam County school system have one more day to enjoy the holiday break, as they are scheduled to return to classes on Tuesday to start the new semester. Today is a county-wide in-service day for teachers. The students will be getting their second nine weeks report cards on January 12th, and they'll be getting a day off on January 18th for the Martin Luther King holiday. They may also get to take a snow day later this week, depending on whether or not the predicted snowfall on Thursday actually comes to pass. Other than that, they get Presidents Day off in February, and won't get a break after that until Spring Break -- in April.

Council Candidates Can Now Pick Up Petitions

Today is the first day that candidates for several state and local offices can pick up qualifying papers to run in the August elections. Races will be held for the Cookeville city council, the state house and senate and the U-S Congress, among others. Council members in Cookeville are limited to two four-year terms, so only two of the five incumbents are eligible to run again. Municipal elections will also be held in Algood, Monterey and Baxter. And three of the six seats on the Putnam County school board are up for election.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Cold Weather To Stick Around For Awhile

Sam Herron of the National Weather Service office in Nashville says forecasters are expecting the cold weather to last at least through the next couple of weeks. He says that for the next few days, highs are forecast in the high 20s and low 30s, and overnight lows in the teens and single digits. The average high in mid-January is 46 degrees; the average low, 28 degrees. Herron says the temperatures won't break cold weather records, but says it is unusual for them to be so low for such a long period of time. He says by Thursday, a cold front carrying snow may reach the Cookeville area.

TBI Investigating Overton County Shooting

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is investigating a shooting that happened last Thursday night in Overton County. Sheriff officials said officers responded to a call in the Hanging Limb community on Key Hollow Lane at about 10 p.m. Neighbors were concerned about seeing Ronald Eibel walking around with a gun. The sheriff said that Eibel was in bed when deputies arrived to serve the warrant but pulled a gun out and fired the first shot toward the deputies. The police returned fire and struck Eibel, who later died from gunshot wounds at a nearby hospital. No officers were injured. The TBI is investigating the deputy who fired the shot, but the sheriff said he expects the deputy will be back at work Monday.