Sunday, February 28, 2010

TTU Recognized For Community Service Efforts

For the second year in a row, The Corporation for National Community Service has named Tennessee Tech a member of the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for exemplary service efforts to local communities. This honor is the highest federal recognition a school can achieve for its commitment to service-learning and civic engagement. TTU’s University Service Center recorded that almost 2,200 students engaged in community service or academic service learning in the 2008-09 academic year. Those students logged almost 14,000 hours in volunteer work. Students, as well as faculty and staff, rallied to make TTU’s campus Habitat for Humanity build the largest project in terms of participants and service hours. About 400 campus community members constructed a home in 20 days. Meanwhile, students also dedicated more than 600 hours to two projects benefitting the Cookeville Rescue Mission.

Arraignment Set For Alleged Drug Sellers

A March 23rd arraignment date has been set in Putnam County criminal court for five individuals indicted on charges of selling drugs in cases investigated by local TBI agents. Authorities say agent Danny Espinosa is listed as the prosecutor in the cases. 29-year-old Julian Angel Davis of Shipley Road is charged with selling marijuana and cocaine three times in the year 2008; 23-year-old Earl Herbert of Baxter is also charged with selling marijuana or cocaine on three occasions in 2008; 45-year-old Jesse James Vaughn of Country Lane is charged with possessing marijuana with intent to sell from April of 2009 32-year-old Jimmie R. Lewis of Oak Trace Lane is charged with sale and delivery of marijuana three times in April of 2009; 26-year-old Larry Brandon Wilmoth of Duncan's Chapel Road is charged with selling Oxycodone in May of 2009. He's also charged with illegally possessing a firearm.

Hospital To Form Committee On Tobacco Ban

The plan is moving forward to make the entire campus and grounds of Cookeville Regional Medical Center smoke-free. The hospital board has decided to appoint a committee made up of doctors, staff members and representatives of the public to develop a specific time line on the total tobacco ban and on the best way to implement it. CEO Bernie Mattingly first brought up the issue earlier this year and says he has received mostly positive feedback since then. The hospital building has been smoke-free for several years, but some people have expressed concern about the effects of second-hand smoke near the entrances to the building.

Man "Borrows" Car And Doesn't Return It

A Cookeville man who loaned his car to a man at a local tavern may now have to pursue criminal charges against that man. The sheriff's department says the victim was at The Forbidden Club last week when someone approached him, asking for a ride to go buy some cigarettes. The victim says he had been drinking too much and was not going to drive, but gave the man the keys to his car so he could go buy the cigarettes. The problem occurred when that man did not return with the vehicle. Police say because he was given permission to take the car, a theft warrant is probably not going to relevant, but they told the victim he could pursue charges of joyriding.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Disaster Relief Training To Be Discussed

The temperatures aren't doing much to help, but local emergency management officials have been observing Severe Weather Awareness Week this week. Meanwhile, Putnam County residents who are interested in finding out about how they can help in local emergency disaster relief are invited to attend an informational meeting sponsored by the Red Cross tomorrow at Cookeville Regional Medical Center. It will be held from 9 to 10:30 a.m. During the meeting visitors will be able to learn about becoming part of a local Disaster Action Team -- described as the Red Cross's first responders to local people affected by fire, flooding, tornadoes, earthquakes and other disasters. For more information, call 528-3475.

Alt-Country Groups In Concert At TTU

Tennessee Tech University’s Backdoor Playhouse will host an evening of women’s alternative-country music next Thursday, March 4th, as part of a series of campuswide celebrations of National Women’s History Month. The concert, featuring Jill Andrews and Those Darlins, is scheduled for 8 p.m. At 4 p.m. the same day, there will be an opportunity for students to speak with Kelley Darlin, bassist for Those Darlins, about the music industry and her project, the Southern Girls Rock & Roll Camp. The free concert is open to the public with priority seating for TTU students.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Congressional Candidate Names Local Chairmen

State Senator Jim Tracy has announced that Cookeville residents Noble Cody and Scott Ebersole will co-chair his efforts in Putnam County in his race for Congress. Tracy said, “Putnam County will be a key county in this race for Congress." Cody is a WWII Veteran and retired teacher and businessman. He has served on the Cookeville City Council and was twice elected as the Mayor of Algood. Ebersole is the President and CEO of E Com Inc, a leading manufacturer of ergonomic chairs and stools for laboratory, commercial and industrial environments. For five years, he was chairman of the county's Republican Party.

Forgetting How Much You Have Stolen

Several shoplifting citations have been issued by Cookeville police this week, including a case in which the suspects had stolen so many things from so many places that they couldn't remember it all. That case came to conclusion at the Sears store where 18-year-old Kayla Rockwell and 19-year-old Joshua Jonathon Harper of Crossville -- and another teenager, who was not identified because she's a juvenile -- were arrested. Police say an employee of Kohl's Department store had seen the three shoplifting and had been able to track their vehicle to Sears, where one of the suspects was inside. Police say a search of the car turned up clothing and jewelry that had been stolen from both stores. In addition, the shoes that each subject was wearing were found to be stolen from Kohl's, and several hundred dollars worth of clothing from other stores was also found inside the vehicle. In other cases, 22-year-old Colin Wade Hurd of Algood was cited for allegedly stealing a stereo cable from Walmart, and 18-year-old Jacob Scott Reneau of Byrdstown was arrested for allegedly stealing Drano from Tractor Supply.

Algood Woman Charged In Domestic Abuse Case

A March 22nd court date has been set for an Algood woman, charged with stabbing her husband during a domestic dispute. Authorities say they were called to the home on Lane Road about 3:30 in the afternoon on Wednesday and arrived to find Richard Ballard coming out of the home with an obvious stab wound to his left shoulder. His wife, 34-year-old Miranda Kay Ballard, also came out of the home and was taken into custody. Police say the two had been in an argument that turned physical. Miranda Ballard claims that her husband had been choking her prior to the stabbing incident, but authorities determined that she was the primary aggressor and took warrants out on her. Mr. Ballard had to receive several stitches, but is expected to recover from the injuries, which were apparently inflicted by a kitchen knife.

Phone Harassment Investigated

A number of harassment cases have been reported to the sheriff's department this week, including two involving harassing text messages, although no arrests have been made. The department also says a woman reported that someone called her house just before midnight this week to tell her that she was pregnant. The woman said that she had been to the doctor's office recently, but says it wasn't her doctor that called, although the person claimed to be from the doctor's office. She says that she's now concerned that someone may have gained unauthorized access to her personal information.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

House Fire Deemed A Total Loss

The Putnam County sheriff's department says a fire at a home on Southfork Road this week appears to have been a total loss. Deputy Larry Bennett says the fire was reported just after 12:30 and he arrived to find the house engulfed with smoke. No one was in the house at the time, but Bennett says the owner reports that he found smoke coming from the door at the rear of the house and says the smoke detectors were going off. He also said that he saw smoke coming from an electrical box. Authorities say they don't believe the blaze to be connected to a series of suspected arson fires in the southwest part of the county.

Fincher's Ignition Interlock Bill Advances

A proposal by State Representative Henry Fincher of Cookeville that would require people charged with drunken driving to have ignition locking devices installed in their vehicles if they have a blood alcohol level of 0.08 is advancing in the House. The measure was approved on a voice vote in the House Judiciary Criminal Practice Subcommittee on Wednesday. The proposal, supported by Mothers Against Drunk Driving in Tennessee, would mandate installations of the device regardless of whether the driver has a restricted license. A rival proposal also advancing in the House would require a person who is arrested with a blood alcohol content of 0.15 and who requests a restricted license to have one of the devices installed.

Registered Sex Offender Charged With Indecency


A registered sex offender, who is accused of publicly urinating against a barn near Fisk Road and harassing both individuals and drivers in the area Tuesday, is now facing charges of public indecency and disorderly conduct. Police say the incident began about 9 am when 36-year-old Thomas Edward Bohannon of Cookeville was walking down the middle of the road near M and M Market. He reportedly went into the market and asked for some free beer and a ride to Walmart, but was told to leave. He also knocked on the door of at least one home in the area, asking for a ride and was reportedly trying to stop drivers to ask the same thing. Authorities say Bohannon appeared to be delusional when they caught up to him, but did not appear to be intoxicated. He was put on the sex offender registry after being convicted of rape in 2002.

Robbery Suspects Arrested In Disguise

Two Putnam County residents with a long history of criminal behavior are now charged with conspiracy to commit aggravated robbery after they allegedly planned a robbery of Crabtree and Grace Jewelers on Tuesday night. Police say 26-year-old Michelle Nicole Stewart of Old Qualls Road and 45-year-old Rodney Lynn Kirby of Mine Lick Creek Road were arrested near the business after employees called police. And while no robbery actually took place, police say Stewart was found with a loaded pistol and had a pillow duct taped around her mid-section -- as if to look pregnant. Both suspects had also dyed their hair as part of an apparent disguise. They'll be in court on the charges next month.

TTU Enrollment Hits Record Again

Some say it's a sign of the recession as more people decide to go back to college. Tennessee Tech University student enrollment for the Spring 2010 semester again has set an all-time high record. Compared to last year, total enrollment in the spring semester increased by 4.2 percent, while undergraduate enrollment grew 6 percent. TTU headcount enrollment this semester totals 9,646, compared to 9,254 for the same time last year. This spring’s tally follows a record high fall enrollment number for the ninth consecutive year. In the fall, the university reported 10,847 students enrolled; spring numbers typically are lower for universities due to December graduation and some attrition. Bobby Hodum, TTU’s executive director of enrollment management, says higher spring numbers reflect the university’s efforts to put more emphasis on recruiting and retaining full-time students.

“Healthy spring enrollment numbers reflect our efforts to serve students,” Hodum said. “We continue to develop ways to increase retention of full-time students and promote their life-long success.”

TTU's College of Arts and Sciences posted the highest undergraduate enrollment this spring, followed by the College of Education, College of Engineering and College of Business.

Homeless Man Cited For Shoplifting At Kohl's

A Sparta woman and a man police describe as homeless are facing theft of property charges today after they were allegedly caught shoplifting at Kohl's Department store on Monday. Police say 22-year-old Melissa Beth Grzanka of Serenity Drive, Sparta and 23-year-old Robert Isaac Soto were observed by store employees in the act. They say Ms. Grzanka would pull the tags off of clothing and give them to Mr. Soto, who would hide them. She then placed the items over her clothes or into her purse. Soto was detained in the parking lot, but Grzanka reportedly drove away. She was later found walking along West Jackson Street. Police say her vehicle had been left at a business on South Willow.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Third Offense DUI Charged After Traffic Stop

Third offense DUI charges have been filed against a Knoxville man who was allegedly caught driving drunk in Cookeville. Police say 27-year-old Shawn M. Angel was pulled over Monday on South Willow Avenue by Officer Chris Ferguson. Meanwhile, in a separate case, 30-year-old Melissa Roberts of Cookeville was charged with DUI after police claim she ran through the security fence at the Flow Serve plant and was spinning the tires of her vehicle on top of a snow bank. And 40-year-old Wendy M. Hargis of Monterey was charged with DUI after someone called police about her driving. She also reportedly had her children with her, and they were not properly restrained. 

8th Offense Driving On Revoked Alleged

A Cookeville man has been charged for the 8th time with driving on a revoked license after a city police officer spotted him travelling down South Willow Avenue. Officer Michael C. Herrick says he had prior knowledge that 53-year-old Ricky Eugene Randolph of Joe Rawlings Road did not have a valid license, but says he confirmed that fact with dispatchers. He then conducted a traffic stop. Herrick says Randolph's license is currently revoked because of a DUI conviction from 1996, although he has been eligible to have it re-instated for some seven years now. Herrick claims he also found marijuana and rolling papers in the vehicle.

Cookeville Man Arrested For Impersonating Officer

A March 8th arraignment date has been set for a Cookeville man, accused of posing as a drug enforcement agent as he robbed someone of more than 100 Percocet pills this month. Police say 31-year-old Bradley Shane Spivey of Brown Avenue was arrested after an investigation of an incident on Scenic Drive. Spivey is accused of showing up at a home there and waving a paper that claimed to be a warrant. He allegedly took a bottle of pills from the victim, and threatened him with a handgun when he asked for further identification. Police say the paper Spivey used in the robbery was, in fact, an old warrant -- one with his name on it from Jackson County. They say the victim also picked him out of a photo line-up.

Check Scam Reported In Monterey

Monterey's Hilltop Express newspaper says Monterey Police are investigating a "secret shopper" scam. A Monterey resident reported that she had received two sperate checks in the mail from a company called Global Employment Inc. Both were accompanied by a letter asking her to cash the checks, spend a designated amount at certain businesses, and then send a large portion of the money back to them. The paper says the woman destroyed the first check. But when the second check arrived, she called the police. According to the paper, another Monterey woman reported to police that she had received a check for $4,680 from a company calling itself Market Solutions. Police say in virtually every one of these cases, the checks are fake.

Former JC Penney Employee Cited For Theft

A former employee of the JC Penney store in Cookeville has now been cited for theft after allegedly using receipts from a customer's returned items to make out gift cards, which she then used for money. A report by officer Justin Long says the store manager claims that 21-year-old Heather Sakpeidah of McCawley Street in Algood admitted to the theft after an in-store investigation. According to the report, the first offense occurred on January 22nd, the second on January 28th, two more on February 13th, and one on February 17th. Just under five hundred dollars in all was stolen. Sakpeidah was not arrested on the charges, but was given a citation by police and the store manager will reportedly follow up with the clerk's office.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Arraignment Set In Sexual Battery Case

A March 23rd arraignment in Criminal Court has been set for a Cookeville man, indicted on charges of sexual battery. The grand jury returned the indictment against 26-year-old Nathaniel Delano Kornacki of South Willow Avenue, following an investigation by the Cookeville police department. Kornacki allegedly accomplished sexual contact on a juvenile girl without her consent while the two were reportedly visiting a patient at Cookeville Regional Medical Center. The incident reportedly took place on December 29th of last year.

March 23rd is also the arraignment date for a woman accused of stealing money from the bank where she was formerly employed. 26-year-old Kaylyn Marie Moore of Ridgewood Road was indicted on three counts of theft under $500. She was reportedly employed at the Fort Sill National Bank, which is located inside Walmart, when the incidents occurred. Authorities say she is accused of creating a fake ATM card and using it to remove money from the account of a bank customer.

Livingston Pharmacist Pleads Guilty In Drug Case



The owner of an Overton County pharmacy has pleaded guilty to six felony counts, including TennCare fraud, in Overton County Criminal Court. The Office of Inspector General announced the plea on Monday, which was entered in the courtroom of Judge David Patterson. 65-year-old pharmacist Malcolm D. Clark of Livingston pleaded guilty to: one count of sale of the painkiller oxycodone; one count of fraudulently obtaining dihydrocodeine, a painkiller described as twice as strong as codeine ; one count of TennCare Fraud; one count of Theft of Property over $10,000; and two counts of unlawfully dispensing . Clark was ordered to pay over $248,000 to the Overton County Sheriff's Department, more than $48,000 in restitution to TennCare, more than $47,000 to the Office of Inspector General, and $39,000 to Overton County. All firearms and ammunition seized from Clark were also surrendered to the Overton County Sheriff's Department. Clark was further ordered to 'retire' his Tennessee Pharmacy license, and forfeit the building in which his pharmacy was located to the Overton County Sheriff's Department. But he got no jail time. In the plea agreement, Clark was sentenced to ten years of supervised probation. During sentencing, Judge Patterson said Clark had, in his words, "Breached the family values of the Overton County community and contributed to the devastation in the Upper Cumberland concerning drug abuse and addiction." Judge Patterson also cautioned the former pharmacist against any probation violations during the next ten-year sentence. Clark was indicted in October 2007 on over 300 counts of drug related charges. The indictments stemmed from numerous undercover investigations led by Detective Greg Etheredge, who is now Chief of Police in the City of Livingston.

Rezoning Dispute Heads To Cookeville Planners

Another dispute over the proposed rezoning of some property is expected to come up tonight as the Cookeville planning commission meets. Two developers are proposing to rezoning about 15 acres of property on McCulley Road from an RS-20 residential designation to one with an RS-10 designation. The property would remain residential, but the amount of units allowed per acre would increase. Under the current zoning, 20,000 square foot lots are required; under the zoning being requested, those lots could be just ten thousand square feet. But neighbors in the area are reportedly against the idea, although the city planning department is recommending approval -- with some conditions. A similar request on the same piece of property, which would have reduced lot size requirements down to 5,000 square feet, was rejected by the planning commission last year.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Cookeville Soldiers Featured On Military News Blog

Cookeville-area soldiers from the 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment are now in Kuwait receiving training from the 155th Heavy Brigade Combat Team. The War on Terror newsblog says the local soldiers were trained on the weapons and equipment of a vehicle known as the M-RAP, the Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected vehicle they'll be driving as they accompany convoys in Iraq. One soldier in the unit says the M-RAP is quite a bit different from the Humvees they're used to handling. And First Lt. John A. Wasik, an executive officer with Headquarter and Headquarters Troop, 2nd Squadron, of the 278th said when the unit goes into theater, the incoming and outgoing units usually do a transfer of authority, which takes anywhere from two weeks to a month. Wasik, a Cookeville native, said the training the 155th provided allowed his unit to speed up that process.

Suspects In Purse Stealing Case Caught

Two suspects, who allegedly stole a purse from the car of an off-duty Cookeville police officer, are in custody today after a brief chase in Livingston Friday. The two were identified as Robert Tuggle and Melissa Donaldson. They were captured as they tried to flee from their vehicle into the woods near Livingston Academy. The school was on a brief lockdown until they were captured. The pair, who iw also suspected in a series of other incidents around middle Tennessee, is accused of breaking out a window on the private vehicle of Cookeville police officer Adrienne Lintz as she stopped at the Kangaroo Mart on East Spring Street Friday morning. Witnesses were able to provide authorities with a description of the black Nissan SUV the two drove away in and that vehicle was later spotted in Livingston.

Tech Student Falls From Window Cliffs

The Putnam County Rescue Squad was called out over the weekend to help with the retrieval of a Tennessee Tech student, who had fallen in the Window Cliffs area near Burgess Falls Park. The area, which is on private property, has been the scene of several accidents over the years. In this case, officials say the student -- in his 20s -- had been camping with friends when he fell some 50 to 65 feet to the rocks below. Some reports say the students were jumping from cliff to cliff when the accident occurred. Rescue crews maed their way down to the area and carried the victim back out to a waiting helicopter ambulance, which airlifted him to Erlanger Medical Center in critical condition, with possible head and spinal cord injuries.

Cookeville Speaker Urges Health Care Reform

A representative of Families USA was in Cookeville over the weekend, talking about the need for health care reform. Ron Pollack told a roomful of people at Cookeville Regional Medical Center that local residents will suffer if some type of reform is not passed. He said premiums will "continue to skyrocket," businesses will find those premiums unaffordable and more and more people will join the ranks of the uninsured. His talk in Cookeville was part of a wider effort to keep pressure on Congress to pass some sort of reform. But opponents say at least half of Americans don't want the health care package being considered right now. Tennessee's Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey says he doesn't know how any government can force a private individual to buy something they don't want.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Small Business Seminar Scheduled In Cookeville

Cookeville's Small Business Development Center will host two free seminars next week to help small business owners with issues important for success -- recordkeeping and business planning. The first seminar, "Recordkeeping for Small Business," will be presented from 4 to 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 23, at TTU’s Johnson Hall, Room 403. This seminar will show business owners how to make and use a recordkeeping system that is simple, complete, and organized. The second seminar, "Writing a Successful Business Plan," will be presented from 4 to 6 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 25. It will address the basics of creating and writing a successful business plan. Although admission is free for both seminars, registration is encouraged and can be done by calling the center’s office at 372-3706.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Pro Basketball Game Coming To Cookeville


A WNBA women's professional basketball game will be played in Cookeville later this year. The exhibition game between the Atlanta Dream and the Washington Mystics will take place in Tennessee Tech's Eblen Center on Sunday, May 9th. Officials say it will be the first professional basketball game played in the arena. Tipoff for the Mother's Day contest is set for 3 p.m. Atlanta head coach Marynell Meadors established the Tennessee Tech women's basketball program and served as head coach for 16 years, recording more then 350 career victories on her way to being inducted in the TTU Sports Hall of Fame. Reserved seat tickets for the game are $10 each, and specially discounted tickets are also available by calling 372-3940.

Council Puzzled By Hospital Bill

The Cookeville city council has approved a resolution, expressing their opposition to a bill being sponsored by local lawmakers Charlotte Burks of Monterey and Charles Curtiss of Sparta. The bill would prevent the city-owned Cookeville Regional Medical Center from entering into an exclusive agreement with an insurance company used by state employees. Councilman Ricky Shelton called it a bad idea and questioned the motivation for it. And Mayor Sam Sallee said he thought the bill had been drawn up as a result of some misunderstandings. The hospital board has approved a similar resolution. Both will now be sent to the legislature.

911 -- The Next Generation


First, there was 911. Then there was Enhanced 911. Now, Putnam County Ambulance Service Director Randy Porter says he is helping the state to develop 911, the Next Generation -- also known as NG911. Next generation technology is intended to allow the 911 system to receive text messages from cell phones, something it's not capable of doing right now. He says there are also compatibility issues with some Internet phone services. But Porter says NG911 should begin deployment in the latter part of this year. The conversion process is similar to the recent conversion of televisions from analog to digital. It will involve the deployment of an IP platform specifically for 911 and the purchase and deployment of new equipment at 911 call centers across the state. Porter, who is chairman of the state's Emergency Communication Board, says, "Once the NG 911 project is complete, Tennesseans will have access to the best technology available to coordinate emergency response."

Most Putnam Office Holders To Have Opponents

The deadline has now passed for candidates wishing to run for office in the May primaries -- and almost every Putnam County office holder will have an opponent. The exception is Marcia Borys, who is unopposed in her run for re-election as Circuit Court Clerk. In the Register of Deeds race, incumbent Harold Burris will face a primary opponent in Democrat Wayne Gaw. Incumbent County executive Kim Blaylock's opponent in the primary will be Dennis Tennant and sheriff David Andrews will face opposition from Greg Cooper. Meanwhile, Keith Marie (Lewis) Farley will challenge incumbent Wayne Nabors in the race for County Clerk. In the Road Supervisor's race, four Democrats are seeking their party's nomination -- Ronnie K. Herren, Larry "Buck" Huddleston, Randy Jones, and Terry H. Lamb. Whoever wins the primary will face independent candidate Harvey Summers in August. And seven candidates have qualified to run for the office of County Trustee. They include Republican Michael D. Lane and Democrats Danny Holmes, Bill Maynard, Freddie G. Nelson, Greg Rector, Mark Rippetoe and Jimmy D. Stanton.

TTU Engineer Honored For Research

David W. Elizandro received the 2010 Brown-Henderson Award from Tennessee Tech University’s College of Engineering. The award honors outstanding performance in teaching and research or service and carries the names of TTU’s College of Engineering Dean Emeritus James Seay Brown and James Henderson, the college's first dean. Elizandro has had more than $2 million in research projects and grants in the areas of program evaluation and the design and development of information systems. Most of his research is now in the area of program development and assessment.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Local Grade Schooler Wins Little Debbie Contest


A 7-year-old girl from Overton County has won a Little Debbie look-alike contest sponsored by the snack cake company. Rhea Lynne Conner of Monroe will have her face featured on the backs of select cartons of Little Debbie snack cakes for a limited time. Rhea, a student at A.H. Roberts Elementary School in Livingston, won a $5,000 college scholarship, Little Debbie snacks, a Madame Alexander Little Debbie 50th Anniversary collectible doll and a $50 gift card. She was chosen from 10 finalists and more than 900 girls between 4 and 8 years old. She says she would like to become a veterinarian. McKee Foods, which makes Little Debbie snack cakes, is celebrating its 50th year in business.

Bryan Symphony Orchestra In Concert Sunday

The first concert of 2010 by the Bryan Symphony Orchestra at Tennessee Tech University begins at 3 pm Sunday in TTU's Wattenbarger Auditorium. The concert features a performance by Sara Rupe, winner of this season’s Joan Derryberry memorial competition at Tech. For tickets and information, call 525-2633 or visit the ticket window which opens at noon on Sunday in the Bryan Fine Arts Building lobby. You can learn more by visiting the symphony's website, www.bryansymphony.org.

Plans Being Considered To Make Up Snow Days

With the Putnam County school system taking another snow day today, school officials are now trying to decide how they can start making up the lost time. Putnam County has 13 snow days built into their calendar, but all thirteen of them were used up as of Wednesday. State law mandates at least 180 instructional days for students, so the local school board must decide where any missing days will be scheduled for make-up. Their options include holding classes on Saturdays; eliminating or shortening an already scheduled Spring Break; or adding the days on to the end of the school year.

Council To Discuss Proposed Hospital Law

The Cookeville city council Thursday night will be considering a resolution that expresses their opposition to a state law being sponsored by local lawmakers Charlotte Burks and Charles Curtiss. The law would prohibit the state insurance plan from entering into an exclusive contract with the city-owned hospital -- in return for deeply discounted rates. Hospital officials say the contract helps them to provide care not only for state employees, but for others who may not have the ability to pay. Supporters of the legislation say its intended to "level the playing field" for other health care providers.

Jobs Summit Coming To Cookeville

It's All About Jobs. That's the theme of The Highlands Economic Development Summit scheduled for next Thursday, February, 25 from 1 until 5 p.m. at the Leslie Town Centre in Cookeville. The summit is open to anyone interested in attending, specifically those in leadership at the state and local government level, business leaders, educators, and chambers of commerce. The summit will feature Bill Frederick, CEO and president of Wadley Donovan GrowthTech LLC, one of the nation’s leading corporate location and economic development firms, and Brad Smith, executive director of the State Collaborative On Reforming Education (SCORE) program, as keynote speakers. Frederick will present the labor market findings completed for the Highlands in October 2009 and will update the audience on the site selection process. Smith will provide an overview of the SCORE program, "A Roadmap to Success: A Plan to Make Tennessee Schools #1 in the Southeast within Five Years." To reserve a spot for the summit, call Debbie Adams at 526-2211.

No Action Taken To Move Veterans Hall

The Putnam County Veterans Hall and Archives will go ahead and move into the basement of the new county clerk's office when it opens later this year, as the Land and Facilities committee explores options at other locations. Committee chair Eris Bryant says they want to take their time to properly evaluate all of the space needs for the hall and the potential for putting the hall on property already owned by the county. Meanwhile, county clerk Wayne Nabors clarified last night that space needed for the archives was in no way affected by the addition of an elevator to his office.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Schools Director Addresses Audit Findings

Putnam County director of schools Kathleen Airhart took the unusual step Monday night of appearing before the county commission to answer questions about some critical audit findings in the school system this year. Airhart says two of the audit findings have to do with how quickly the state re-imburses Putnam County and says there's not much that local officials can do about that. But she says the school system is already addressing the other issues, including a finding that the auditors described as an "unauthorized" transfer of money from the cafeteria fund to the General Purpose School fund and a lease purchase agreement for computers which failed to follow the specifics of state law. Airhart says the cafeteria transfer has been in effect for several years as a way for the food service department to pay their portion of the cost of utilities. But she says the county will start handling that transfer of funds in the way recommended by the auditors. The lease-purchase issue, she says, involves having the county commission formally approve the expenditure of the one dollar that will be need at the end of the lease period to purchase several hundred Apple computers.

Dog Rescued From Icy Buck Mountain Pond

Putnam County's animal control officers are still trying to determine who owns a beagle that fell into an icy pond on Buck Mountain Road. Deputy Bill Hunter says the dog was about 15 feet from the edge of the pond when it fell through the ice. And when Hunter tried to get closer to the animal, the ice also broke up beneath his feet, causing him to wade into the icy water in order to rescue the animal, which he says was near exhaustion. Homeowners Craig and Kelly Turner have been taking care of the dog, which was checked by both paramedics and veterinarian Tyler Verble. And while the animal survived the ordeal, Hunter says his police radio did not. He lost it in the water while rescuing the dog and while the radio was later recovered, the water had already done its damage.

Putnam Commission OKs Road Resolution

The Putnam County commission has voted, 16-to-3, in favor of a resolution that calls for the county and city to "cooperate" on the funding of a northern connector road to the fifth interchange -- if that becomes necessary. County executive Kim Blaylock says that she thinks discussion of such a road is "premature," but says the state Department of Transportation is insisting upon the resolution and that it's better to go along with them than to argue the point. Blaylock compared the experience to playing a game where you don't know the rules, but they keep changing along the way. The city council has passed a similar resolution. Blaylock says the next step is for the state to submit the plans to the Federal Highway Administration. The resolution passed on Monday night was, she says, mainly to pacify T-DOT.

TTU Basketball Teams On The Road Again

In spite of the weather, the Tennessee Tech basketball teams travelled to Nashville Monday night for an OVC double header. For the more, it was dead even down to the final seconds. And then some. And then some more. For the fourth time this season Tennessee Tech was stretched to overtime, this time two overtime periods at Tennessee State, but with their four top post players fouled out the Golden Eagles ran out of muscle and fell to the Tigers 109-102 in the Gentry Center. Tech had a desperation shot to win at the buzzer in regulation and also the first overtime, but missed on both. The Golden Eagles didn’t get the same chance in the second overtime. Tech slipped to one game under .500 with a 13-14 overall record, including a 7-9 mark in the Ohio Valley Conference. The Tech women won 76-73. Both teams are on the road on Thursday and Saturday.

Hospital To Consider Expanded Smoking Ban

The CEO of Cookeville Regional Medical Center says he'd like to see a campus-wide smoking ban implemented at the hospital as soon as possible, but he wouldn't speculate on when it might happen. According to the Herald Citizen, CEO Bernie Mattingly said he's encouraging the hospital board to consider the ban. Mattingly added that he's going to look at information from the American Hospital Association and other health facilities who have already gone smoke-free to see how their policies work. Hospital officials said smoking has been banned inside the building since 1999, but many employees worry about the smokers around the entry and exit to the facility. Several hospitals in Nashville are already smoke free, and five medical centers in Knoxville have approved a ban that will start next year.

County Commission To Discuss Veterans Hall

The Putnam County commission is scheduled to meet this evening in regular session to hear updates on a number of issues, including what should be done with the location of a Veterans Hall and Archives building. The original plan had been to move that hall into the basement of the building that will become the new County Clerk's office, but officials say the addition of an elevator to that building has cramped the avialable space and they fear that the archives will be out of space almost virtually on the day they move in. There had been a suggestion that the hall be re-located to the OLD county clerk's office, also known as the old jail, but members of the Land and Facilities committee voted down that idea last week. Also tonight, the county commission will approve the quarterly reports of various county departments and will get an answer to the question of whether the county election commision has insurance coverage. The meeting begins tonight at six.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Snowfall Hampers Transportation

Today is a holiday for many state and local workers, but it's not a day off for the road crews around the area who have been out for much of the weekend, tryingto keep ahead of rain, snow and sleet. Officials say their best advice, as always, is to stay off the streets today if you can. They're hoping that the lighter traffic load expected because of the Presidents Day holiday will allow them the chance to get the major roads ready for the Tuesday morning regular commute, but they say the side streets and back roads will likely remain snow covered.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Property Tax Deadline Coming Up

The deadline to pay your 2009 Putnam County property taxes without a penalty is now less than two weeks ago. Trustee Gail Glover says taxes can paid at her office before close of business on February 28th. After that date, the county will begin to charge interest on the tax debt at a rate of 1.5 percent permonth. Glover says payments postmarked before the due date will be accepted without penalty. So far, the county has collected about 50 percent of what isdue from property owners. That's down from the 54 percent collected at this time last year, but officials say many people wait until the last minute to pay their taxes. In fact, county executive Kim Blaylock says the budget overall is looking pretty good. Her main fear, she says, is any unexpected medical or dental bill from Putnam County jail inmates.

Nine Candidates Now Interested In Council Race

There are now nine candidates who have expressed interest in the five available seats on the Cookeville city council. The council election will be held in August and individuals interested in running have until April 1st at noon to file their qualifying papers. In the past week, former council member Harold Jackson picked up papers, as did Anthony C. Maxwell and Jim Woodford. They join Connie Albrecht, Alma Anderson, John Donnelly Jr., Larry Epps, Paul Spite and Ryan Williams as potential candidates. Meanwhile, incumbent state senator Charlotte Burks of Monterey has also picked up a potential opponent. While Burks has no opposition yet in the Democrat primary, William W. Steakley has picked up papersfor the Republican nomination to that seat. 

Friday, February 12, 2010

Election Insurance Question May Be Resolved

The question has been answered. Putnam County executive Kim Blaylock says that she has communicated with representatives of the county's insurance company, and they have assured her that the county election commission has coverage for the upcoming May primary. In fact, the election commission is listed as one of the "named insureds" on the county policy for both liability insurance and errors and omissions. Election officials say they had been told that they may not be covered under the county policy and had asked for a clarification of the issue. Blaylock is scheduled to report her findings to the full county commission next week.

Home Sales On The Increase In Cookeville Area

It could be a sign that the recession is lifting somewhat in the Cookeville area. The Upper Cumberland Association of Realtors says that home sales are up for the first time in two years. According to the Association, the number of homes sold in January of 2010 was up sixteen percent over sales in January of 2009. Spokesperson Colleen Edwards says this marks the first increase in year-over-year sales since 2007. Realtors in the area are reporting an increase in prospective buyers interested in taking advantage of the $8,000 first-time homebuyer tax credit, as well as those interested in the $6500 tax credit for "move up" buyers. Sales are also being spurred, she says, by historically low interest rates. Edwards says both tax credits are set to expire on April 30th and interest rates are expected to rise by the summer, making the winter months, which are typically the slowest months of the year in real estate, "very active."

White County Woman Facing More Charges

A White County woman, arrested in Cookeville last month, is now facing additional charges in Sparta. Authorities say 30-year-old Rachael Nicole Whittenburg had been arrested in Cookeville back on January 4th in connection with a meth lab operation. According to the Sparta newspaper, she had also been arrested in White County two days before that on meth related charges and had been told to stay out of a residence there that had been quarantined by the state since the meth lab discovery, and was in the process of being cleaned up by a certified clean-up crew. White County sheriff Oddie Shoupe says the site had been labeled a Tier 3 clean-up, which is the second highest level of contamination. On Tuesday, Shoupe reportedly received a report that Whittenburg was again at the residence, creating a disturbance and harassing the clean-up crew. She was captured after a brief chase, and charged with disorderly conduct, unlawful drug paraphernalia, simple possession and felony evading arrest, She is scheduled to be arraigned on the latest charges today.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

New Trial Ordered For Convicted Murderer

A federal court has ordered another trial to be held for a man convicted of first degree murder in Putnam County back in the 1990s. The court ruled that 49-year-old David Robinson Junior's constitutional rights were violated during his 1996 trial for the killing of Gerald Irwin. Robinson had claimed during his trial that he killed Irwin in self-defense after the two got into an altercation over money owed for a drug deal. The federal courts say prosecutors made a mistake in not revealing to the defense that their main witness against Robinson was a long-time police informant. The court said that if the defense attorneys had had information about that, they would have been better able to attack her credibility as a witness. They have ordered the state to either hold another trial or to release Robinson from prison.

Arraignment Scheduled In Illegal Voting Cases

March 23rd is the arraignment date for several Putnam County residents who have been indicted for illegal voting. Authorities say five more people were picked up on those charges in recent days, including 64-year-old Vera L. Darty of Algood, 64-year-old Edward Lee Frazier of Cookeville, 35-year-old Further Holiner of Cookeville, 55-year-old Don Alan Herren of Baxter; and 57-year-old Frederick Erickson of Buffalo Valley. Those individuals are convicted felons who are accused of either voting or registering to vote before having that right restored to them.

New Show Begins At TTU Backdoor Playhouse

"The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)" is being presented at Tennessee Tech University’s Backdoor Playhouse, beginning tonight. The Center Stage series performances are in cooperation with the Department of English and Communication and the TTU Tech Players, now in their 55th season."The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)" is directed by Mark Harry Creter. Performances are Feb. 11th, 12th, 13th, 15th, 16th, 19th, and 20th, all at 8 p.m. A late show is scheduled for 10 p.m. on Feb. 18th, and a matinee will be presented 2 p.m. Feb. 20th. Tickets are $10 general admission, $8 for senior citizens and $5 for non-TTU students. TTU student admission is free with a student ID. For further information, contact the Backdoor Playhouse box office at 372-6595.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Putnam County Man Charged With Rape

A Putnam County man was arraigned in General Sessions court on Wednesday after being arrested on charges of rape, sexual battery, aggravated assault and domestic assault. The warrants against 36-year-old Billy Joe Nix of Old Baxter Road were taken out after an investigation by sheriff's detective Jimmy Patterson. Nix allegedly raped a female acquaintance at her home on Monday and Patterson says evidence in the case shows that he had also assaulted her on two previous occasions, threatening her with either a knife or a gun.

Lawmakers Debate Ignition Interlock Devices

Tennessee lawmakers are trying to agree on legislation that would require people who are charged with drunk driving to have ignition interlock devices installed in their vehicles. One bill sponsored by Representativce Tony Shipley of Kingsport, would require a person arrested with a blood alcohol content of 0.15, and who requests a restricted driver's license, to have one of the devices installed. But a measure sponsored by Representative Henry Fincher of Cookeville would mandate that a person with a BAC of 0.08 get a device regardless of whether they have a restricted license. Shipley was asked to delay his bill in the House Criminal Practice and Procedure subcommittee on Wednesday so lawmakers can further study the measure.

DCS Investigates Marijuana Use In Front Of Child

An investigation by the Department of Children's Services may lead to further charges being brought against two Cookeville residents, who police say they suspect of smoking marijuana in a home with a five-year-old child present. Citations were issued to 26-year-old William Brian Clinton and 29-year-old Tranace Farris, both of Freehill Road. Police say they had been dispatched to the location on a disturbance call and allege that when Clinton answered the door, the odor of burning marijuana was "very evident." When they found the child in the home, police officers called DCS. 

Spray Painting Vandals Being Sought

Cookeville police are investigating a series of vandalism cases reported this week -- in which someone is spraying paint onto vehicles. On Franklin Avenue, a resident told police that two of the vehicles in his carport had been been spray-painted with red and black graffiti. Police say they were unable to make out any of the letters. Just up the street, another Franklin Avenue resident told police that red spray paint had been used to vandalize her vehicle. And, on Cherry Avenue, a resident reported that someone spray-painted the license tag and trunk of a vehicle. That victim said she suspected that kids in the area may be responsible.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Putnam Area Teens Cited For Underage Drinking

What began as a call about a suspicious vehicle ended up with more than a dozen people being cited for underage drinking. The sheriff's department says it happened on Farmington Drive when someone called to report a suspicious vehicle in their driveway. Deputies arrived on the scene to find the complainant pointing at the vehicle as it drove away. They pursued it for a short distance and found a party apparently in progress at a nearby home. But they say many of the people at that party were under the legal drinking age -- most either 18 or 19 years old. Citations were issued to all of those who admitted to drinking and those who were older were told that they could be facing charges of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

Baxter Man Charged With Stealing Water Service

A March 15th arraignment has been scheduled for the former fire chief in Baxter, who was arrested this week on a theft of services charge. Police say 62-year-old Richard James McBroom of 2nd Avenue South is accused of having a bypass pipe placed on his residential water meter, thereby allowing him to effectively steal nearly two thousand dollars worth of water. That bypass pipe was reportedly discovered by city workers who went to replace the malfunctioning meter last month. The incident was then reported to the mayor, who turned over the investigation to authorities. Greg Phillips, an investigator with the D-A's office, took out warrants against McBroom and his stepson William S. Maynard. Officials say McBroom's wife, Carol, who serves on the Baxter board, was apparently unaware of the alleged crime.

Unauthorized Radio Transmission Investigated

Cookeville police say a local resident is breaking both state and federal laws by interrupting the radio transmissions of the city police department. They have encountered a number of incidents over the past few weeks in which someone with a radio tuned to the police frequency is getting on-air and either taunting officers or giving out false information. Authorities say there are methods for tracing such unauthorized transmissions and say they plan to prosecute whoever is responsible.

Child Molester Gets Fifteen Year Sentence

A 15-year prison sentence has been given to a Putnam County man who has now pleaded guilty in a child rape case. 28-year-old Randall Shane Robinson of Water Plant Road in Baxter had originally been charged with rape of a child and aggravated sexual battery after an incident in December of 2008 in which he molested a six-year-old child who was staying at a home he was visiting. As part of his plea agreement, the charge was reduced to attempted rape of a child, which garnered him a 15-year sentence. Prosecutors say they agreed to the deal, in part, to keep the child victim from having to testify in a trial.

Woman Accused Of Tossing Beer Bottle In Anger

An Ohio woman has been charged with aggravated assault after she allegedly tossed a beer bottle at the head of another woman during an altercation at a local restaurant. Police say the incident occurred at Spankies restaurant, when 24-year-old Brittany Morgan Alderman, whose address is listed as Columbus, Ohio, allegedly began cursing at a woman who was speaking to her boyfriend. Alderman then allegedly threw a beer bottle which hit the victim in the back of the head. She also reportedly followed the victim outside and tried to start a fight. Restaurant employees, in fact, told police that once outside, quote, "everyone began fighting." Officer Josh Ward placed Alderman under arrest and alleges that she kicked him in the shin, tried to kick out the windows of his patrol car, and -- when her legs were restrained -- began knocking her head against the patrol car window. Police say she settled down after being drive-stunned with a Taser.

Tickets Still Available For Batboy: The Musical

Officials at the Cookeville Performing Arts Center say all of the opening weekend shows for Batboy:The Musical were sold out, but tickets do remain for some of the remaining shows this week. Performances are scheduled for tonight, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:30 pm. You can call 528-1313 to reserve a seat. The production is based on a story that appeared in the supermarket tabloid Weekly World News several years ago in which the paper ran a picture of something that appeared to be half-bat and half-boy. 

Fisk Jubilee Singers Coming To Cookeville

The Fisk Jubilee Singers, who were just nominated for a Grammy Award for "Best Gospel Performance," will perform on Friday, Feb. 19, at Tennessee Tech University.The 7 p.m. concert in the Bryan Fine Arts Building is also a Center Stage event and is free and open to the public. The concert is just one of several special events on campus celebrating Black History Month. The Fisk Jubilee Singers are a cappella vocal artists and students of Fisk University in Nashville. The group was nominated for a 2010 Grammy along with gospel and blues vocalist Jonny Lang for the song "I Believe" on Lang’s album, "Oh Happy Day." In addition to the concert, the annual Malcolm Moya Gospel Extravaganza hosted by TTU’s Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity and Trinity Baptist Church will be held at 2 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 21, in the Roaden University Center’s Multipurpose Room.

Nashville Man Accused of Attacking Jail Guards

A Nashville man, who was already in jail on theft charges, is now facing allegations that he assaulted three jail guards during an altercation over the weekend. 25-year-old Hector Cuevas allegedly attacked a corrections officer who had opened his cell door to remove a towel that Cuevas had placed over the window of the cell. Cuevas allegedly charged out of the cell, grabbed a broom handle, broke it off, and began swingint at Corrections Officer Heath Dilldine. The warrant alleges Cuevas bit Dilldine during the fracas and that two other officers, Theresa Everard and Jeremiah Sells, were also struck with the broom handle when they came to assist.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Questions Arise Concerning County Insurance

A question about whether the county election commission is covered under Putnam County's overall insurance program may be answered next week. Administrator of Elections Debbie Steidl told the county's Fiscal Review committee Monday night that she had been told the election commission was NOT included in the county policy. County attorney Jeff Jones said he would research the issue, but said that the crux of the matter is whether or not election commission members are considered to be state or county employees. He says that issue has not yet been resolved by the federal courts, and is the subject of a pending lawsuit. Commissioner Bob Duncan made a motion that the county executive have a meeting with the insurance committee, the election commission, the county attorney and the county's insurance company to determine whether or not election commissioners are covered, but the motion died for lack of a second. County executive Kim Blaylock told committee members that she would try to have a more definitive answer for them by next week.

New Location Considered For Veterans Hall

The Putnam County commission may be reconsidering the location of a Veterans Hall, now that renovations are nearing completion on the old Health Department building on South Dixie Avenue. That renovated building was expected to house the County Clerk's office, with the County Archives and Veterans Hall located in the basement. But county executive Kim Blaylock says it appears that as soon as the archivist locates there, he'll be out of space again. The county's Land and Facilities committee will meet on Thursday to talk about alternative locations and hopes to have a recommendation for the full commission to vote on next week.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

CATS Bus Service Makes Debut

Cookeville debuted its new mass transit bus service over the weekend. On Saturday, people enjoyed free bus rides, but if you catch the bus today, you'll have to pay for it. Some four years ago, a study discovered a public transit system would work for the city and stimulus dollars are paying for the project. Stops on the so-called "CATS" (Cookeville Area Transit Service) route will include Tennessee Tech, Jackson Plaza, Wal-Mart, and Restaurant Row. Rates are one dollar per trip, but riders can buy a $3.00 day pass.

Adult Business Ordinance Passes Final Reading

Will a newly passed ordinance regulating adult-oriented businesses also have an impact on other businesses, like Books A Million or VideoMax? At least owner of an adult establishment thinks so, but city manager Jim Shipley says his research does not support that claim. And he says, if they did, they would have to comply with the regulations for adult-oriented businesses. The new ordinance takes effect a week from Thursday.

Cookeville To Conduct Citizen Survey

The city of Cookeville is getting ready to do another citizen survey. Mayor Sam Sallee says the random survey should be in the mail to a random sample of people over the next couple of months. And because the sample is random, he says not everyone will get a survey. The city has conducted at least two other surveys to gauge what priorities it should focus on. Meanwhile, Sallee says it's also important for residents to fill out U-S Census Bureau forms because that information will have a direct impact on how much federal funding the city receives.

Sales Tax Collections Lagging Behind Estimates

Sales tax collections in Cookeville continue to lag behind even conservative budget estimates, but finance director Mike Davidson says the shortfall is being made up with some unexpected increases in other revenue -- like the Hall Income Tax. Davidson says that sales tax revenues through the first half of the year are at 48 percent of budget, when they should, ideally be at 50 percent or more. He says the shortfall is about $180,000. But he says about the same amount of money is coming in OVER projected revenues in other areas. Davidson gave the city council a budget update this month.
Sales tax collections in Cookeville continue to lag behind even conservative budget estimates, but finance director Mike Davidson says the shortfall is being made up with some unexpected increases in other revenue -- like the Hall Income Taxs. Davidson gave the city council a budget update this month.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Fincher Votes Against Michael Jackson Honor

A resolution to honor the late pop superstar Michael Jackson has passed the Tennessee House, but NOT with any support from Cookeville's state representative, Henry Fincher. He was one of 22 members who voted against it. The resolution sponsored by Democratic Rep. G. A. Hardaway of Memphis passed Wednesday on a vote of 51-22. Measures need at least 50 votes to pass. The "memorializing resolution" has no real effect. In the resolution itself, Hardaway noted that the singer raised millions of dollars for charity during his career and that Jackson had a Tennessee connection, since he was once married to Elvis Presley's daughter, Lisa Marie. Fincher said he voted against the measure because Jackson was "credibly accused of child molestation."

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Cookeville Council Receives Sinkhole Study

A Tennessee Tech University scientist has now confirmed what Cookeville city officials have known for quite awhile -- that sinkholes make up the majority of the city's stormwater drainage system. Dr. Evan Hart presented the results of a sinkhole study to the city council Thursday night. Among his recommendations for dealing with flooding around town is to reduce the trash entering the sinkholes, and possibly prohibit building permits in floodplains. The city is currently considering its options. Meanwhile, the council has OK'd an expansion of the OB unit at the city owned hospital. And they OK'd the final reading of an ordinance regulating adult-oriented businesses. City manager Jim Shipley says the owner of one such business had claimed that the new ordinance would cause places like Video Max and Books A Million to be out of compliance, but Shipley says that's not the case.

Woman Cited For Soliciting Without Permit

Beggars can't be choosers, and -- in Cookevile -- beggars cannot stand on the street corner asking for money if they don't have a permit. There's an city ordinance prohibiting solicitation without a permit, and Cookeville police say 44-year-old Stacy Ann Patzer of Briarcrest Lane has been cited on at least three occasions for violating that ordinance. Officer Calvin Anderson says he has also given her several verbal warnings, but claims that she was standing on the Highway 111 off ramp at I-40 this week holding up a sign asking for money. Anderson says he once again motioned for her to move on, but says that when he returned to the area 20 minutes later, she was still there. Upon approaching her, Anderson says he could smell the odor of an intoxicating beverage and says Patzer was placing herself and others in danger by standing close to traffic while under the influence. He arrested her for public intoxication, and she now has an additional court date of March 1st.

Sentence Handed Down In Vehicular Homicide


An eleven year prison sentence has been handed down to a Cookeville woman who was convicted on charges of vehicular homicide back in December. Rebecca Galyean will also serve four and a half years for vehicular assault. She was sentenced this week in Criminal Court by Judge Leon Burns. Prosecutors say Galyean had a .l6 blood alcohol level when she got on I-40 back in 2008 and began driving the wrong way. She crashed head-on into an oncoming vehicle, killing one person and seriously injuring two others. Galyean was taken immediately to jail following the sentencing hearing.

Cookeville Hospital To Expand OB Unit

Cookeville Regional Medical Center is hoping to get the go-ahead tonight to proceed with a long anticipated project. The hospital wants to update and expand is OB unit. CEO Bernie Mattingly says the hospital has simply outgrown its current space, in part because more babies are being born at the hospital. He says last year, almost 1,600 babies were delivered and the hospital expects to exceed that number in 2010. The average for several years was just over a thousand babies a year. Mattingly also says the hospital may have to add a neo-natal intensive care unit at some point in the future, but the expansion being considered by the city council tonight will not include that and is expected to cost about $4 million. The expansion will allow the hospital to add five labor, delivery and recovery rooms or LDRs, in addition to expanding the newborn nursery, which can currently accommodate 16 bassinets. The council will consider the project when they meet tonight at six.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

TTU Professor Explores Technology in China


At 7 a.m. one Tuesday morning-or 6 p.m. the Monday before, depending on which side of the world they were on-Carl Owens sat with two professors in China as his Tennessee Tech University graduate education class spent almost two hours discussing technology. Using Skype video chat to see and hear each other, the two Zhejiang University’s College of Education professors asked the TTU class about their facilities, cell phone use in teaching and learning, and other technology issues that affected their teaching abilities. Few professors enjoy technology more than Owens, TTU’s Learning Resources Center director and education professor. And even fewer carry the credentials associated with using technology to teach students from pre-k through graduate school. That’s how Owens found himself in Shanghai for 11 days on the invitation of Hangzhou Normal University to present at the "Conference on 21st Century Learning." With an iPod Touch, a laptop and a good Wi-Fi connection, Owens-a self-described "toy guy"- says he experienced authentic learning through technology at every turn on his recent trip to China. And his students benefited from seeing how all the toys become tools that enhanced, even changed, how they can learn.

Library Changes Policy On Earbuds and Hygiene

Concerns about communicable diseases have led the Putnam County library to change its policy concerning the use of headphones or ear buds on its public computers. In the past, the library has provided a set of earphones with each computer, just as they do a keyboard or a mouse. But, starting March 1st, they are asking that you bring your own personal set of earphones -- mostly for hygiene reasons. The earphones are necessary for listening to Web content without disturbing other library patrons. Director Dana Brumbelow says the library will have a very limited supply of free ear buds that they will give out on a first-come, first-served basis. When that supply runs out, they will sell them for a dollar apiece. But she says there is no policy against bringing your own set of headphones which should fit into the standard jack on the library's computers.

Plea Accepted In Cookeville Murder Case


A Cookeville man, accused of strangling his wife to death more than a year ago has now pleaded guilty in the case. 36-year-old Chad Bell agreed to the plea on a reduced charge of second degree murder in return for a 23-year prison sentence. He also pleaded guilty to a charge of abusing a corpse for which he was sentenced to two years in prison. Bell has been behind bars since October of 2008 when he was initially arrested. He had told police and relatives that his wife went missing, but later allegedly confessed to killing her and dismembering her body. Police say they were never able to uncover any motive for the killing, other than what Bell told them -- that he and his wife got into an argument that turned physical and he used his hands to choke her to death, while their three-year-old son was asleep in the same house on Walton Trail. The district attorney's office says they discussed the plea deal with the victim's family before agreeing to it.

Hearing Scheduled In Prostitution Case

A March 31st hearing date has been set in Putnam County General Sessions Court to determine whether or not a search warrant used to make a prostitution bust was legal. Lawyers for two women charged in the case involving the Rainbow Therapy Spa have argued in a court motion that the warrant was invalid, in part because the informant used by police was not a credible source. The motion also argues that officers did not comply with the so-called "knock and announce rule" and forced access into the business through two entrances. Lawyers also say there was a gap between obtaining the search warrant and its execution. The spa has since opened again for business, and there reportedly will be a hearing with the state health department in February for a permanent license.

TTU Alumni To Be Honored At Reception Friday

A nurse, lawyer, accountant, musician, astronaut, and recreation director will be honored as Tennessee Tech University Outstanding Alumni at a dinner and reception on Friday. The six TTU alumni, representing each academic division, will receive recognition at a celebration in the Leslie Town Centre. They includeBarbara S. Jared, assistant professor of nursing, who is being recognized by the College of Agricultural and Human SciencesMike Winchester, recognized as one of the top banking lawyers in Knoxville, and a noted alumnus of the College of Arts and SciencesMike Ingram, director of quality control at KraftCPAs, being recognized by the College of BusinessDon Jackson, world-renowned orchestral conductor, who is the choice of the College of EducationBarry Wilmore, pilot of NASA’s STS-129 space shuttle mission, the College of Engineering's outstanding alumni choice. And Kent Johnson, center director for the City of Knoxville Parks and Recreation Department, who was chosen by the School of Interdisciplinary Studies A reception in their honor will begin at 6 p.m., followed by dinner at 7 p.m. The public is invited, and reservations are required. The cost is $20 per person. To register online, go to ttualumni.org and choose the "events" page or call Alumni Relations at 372-3205.

Disaster Declaration Requested For Putnam County

Putnam County is one of half a dozen counties in Tennessee that the governor is seeking to have declared natural disaster areas because of the weather -- not this week, but last fall. Governor Phil Bredesen made the request this week in a letter to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. The seven counties requested include: Putnam, Fentress, Giles, Madison, Morgan, Van Buren and White. A disaster designation would make farmers in these and adjoining counties eligible to apply for assistance through their local USDA Farm Service Agency. Qualifying farmers are eligible for emergency loans and supplemental farm payments as provided by the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008. Farmers in these counties have reported crop losses ranging from 30 to 50 percent for major commodities including corn, soybeans, cotton, tobacco and some specialty crops. Some counties reported receiving record rainfall of in excess of 12 inches during what are normally the driest months of the year.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Police Following Several Leads In Murder Case

Cookeville police say they have quite a few leads and expect to make some arrests in the murder of 32-year-old Knoxville resident Franklin Todd Crabtree last week. Crabtree was shot through the door of a home on Carr Avenue when two men came to the residence armed with guns and got into an altercation with him. The Cookeville Herald-Citizen reports that the two men were fought off and shoved out the door and Crabtree was holding the door closed, trying to prevent them from re-entering when bullets were fired through the door. Crabtree grew up in Putnam County, but had moved to Knoxville where he was the manager of a grocery store. Police are not commenting on any possible motive, but say they have collected a lot of physical evidence and eyewitness testimony that they hope to use to solve the case.

Footprints Lead To Vehicle Burglary Suspect

Footprints in the snow. That's what Cookeville police say led them to a suspect in a series of vehicle burglaries. Detective Chase Mathis says it began on Monday morning when Officer Myke Green responded to a call on Bradley Drive. Someone had taken a digital camera and a GPS unit out of a car there, and Green noticed some distinctive footprints in the snow around the car -- footprints that did not belong to either the police or the victim. He notified Mathis, who photographed the prints and then began following them, along Bradley Drive to Brown Avenue, Jere Whitson Road, Denton Avenue and, ultimately East 20th Street, where they found 18-year-old Bradley Lee Brown of 20th Street changing a vehicle tire. When told that he had been tracked by the distinctive Nike "swoosh" on his shoes, Brown reportedly told officers that the shoes he had on were not his "main" wearing shoes. He was arrested on two warrants for vehicle burglary, and Mathis says other charges are pending.

Long-Time Putnam County Road Supervisor Dies

Long-time Putnam County Road Supervisor Billy Joe "Red" Lamb has passed away. Lamb, who was hospitalized on Friday after falling ill at his home, died on Tuesday afternoon. He had been battling health problems for a number of years, but co-workers say he had continued to show up almost every day at his job. Because of those health issues, Lamb did not file to run for re-election, but his nephew, Terry Lamb, who has been serving as assistant road supervisor is one of five candidates in the race. "Red" Lamb had first been elected to the job in 1998 and had won re-election two times. Funeral services are being handled by Hooper, Huddleston and Horner Funeral Home. Lamb was 79 years old.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Three Indicted In Separate Burglary Cases

A criminal court arraignment is coming up later this month for three Cookeville men indicted in separate cases on charges of burglary. Court officials say 19-year-old Roman Martinez of North Chestnut Avenue is accused of entering a vehicle on Byrne Avenue last October and stealing a wallet, and an iPod , among other things. 23-year-old James Lewis Myers II of Turkey Creek Road is charged with aggravated burglary and theft for breaking into an apartment on North Dixie Avenue and allegedly stealing a guitar and an amplifier. And 43-year-old Kenneth Earl Allen of Bowman Branch Road is charged with vehicle burglary and theft for taking a wallet out a car on Mt. Vernon Road.

Cookeville Hospital Updates Surgery Tracking

Officials at Cookeville Regional Medical Center say family members and visitors waiting on patients in surgery at the hospital will now be able to monitor their loved one’s progress through the phases of surgery. Spokesperson Melahn Finley says when a patient goes to surgery, family members are given a tracking code to follow on a monitor located in the Surgery Waiting Area. With that tracking code, they can see where the patient is at any given time, and the code allows the patient information to be kept private. The family will know when the patient is prepped for surgery, is in the operating room, enters recovery and is transported to a hospital room or ready to be discharged. She says the new system is meant to help take away much of the stress associated with waiting on a loved one in surgery.

Four-Year-Old Murder Case Resolved

A murder case which occurred along Highway 111 near the White and Putnam County line several years ago has now been resolved. The Sparta Expositor is reporting that 35-year-old Kenneth Miller of Hermitage has pled no contest to Facilitation of 2nd Degree Murder for his role in the killing of 33-year old Oulay Chantharack. White County Detective Chris Isom says that, in the plea, Miller acknowledged his involvement in conspiring to murder Chantharack over a drug deal gone bad. Chantharack’s body was found with no identification near Post Oak Bridge, between Highway 111 and Roberts-Matthews Highway, in the northern portion of White County in December of 2005. Authorities were able to identify the remains of Chantharack through a joint investigation with Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the Cookeville City Police. Isom said language barriers added to the difficulty of the investigation because Chantharack’s family and friends are of Laotian descent, as were several witnesses involved in the case. He said Laotian gang members were also involved.

Patrol Car Microphone Picks Up Drug Talk

A conversation that two men allegedly had while waiting inside a Cookeville city patrol car may be used as evidence when the two go to court on drug charges. Officer Jamey McCurry says he pulled over a car after noticing that one of its brake lights was not working and says the driver -- identified as 23-year-old Daniel Scantland of Livingston -- was found to have an active warrant for his arrest pending at the Putnam County sheriff's office. As Scantland was taken into custody, McCurry claims the passenger, 49-year-old Jimmy Whitt of Carthage was found to be in possession of five rocks of crack cocaine. McCurry says although Whitt denied any knowledge of the drug, he too was placed under arrest and read his rights. Both subjects were then placed into a patrol car in which the interior microphone had been activated. That's where they were reportedly heard talking about the crack cocaine. Both have now been charged with simple possession. 

January Was Colder And Wetter Than Normal

The people who keep the records are reporting that January was both colder than normal and wetter than normal in Cookeville. Michael Detwiler of the cookevilleweatherguy.com website says that the average daily high temperature for the month was 39.8 degrees, which is nearly six degrees below normal. The average daily low temperature was 22.7 degrees, when the average is about 25. The precipitation measured in Cookeville for the month was: 6.79 inches, while the average for a January has been 5.33 inches. And, after last weekend, the snow measured in the area for the month of January was 5.8 inches. The average January snowfall is 3.9 inches.