Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Anonymous Tip Leads To Drug Arrest

A tip from an anonymous caller has led to the arrest of a Sparta man on two counts of possessing drugs for re-sale. Police say 33-year-old John J. Mullen of Petty Road, Sparta, was arrested at the Hawg Barn tavern on West Broad Street after someone called police to report that a man in a neon shirt and white bandanna was selling drugs out of a pool stick case. Officer Brian Long says Mullen was the only person in the bar who fit that description. He says the pool stick case was on the bar next to where Mullen was sitting, but says Mullen denied that it was his. The officer says Mullen was also sitting on top of a leather jacket that contained marijuana and cocaine. He claimed the jacket belonged to his cousin. Police say the found several grams of marijuana in the pool stick case and found twelve grams of cocaine in the jacket. They also seized more than $2,300 in cash from Mullen, who said the money had come the sale of a vehicle, not from drug sales. Mullen was jailed on a $25,000 bond with a court date set for April 26th.

Man Seriously Injured In Jump From I-40 Overpass

The Tennessee Highway Patrol is continuing to investigate an incident in which a man reportedly jumped from an overpass onto I-40 Wednesday morning. The THP says it happened around 7 am at the 290 mile marker when a man apparently stopped his car on Highway 70-East and jumped or fell some 30 feet from the overpass to the road below. The man was identified by authorities as 48-year-old Danny Wayne Walker of Monterey. Officials say he suffered multiple broken bones in the fall and very nearly jumped into the path of an oncoming eighteen-wheeler. He was airlifted to Erlanger Medical Center for treatment.

Easter Egg Hunt Scheduled At Standing Stone Park

Standing Stone State Park in Overton County will host an Easter Egg Hunt on Saturday, April 3rd, beginning at noon. Officials say the egg hunt is designed for children ages 12 and under. There will be more than 20,000 candy-filled Easter eggs hidden in the park and $300 in prizes will be given out. Standing Stone State Park covers nearly 11,000 acres. It's located in Overton County within a triangle formed by highways connecting Livingston, Gainesboro and Celina. The park takes its name from the Standing Stone, an eight-foot tall rock standing upright on a sandstone ledge, which was supposedly used as a boundary line between two separate Indian nations. When the rock fell, the Indians placed a portion of it on an improvised monument to preserve it. The stone is still preserved in Monterey, Tennessee, today.

Tennessee Tech Crime Rate Remains Steady

The number of reported crimes on Tennessee Tech University’s campus stayed relatively unchanged as the state’s rate rose more than 9 percent. Tennessee Tech’s overall reported offenses, which historically rank low per capita compared to other Tennessee Board of Regents universities, showed about a 1 percent increase, according to the annual Tennessee Bureau of Investigation report released today.Larceny/theft continued to comprise the largest percentage, 38.5 percent, of offenses reported on college campuses. That held true at Tennessee Tech where about 45 percent of all crimes reported were larceny/theft incidents. TTU’s only significant increase appeared in burglaries, up to 24 from 16 last year.

“We face what other campuses are facing with growing enrollment and tougher economic times,” said TTU Police Chief Gay Shepherd. “The types of crimes that are increasing reflect the challenge of serving more people with the same resources and personnel. However, our clearance rate for these crimes has increased from about 3 percent to almost 19 percent. We are working diligently to educate the campus community to protect themselves against larceny and theft, which are often crimes of opportunity.”

In the past year, Shepherd says the installation of security cameras in strategic areas on campus has helped officers identify those committing crimes. At TTU, no criminal homicides or rapes were reported for the year. One robbery was reported and cleared.Although no campus is a sanctuary from crime, the university is patrolled 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Officers also join students, faculty, administrators and staff in safety walks annually to ensure everyone knows the safe areas.TTU’s University Police maintain annual crime statistics and comparative crime rates for three years on the university’s web site. More crime rate information may be found here.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Cookeville THP District Announces Roadblocks

The Cookeville district of the Tennessee Highway Patrol has announced that they will be conducting roadblocks this weekend to check for sobriety. Drivers can expect to see troopers set up Friday night along Highway 56 in Putnam County, and also on South Jefferson Avenue in Cookeville. THP Lt. Brian Lawson says the highway patrol has found the sobriety checkpoint roadblocks to be an effective means of enforcing the DUI laws of Tennessee, and he reminds local drivers that DUI means under the influence of alcohol OR drugs.

Cookeville State Rep Comments On Federal Grant

State representive Henry Fincher of Cookeville is reacting to the news that Tennessee is one of the states that will get millions of dollars in federal money in the Race To The Top program. Fincher, who was one of 12 lawmakers to vote against changes to Tennessee education law required by the program tells the Associated Press, "It's much better to get money than not. I just don't know that what we did to our teachers is going to be worth the one-time money that we get." The law gives more weight to student testing data when making teacher evaluations, which Fincher has said may unfairly affect teacher tenure.

TTU Plans Clothesline Project

The Tennessee Tech University Women’s Center and sorority Zeta Phi Beta host the 12th annual Clothesline Project on campus April 6 in recognition of April as National Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The Clothesline Project, a display that offers a voice to those affected by domestic and sexual violence, will be presented in the Roaden University Center Tech Pride Room on Tuesday, April 6, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. The room will be filled with shirts designed by people who have either fallen victim to violence or know someone they care about who has.

“Witnessing is part of the solution,” said Diana Lalani of the Women’s Center. “By coming and viewing their testimonies, you are affirming their healing and affirming their release. It’s not boring. It’s not frightening. It’s inspirational.”

In its 12th year on campus, this is a Women’s Center event held in collaboration with Zeta Phi Beta.

“One year a student made a shirt and then phoned her mother in another state and talked about how she felt afterwards,” said Gretta Stanger, Women’s Center director. “Her mother also wanted to make a shirt and drove hundreds of miles the next day to be at the exhibit. She, like many others, reported a sense of relief after creating the shirt and knowing that it would then be displayed in the years to come.”

Held each year in April to correspond with National Sexual Assault Awareness Month, this year’s event will also be held on the same night as the sixth annual Take Back the Night March aimed at ending violence against women and children. The National Clothesline Project was founded in 1990 by a group of women in Massachusetts to address the issue of violence against women. Since then, the project has expanded to an estimated 500 displays each year nationally and internationally.

“People often make the mistake of thinking this is for women only, but we welcome all survivors,” Lalani said.

The colors of the shirts represent different kinds of abuse and sometimes offer tribute to those who have not survived. White represents women who have died as a result of violence. Yellow is for battered or assaulted individuals. Red or pink represent survivors of rape of sexual assault. Blue and green shirts are for survivors of incest and sexual abuse. Purple represents violence based on sexual orientation. Shirts can be made any time at the Women’s Center in Pennebaker Hall Room 203 or at the event.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Putnam Schools Get Grant For E-Learning

The Putnam County school system has been awarded part of a federal grant that is intended to expand technology in the schools. Education Commissioner Timothy Webb today announced Title II-D Education Technology funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to expand the Tennessee Department of Education’s e4TN online learning initiative. Building on the success of e4TN, the Department of Education will expand opportunities for students to enroll and succeed in online courses through the e4000TN program. The program provides support and resources in hopes of enrolling 4000 students in e-Learning courses in 60 school districts across the state. The grant will provide Putnam County with $10,000 to be used for personnel and equipment.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Soldier Scam Investigated In Clay County

Evidence will be presented during the May term of the Clay County Grand Jury about an alleged scam that was perpetrated by a soldier with the 278th National Guard regiment. Authorities claim that 29-year-old Christopher Kerr of Celina was soliciting donations for a local soldier who had come back from Iraq and found that his trailer home had burned. Allegedly, Kerr was approaching people in area businesses, telling the story of the now homeless soldier, and asking for and receiving donations, even though the story was not true.

Deal Worked Out In Vehicular Homicide Case

A Jackson County man will report to jail next month to finish out the rest of a four-month jail term he has been given in a vehicular homicide case. 47-year-old Anthony Lee Curts of Gainesboro had originally been charged with second-degree murder in the death of 71-year-old Ernest Preston Fulton at a home on North Pine Hill Road. Police say they had been out for a drive and had gotten into an argument when Curtis allegedly ran the vehicle into Fulton. But prosecutors say they couldn't prove intent to murder or that alcohol was involved, so they agreed to a deal in which Curtis pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide due to recklessness in return for the sentence. He will also be on probation for ten years.

Scrap Metal Thieves Hit Tennessee Tech

Scrap metal thieves continue plying their trade around the Cookeville area -- including on the campus of Tennessee Tech. According to the student newspaper, Tech police are investigating the theft of four spools of new electrical copper wire, which was stolen from the construction site of a dormitory called New Hall South. The wire was located in the north wing of the fourth floor. The construction site is fenced in, and according to the report, all gates were closed and locked at the time. Meanwhile, Tech police were dispatched to the indoor tennis courts on North Willow Avenue, where catalytic converters had been cut off of two Tech vans. Police say thieves generally sell them for scrap as well.

Friday, March 26, 2010

More Candidates Show Interest In Races

As the deadline approaches for candidates interested in running for office in the August elections, more and more people are picking up petitions. Cookeville city council member Ryan Williams picked up papers today to run for the Republican nomination for the 42nd District seat in the State House of Representatives. Another city council member, Ricky Shelton, had also considered a race for the state House, but decided against it, and independent candidate Jeffrey Judd also pulled out of the race earlier this year. Republican Bill Cody has already qualified to run in the Republican primary. The incumbent is Democrat Henry Fincher. Meanwhile, Zach "Papa" Bollen, who manages a Papa John's restaurant in Cookeville, has also picked up papers to run for city council. He becomes the eleventh potential candidate for that race, with nine who have returned qualifying papers thus far for the five seats on the council.

War And Peace ... In Song

A performance of songs about war and peace has been scheduled for later this year by the Mastersingers. The concert will, in fact, be titled "War and Peace" and will be performed on Saturday, May 1st at 7:30 pm in the Bryan Fine Arts Building on the campus of Tennessee Tech. There is an admission fee of $10.00. Mastersingers is a community chorus consisting of approximately 70 members of all ages from around the Upper Cumberland. They rehearse on the campus of TTU in the Bryan Fine Arts building on Monday evenings at 7:00 pm in Room 100. For more information, you can call Mastersingers President Mike Vitti at 931-761-8484.

"Move Over" Warning Given To Knoxville Man

A Knoxville man, who may not have known about the so-called "move over" law in Tennessee has now been given a warning about that law ... and also a citation for driving on a suspended license. Putnam County sheriff's deputy Jeremy Nash says he stopped a gold Lexus on I-40 at the 291 mile marker for failing to move to the outside lane when it passed emergency vehicles that were parked on the side of the road with their emergency warning lights activated. The driver, 26-year-old Augustine Leon of Knoxville, will most likely have to now pay a fine for driving while his license was suspended.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Neighbor Dispute Leads To Advice From Deputy

Sometimes calling the law doesn't really help. The sheriff's department says an officer was dispatched to a home north of Cookeville this week to talk to a man who claimed that his neighbor yells at him and his children and makes harassing type motions whenever they are outside. The neighbor, on the other hand, told a deputy that he had been having problems with the other guy and his family for a long time, including an incident in which the neighbor kids allegedly padlocked his mailbox. Authorities told both parties that they could contact a private attorney or work through the clerk's office to pursue charges if they wish.

Cookeville Police To Be Following School Buses

Cookeville police have begun giving out tickets to motorists who ignore the flashing lights and stop signs on school buses. Police say they began the campaign after being contacted by the school's transportation supervisor. A traffic division officer will be following buses every day in an unmarked patrol car, watching to be sure that drivers are obeying the traffic laws. Cookeville police chief Bob Terry says the normal course of action is to announce the campaign and then give out warning tickets, but says the safety of children is too important to delay enforcement of school bus traffic laws. Generally, the fine for running a school bus stop sign is $75.

Several Pounds Of Marijuana Found In SUV

An April 19th court date has been set for a Cookeville man, charged with possessing more than ten pounds of marijuana for re-sale. The Cookeville police department's Community Nuisance Eradication Team, or C-NET, began an investigation after receiving information that a large amount of drugs could be found in a vehicle parked on Mississippi Avenue. It had apparently been left there because it overheated, but police identified the owner as 29-year-old Kenneth Lee White of Benton Young Road, and -- although he denied them permission to search the vehicle -- they obtained a search warrant based on the fact that drug dogs had "indicated" on the back of the SUV. Police claim that they found thirteen pounds of marijuana in a duffel bag in the back, and also allegedly found a pill bottle containing eight percocet pills and 68 oxycodone pills.

Man Allegedly Attacked By Guests In His Home

Criminal trespassing charges have been filed against two individuals who allegedly attacked a Buffalo Valley Road man after he refused to let them stay at his house. The victim told police that he was escorting 19-year-old Robert Joseph Schill of Sparta and 19-year-old Spencer Jordan Wiest of Cookeville out of his home when they allegedly began hitting him in the face, knocking him to the floor. The fight had been broken up by the time police arrived, but they decided to arrest Schill and Wiest, based on the statements of witnesses. They claim Schill resisted arrest and had to be tasered. The victim was taken to the hospital by ambulance for treatment of head injuries and was advised on how to proceed with assault charges if he chose.

Putnam Gets Emergency Food And Shelter Grant

A federal grant has been awarded to Putnam County for emergency food and shelter programs. The $46,000 grant comes from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and will be used to supplement some of the programs already in place in the county. Charles McCaskey, director of the local FEMA program board, says the grant monies are intended for agencies, not individuals. A local board will be formed to help determine how the funds awarded to Putnam County will be distributed among those agencies that offer emergency food and shelter programs. Agencies interested in applying for the funding should contact McCaskey by calling 526-6585. The deadline for applications to be received is April 1.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Baxter Man Facing Numerous Charges

A former law enforcement officer in Putnam County is facing a number of charges today after leading police on a brief chase. 40-year-old Jeffrey Clay Ragland of Chestnut Street in Baxter has been charged with reckless endangerment, evading arrest and theft of property. Ragland reportedly used to be a police officer in Baxter some years ago. The sheriff's department claims Ragland fled from a traffic stop, possibly because he was allegedly driving a car that had been reported stolen out of Goodletsville. The sheriff's department has also charged him with stealing a wallet from a home on Double Springs Road earlier this month.

Wedding Guest Suspected In Thievery

Here comes the bride and there goes the thief. A Putnam County resident told the sheriff's department this week that his mother had held a wedding at her house on Bunker Hill Road and says that a number of people attended the event. But, when it was over, he noticed several items missing from the home, including a 60-count bottle of Diazepam, several porcelain dolls, and silverware from the kitchen drawer that had been given as a wedding gift. Cash was also taken from the purses of at least two wedding guests. Police say the victim was reluctant to give out the names of the wedding guests, but was concerned about reporting the loss of the medicine.

Drug Charges Filed After Motel Room Search

What began as an investigation of a traffic accident ended up with two individuals being arrested by Cookeville police on drug charges. Officer Craig Wilkerson says he was dispatched to the area of Eastwood Inn Monday night when someone called to report a car that was off in a ditch. He didn't find a car in the ditch, but did find it parked at the motel. After finding that the driver to the car was registered in one of the rooms, police knocked on the door to discuss the wreck and later decided to obtain a search warrant for the room. That search allegedly turned up a large bag of marijuana and a sandwich baggie box with several smaller of amounts of marijuana, packaged for re-sale. The occupants of the room, 20-year-old Ashley Nichole Choate and 22-year-old Derrick Justin Choate, were then arrested. Police claim Derrick Choate had more than five hundred dollars in cash on him, despite saying that he was unemployed. They also say his cell phone had numerous text messages pertaining to the sale of drugs.

Feminist Blogger Speaks At TTU

A woman who describes herself as a "feminist blogger and author" gave a speech at Tennessee Tech University last night entitled, "Feminism: Alive and Well?" According to Jessica Valenti, it is indeed. She says "all of this nonsense about young women not calling themselves feminists, or young people being socially unengaged and politically apathetic is bull." Valenti’s visit to TTU is just one of a series of events on campus during National Women’s History Month. Her visit was sponsored by the TTU Women’s Center in collaboration with Zeta Phi Beta sorority. Valenti is the founder and editor of, and has also written three books, including one called The Purity Myth: How America’s Obsession with Virginity is Hurting Young Women.

Tech Football Team Schedules "Money" Games

The Tennessee Tech football team has scheduled two so-called "money" games this fall. The Golden Eagles will open the year on the road at the University of Arkansas and are now scheduled to play Texas Christian University the following week in Fort Worth. Those larger schools are paying Tech a substantial amount of money to make the trips. TCU finished last year with a 12-and-1 record, losing only in the Fiesta Bowl game. The games this year at Arkansas and TCU will mark the 21st year overall that the Golden Eagles have jumped up a level. Coach Watson Brown says the games will be a "challenge," but also notes that the revenue they produce is important to the University's athletic program.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Man Accused Of Tossing Child Across Room

An April 19th court date has been set for a Gallatin man, facing charges of aggravated child abuse in Putnam County. Authorities say 22-year-old Terry Dickerson is accused of throwing his two-year-old daughter across a room during an argument with the child's mother over the weekend. Warrants in the case allege that Dickerson and the mother of his child "had argued and shoved each other" and he picked up the little girl "and was holding her while choking her mother. He then allegedly threw the 29-month-old child across the room in order to get a better grip on the mother. The child was taken to the hospital for treatment of a possible concussion. Dickerson turned himself in at the jail on Tuesday, where he was also served with a warrant for domestic assault.

False Robbery Report Leads To Criminal Charge

A Cookeville man has been charged with filing a false police report after claiming that he was robbed of money that he had actually given to an alleged drug dealer. Police say 41-year-old Fred Burton Adams of Sycamore Street initially claimed that an old friend of his had come by his house, knocked him down, and stole $120 out of his pocket. When asked whether there were drugs involved, Adams reportedly said no. But police claim he later admitted to giving the friend money to buy Dilaudid. He says the friend left without providing any drugs. Adams will be in court on the charge next Monday.

Wave of Thefts Reported From Unlocked Cars

Several vehicles that police say had been left unlocked were burglarized this week. One resident says she left her car unlocked when she was at church on Fairground Street Sunday night and returned home to find that a GPS unit and a garage door opener were missing. Meanwhile, a resident of Stevens Street says that she had not locked her car after returning from church and later found that several items had been taken from it, including CDs and jumper cables. A man on Crescent Drive also reported to police that a CD player had been stolen from his unlocked vehicle; and a GPS unit and a radar detector were stolen from a car on Jackson Street. The victim says they were taken out of a locked trunk, but police say there was no sign of forced entry.

Putnam School Officials Making Contingency Plans

The anticipated delay in the scheduled opening of new elementary and middle schools in south Cookeville has led local school officials to make contingency plans. Dr. Kathleen Airhart says that Kindergarten registration for all schools will be held on April 27th, and says that Kindergarten parents will complete the paperwork at the school to which their children are zoned. But she says that Prescott South Kindergarten parents will complete paperwork at the Central Office. And K-4 students who will end up at Prescott South will be housed temporarily with their assigned class and teacher at various locations throughout the system to be determined at a later date. Airhart says children will not change teachers or classmates with the move. The only factor that will change will be the location of the classroom. Prescott South Middle School Students in grades 5 through 8 will be housed in the early part of the next school right where they are now -- at the current Prescott Central Middle School. Dr. Airhart says, "We have every expectation that children will be located to the new Prescott Schools as early as September - but no later than fall break."

Missouri Man Faces Drug Charges In Cookeville

Cookeville police say a complaint about drug activity at a residence on Franklin Avenue led to the arrest of a Missouri man over the weekend. Officer Josh Ward had been dispatched to the location after someone called the police department and claimed that two individuals had approached him and asked if he wanted to purchase cocaine. Ward says 21-year-old Michael Christen Patton was among the individuals on the front porch of a residence on Franklin, and says that Patton was observed shoving his hands into his pockets. Patton reportedly consented to a search which turned up a bag with about three grams of cocaine in it, and another bag with about two grams of marijuana. Patton was also reportedly wanted in Missouri on a parole violation.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Dual Enrollment Courses Offered To Students

Volunteer State Community College is offering online dual enrollment classes to Putnam County students at Upperman, Monterey and Cookeville High Schools, and officials say students need to start considering the classes for summer and fall. Dual enrollment allows students to earn high school and college credit at the same time. Grant money is available to help pay for the courses through a Tennessee Educational Lottery grant program. Vol State is offering 16 online dual enrollment courses this semester and interested students can get more information about summer and fall classes. It’s handled through the Putnam County online learning program called VITAL -- Virtual Instruction to Accentuate Learning. That program started in 2008 and offers a number of online learning opportunities for Putnam County students. You can view their website here.

Arabic Comedian Plans Show At Tech

Stereotypes about the Arabic community and other groups in the United States will be explored comedically at Tennessee Tech next month. Comedian Dean Obeidallah is scheduled to perform at the university at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, April 6, in the Multi-Purpose Room of the Roaden University Center. Born in New Jersey, Obeidallah is the only son of a Palestinian father and a Sicilian mother. He draws much of his comedy from this unique background. He has appeared on numerous national and international television shows, including NBC’s "Saturday Night Live" and "Late Night with Conan O’Brien." Obeidallah also co-produced "The Watch List" for Comedy Central’s Internet channel. His appearance in Cookeville is being held in conjunction with the Foreign Language Culture Studies 3000-level course taught by Debbie Barnard, Julia Baker and Mark Groundland. This course covers topics like immigration and exile. A Center Stage event, the comedy show is free and open to the public.

Gordon Explains Vote On Health Care Reform

The vote has been taken, but the debate continues. Congressman Bart Gordon used his web site to explain why he voted in favor of health care reform legislation, using as an example a woman he called "Beverly in Cookeville," who he says could not get employer-based health care, even though both she and her husband work. Gordon says he thinks the health care bill passed by the House on Sunday will reduce health care costs; improve access to affordable care; and lower the budget deficit.

Habitat For Humanity To Host Open House

Putnam County Habitat for Humanity will kick off its 15th Anniversary celebration with an Open House at its operations center this Friday. The administrative offices have recently been redecorated and the Habitat for Humanity ReStore, ReStore Warehouse and construction area will be open. The Open House will feature a tour of the operations center, ReStore and construction area along with a sneak peek of upcoming building plans. Officials say the next subdivision to be built by Putnam County Habitat for Humanity will focus on building energy efficient, earth-friendly homes. They say Putnam County Habitat for Humanity is a certified EarthCraft House™ builder, and the new development will be an EarthCraft House™ neighborhood. The Open House will also showcase the current construction on the 55th Habitat home - a Cooking on the Square sponsored house. The Open House will be held on Friday, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 728 East 15th St., in Cookeville.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Cookeville Woman Among Health Care Protesters

A Cookeville woman was among the demonstrators in Washington over the weekend, protesting against passage of a health care reform bill. The Associated Press quoted a woman identified as 65-year-old Delane Stewart who had gone to Washington, DC, with her husband, Jesse. She said, "You know what's coming next if this happens? They're going to come after gun control."

Drug Roundup Leads To TennCare Fraud Charges

The undercover investigation in Monterey that led to 30 indictments against people for selling illegal prescription drugs has also now led to TennCare fraud charges against two of the suspects, who allegedly used the program to obtain their drugs. 33-year-old Matthew Redden and 26-year-old Joshua M. Warden were among the people picked up last week. Redden is accused of using TennCare to pay for a prescription of Suboxone, a drug used to treat morphine and heroin addiction, and selling a portion of the pills to an undercover officer. Warden is accused of using TennCare to pay for prescriptions of the painkillers endocet and oxycodone, and selling a portion to an undercover agent. Authorities say the suspects arrested in the drug roundup range from 20 years old to 51 years of age. Almost all of them are from Monterey.

Cookeville Planners To Discuss Rock Quarry

The Cookeville planning commission Monday night will be once again discussing a proposal to expand a rock quarry in the eastern part of town. The commission denied a rezoning request from the quarry a few years ago, and the city planning department says it will be recommending against a different attempt at rezoning tonight. City officials say they are concerned about heavy truck traffic on the access road to the quarry and also about the effect of the expansion on nearby neighborhoods. The meeting begins at 5:30 Monday evening at Cookeville city hall.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Texas Fugitive Caught In Putnam County

The Putnam County sheriff's office says a man who allegedly stole his brother's identity in Texas is now jailed in Cookeville, awaiting extradition back to the Lone Star state. The arrest of 59-year-old Daniel Gawlikowski took place at a home on Old Highway 42 Wednesday. The sheriff's department picked him up for being a fugitive from justice in both Texas and Ohio and they say they became aware of the fact that he had been living in the area for the past seven years because his brother had called authorities after receiving a letter from the Tennessee Department of Safety about some unpaid tickets. The brother says he didn't know anything about the tickets and says Gawlikowski was using his name illegally.

Cookeville Regional CEO Discusses Hospital Tax

He doesn't really like it, but the chief executive officer of Cookeville Regional Medical Center says he is supporting a new 3.5% hospital tax, being considered by the Tennessee General Assembly. The tax, which has the support of the Tennessee Hospital Association, is being used as a way to lessen the impact of state budget cuts to TennCare. By taxing themselves, hospitals will help the state continue to draw down hundreds of millions of dollars from the federal government. Those funds would otherwise be lost because of proposed TennCare cuts. The effect of Governor Bredesen's proposed cuts to TennCare would mean a $3 million reduction to Cookeville Regional Medical Center. And CEO Bernie Mattingly says hospitals feel like they have to support the tax to avoid detrimental cuts to service. But he also fears there will be no going back, even though the tax is only supposed to last one year. Twenty-six other states use this tax to draw down federal money, but officials say revenues from publicly-owned hospitals like Cookeville Regional are exempt.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Cookeville Soldiers Now On Duty In Iraq

The 278th Armored Cavalry regiment, which includes a number of National Guard soldiers from the Cookeville area, has now taken over its mission in Iraq. That word today from public affairs officer Major Alan Mingledorff. One of their jobs will be to escort convoys around the country. The unit they're replacing completed over 5,800 convoy-escort missions and drove more than 500,000 miles during their deployment. That brigade's Soldiers encountered 79 improvised explosive devices and 72 direct-fire incidents while sustaining minimal damage and no major injuries or loss of life.

TBI Leads Putnam Drug Round-Up

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation along with a number of other federal, state and local law enforcement agencies arrested 20 suspects Thursday in a drug round-up in Putnam County, which targeted individuals selling prescription drugs illegally. The Putnam County Grand Jury handed down multiple indictments on 30 individuals earlier this week. The case was initiated by the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office and the 13th Judicial District Attorney’s Office after law enforcement received information of an illegal prescription drug problem in the Monterey area. That problem is blamed for an increase of recent overdose deaths. The operation began in September of 2009. Officers and agents made numerous undercover buys of prescription narcotics, mainly oxycontin and hydrocodone over the last several months. The suspects are facing charges ranging from selling scheduled narcotics to weapons violations. They were processed and then booked into the Putnam County Jail.

TTU Sorority Plans Benefit Fundraiser

Tennessee Tech University’s chapter of Kappa Delta Sorority is working to prevent child abuse by raising funds through their annual Shamrock and Bowl, scheduled for March 25th from 8:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. They will join thousands of other chapters across the country in the fundraiser to benefit local affiliates of Prevent Child Abuse America, the sorority’s national philanthropy. The local event, which will feature an all-you-can-eat War of the Wings component, will be held at Bowling World. The registration fee for the bowling tournament is $45. War of the Wings tickets are $5 prior to the event and $7 at the door.

Scrap Metal Thieves Back At Work

Scrap metal thieves are once again at work in Putnam County. Sheriff's Deputy Sam Lee says that someone stole several three-foot sections of a track from a bulldozer, apparently intending to sell it for scrap. The incident occurred on Center Hill Dam Road. According to Lee's report, the dozer tracks weigh about 2,000 pounds. Meanwhile, a woman on Brindley Hollow Road says that a neighbor took eight large metal shelves, a metal watering trough, an electric stove and two refrigerators out of a garage without her permission. Authorities say recent changes in the law have made scrap metal theft less common than it used to be, but they say the price paid is still tempting to some thieves.

Putnam Woman Files Complaint Against Neighbor

A Putnam County woman, whose neighbor had agreed to install a fuel pump on her truck, now claims that the neighbor instead drove the vehicle to Sparta, attempted to get cash for the fuel pump she had purchased, and still tried to collect thirty dollars in labor for work she says he never performed. It reportedly happened over the weekend at a home on Shannon Road. Authorities say because the neighbor was given permission to work on the truck, he probably cannot be charged with theft of property, but told the victim that she could try to get a criminal summons for joyriding.

School Board To Hear About Zoning

Putnam County school officials say they've been getting calls from people concerned about a proposed zoning plan that will go into effect this fall and how it will impact their families. The Putnam County school board will be holding a specially called meetnig this afternoon at Avery Trace Middle School to allow parents and others to express their thoughts on the plan. Schools director Kathleen Airhart will also update the board on the progress being made toward the completion of a new elementary and middle school south of I-40, which is scheduled to open later this year ... and on how the school system will make the transition. No board action will be taken until their regular meeting on April 1st. The special meeting this evening begins at 6 pm in the auditorium of Avery Trace.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Drugs And Money Stolen At Gunpoint

Cookeville police today are investigating a reported armed robbery, in which the victims were robbed of several hundred dollars in cash ... and several ounces of marijuana. Police say it happened Sunday night at an apartment on Autumn Avenue. The victims, in their 20s, say two men who they know through a friend came into the apartment and one of them produced a gun, striking one of the victims in the head and firing a shot into the wall. The gunman then demanded the money and drugs, and the robbers left on foot, running north through the parking lot of the apartment complex. They got away with $900 in cash and about 86 grams, or just over three ounces, of marijuana.

Cookeville Teenager Cited For Vandalism

Vandalism charges have been filed against a young Cookeville man, who allegedly damaged some of the greens at Belle Acres Golf Course over the weekend. Police say 18-year-old Coy Daniel Jackson of White Cemetery Road was arrested after an investigation by Officer Jeremy Lintz. Lintz had taken the call at the golf course where the owner reported that someone stuck a surfboard into one of the greens and had also used that surfboard to scratch obscenities into the grass. According to the Lintz's report, the vandal also left several beer cans on the course. His investigation led him to question some new tenants at a home near the golf course. He says he noticed beer cans in that home similar to the ones on the golf course and says Jackson eventually confessed.

KFC Cashier Scammed Out Of Money

Cookeville police are investigating a new twist on an old scam. It's called the quick change scam, in which someone keeps asking for different variations in change from cashiers in order to confuse them and, ultimately, cheat them. The most recent incident was reported at the KFC where a man initially told an employee that she had given him back too much change. In the confusing exchange of money that followed, police say the man was able to walk away with $350 from the register. The suspect was described as a black male, with a white beard, about five-feet-five-inches tall, in his mid-40s to early 50s. The con happened just after 6 pm Sunday. Anyone with information is asked to call the police department.

Four Candidates Now Vying For School Board Seat

The open seat on the Putnam County school board continues to draw interest from potential candidates. Incumbent Vern Crabtree, who now holds the second district seat, is not seeking re-election, but at least four other individuals may be vying for the position.They now include Jordan Iwanaszyn and Janet Moore, plus two candidates who picked up papers this week -- April Petty and Nicole Cravens. The second district of the school board encompasses County Commission Districts two and three. Meanwhile, only the incumbents so far are running for re-election in school board districts 4 and 6. Neither Jerry Maynard or David McCormick have any opponents yet. The school board election is in August. April 1st at noon is the deadline to turn in qualifying papers. The race for Congress from the Sixth Congressional District is also drawing attention to Putnam County. Republican Jim Tracy, one of the announced candidates for that seat, will be in Cookeville Firday morning to talk to voters. He is scheduled to be at the Republican party headquarters on Broad Street at 9:30 in the morning.

Arraignment Set For Cookeville Murder Suspect

A March 23rd arraignment date has been set for a Cookeville woman, who has now been indicted in the death of a woman on Buck Mountain Road this year. Authorities say 21-year-old Kari Diane Speck is accused of participating in the crime with the man already charged in the case, 31-year-old Steven Dwayne Baker. Both are now charged with first degree murder, felony murder, aggravated robbery, arson, and tampering with evidence. Police say the two killed 55-year-old Jennifer Jo Smith by stabbing her with a knife and a screwdriver. They then burned her house to cover up the crime. Baker was arrested a few days later, but further investigation revealed that Speck was also involved. She's was in jail on drug charges after being arrested for manufacturing meth. She remains there today under a $500,000 bond. Authorities say Baker and Speck were next door neighbors to the victim.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

THP Advises Against Relying On "Dumb Luck"

Troopers with the Cookeville district of the Tennessee Highway Patrol have announced that they will conduct what are called Saturation Patrols on Highway 111 in Putnam County, as well as Highway 111 and Highway 52 in Overton County for St. Patrick's Day. The Department is reminding Cookeville area motorists to designate a sober driver and don’t depend on "dumb luck" this St. Patrick’s Day. The THP says their count of fatal accidents for the official 2010 St. Patrick’s Day holiday begins at 6 pm tonight and runs through 7 am on Friday, March 19th.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Hospital Schedules Women's Health Seminar

Cookeville Regional Medical Center is planning a free seminar of medical advice for women early next month. It is intended to answer questions like: How often should women get physical exams? How important are breast exams and pap smears? And when should I see my doctor? Gynecologist and Obstetrician Paige Gernt will be the speaker at the seminar to be held on Thursday, April 1st, from 6 to 7 pm in the Education Center at Cookeville Regional Medical Center. Reservations are requested. To reserve your seat, call 783-2587.

Lightning Strike Does Substantial Damage

A substantial insurance claim could be coming from a resident of Overstreet Drive, east of Cookeville, who says a lightning strike, damaged a tree, his driveway, two cars, and his home. The sheriff's department says it happened during a storm on Friday morning at the home of Tom Shoemake. A witness reported seeing lightning strike a tree in the yard. The bolt then appeared to travel through the root system of the tree into the concrete, and when it hit the driveway, a big chunk of concrete popped up and hit a car. The sheriff's report says the vehicle had extensive damage, including three flat tires. From the driveway, the lightning traveled into the carport, where it it blew out a concrete boulder, which hit the ceiling of the carport, then came back down in the back window of another vehicle. The lightning then traveled into the electric service of the residence, blowing the door bell off the door. It also made a ditch in the yard and damaged the siding and gutter system. But, in spite of all the property damage, authorities say no one was injured.

Alleged Ashtray Thief Given Theft Citation

Theft of property charges are pending against a Lancaster, Tennessee, woman who was allegedly caught shoplifting early Monday. Police say 32-year-old Erica Danielle Stover allegedly went into the Mapco on North Willow Avenue, picked up some items which she paid for, but also allegedly put an ashtray under her arm and tried to leave without paying for it. She was given a citation in lieu of arrest, with a court date of April 5th. Meanwhile, Cookeville police are investigating a burglary at a home on Stevens Street. The victim told police that she got home around 3 am Monday and found her back door open and her living room trashed. A 42-inch television, a video gaming system, and a two-thousand dollar surround sound speaker system had been stolen, along with a nine-millimeter Beretta handgun that was under the bed in the master bedroom.

Smell Of Cigarettes Leads To Burglary Charge

Aggravated burglary charges have been filed against a Jackson County man, accused of breaking into a home on Elmore Town Road. The sheriff's department says 23-year-old Jamie Daryl Hensley was seen walking along the side of the road by a deputy who was enroute to the burglary call. That officer says he saw Hensley reach into his pocket and toss something to the side of the road. A later search turned up jewelry and other items stolen in the burglary. The victim told authorities that he first became aware that someone had been in the house because he smelled cigarettes as he returned home ... and he doesn't smoke. Hensley will be in court on the burglary and theft of property charges on April 12th.

Transit System Plans Official Kickoff Ceremony

Officials with the Cookeville Area Transit System today are making plans for an official kickoff ceremony for the service, which has been running for the past couple of months. They say their numbers reflect that 280 people rode their buses during the first week of March, especially in the area around Tennessee Tech. But they also say that once federal stimulus money runs out, they'll be turning to local sources to continues the service. And some local officials say the impression they get is that the bus service is, in fact, not being used because the buses are almost always virtually empty.

Putnam Man Freed After 15 Years In Prison

A Putnam County man is starting this week as a free man for the first time in more than 14 years. 49-year-old David Robinson Jr. had been convicted in 1996 on first degree murder charges in the shooting death of Sparta resident Gerald Irwin. But an appeals court recently ruled that Robinson's constitutional rights were violated in his first trial, and they ordered that a new trial be held. Instead, local prosecutors worked out a deal in which Robinson pleaded guilty to second degree murder, rather than first degree murder, in return for a sentence of time served. Authorities say the issue is that defense attorneys were never told during his first trial that the prosecution's star witness had also worked as a police informant.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Putnam County Commission To Meet

The Putnam County commission Monday night will consider the closure of a portion of two roads in the county -- D. Farley Road and about 800 feet of Peach Orchard Road. Public hearings on the road closures were held last week. Officials say the adjoining property owners, who would be most affected by the road closures, are in favor of them. Meanwhile, the the commission will discuss the settlement of a lawsuit over a piece of property involved in the development of a business park, and they'll talk about developing a policy for county web sites. The meeting begins at 6 pm.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Commission To Consider Conservation Resolution

Some members of the Putnam County commission are concerned about whether the state of Tennessee will start taking money from one area to shore up revenues in another. County commissioner Gene Mullins says, for example, that the real estate transfer tax has generally gone to support conservation efforts in Tennessee. A resolution being considered by the commission Monday night would support the restoration of the tax to the conservation fund. As with most resolutions, it has no direct legal impact, but expresses the opinion of the group which passes it.

Shelton Decides Against Race For State Rep

The race for state representative in Putnam County is a bit more clear today. Cookeville city councilman Ricky Shelton, who had been considering a bid for the Republican nomination to challenge incumbent Democrat Henry Fincher, has decided against running. Shelton says he has received hundreds of calls and e-mails in support of his candidacy, but says the "timing is not right." Independent candidate Jeffrey Judd had earlier withdrawn from the race, which means that Cookeville resident Bill Cody will be seeking the Republican nod, while Fincher will run as a Democrat. In his announcement, Shelton said, quote, "whoever represents the 42nd District needs to have a clear mandate to help spur economic growth and strengthen the private sector’s ability to create new high-quality jobs. We must promote entrepreneurship and innovation so Tennessee can better compete rather than piling on more taxation, regulation, and litigation that kills jobs."

Friday, March 12, 2010

FCC Fines Tennessee Tech Radio Station

Tennessee Tech University's campus radio station is among three across the country that have been fined $1,500 by the Federal Communications Commission for failing to renew their broadcast license in a timely fashion. In their "Daily Digest," the FCC says the renewal application for the Station’s license term was due on April 1, 2004, four months prior to the August 1, 2004, expiration date. They say the radio station did not file the application until June 30, 2004, and provided no explanation for the untimely filing of the renewal application until contacted by the agency in March of 2007, when representatives of the station explained that their failure to timely file the renewal application was unintentional and based on a misunderstanding. They say the station's radio engineer "had a background as a ham radio operator" and as such, incorrectly believed that the Station’s license renewal application filing deadline was 30 days before the license expired. But the Commission held that violations resulting from inadvertent error or failure to become familiar with the FCC's requirements are still willful violations.

Local Hospital Cited By Health Reform Advocates

Cookeville Regional Medical Center is now being used an an example of why the country needs national health care. A group calling itself Health Care For America Now says, in a press release, that President Obama’s health insurance reform bill would save Cookeville Regional Medical Center almost $10 million a year. They say the savings would come from a dramatic reduction in the price tag for treating area residents who can’t afford health insurance. According to the group, Cookeville Regional provided $19.8 million in care last year to patients who couldn’t pay for it. They say that under the assumption that hospitals will get reimbursed for half of the free care they now provide, Cookeville Regional would save at least $9.9 million.

Local Company Recognized For Green Energy

A Putnam County company is being featured on a website promoting the Tennessee Valley Authority’s distributed generation program of small-scale renewable energy systems. The web site quotes Richard Grogan of Total Quality Instrumentation, a renewable energy sales and installation company in the Cookeville area whose 44-kilowatt solar array pushed the "Generation Partners" program past one megawatt in capacity. Grogan says, "The incentives make the project viable." The installation at Total Quality’s 10,000 square-foot building comprises 220 solar panels along with a 34 foot tall wind turbine. The system has provided the building’s entire electricity requirement, along with a small surplus. Grogan says his company just started in environmental installations late last year, but they have done four windmills and two solar systems thus far. Their next install is expected to be a 44-kilowatt system in Nashville on an airport hangar.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Sex Offender Charged With Failing To Register

A Putnam County man, who was found drinking in a vehicle near the Wagon Wheel restaurant this week, has now been charged with failing to properly register as a sex offender. A report by sheriff's deputy Jeremy Nash says he was on patrol when he saw the vehicle and observed what appeared to be someone laid back in the driver's seat. That someone was identified as 47-year-old Anthony William Euler of Buffalo Valley Road. Nash says a warrants check revealed that Euler was wanted out of the state of California for violation of the sex offender registry law, but that California was not willing to extradite him. Further investigation revealed that Euler had been living in Cookeville for about a year, but had never registered as a sex offender in Tennessee. Euler goes to court on the charge on April 12th.

Tech Football Team Among "Most Improved"

The Tennessee Tech football team ranked as the third-most improved program in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) in 2009, according to, a sports website that did the research. The Golden Eagles finished the year with a 6-5 overall record including a perfect 5-0 mark at home in Tucker Stadium. Tech was 3-0 against the three Ohio Valley Conference schools in the state of Tennessee to capture the annual Sgt. York Trophy.

Fincher Speaks About Trading Legislative Votes

State representative Henry Fincher of Cookeville says he can't support a bill that would make it illegal for lawmakers to promise votes to each other. The bill, sponsored by Representative Bill Dunn, would make it illegal for any public servant to trade votes for special budgetary exemptions or fiscal benefits for his or her district. But Fincher says there's not necessarily anything wrong with that. A vote on the bill has been delayed for now.

Putnam County Forms Census Committee

The Putnam County Census Committee is now partnering with the U.S. Census Bureau to raise awareness of the 2010 Census and to help achieve a complete and accurate count of the population throughout Putnam County. Randy Porter, the chairman of the committee says, "It is important that EVERY person living in this community be counted, regardless of their status or citizenship." He says "The information collected translates directly into dollars for our community. The committee has been charged with delivering information to the general public and many of the hard-to-count and undercounted groups, such as immigrants, migrant workers and ethnic populations. In addition, the committee will help to educate the public about the safety of census data. By law, the Census Bureau cannot share respondents’ answers with anyone, including other federal agencies and law enforcement entities.

Drug Arrest Leads To Alleged Assault

An April 16th court date has been set for a Cookeville man, charged with assaulting a police officer. Authorities claim that 28-year-old Charles William Gentry of East Jere Whitson Road head-butted Officer Shannon Smith as Smith was placing him under arrest on drug charges. Police say Gentry was charged with manufacture of marijuana and possession of a controlled substance after a search of his home turned up "grow lights" and several "starter" marijuana plants. According to warrants in the case, Gentry gave permission for the search, but -- after he had been handcuffed -- ran his head and body into the officer.

Tech Students Spending Spring Break In France

Sixteen TTU engineering students are studying the various engineering marvels in France over Spring Break, as two Tech professors lead a study abroad class for the first time from the College of Engineering. The students, who are comparing engineering practices on a global perspective, are also keeping travel journals and posting photos online. Tech officials say the one-hour credit course allows students to take advantage of the opportunity to study abroad while being offered support by the university. You can see their blog here.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

TTU Reminds Students of Science Fair Deadline

Tennessee Tech University is reminding Putnam County students that the deadline is coming up to enter the Cumberland Plateau Regional Science and Engineering Fair to be held on March 19th and 20th at Tech. Any student in grades four through eight who has received an award in a school fair, plus all students in grades nine through twelve, are eligible to compete. A student whose school does not have a science fair may enter the regional fair directly, but you must pre-register. Forms can be found online at The deadline is this Friday, March 12th. For more information, contact Bethany Stevens at 372-3541.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Local Businessman Qualifies For Senate Race

State senator Charlotte Burks of Monterey has picked up another opponent in her quest for re-election this fall. Burks is the sole Democrat so far seeking nomination to the seat, and Gary Steakley has picked up papers to run as a Republican. But local businessman Joe B. Wilmoth filed qualifying papers on Tuesday to run as an independent. The primary for the state senate race will be in August, with the General Election -- which, at this point, may include all three candidates -- to be held in November. Meanwhile, there's also competition brewing for the second district seat on the county school board. Jordan Iwanaszyn and Janet Moore are the two candidates who have picked up papers.

Cookeville-Knoxville Bus Route In The Works

If you don't have transportation, you'll have more opportunities to catch the bus in the next several months. Federal money is being used to expand what's called "intercity" bus service in Tennessee. A Cookeville-Monterey-Crossville-Crab Orchard run is expected to begin about mid-year. It would ultimately end up at the Knoxville airport or bus station. The Upper Cumberland Human Resources Agency, which is already operating the Cookeville Area Transit System or CATS, will take the lead in developing the intercity route, using a portion of some three million dollars in federal funding from the American Recovery and Re-investment Act. Officials say vehicle revenue miles and ridership are two of the most important measurements of the program's performance.

Budget Committee Sets Guidelines

Putnam County's budget committee will be asking all departments of county government this year to prepare spending plans with no increases -- other than the step raises which are a part of the county's payscale. Some officials say that because of conservative budgeting last year, the county is probably in better shape financially than the state of Tennessee, but they don't foresee the ability to fund any new programs or employees. The deadline for departments to submit their budget requests is April 30th.

Thief Does $500 In Damage To Steal Ten Bucks

A thief who got away with about ten dollars in change managed to do more than that in damage to a local business this week. Police say it happened at CJ's Diner on North Willow Avenue when someone tossed a concrete block through a window located on the north side of the business. That set off an alarm, which may have caused the burglar to grab what he could before running off. And what he could grab was the ten dollars in change that had been left in a cash register. The broken window will cost about five hundred dollars to replace.

Putnam Man Indicted For Stealing Aluminum

An April 5th arraignment date has been scheduled for a Bloomington Springs man, indicted for stealing more than $10,000 worth of aluminum and other metals from his former employer. Authorities say the theft took place over a period of months in 2007 and 2008 while 33-year-old John Donald Montgomery of Martin Creek Road was employed at Harris Metals. He allegedly sold the stolen materials to a scrap metal dealer in Livingston. Police say they also have a second suspect in the case.

Criminal Impersonation Alleged In Shoplifting Case

Criminal impersonation charges have now been added to the pending charges against a Crossville woman. Cookeville police say 23-year-old Heather Marie Cormier of Donna Lane allegedly told officers that her name was Heather Wyatt, but later admitted to using that name in order to avoid arrest on an outstanding warrant. Police say they came across her because a 14-year-old, identified as her niece, was caught shoplifting at Walmart and was taken to juvenile detention. It was while she was trying to pick up her niece that Cormier gave a false name and claimed not to have any ID or to remember her social security number.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Meth Manufacturing Alleged In Walmart Parking Lot

Two Putnam County residents are facing methamphetamine manufacturing charges after an investigation by Cookeville police. Officer Josh Ward says it began when he was serving an outstanding warrant on 21-year-old Kari Diane Speck of Phifer Mountain Road. He had received information that she was in a vehicle in the Walmart parking lot and says he located that vehicle, in which Speck was a passenger and 30-year-old Derrick Helms of Baxter was the driver. He had both exit the vehicle, but says Helms refused consent to search it. That's when a police drug dog was called to the scene and, according to the report, the dog "indicated" on the vehicle, which gave authorities probable cause to conduct the search. They say they turned up several items associated with the manufacture of methamphetamine in the rear cargo area, as well as two digital scales, several syringes and clear plastic baggies. A loaded .38 caliber revolver was also found in the truck. Both Helms and Speck were arrested on the drug charge, while Helms was also charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm and with cruelty to animals -- apparently for the way he treated a female pit bull dog that was in the rear seat of the vehicle.

Policy Considered For Putnam County Websites

At least one member of the Putnam County commission wants to be sure that any websites which contain county information or which conduct county business are, in fact, owned by the county. Commissioner Bob Duncan made a motion last night that a policy be developed within the next couple of months to ensure that things like domain names are controlled exclusively by the county and not by any outside contractors. The issue, he says, is that an outside company may go out of business -- taking the domain name with them. And while the county doesn't necessarily need to own the actual hardware that the information is stored on, he wants to make sure that web sites like are always under local control.

Court Software Described As "Ancient"

"Ancient technology." That's how the software being used in the Putnam County Circuit Court Clerk's office was described Monday night. Randy Porter, who serves as director of the Technology Department, says the software being used by that office is seventeen years old and has become unreliable. And he says the database of records kept by the software is proprietary and could be difficult to convert to a more up to date system. Still, the county has gotten three responses to request for proposals to update that software and the software used by the juvenile court. Porter says the proposals are so complicated that officials are still working out the details, but told the county's fiscal review committee that he hopes to have a recommendation on an upgrade by next month. That upgrade, he says, could cost in the neighborhood of $400,000.

Free Legal Help Offered To Emergency Officials

The Tennessee Bar Association Young Lawyers Division, in conjunction with the Putnam County Bar Association, will be drafting free wills and other basic estate planning documents for Upper Cumberland area firefighters, police officers, paramedics/EMTs, and their spouses on March 27th, from 9 a.m. until noon in Cookeville. The event is being held in cooperation with the national Wills for Heroes Foundation. The Wills for Heroes program provides free wills and other basic estate planning documents to emergency first responders and their families. The event will be held at the Tennessee Tech University School of Nursing, at the corner of W. 7th Street and Mahler Ave., Cookeville, from 9 a.m. to noon. Those interested must sign up before March 24th. To sign up, contact attorney Rachel Moses of the Legal Aid Society at 528-7436. Attorneys interested in volunteering for the event should also contact Moses.

Putnam Committees Face Full Agendas

Putnam County's Fiscal Review Committee will meet this evening to consider settlement of a lawsuit over propert that the county is using to construct a business park. The Cookeville city council OK'd that settlement with Norma Faye Pyles Lynch last week. Also tonight, the committee will discuss a board of education request for the school system to enter into a contract with Apple Computer. And they'll talk about some software needed by the juvenile court. Meanwhile, the county planning committee tonight will discuss a policy related to county web sites and will talk about a resolution supporting the restoration of the real estate transfer tax conservation funds. The Fiscal Review Committee meeting begins at five; the Planning Committee at six pm on the third floor of the courthouse.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Arraignment Date Set In Road Rage Case

A May 14th court date has been set for a number of individuals involved in a road rage incident on I-40 last week. The Tennessee Highway Patrol says it apparently began with an altercation at the Park and Ride lot near the interchange of I-40 and Highway 56. When it was over, four people had been charged. 33-year-old David W. Marts of Silver Point is charged with reckless endangerment for allegedly "playing bumper cars on the public roadway." He was also charged with aggravated assault for intentionally ramming his vehicle into another. But authorities say the driver of the other car is also charged with aggravated assault for intentionally ramming her vehicle into that of Marts. She was identified as 19-year-old Anda Whittenburg of Cookeville. And the highway patrol says 22-year-old Phillip Coggins of Cookeville is facing the same charge because he allegedly switched driving places with Whittenburg during the altercation. Meanwhile, 20-year-old Richard Helm of Silver Point is charged with robbery for allegedly taking cash from Whittenburg by force -- an incident that apparently sparked the whole thing.

Small Business Loan Seminar Scheduled

The Tennessee Small Business Development Center will host a workshop in Cookeville next week on small business lending. The seminar, entitled "Community Express Loan Workshop," is to provide a one-stop opportunity for entrepreneurs and small business owners to apply for U.S. Small Business Administration-backed loans on the spot. The workshop will take place from 10 to 11:30 a.m. on March 18th in the Vocational Rehabilitation Center, located at 955 E. 20th St. The seminar will be presented by Sue Malone of Superior Financial Group, an SBA lender. Superior Financial Group is offering small business loans for $5,000; $10,000; $15,000; or $25,000 - all in $2,500 increments. The loans are payable over a 10-year period, and there are some restrictions on obtaining the loans, according to Malone. Persons with a criminal history or anyone who has defaulted on a government loan, such as a student loan, are not eligible. Non-profit organizations are also not eligible. For more information, call 372-3648.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Cookeville Listed In Site Selection Magazine

The city of Cookeville and the state of Tennessee have again been ranked among the top in Site Selection magazine’s annual rankings for economic development performance in 2009. The economic development publication put the Volunteer State at No. 5, the highest ranking of any Southeastern state. In the Top Micropolitan category, Tennessee tied for third place among states, with a total of ten communities ranking among the top small cities in the country. Among Tennessee communities named, Cookeville and Lewisburg tied for seventeenth place.

Putnam Students Facing Longer Days

Starting Monday, Putnam County school students will go to class 15 minutes earlier and stay 15 minutes later at the end of the day to make up for snow days. The longer day and the decision to hold classes on election day, May 4th, will allow the school system to make up for the two snow days the system has taken this year beyond the 13 that were built into the school calendar. School officials say they also have a contingency plan in the event that any additional classroom days are called off because of the weather.

Chamber Starts Phase II Of Highlands Initiative

The Cookeville-Putnam County chamber of commerce says the first four years of the Highlands Initiative have been a resounding success, setting the stage for the launch of the next four-year cycle. The Highlands Initiative was begun in 2006 as a collaborative, public/private sector program designed to boost economic and community development in the Upper Cumberland region. The initiative consisted of four main strategies targeted to attract "best-fit" industries and companies to the region. Joe Albrecht has been chosen to chair Highlands II. Albrecht is the retired president and co-founder of Albrecht Newspapers Inc., a newspaper management and consulting company that was based in Cookeville for 16 years.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Monterey Gets Downtown Assistance

Monterey is one of ten communities in Tennessee that have been chosen by the state for a downtown revitalization program. Economic development commissioner Matt Kisber says Monterey has been selected to participate in Tennessee Downtowns, a community improvement program for cities and counties seeking to revitalize traditional commercial districts.Tennessee Downtowns is part of ECD’s Tennessee Main Street Program and will award reimbursable innovation project grants of up to $15,000 to participating communities. The successful applicants will also receive an 18-month program of technical assistance, which includes training on downtown revitalization and historic preservation, an introductory site visit and attendance at a two-day downtown revitalization workshop.

Putnam County Health Among Best In State

Putnam County is the healthiest county in the Upper Cumberland, and the 12th most health in the state. That according to the website countyhealthrankings-dot-org, which ranks Williamson County as number one. But Putnam County is deemed healthier than larger metropolitan areas like Nashville and Memphis. The rankings are based on what the site calls "Health Outcomes." Those include things like premature death and the number of people in poor health. They also rank by "Health Behaviors" like smoking, binge drinking, and obesity. Twenty-seven percent of Putnam County adults are considered obese -- compared to 31 percent of Tennesseans overall.

TTU To Consider Personnel Reductions

As students around the country plan protests and marches to speak out about funding cuts on public college campuses today, Tennessee Tech University marked the day with an open forum to discuss the budget situation here. TTU President Bob Bell was invited by the American Association of University Professors campus chapter to participate in a question-and-answer meeting about the budget situation this spring. Bell offered, and the AAUP agreed, to open the session to the entire campus. The campus is preparing for at least another 6 percent reduction and most likely more as the legislature debates Gov. Phil Bredesen’s proposed budget. The 6 percent cut recommended by Bredesen would result in total state appropriation reductions of more than 30 percent since 2008. Bell told the forum quote, "Campus units must consider how to make reductions while continuing to operate effectively. And for some units, that may include eliminating some personnel." However, officials say no plan has been developed at this point, and nothing has been approved yet as to just how those personnel cuts will be made. Reduction scenarios are being considered and discussed in the university’s joint Strategic Planning and Budget Committee, the Executive Advisory Committee and the Academic Affairs councils. If and when a plan for any reduction in force is developed, any affected personnel will be notified directly, Bell said.

Carthage Man Charged With Selling Drugs in Ckvl

Cookeville police have charged a Carthage man with possession of drugs for re-sale after the department's Community Nuisance Eradication Team was called to an apartment on Cooke Street this week. Police say they had received complaints of drug activity at the residence and arrived to find six people inside, including 19-year-old David Alexander Burk of Brook Court in Carthage. Authorities allege that Burk had crack cocaine in his pockets, along with about two grams of marijuana. He also had $887 dollars in cash, although police say he claimed to not have a job. Police also found a set of digital scales under the couch where Mr. Burk was sitting and a search of a vehicle turned up a .22 caliber pistol. They say charges are pending for possession of the firearm.

New Emergency Radios Being Deployed

News organizations across the state are now reporting on an effort by Putnam County emergency officials to notify the public in a more timely fashion. New emergency radios have been placed throughout the county. Officials say the radios will be used to alert residents to bad weather, school closings, hazardous material spills, police emergencies and other urgent matters. The system allows emergency agency officials to instantly send an alert sound, then to scroll a warning or informative message across a screen on a system receiver through use of local FM radio airwaves. The radios have been placed in all schools, the sheriff's department, all police stations, the hospital, all nursing homes, all city halls, the senior citizens centers, the Putnam Library and other public places. They were purchased with a Homeland Security Grant.

Debit Card Thieves Keeping Busy

It didn't take long for a thief to use a stolen debit card this week. The victim told police that sometime between 4:15 and 4:45 on Monday, someone stole the debit card from a locker room at the YMCA. By the time the bank was notified, the card had already been used twice, draining more than $250 dollars from the account. Meanwhile, in a separate case, a woman whose sister works for a local bank, got a call from that sister this week to ask about a large amount of money being withdrawn from an account. In that case, the victim told her sister that she had lost her ATM card at a local restaurant. By the time the loss was discovered, the card had been used twice at the Delta Station, twice at Food Lion, once at Autozone and once at Dollar General. Police say they are gathering more information that they hope will lead to a suspect.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Cookeville To Get New Fiber Optic Connection

Cookeville will be getting a new fiber optic connection, thanks to money from the federal government. A company called Deltacom says it has been awarded $9.4 million dollars in federal stimulus funding through the Broadband Technology Opportunity Program. The grant will enable a 544-mile fiber-optic network expansion in East Tennessee, and will add interconnection points to an existing fiber-optic route between Nashville and Knoxville. Five of the new interconnection points, including Cookeville, are in counties designated as underserved by Connected Tennessee, an independent non-profit organization that develops and implements effective strategies for technology deployment, use and literacy in Tennessee.

Landlord Accuses Renter of Vandalism

"The house was a garbage dump." That's how Putnam County sheriff's deputy Bobby Lane described a mobile home on Dixon Lane that had been vandalized this week. The owner says a former renter not only trashed the place, but also removed some items that were supposed to stay with the trailer. Lane says there were numerous bags of trash inside the home and the walls had been spray-painted, the cabinets torn up and the screens damaged. But he says the owner may have to follow up with a civil, rather than a criminal complaint. In other cases, a satellite receiver and a laptop computer were stolen from a home on Gainesboro Grade this week, according to the Putnam County sheriff's office. The victim says that someone broke out a window in the front door to gaine entry. Meanwhile, the sheriff's department is investigating a case in which a woman who allowed her cousin to stay with her became a victim of thievery from that cousin. The woman says she woke up one day this week to find that her cousin was gone from the house -- as was her Xbox 360 Chrome Edition and the controller. A wireless remote and a videogame were also taken.

School Board To Discuss Snow Day Make-Up

The Putnam County board of education meets Thursday afternoon to discuss a variety of topics -- including how best to make up the days that schools have been out because of the snow. There are thirteen snow days built into the calendar, but officials say they've had to cancel classes for fifteen days so far this winter. That means at least two full days will have to be made up. Among the options being considered is one that would add some extra time to the beginning and end of each school day. Suggestions to shorten the spring break and to have classes on Election Day have also been made. The board will also talk about the school calendar for the 2010-2011 school year and will discuss a possible zoning plan for the system. The board meeting begins at five.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Rwanda Genocide Survivor To Speak At TTU

A survivor of the genocide in Rwanda will be speaking at Tennessee Tech later this month. ImmaculĂ©e Ilibagiza brings her story to Tech for a March 16th discussion of her survival and faith. This Center Stage event, presented by TTU’s Commission on the Status of Women, is free and open to the public. The event is one of a series of events being held on campus during National Women’s History Month. It takes place at 7 p.m. in the Derryberry Hall Auditorium. She will discuss the political and social factors that led to the genocide, how she struggled to stay alive, and her life today. She also shares what led her to forgive her tormenters and those who killed her family.

Brothers' Fistfight Leads To Charges

Domestic assault charges are pending against one of two brothers who got into a fistfight in the parking lot of Jere Whitson Elementary School Monday night. Cookeville police say 37-year-old Stephen E. Allen of Highland Avenue allegedly followed his brother's vehicle to the school parking lot and the two began fighting at some point after that. They had reportedly been at the school because one of them is a coach for a private basketball league that uses the school gymnasium. According to police reports, the Allen brothers admitted to having family issues which had been building for awhile. Both brothers were treated at the scene by paramedics, but neither required hospitalization. Stephen Allen will be in court on the charge later this month.

Child Neglect Charges Filed Against Algood Mom

March 29th is the court date for an Algood woman, charged with child abuse and child neglect. Authorities say 27-year-old Patton Alexandra Wethall of Maddux Court was charged after an investigation found her to be sleeping while her three-year-old son was wandering the streets outside. Algood police chief Jim Eldridge says the mother reportedly took some medicine and had fallen asleep, unaware that her child had gotten out of the house. But Eldridge says officials have also received information that the child was nearly hit by a car while unattended. The three-year-old was taken to his grandmother's home on Sunday by someone who knew the family and saw the child walking along the street.

Man Claims Assault At Mardi Gras Ball

Cookeville police say they still have some interviews to conduct as they investigate allegations of an assault at the Mardi Gras Ball fund-raiser for Genesis House, the local domestic violence shelter. The fund-raiser was held at the Leslie Towne Center a couple of weeks ago, and a man who was at the event claims he was assaulted in the parking lot. Ken Krolik and other witnesses reportedly claim that a woman attacked him and inflicted a skull fracture. According to the police report, a fight broke out outside of the Centre after an argument inside the building. Crystal Kerr was arrested on suspicion of public intoxication, and about a dozen other people are listed on the police report as witnesses or suspects. But police spokesman, Captain Nathan Honeycutt, told a Nashville TV station this week, "It’s very important for the investigator to get to talk to the victim in depth, get that point of view and then interview other people."

Cookeville Council To Consider Settling Lawsuit

The Cookeville city council Thursday night will consider approval of an agreement which would settle a long-running lawsuit over property that the city and county are using to build a business park. One of the five owners of that property says that she never agreed to the sale and retained her interest in the property that other members of her family sold. Norma Faye Pyles Lynch, thereby, had owned a 20-percent interest in the more than 70 acres of business park property. Under the terms of the settlement, she will 15 acres of land outright. County attorney Jeff Jones says the agreement was approved by the Circuit Court last month. It must still be OK'd by the city council and the county commission.

Health Care Award Nominations Sought

Nominations are now being sought for the Fred H. Roberson Award to be presented to an individual who has made positive and lasting contributions to broaden the scope and quality of health care in the Cookeville area. The award was established in 1988 to honor long-term Cookeville Regional Medical Center Board of Trustee member Fred Roberson who served as a trustee for twenty-seven years. Nominations should include a detailed written summary of the individual’s contributions to CRMC and health care in the community. The nominations should be forwarded on or before Thursday, April 1, 2010 to:

Marketing & Public Relations Department
Cookeville Regional Medical Center
P.O. Box 340
Cookeville, TN 38501

For more information, call 783-2629. 

Monday, March 1, 2010

Tech Student Finds Apartment Burgled

Cookeville police are investigating a burglary discovered Monday morning at an apartment complex on North Willow Avenue. Police say a Tennessee Tech student had returned from a weekend visit to her hometown to find that someone had broken in and stolen a laptop computer and a television set. The burglary is similar to one reported at a nearby apartment complex on North Willow in which thieves pried open two locks to gain access and make off with a video game console and a digital camera. And, during the same time frame, the sheriff's department received a report from a resident of an apartment on Gainesboro Grade, stating that someone had broken into his home and stolen a laptop, two guitars, and a 27-inch television.

Cummins (Fleetguard) Ratifies Union Accord

They've had a tough year, but Cummins Filtration says it has reached a five-year contract agreement with United Autoworkers Local 1407, which represents employees at the Company’s manufacturing facility in Cookeville. Cookeville UAW members ratified the agreement by a 3-to-1 margin Saturday. According to Cummins, the new agreement provides wage increases across the life of the contract, and brings the health care coverage for employees at the plant in line with that offered to most U.S. Cummins employees. The Cookeville plant is Cummins Filtration’s largest manufacturing facility in the United States, and also is home to a technical center and a customer assistance center. The plant produces air, oil and fuel filters as well as fuel filter assemblies. Cummins Filtration employs approximately 530 people in Cookeville.

Mobile Meth Lab Found At Dumpster Site

The Putnam County sheriff's department is investigating a case which began when an employee of a local waste collection center wondered why someone had thrown away a nice gym bag. When he opened the bag, he found out why. Police say it contained what they described as a mobile meth lab -- two Mason jars, some tubing, a funnel and a strainer. Authorities shut down the dump site on Dacco Quarry Road until they had a chance to clean up the toxic mixture. They say the mobile labs are becoming more and more common in the area. Meanwhile, in a separate case, Cookeville police have charged a woman with possession of drug paraphernalia after they allegedly found three hypodermic needles in her purse. Police say 26-year-old Tabitha E. Wilson of Huddleston Drive allegedly admitted that those needles were used for shooting up Dilaudid. They say she also had other outstanding warrants for her arrest.

Below Average Temperatures Continue In Cookeville

Cookeville-area weather observers say a bit of a warm-up is on the way this week, but March is coming in much colder than average. And, just like January, the month of February also had an average temperature that was about seven degrees below normal. The month was also among the coldest in several decades, although the precipitation level, which was higher than we've come to expect in recent years did not break any records and was similar to what we had in 2003.