Friday, April 30, 2010

Cookeville K-9 Officer Receives Extra Training

A Cookeville police officer and his K-9 partner have been in upstate New York this week, training with other police dogs. The sessions wrapped up last night at Allegany State Park in Olean, New York. The Olean Times-Herald reported:

Mike Herrick of the Cookeville Police Department in Tennessee was at the seminar for the first time, learning to train his 3-year-old K-9 Cletus. The pair had been together for less than six months, and he said he had been looking forward to bringing Cletus to the seminar to learn more about proper technique.The pair had just finished an exercise where five people sit in a room and one person leaves, leaving it up to the dog to come in, discover who is missing and find that person.“The first day and a half we were learning about basic scent and how dogs smell they way they do and whatnot,” Mr. Herrick explained. “The last couple days we have been working on the terrain either in the woods or out in Bradford for different surface and contamination and just running the different types of trail.”

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Tech Softball Returns To Cookeville This Weekend

As the race to secure a spot in the OVC Tournament heats up, so has the Tennessee Tech softball team. Winners of five of their last six games, the Golden Eagles will host a three-game series this weekend against Eastern Kentucky in the penultimate week of the regular season. Tech (23-27) will look to improve upon its 9-11 conference record and guarantee itself a spot in the six-team OVC Tournament field, while Eastern Kentucky (13-33) will seek to get itself back in the race. The Lady Colonels are in eighth place in the OVC with a 7-13 record during conference action. The two teams are scheduled to play a doubleheader at the Tech Softball Field on Saturday beginning at 1 p.m. before playing a single game on Sunday at the same start time.

Cookeville Man Convicted Of 4th Offense DUI

A June 7th sentencing date has been set for a Cookeville man, convicted of DUI for the fourth time. Court officials say 39-year-old David Schrichte was found guilty after a one-day trial in Criminal Court. He had testified on his own behalf, claiming that while he had been drinking on the day of an accident last year, he was not drunk. The jury decided otherwise, but officials say they were not told Schrichte's previous DUI convictions and considered only the evidence at hand. It was after his conviction that prosecutors presented evidence of his prior driving history and Judge David Patterson determined that he was guilty of 4th offense DUI. He could go to jail for up to two years and have his driving privileges revoked for up to five years.

Cookeville Hospital Receives National Award

Cookeville Regional Medical Center has earned Quality Respiratory Care Recognition under a national program aimed at helping patients and families make informed decisions about the quality of the respiratory care services available in hospitals. About 700 hospitals or approximately 15% of hospitals in the United States have applied for and received this award. This is the seventh consecutive year the Respiratory Care Department at Cookeville Regional has earned it. In the picture above, Colleen Schabacker, Director of Respiratory Care at Cookeville Regional, demonstrates the use of a ventilator on pigs’ lungs for high school students from Warren County as a part of a future health care professionals’ field trip. Officials say to qualify for the award, Cookeville Regional provided documentation showing it meets the following conditions:

· All respiratory therapists employed by the hospital to deliver bedside respiratory care services are all legally recognized by the state as competent to provide respiratory care services and hold the CRT or RRT credential.
· Respiratory therapists are available 24 hours a day
· Other personnel qualified to perform specific respiratory procedures and the amount of supervision required for personnel to carry out specific procedures must be designated in writing.
· A doctor of medicine or osteopathy is designated as medical director of respiratory care services.

Officials say the program grew out of growing concerns among health care leaders and the general public regarding the safety and quality of health care services provided to patients. A list of QRCR hospitals is maintained at the association’s website for consumers,

Jackson County Man Convicted Of TennCare Fraud

A Jackson County man has been ordered to repay $7,500 to the State of Tennessee for services he received while he was a member of TennCare, after he was accused of misrepresenting himself in order to obtain TennCare. 38-year-old Jefferson B. Emerton of Gainesboro received two years of pre-trial diversion for TennCare fraud and theft of services. During those two years, he can not apply for or receive TennCare benefits, and he will repay TennCare $7,500 in restitution. Emerton was indicted in August 2008 and charged with TennCare fraud and theft of services for claiming he had a dependent in his household when he did not. Officials say that disclosure would have made him ineligible for the program.

"Saturation Patrols" Planned In Putnam County

The Tennessee Highway Patrol says it will be conducting "saturation patrols" in Putnam County tomorrow. And similar stepped up enforcement is being planned around the region for the entire month of May -- specifically on Friday and Saturday night. Officials say it's part of an effort to promote National Youth Traffic Safety Month. To kick off the month, the Cookeville District of the Tennessee Highway Patrol is encouraging local students to pledge not to drink and drive or text and drive. Safety Commissioner Dave Mitchell said, “Prom, graduation and the beginning of summer are times to celebrate, but don’t let a good time be the last time."

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

NASA Astronaut To Address TTU Graduates

More than 1,100 Tennessee Tech University graduates along with their families and friends will celebrate spring commencement with a speaker who is well versed in his “reach for the stars” address. NASA astronaut and TTU alumnus Barry Wilmore will provide the featured address at the ceremony that begins at 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 8, in the Hooper Eblen Center. Wilmore has logged 259 hours in space and was pilot on the 31st space shuttle flight to the International Space Station in November 2009. Wilmore is a graduate of TTU, and so his wife, father, and brother. His niece and nephew currently attend TTU. Wilmore was inducted into the TTU Sports Hall of Fame in 2003 for football and recently was honored as a 2010 Engineer of Distinction by TTU’s College of Engineering. Following spring commencement, TTU will have granted more than 67,000 degrees. Students graduating from TTU this spring hail from 23 states including Tennessee, 77 Tennessee counties and eight foreign countries. They represent 41 undergraduate fields of study and 16 graduate fields.

Suspicious Blaze Claims Life Of Pet Dog

The Cookeville Fire Department says they are continuing to investigate the cause of a fire that did substantial damage to a house on Crescent Drive this week. Authorities say no one was home at the time, but witnesses reported seeing someone near the house just before the blaze was noticed. They say they arrived at the one-story wood frame structure to find smoke coming through the roof and fire coming out of the rear windows on the house. They also found a dog inside the home that had died of smoke inhalation. Fire chief John Kendrick says the fire apparently started on the main floor and quickly ran up the stairs to a loft area. He said the man who lives there had been staying elsewhere in recent days, which is why authorities have classified the blaze as suspicious. But Kendrick says -- depending on the investigation -- it may turn out be simply an accidental fire.

Warning Fails To Keep Alleged Trespassers Away

Two Putnam County men have been charged with criminal trespassing after allegedly being told by law enforcement to stay away from a local business. Deputy Bo Sherrell says he was dispatched to the Bloomington Springs Post Office on a report that two males were trying to break in. Those two were identified as 25-year-old Eric Lee Ferrell of Cookeville and 25-year-old Lance Adam Brown of Baxter. Sherrell says the postmaster found no damage to the building and decided against pressing charges, but said that she wanted both of them to leave the property. According to Sherrell's report, the owner of Wildwood Market had also told the two not to be on their property, so the deputy told them not to go back to either place. But he says a few minutes later, as he was talking to the owner of the market, he saw the two come walking into the parking lot, saying they wanted to buy some cigarettes. That's when they were placed under arrest of trespassing.

Police Claim Shoplifter Gave False ID

A charge of criminal impersonation has been added to the theft of property charge already pending against an alleged shoplifter at the Sears store on West Jackson Street. Cookeville police say they responded to a shoplifting call Monday night and learned that one of the suspects had already fled the scene. But store officials were detaining a white female who had been found with two Craftsmen tool sets in her purse. The woman told police that she didn't have any ID, but that her name was Vanessa Michelle Williams. After she was arrested and was being taken to jail, the woman reportedly admitted that she had lied about who she was. She told officers her real name was Stephanie Toi Williams, a 32-year-old Monterey woman. Meanwhile, officer Lester Langford also developed 34-year-old Michael Jack Carlson of Monterey as the man suspected of fleeing the scene with another tool set and eight video games stolen from Sears. He arranged a photo line-up and a store employee picked Carlson out of that line-up. Langford says he then signed a theft warrant on Mr. Carlson as well.

Prescription Drug Abuse Leads To Criminal Reports

Officials with the Putnam County sheriff's department say abuse of prescription drugs continues to be a problem in the area, with thieves now stealing medications from patients who have certain drugs prescribed to them for legitimate purposes. At least two such incidents are under investigation today by the sheriff's office. On Old Baxter Road, a woman reported to Deputy Bo Sherrell that she went to take her medication and found the bottle to be empty. That medication, he says, was the painkiller Endocet, and about 100 pills had apparently been taken. Endocet is a combination of oxycodone and acetaminophen. Sherrell says whoever took the pills left the bottle behind. Meanwhile, a man who lives on Plunk Whitson Road told Corporal Scott Stockton that someone had come into his room, taken his car keys and then stolen 75 prescription pain pills out of the trunk of his car. The pills in that incident were also oxycodone.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Sentence Handed Down In Child Neglect Case

A Cookeville woman has agreed to a ten-year jail sentence in an aggravated child neglect case. Authorities say 21-year-old Ella Rose Marie Amish is the mother of a then three-month old child, who was admitted to Vanderbilt Hospital back in November of 2008 after being found with a broken leg and injuries to his rectum. Police later said those injuries were not sexual in nature, but had apparently been caused when Amish's boyfriend attempted to treat anal fissures on the child with hydrogen peroxide. The boyfriend, 24-year-old Richard Holman, has already been given a 20-year sentence after pleading guilty to aggravated child abuse. Amish, who has been in jail for the past year and a half, was given ten years when she agreed to plead guilty to facilitation of that abuse. She'll be eligible for parole after serving 30 percent of the sentence -- or just over three years.

Cookeville Man Charged With Stealing GPS Unit

Cookeville police say a description given out by a store manager helped them quickly locate an alleged shoplifter. 29-year-old Lincoln Jay Corona of Whitney Avenue was cited for theft under $500 after he allegedly shoplifted a GPS unit from the Kohl's department store. The loss prevention manager there says that Corona took a portable GPS device, ran from the store and jumped into a gold Dodge Intrepid. Officer Calvin Anderson soon spotted that vehicle nearby and conducted a traffic stop. Police say the manager came to the scene and identified Corona in person. They also found the GPS unit in his right front pocket and the accessories for it in his left front pocket. The woman who drove him away from the scene was not charged, but was warned to stay off the Kohl's property.

Livingston Native Joins Staff At CRMC

Internist Dr. Dawn Meadows Barlow has joined the staff at Cookeville Regional Medical Center. Originally from Livingston, Dr. Barlow is joining the Hospitalist program and will be specializing in and focusing solely on taking care of patients who have been admitted to the hospital. After receiving her medical degree in 2006, Dr. Barlow completed her residency in Internal Medicine at the University of Tennessee, College of Medicine at the Chattanooga Campus. During her residency, she served as Chief Resident in 2009. She is a member of the American College of Physicians, the Society of Hospital Medicine and the American Medical Association.

Police Investigate Forgery Case

Cookeville police detectives are investigating a case of forgery and fraud, in which a local business lost more than $400. The manager of the Save-A-Lot grocery store on South Willow Avenue told authorities that he had cashed a payroll check last month from the account of ABF Freight Systems, and which appeared to be from Citizens Bank in Cookeville. The check had been made payable to a 21-year-old South Carolina man, who provided his driver's license as ID. But the manager says the bank reported that the check was forgery when the store later included it in a deposit. Police have photos of the suspect from surveillance video and the name he provided when he cashed the check and are following up on leads in the case.

Prohibited Weapons Charges Brought In Two Cases

Two Cookeville residents are facing charges in separate cases this week of carrying a prohibited weapon. Police say 20-year-old James Robert Barksdale of Pippin Road was cited after Officer Anthony Leonard stopped his vehicle on a window tint violation. Leonard says that "in plain view inside the vehicle" was a switchblade knife. He asked Barksdale if the knife was his, and Barksdale allegedly replied that it was in the vehicle when he bought it. Leonard claims Barksdale offered unsolicited instructions on how to operate the knife, which was opened by pressing a button on the handle. Meanwhile, 27-year-old Michael O'Neal Walker of Shipley Road was charged with possessing a prohibited weapon after he allegedly caused a disturbance at a local bar and threw away a knife with a six-inch blade when police came to investigate. Under state law, it is illegal to possess a switchblade knife or knuckles; or any other implement for infliction of serious bodily injury or death that has no common lawful purpose.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Putnam County Health Dept. Holds Wellness Fair

The Putnam County Health Department is holding a Community Wellness Fair on Tuesday, April 27, from 1 to 7 p.m. Organizers say the event is intended to serve parents of school-age children who have been affected by the economy. The services that will be available include immunizations, wellness screenings for children, TennCare enrollment, and food stamp assistance. Those who plan to attend should bring their Social Security card, driver's license, a state ID, shot records, any health insurance card, proof of income or proof of unemployment. For more information, call 528-2531.

Copper Thieves Hit School Construction Site

The market for scrap metal, specifically copper, is most likely behind an incident reported to Cookeville police last week. Authorities say thieves broke into the construction site at Prescott South school off Jefferson Avenue and made off with nearly $4,000 worth of copper material, including five 10-foot long, 4-inch copper pipes. They also took seven rolls of 14-gauge stranded copper wire. Police say they gained access to the site by cutting the lock off the gate and cutting locks from at least four temporary storage areas. Investigation is continuing.

Early Voting Total Surpasses 3,000

Putnam County election officials say more than 3,000 people have come by the Election Commission office so far to vote early in the May election. The office will be open from 8 am to 5 pm today and tomorrow and from 8 am to 7 pm on Thursday to accommodate early voters. By law, the early voting period ends on Thursday and anyone wishing to vote after that point must do so on Election Day, next Tuesday. The Election Commission office is located off South Willow Avenue on County Services Drive, in the same building as the Putnam County Health Department. Meanwhile, today is also the deadline for candidates to file what's called a Pre-Primary campaign finance report with the Election Commission. That report covers spending for the first few weeks of April.

Shoplifters Show Preference For Certain Stores

Shoplifters in Cookeville are targeting Walmart far and above all other stores in town. Police say that, in the past year, Walmart officials have caught nearly 150 people trying to leave their store without paying for merchandise. Shoplifters also got caught about once a week at stores like Sears, Kohl's and Hill's IGA. The total value of items taken was more than $47,000. In most cases, shoplifters tried to get away with clothing, but authorities say they were also trying to steal jewelry, electronics and other items when apprehended by store security officers.

Cookeville Police Release Annual Crime Report

The Cookeville Police Department has released its annual report on crime in the city, and it shows that major crimes were down somewhat in 2009, although the instances of violent crime went up. The total crime rate was down for the second consecutive year, thanks mainly to a decrease in property crimes. But violent crime -- including rape, robbery, homicide and aggravated assault -- increased 22.5 percent from 120 such crimes in 2008 to 147 reports of violent crime in 2009. Police say there were 22 reports of rape, 38 robberies, 86 assaults, and one homicide in the city. In fact, there has been one homicide reported in Cookeville for five of the past six years. Meanwhile, there were 390 burglaries and 48 vehicles stolen in town last year. And, for the first time since at least 2004, there were no reports of arson.

Cookeville Planners To Discuss Mobile Home Parks

An effort by Cookeville city officials to convert old mobile home parks into new residential uses will be discussed by the city planning commission tonight. The group will consider granting what's called a "density bonus" to a project being put together by developer Aaron Bernhardt. He is proposing to convert an existing mobile home park to a townhouse complex and -- to encourage that development -- the planning commission will consider allowing him to builld twenty percent more units than would ordinarily be allowed under the existing zone. The project is being constructed on W. 12th St., and city planner James Mills says the density bonus also comes with some additional requirements for the developer. Also tonight, the planning commission will talk about whether to allow a rezoning for an automobile storage lot on Old Sparta Road. The planning department is recommending against it.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Math, Science & Tech Workshops Offered

The Millard Oakley STEM Center at Tennessee Tech University is kicking off its inaugural summer of cutting-edge workshops available to teachers and students throughout the region.
After the Oakley STEM Center’s grand opening on Friday, May 7, the center will be open for business in June with a full month of professional development opportunities for teachers and a range of Exploration workshops for middle and high school students. Teachers in all subject areas are invited to select from a variety of professional development opportunities, including the NASA Rocketry workshop, Hands-on Geometry, the Science and Engineering Fair for Teachers, and Laboratory Safety. For students who will be in the fifth through 12th grades in the fall, the STEM Center also has a roster of workshop options, including Deep Space Terraformers (robotics), Autopsy a Shark!, The Chemistry of Flavors and Fragrances, and The Longest Day of the Year. The 26,000-square-foot STEM Center includes four learning studios focused on biology and chemistry; Earth/space sciences, physics and engineering; mathematics; and early childhood experiences equipped with the latest technologies. The Center also has a large laboratory prep room, a virtual theatre, a 240-seat auditorium, an outdoor learning studio, multipurpose lobby area with food service, offices and project areas. In the fall, the STEM Center will be introducing its EXPEDITION programs for regional school groups and other innovative programming for teachers, students and the community. The STEM Center is now taking registering students for these fun and unique workshop experiences. Visit the website at for more information. Registration closes May 1 for the sessions in June.
For more information about the Millard Oakley STEM Center and its programs visit or call 931.372.6573.

Cookeville Housing Authority Offers Class

The Cookeville Housing Authority is offering some classes this weekend for local residents who may be interested in learning about purchasing a first-time home. The classes are scheduled for Saturday, May 1st, at the Housing Authority's office at 235 W. Jackson St. The event will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and is intended to take participants through the process of buying a house. Topics to be discussed include your readiness to purchase a home, inclluding discussions of income and financing. Shopping for a home and negotiating a price will also be covered, as will shopping for and obtaining a mortgage, and the closing process. Organizers say each section will be taught by professionals in the real estate and lending business. For more information, call 526-9793.

Undercover Drug Buy Leads To Arrest

A May 17th court date has been set for a Brentwood man, charged with the sale and delivery of narcotics in Cookeville. Police say 22-year-old Christopher Dummer allegedly sold more than thirty prescription suboxone pills to an an undercover officer in a parking lot off South Willow Avenue. Dummer had allegedly driven from Murfreesboro to complete the drug deal. Members of the police department's Community Nuisance Eradication Team set up the deal after receiving information that Dummer may have been selling drugs in the area. Police say he was arrested after the undercover officer completed the sale, and they allegedly found more than five dozen additional suboxone pills on him at the time of his arrest. The drug is sometimes used to treat drug addiction, but has addictive properties itself.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Tragedy In Putnam County Leads To New Law

The Senate sent to the governor Thursday a bill requiring residential swimming pools installed after next Jan. 1 to have a motion-detecting pool alarm. It does not apply to pools installed before that date. The bill says that when an electrical inspection is required for the installation of a pool, the inspector may not give final approval for the electrical wiring unless a properly functioning swimming pool alarm has been installed. A violation would be punishable by a fine of up to $100 and up to $500 on second and subsequent offenses. The bill designates the act as "Katie Beth's Law," named after Katie Beth Maynard, 17-month-old granddaughter of state Sen. Charlotte Burks of Monterey, the bill's Senate sponsor.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Holocaust Survivor To Speak At TTU

Lore Segal, author of Other People’s Houses about the journey of a Jewish refugee child from Vienna by way of England and the Dominican Republic to New York, will speak at a student-organized symposium on Monday on the campus of Tennessee Tech. Segal is being hosted by a group of Tennessee Tech University students of this semester’s foreign languages and cultural studies course on immigration and exile. Segal is a Holocaust survivor who left Vienna as a 10 year old and came to England on the Kindertransport. She will speak at an event scheduled for 4 to 6 p.m. Monday about her life as a refugee and a writer. The event will be held in the Johnson Hall auditorium.

Putnam County Businessman Pursues Theft Charge

A May 3rd court date has been set for a middle Tennessee couple, charged with theft of property by a Monterey business owner. The owner of Carl's Supermarket claims he cashed a government stimulus check for William and Elizabeth Wales, who at the time lived in Crawford, Tennessee, but have since moved to Goodletsville. He says the $900 check was accepted only after he checked a photo ID on the couple. But he claims that they later told the U.S. Treasury Department that they had never received their stimulus check. And Treasury Department officials then deducted the $900 from the business owners' bank account. That apparently happened in June of 2008. The business owner took out a theft warrant in September of that year and for unspecified reasons that warrant was never served until this week, when the two were booked at the Putnam County jail and released on a $2,000 bond.

Burglars Strike North Cookeville Apartments

First it was a series of business break-ins Monday night. Now, authorities say someone spent much of Wednesday breaking into cars north of Cookeville. It happened at some apartment complexes along Dodson Branch Road. According to the sheriff's department, burglars broke into several cars at one set of apartments, stealing money, CDs, a GPS device and other items. They also may have been responsible for an apartment burglary in the same area in which a rock was tossed through a window to gain access. The thief got away with 42-inch television set, an XBox game system and several hundred dollars in cash. Anyone with information about any of the burglaries is asked to call Crimestoppers at 520-7867.

Putnam Program To Benefit From Federal Grant

A substance abuse prevention coalition serving Putnam County will benefit from an $11.5 million federal grant given to the state of Tennessee this year. The Tennessee Department of Mental Health received the grant to reduce alcohol binge drinking among 14 to 25 year olds. It will help fund the coalition over the next five years. The project aims to reverse the upward trend in binge drinking; prevent the onset and progression of substance abuse among 14 to 25 year olds; and strengthen infrastructure at the state and county levels. Officials say they hope to impact the policies, practices, and attitudes that support unsafe alcohol consumption and create a hazard to public safety.

Cookeville Area Trooper Honored

A trooper with the Cookeville District of the Tennessee Highway Patrol has been honored by the Department of Safety. The THP today named Trooper Donald “Dewaine” Jennings as the 2009 Trooper of the Year. The announcement was made during a special ceremony Thursday at 10:00 a.m., at the THP Training Center located at 283 Stewarts Ferry Pike in Nashville. Trooper Jennings, assigned to DeKalb County in the Cookeville District, was named Trooper of the Year for an act of heroism on December 13, 2009. He responded to a traffic crash where he found a vehicle submerged on its top in a rain-swollen creek. The creek water was high and the current was swift. Nobody at the scene had checked to see if there was an occupant inside the vehicle. Without hesitation, or regard for his own safety, Trooper Jennings entered the frigid, waist-deep water to check for entrapped passengers. Unable to determine if anyone was inside the vehicle, Trooper Jennings called for a wrecker to hoist the car out of the creek. Although the efforts of Trooper Jennings did not save the life of the driver, he made every effort, including risk to his own safety, when he entered the water knowing that he could not swim.
Meanwhile, Putnam County resident Timothy McHood has been named as Dispatcher of the Year for District 6. He is the senior dispatcher in the Cookeville District with 15 years experience. McHood, 46, joined the department in 1995 as a Communications Dispatcher 2 following 13 years of experience as a Communications Operator for the Putnam County Sheriff’s Department. On March 3, 2010, he received a call on a hit and run. Dispatcher McHood put out a BOLO and maintained phone contact with the caller. Within minutes police located the vehicle which resulted in four persons being arrested on numerous felony and drug charges. On March 4, 2010, he assisted an ambulance company from Kentucky that had broken down on I-40.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

TWRA To Take Part In Cookeville Nature Fest

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) will be participating in the city of Cookeville and Putnam County’s 6th Annual Nature Fest to be held Thursday, April 22 through Sunday, April 25. Nature Fest is a four-day event that celebrates the great outdoors and is designed to educate the citizens of the Upper Cumberland region and beyond about the plentiful opportunities to experience and enjoy nature in the region. All indoor programs for the free event will be held at Pennebaker Hall on the Tennessee Tech University campus. Most of the outdoor activities will be held at Cane Creek Park. On Thursday and Friday evenings, sessions will be held beginning at 6:30 p.m. and end at 8:30 p.m. On Thursday, TWRA Wildlife Officer, Dale Grandstaff will be one of the opening program presenters as he speaks about interesting and amusing wildlife investigative cases in Pennebaker Hall, Room 308. TWRA Region III biologist, Mark Thurman, will be a presenter at one of Friday evening’s 6:30 sessions and speak about salamanders in the Upper Cumberland Area. Thurman’s presentation will be in Pennebaker Hall, Room 320. He surveys and monitors wildlife populations, and he has spent many hours in the field surveying salamanders, frogs, and reptiles. Chris Simpson, TWRA Region III Nongame Inventory Manager and a member of the Nature Fest Planning Committee, will have the TWRA Education Trailer set up at Cane Creek on Saturday and Sunday. The exhibit will be available from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Saturday and from 1:30-3:30 p.m. on Sunday. Simpson was awarded the TWRA Biologist of the Year award in October. Nature Fest has seen growth in each of its five previous years of existence. Many of the events are repeats due to interest, but several new topics have also been added for this year’s sixth anniversary. Special children's activities will also be offered including hands-on crafts that relate to nature.
Nature Fest 2010 is presented with help from TWRA, Cookeville’s Department of Leisure Services, TTU, the Chamber of Commerce, the Herald Citizen, W.D. Stone and Associates, the Nature Fest Organizing Committee and, the presenters of the more than 40 topics.
For more information telephone (931) 520-4386, or check out these Web sites: and

Ohio Company Opens Office In Cookeville

Company Wrench, an Ohio based company, has opened a new branch location in Cookeville. The office brings to nine the total number of locations Company Wrench operates. Company Wrench manufactures and sells equipment that targets the construction, demolition and scrap recycling industry. In addition to manufacturing, the company provides rentals and parts and service programs. The Cookeville location will provide sales, rentals, parts and service to customers in Tennessee and Kentucky. Officials say Harold Brown, their local manager, has experience in maintaining parts and scheduling service on construction equipment in the Cookeville area.

Cookeville Businesses Hit By String Of Burglaries

Cookeville police say they believe a string of burglaries reported in town Monday night were probably committed by the same people. Burglars broke into seven different businesses and are also believed to have stolen a car from a local dealership along the way. That car, a 2003 Oldsmobile Alero, was taken off the lot at Cookeville Hyundai on South Willow Avenue, after burglars had pried open a door at the dealershiip to get in and had gone through offices, stealing cash and other items. Meanwhile, someone forced the back door open at the Tennessee Department of Revenue on Lowe Avenue and searched through file cabinets. Several other businesses on Lowe were also broken into by someone with a pry bar. Other businesses on South Jefferson and South Willow Avenue were also victimized, and police say they may have some surveillance video evidence in at least one of those break-ins, where the burglar was in and out in less than three minutes.

TTU Distance MBA Program Gets High Rating

From Karen Lykins of the TTU Office of Communications and Marketing:

Tennessee Tech University's Distance MBA program ranks as one of the "Top 21 Best Values" in the country, according to in its latest release of top Online MBA Degrees – AACSB Accredited. reviewed 69 schools with online MBA programs accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business offering quality education to a national audience at a low cost, below $15,000. TTU's Distance MBA ranked No. 18, offering an in-state tuition just under $14,500 and out-of-state tuition for $30,900. By comparison, the average cost for an online MBA that is AACSB-accredited came in at $32,926. “Cost is the No. 1 factor that keeps working Americans from enrolling in higher education. Tennessee Tech University offers residents a chance at a high-quality graduate business degree through distance learning at less than half the cost of the national average. That’s an amazing value,” says Vicky Phillips,’s founder.TTU's distance-learning approach features faculty lectures on CD-ROM combined with Internet communication among students and faculty. Case discussions, virtual project teams and other active-learning approaches are used to make a strong connection between academic subjects and the issues facing managers in today's global, highly technological business environment. "Our program has consistently been ranked in this list because we are clear in our mission to offer a quality, affordable education," said Bob Wood, College of Business associate dean and MBA Studies director. The survey results are based on a Fall 2009 survey of publicly posted tuition rates at MBA programs offered through accredited U.S. universities. TTU is among the approximately 20 percent of U.S. business schools that hold AACSB accreditation, the highest attainable level of accreditation. TTU was one of three Tennessee schools to make the Top 21 list. "Our program has a number of unique tracks for the working professional," said Wood. "We offer concentrations in accounting, finance, general management, human resources management, international business, management information systems, and risk management and insurance."

Livingston Man Killed In Single-Car Crash

The traffic division of the Cookeville Police Department says a single vehicle crash on Hudgens Street Tuesday night claimed the life of an Overton County man. It happened just before 11 pm, east of Old Walton Road. Police say 21-year-old Jakob Edwin Gunnels of Preston Street in Livingston was driving a 1995 Chevrolet Monte Carlo eastbound on Hudgens and rounded the corner near Old Walton Road, apparently lost control and left the roadway on the left hand side, striking a tree. He died at the scene of the crash. Police say investigation into the cause of the wreck is still ongoing.

TTU Students Excel On National Exam

The 26 seniors in Tennessee Tech University’s Manufacturing and Industrial Technology program who recently took a national certification exam all passed the exam while the national pass rate was less than 55 percent.The seniors all passed the exam given by the Association of Technology, Management, and Applied Engineering, the organization in their field that sets standards for academic program accreditation, personal certification, and professional development. TTU’s MIT department is accredited by ATMAE.“I feel very proud of our students and being part of TTU’s MIT Department and the College of Engineering,” said TTU’s MIT Department Chairperson Ahmed ElSawy. “Meanwhile, I am grateful to my colleagues from the Colleges of Art and Sciences and College of Business in helping prepare our students to meet this high caliber standard.”The exam covers a variety of subjects within the industrial technology discipline, but it also tests students’ proficiency in areas including chemistry, English, business law and psychology. TTU’s average score was 110; the national average was 68.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Cookeville Tree Board Donates To TTU

Tennessee Tech University President Bob Bell and Guy Zimmerman, area forester and chairman of the Highlands Redbud Celebration Committee, recently planted one of 500 Redbud tree seedlings given to the TTU campus. The Cookeville Tree Board donated the seedlings to the university as part of the 2010 Highlands Redbud Celebration, an annual spring celebration starring the Redbud Tree with emphasis on the benefits of trees of all kinds to Putnam and surrounding counties. The celebration highlights the beauty of the blooming trees as part of the attraction for many regional festivities. The seedlings will be planted across the campus to showcase the spring blooms.

Man Accused Of Having Sex With Teenager

Statutory rape charges have been filed against a 24-year-old Putnam County man, who allegedly had sex with a 13-year-old. Brandon Lee Fisher of North Dixie Avenue in Cookeville was arrested after evidence in the case was presented to the grand jury. Algood police say that Fisher had sex with an Algood teenager some time in November or December of last year. The incident reportedly occurred at the girl's home and her parents called police when they learned about it. Authorities say Fisher is reportedly a friend of the family. His bond was set at $20,000 and he will be in court on the charge May 17th. Under Tennessee state law, statutory rape is defined as sex between two individuals when the victim is at least 13 but under the age of 18 and the defendant is at least four years older than the victim.

Cookeville Man Charged With 4th Offense DUI

A May 10th court date has been set for a Cookeville man, charged for the 4th time with DUI. Police say 41-year-old Mitchell Timothy Horn of Wesley Drive was pulled over on Highway 111 as officers were investigating a case of vandalism. Horn had allegedly been hitting cars with a baseball bat outside the Eastwood Inn motel. Witnesses told police that Horn had left the scene, but they caught up with him a few miles away -- and allegedly observed him driving erratically. He has previous DUI convictions in Putnam County from 1994 and 1995 and was also convicted of drunk driving in Wilson County in 2002.

Cigarette Blamed For Minor House Fire

For at least the second time this month, the Putnam County fire department has responded to a blaze that was apparently started by a cigarette. Firefighters responded to a call at a home on Bluff Top Road, where a small fire apparently started when someone accidentally threw a cigarette into the trash can in the bathroom. The homeowner said he thought the cigarette had been put out when he put it in the trash, but later noticed the fire, which was quickly put out with no appreciable damage to the structure. That comes about two weeks after two juveniles came close to starting a trailer fire on West Broad Street. The two allegedly admitted that they had been smoking after the adults in the home went to bed and had apparently tossed some lit cigarettes into a bathroom trash can.

Man Arrested For Violating Bond Conditions

A Cookeville man who had just been let out of jail on a charge of domestic assault ended up back behind bars after allegedly violating the conditions of his bond. According to the sheriff's department, 35-year-old William Louis Lyell had been released from the jail on Saturday and went to the home of his ex-girlfriend to pick up his truck, yelling an obscenity at her as he did so. He was at the location for just a moment, but, according to the conditions of his bond, he was not allowed to be around the girlfriend or her property. So, when she called the sheriff's department, Lyell was arrested again, and once again made bond. Corporal Scott Stockton then re-explained the conditions of that bond.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Chamber To Host Identity Theft Seminar

Stop a thief from stealing you! According to Federal Trade statistics, 10 to 30 million individuals and businesses have their identity misused or stolen annually. The process of restoring your name can be overwhelming and costly.

The Cookeville-Putnam County Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring an Identify Theft Seminar on Thursday, April 29 in two sessions. Choose either the morning session from 10 a.m. to noon or the afternoon session from 2 to 4 p.m. at Leslie Town Centre in the Herald-Citizen Conference Room, located at 1 West First Street in Cookeville.

The seminar will be presented by Jim Grant, Task Force Officer with the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force who deals directly with identity theft and fraud on a daily basis. He conducts seminars and workshops across the state about how to avoid this major crime.

“Identify theft is serious and takes many forms,” said Ellene Duncan, vice president of special projects at the Chamber. “While some identity thief victims can resolve their problems quickly, others spend hundreds of dollars and many days repairing damage to their good name and credit record.”

Businesses and individuals will learn:
Who is at risk for identity theft
The meaning of identity theft
Steps to reduce your exposure to identity theft
What to do if your identity is stolen
Businesses can learn how to help their customers deal with identity thief

The cost to attend this two hour seminar is $15 for Chamber members (4 or more from the same company receives a discount of $5 each) or $20 for non-members.

For more information or to register for this important seminar, call the Chamber at 931-526-2211.

Former Gainesboro Police Officer Indicted

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation arrested a former Gainesboro police officer Monday on charges of theft and official misconduct. Investigators said that while Hubert Lee Dulworth, 36, was employed at the police department, he stole weapons from inventory and the evidence room and sold them. He no longer works there. The value of the weapons taken by Dulworth has not been released, but the charge lists it as being over $1,000. Dulworth was being held at the Jackson County Jail.

Jackson County Man Charged In Shaken Baby Case

A Gainesboro father is facing a charge of aggravated child abuse after his four-month-old daughter was diagnosed with shaken baby syndrome at the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt.According to an indictment handed down Monday by a Jackson County Grand Jury, emergency workers responded to the home of Cory Buck, 20, at about 6:15 p.m. on April 4 to find the baby, Carmon Rose Buck, unresponsive. She was taken to Cookeville Regional Medical Center and later airlifted to Vanderbilt, where she was treated and released into state custody. Buck was arrested and booked into the Jackson County Jail Monday afternoon.

Court Dates Set In Two Local Theft Cases

A May 3rd court date has been set for an Overton County woman, charged with theft of property. Police say 31-year-old Tabitha Cassondra Wilson of Livingston is accused of stealing from her child's stepmother -- reportedly with the child's help. The warrant in the case alleges that Wilson had asked the 9-year-old "to look and see if there was any jewelry in (the stepmother's) home and to bring it to her." When the child complied, Wilson allegedly pawned that jewelry. Meanwhile, May 3rd is also the court date for 23-year-old Brian Shawn Young of Cookeville. He was charged with burglary after being arrested on a charge of public intoxication last week. Police say they found him in possession of a guitar stolen in the burglary.

Commission Makes Quick Work Of Business

It was a quick meeting Monday night for the Putnam County commission. No dissenting votes were cast on any of the items up for discussion -- including relatively routine budget amendments, vehicle transfers and resolutions. Two commissioners did abstain on a formal vote approving the appointment of notaries public, mainly because the list of names was not available last night to be read publicly. That list will be included in the minutes of the meeting. The commission also voted to give elected officials 30 days to come into compliance with the county vehicle policy -- although there was no discussion of who, if anyone, is out of compliance.

Roy Cravens & Roy Cravens Honored By County

Roy Cravens has won the April Character Award from the Putnam County Commission ... and so has Roy Cravens. One is a retired Cookeville police officer who worked with the DARE program for 18 years. The other works at the Upper Cumberland Human Resource Agency. Both were honored last night. The Roy Cravens who works at UCHRA was nominated for the award by a woman whose family car had a flat tire as they were travelling through Cookeville. He stopped his vehicle, paid for the repair of the tire, bought the stranded family a meal and paid for them to stay overnight at a local motel. When asked for information on how they could repay him, Cravens told the family to do something good for someone else.

Changes To County Landfill To Be Discussed

A meeting of the Putnam County Solid Waste Committee has been scheduled on Monday, May 26th, for the purpose of talking about whether or not to put dumpsters and a trash compactor back on site at the county landfill. Commissioner Mike Medley has asked the county to do so, saying most of the residents in the area who, in his words, "have put up with the county's trash for years," want the convenience of taking their own trash to the landfill, rather than driving up to the waste collection site near the Ditty community. Department director Keith Street says the dumpsters were moved out a few months ago to make way for the opening of another part of the landfill, which handles mostly construction waste. He says putting in a dumpster would not be a problem, but adding a compactor would cost money that he does not currently have in his budget.

Putnam County Commission Has Full Agenda

The Putnam County Commission meets tonight to consider approval of an increase in the county's contribution to the Tennessee Consolidated Retirement System. The changes would mean that the employer contribution would go up to 10.51 percent. At least one county commissioner has suggested that the county explore other options when it comes to offering a retirement benefit for employees, but nothing is being proposed tonight. Also this evening, the commission will vote on a recommendation that would have all elected officials and department heads receiving a letter reminding them of the official policy as it relates to county-owned vehicles. Commissioner Marson McCormick says he doesn't believe the policy is being followed by all office holders, but did not specify which ones he had issue with. Also on the agenda are appointments of members to the county's tax equalization board and the appointment of a county medical examiner. The commission is also scheduled to discuss budget amendments, the re-naming of a road, a resolution opposing a state law being considered by the legislature, and the transfer of a vehicle from the ambulance service to the fire department. The meeting begins tonight at six on the third floor of the courthouse.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Putnam County To Consider Dental Plan

Putnam County residents who don't have dental insurance may soon be able to get something of a break on their dental bills. The county commission Monday evening will discuss becoming what commissioner Johnnie Wheeler calls a "model county" in the formation of a dental payment assistance program offered through the National Association of County Officials or NACO. The program is similar to one in which a prescription drug card is offered through the county -- at no cost -- to those individuals without prescription drug coverage. The dental plan would not cost the county any money, but would involve a fee to those who take part. But Wheeler says it would also offer a discount on dental services through a company called Carrington, which contracts with a handful of local dentists.

Ignition Interlock Bill Up For Debate Again

The debate over Ignition Interlocks for DUI offenders continues this week in the state House of Representatives. A bill requiring the devices is headed for a vote in the state Senate Monday night, but the legislation has stalled in the House because of competing bills from two different lawmakers. Representative Henry Fincher of Cookeville is sponsoring one that has the support of Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Representative Tony Shipley of Kingsport is the sponsor of the other bill. Fincher’s legislation would mandate interlocks for all first-, second- and third-time DUI offenders. His bill would also mandate an alternative form of monitoring, either an in-home device or a continuous alcohol monitoring ankle bracelet, for any offender who claims not to have a vehicle, according to MADD. Both are scheduled to be heard this week before the House budget subcommittee.

76-Year-Old To Graduate From Tennessee Tech

Ronald Tiller stepped out of Roaden University Center on a recent windy March day dressed in full graduation regalia – black robe flapping in the wind and mortarboard situated evenly on his head. It’s not graduation day. This is for a photo shoot.

“I don’t mind if people stare. I waited 50 years to do this,” Tiller said on his way to the front of Derryberry Hall. Tiller’s life is filled with successes: A happy family, a high-flying career as marketing executive for two international companies, and now, enjoyment of his lakeside retirement home in Vonore, Tenn. Yet there was always one aspect of his life that nagged at him. He never finished college ­– until now. On May 8 at age 76, Tiller accepts his bachelor’s degree from Tennessee Tech University President Bob Bell with more than the usual high level of pride a graduate feels. Tiller’s road to graduation day isn’t like anyone else’s. He first arrived on TTU’s campus in 1957 just 10 days after his honorable discharge from the Army’s 11th Airborne Division based in Fort Campbell, Ky. He was fresh from service in Germany.

“I stopped at the railroad tracks and saw a couple of guys I’d gone to high school with in Germantown, Tennessee. I had on my plaid Bermuda shorts and my over-the-calf argyle socks. I was all ready for college,” Tiller said.

Tiller said he really didn’t know what the college experience entailed. He majored in agriculture because he’d grown up on a dairy farm and figured he knew something about that. Tiller attended TTU for more than four years and got within 16 hours of graduation when he was recruited to go work for John Deere. While at John Deere, he launched the marketing activities for the then-new lawn and garden division for both the Memphis and Kansas City marketing divisions of John Deere. He grew the Memphis division from infancy to $40 million in sales and the Kansas City division to $66 million in sales. After retirement from Deere, he next worked for Woods Equipment Co., another manufacturer of agricultural equipment. His career took him eventually to Farmington, Mo., where he met his wife, Marietta. He later lived in the Chicago area. The couple had three children, all now grown: Ronald Todd Tiller of Knoxville; Leigh Tiller Pearson of Denver; and Gregory “Trey” Tiller of Houston. Even Tiller’s children were unaware that their father hadn’t finished his degree.

“I was carrying this burden for 50 years. I always, always wanted to go finish my degree. I saw an article in the Visions alumni magazine about the finish-your-degree program, and knew this was the way,” Tiller said.

His first step was to contact Tammy Boles, coordinator of programs for the School of Interdisciplinary Studies. Boles was taken with Tiller immediately and wanted to help him. Along the way, she found Tiller so inspiring that she pushed herself to finish her doctorate in December 2009.

“We were planning to walk together,” Boles said. “He’s a Type A personality. He goes at everything full force. I thought if he could do it, so could I.”

Before that could happen, however, Tiller experienced a mild stroke and had to stop his 12- to 15-hour days for a short time during the Fall 2008 semester. But he was back to full speed by the Fall 2009 semester. He graduates May 8 with a bachelor of science degree in interdisciplinary studies. Steve Frye, the professor overseeing his culminating project, said Tiller’s concentration areas are agriculture and animal husbandry and the topic of his culminating project is the history of John Deere and the development of the plow.
Tiller may have learned a lot along the road to finishing his degree, but Frye bets he’s learned even more from Tiller. Tiller wants to encourage others to finish their college degrees, no matter how difficult the hurdle may seem.

“The toughest part was probably actually making that decision to do it, to finish my degree…The best part of it? I can’t get enough. I can’t stand to miss class,” Tiller said.

Cookeville Girl Wins Wildlife Contest

A Cookeville teenager, who has been through a series of back surgeries since being born with a condition known as Vater's association, is featured in an article on the website. You can see it here.

Friday, April 16, 2010

State Awards Grant To York Preservation Group

The effort continues to preserve the historic York Institute building in Jamestown. Although the state of Tennessee has decided to turn the operation of the school over to the Fentress County School System, officials say that decision is separate from the decisions to continue rehab on the building. In fact, the Tennessee Historical Commission has announced a Historic Preservation Fund grant to at least two local activities that support the preservation of historic and archaeological sites, districts and structures. The grants awarded come from federal funds allocated by the Department of Interior under the provisions of the National Historic Preservation Act. The programs authorized by this Act are administered by the Tennessee Historical Commission. The grants pay for up to 60 percent of the costs of approved project work and the grant recipient must provide the remaining 40 percent of the costs as matching funds. In Fentress County, the Sgt. York Patriotic Foundation received $46,000 for the completion of protective stabilization at the York Agricultural Institute in Jamestown. And East Tennessee State University got $9,500 to fund an archeological survey of Pickett State Forest.

Child Seat Checkpoints Scheduled In Cookeville

The Cookeville Police Department, Community Bank and Cookeville Pilot Club will host a Child Seat Checkpoint at Community Bank, located at 744 S. Willow Avenue, Friday afternoon from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Child Seat Technicians will be available to check child seats for correct installation and answer any questions that anyone may have about child seat safety and installation. Meanwhile, if you can't get to that one, the Police Department, Chick-Fil-A, and Putnam County Kiwanis Club will be hosting another checkpoint at Chick-Fila, located at 1370 Interstate Drive on Tuesday, April 20, from 4 to 7 p.m.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Burgess Falls Park Offers Day Camps

Burgess Falls State Park will offer a series of day camps this summer for young people who will be entering the fourth, fifth or sixth grade in the 2010-2011 school year. Both a basic Ranger Camp and an advanced camp will be offered. In addition, several “mini” camp sessions will be held for students entering the first, second and third grade in the upcoming school year.

“Our Junior Ranger Day Camps provide a wonderful opportunity and we are pleased to offer them for the fourth consecutive year,” said Bill Summers, park manager. “The programs and activities are specially tailored for children between the ages of 5 and 12 and designed to be fun and engaging – a great way for kids to learn about the great outdoors, while offering parents looking for summer activities a tremendous value.”

Class topics for Junior Rangers enrolled in the basic program include Reptiles and Amphibians, Aquatics, Birds of Prey, Insects and Spiders, Ecology and Introduction to Biological Research.

An advanced Junior Ranger 2 program also will be offered for those who have completed the basic camp. Advanced class topics include Basic Hiking and Camping Workshops, Map and Compass, Organic Gardening, Advanced Aquatics and other topics.

Campers will need sturdy footwear for hiking and water shoes or old sneakers for wading in the river for creek studies. Junior Rangers should apply sunscreen before arrival at camp each day and will need to bring additional sunscreen, daily water and snacks, a hat or cap and small backpack.

Three one-week camps will be offered, including two basic Junior Ranger Camps and one Junior Ranger 2 advanced camp. Enrollment is limited to 14 pre-registered campers each week and day camp hours are 8:30 to 11:30 a.m., Monday through Friday.

There is a $20 non-refundable fee per student for the basic Junior Ranger day camp and a $25 fee for the advanced Junior Ranger 2 program. Fees must be paid at least two weeks prior to attendance.

Junior campers may choose to attend one of the following camp sessions, but enrollment is limited so early registration is encouraged:

· Week #1: Junior Ranger Camp: June 7 - 11, 2010 (basic program)
· Week #2: Junior Ranger Camp: June 14 - 18, 2010 (basic program)
· Week #3: Junior Ranger 2 Camp: June 21 - 25, 2010 (advanced program – requires prior completion of the basic program)

A Mini Ranger Camp session will be offered for 5- to 8-year-olds, and parents are welcome to attend. Class topics for the mini sessions include Aquatics, Reptiles and Amphibians, Care of Plants and Trees, Basic Gardening Skills, along with several ranger-led hikes.

Two mini day camps also will be offered in June. The Mini Ranger Day Camp is free, but enrollment is limited to 10 pre-registered campers for each session. Students may choose to attend one of the following two-day sessions:

· Session #1: Mini Ranger Day Camp: June 3 - 4, 8:30 to 11:30 a.m.
· Session #2: Mini Ranger Day Camp: June 28 - 29, 8:30 to 11:30 a.m.

“It’s never too early to begin educating children to love and appreciate nature, and these mini sessions are perfect for younger students,” added Summers.

For more information or to request a registration packet, please call the park office at (931) 432-5312 or e-mail

Located on the boundary between Putnam and White counties, Burgess Falls State Park is characterized by sheer bluffs, narrow ridges, rolling water and abundant mixed forest. The Falling Water River runs through the area, providing breathtaking scenery and numerous waterfalls.

To learn more about Burgess Falls, please visit

Cookeville Hospital Sponsors Free Seminars

A free women’s health seminar will be held on Thursday, May 13 at 6:00 pm at Cookeville Regional Medical Center with speaker Dr. Bert Geer, gynecologist. The seminar will be held in the CRMC Education Center. This event is part of a nationwide campaign presented by daVinci Surgery, Curves International, and the Office on Women’s Health, a division of the Department of Health. Women attending this event will receive a coupon for 30 days free at local Curves locations. This seminar is also being held in Smithville and Livingston. On Tuesday, April 27 Dr. Geer will be in Smithville at 6:00 pm at the Smithville Curves and on Thursday, May 20 he will be in Livingston at 6:00 pm at the Livingston/Overton County Chamber of Commerce. Registration for these events is recommended by calling 931-783-2629.

Activities Planned At Standing Stone Park

Standing Stone State Park in Overton County is hosting a series of events this weekend. The public is invited to join Standing Stone staff and their special guests Friday through Sunday, April 16-18, for the 7th Annual Spring Naturalist Rally. Organizers say this will be a fun, educational experience as participants learn all about Standing Stone’s wild woods and natural history. On Saturday, April 17, a Spring Wildflower Walk will be held, beginning at 9 a.m. (CDT), with participants meeting at the recreation hall. For a complete schedule of events, please contact the park office at (931) 823-6347. Standing Stone State Park covers nearly 11,000 acres on the Cumberland Plateau of north-central Tennessee. The park is noted for its outstanding scenery, spring wildflowers, fossils and other natural diversity. It is located in Overton County within a triangle formed by highways connecting Livingston, Gainesboro and Celina, Tenn. 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 upon an improvised monument to preserve it. The stone is still preserved in Monterey. For additional information about Standing Stone State Park, please visit

Federal Grant Money Coming To Head Start

Congressman Bart Gordon announced the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services awarded federal grant money for Head Start education services in Middle Tennessee.

“Each year, Head Start programs serve more than 19,000 children throughout Tennessee, providing them with a firm foundation to excel in school,” said Gordon. “With the current economic downturn, their services to parents and children are more important than ever.”

The Department of Health and Human Services awarded an $8.7 million grant to the Livingston, Byrdstown, Jamestown and Cookeville Development Corporation, which administers Head Start in 12 Tennessee counties. The funding will cover a variety of operating costs at a time when budgets have been very tight, according to Dorothy Pippin, Head Start Director.

“This funding will allow us to keep providing comprehensive child care. In addition to our educational programming, we make sure children get the physicals and dental work they need, and we offer referral services to parents who need housing help or are looking to go back to school,” said Pippin.

Head Start was established in 1965 to promote school readiness and provide a comprehensive array of health, nutritional and social services to economically disadvantaged children and families, with a special focus on enhancing preschool development. The program engages parents in their children’s learning, and also helps parents make progress toward their own educational, literacy and employment goals. For more information about the Head Start program, call (931) 528-3361.

Civil War Group Holds Ceremony In Cookeville

I forgot to mention this when I first heard about it, but on Saturday, April 10 the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (SUVCW) Fort Donelson Camp # 62 held a flag ceremony at the Cookeville City Cemetery. The gravesite ceremony honored Sergeant James Henry McCulley, Co. K, 13th Tennessee Cavalry U.S., a Civil War veteran buried at the cemetery. Sergeant McCulley, born in 1839, originally served as a Confederate soldier, but in 1863, joined the Federal army and participated with the 13th U.S. Tennessee Cavalry in the Battles of Bulls Gap and Blue Springs. The unit also was responsible for mortally wounding Confederate General John Hunt Morgan and participating in the capture of Confederate President Jefferson Davis. McCulley survived the war, had twelve children, and served as the first post-war sheriff of Putnam County. The SUVCW is a volunteer, non-profit, patriotic and educational organization founded in 1881 by sons of Civil War veterans. For more information, visit

Cookeville Post Office To Accommodate Tax Filers

The South Willow Avenue branch of the Cookeville Post Office will be open some extra hours today to accommodate those local taxpayers who are waiting until the last minute to file their returns. The IRS says returns must be postmarked on April 15th to avoid a late fee, and some post offices in the Nashville area are staying open until midnight. In Cookeville, the Willow Avenue Post Office will be open until 9 p.m. to provide stamp sales and mailing assistance, and officials say returns will be collected until midnight in the mail collection boxes in front of the South Willow Avenue location only. Postal Service spokeswoman Beth Barnett urges tax filers to mail early in the day, making sure that the last pickup time at the box they drop it in hasn't already passed.

First Quarter Campaign Finance Reports Filed

Campaign finance reports filed this week show that hundreds of thousands of dollars are being spent by candidates seeking public office in Putnam County. The biggest spenders were in the races for Trustee and Road Supervisor, where a total of eleven candidates are seeking the two offices. In the Trustee's race, both Freddie Nelson and Greg Rector report having spent more than $25,000 in the first quarter of the year, while Mark Rippetoe had expenditures of more than $13,000 and Danny Holmes spent nearly $6,000. Meanwhile, Trustee candidates William Maynord and Jimmy D. Stanton have spent less than a thousand dollars. And Republican Michael D. Lane, who is running without opposition in the primary, reported spending just over $46. In the Road Supervisor's race, the largest expenditures have come from Larry "Buck" Huddleston, who reported campaign expenses in the first quarter at more than $21,000. Randy Jones spent $12,700, while Ronnie Herren and Terry Lamb have each spent less than ten thousand. In the race for county clerk, both Wayne Nabors and Keith Marie (Lewis) Farley reported spending just over $13,000 apiece. In the sheriff's race, David Andrews reports spending $13,480 while his opponent, Greg Cooper, reported $8,084. And in the county executive's campaign, Kim Blaylock reported spending just under $5,000, with more than $10,000 on hand for the final month of the campaign, while Dennis Tennant reported expenditures of $9,346 with just under $8,000 on hand.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Country Music Legend To Perform In Cookeville

The following press release was sent out by the city of Cookeville:

The Cookeville Department of Leisure Services and the Cookeville Performing Arts Center are proud to present a “Living Legend” in concert on May 1 at 7:30 pm.

Grand Ole Opry Star and member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, Charlie Louvin will perform one concert only!

Tickets on sale now
$15 Advance reserved seats
$20 at the door

Call the Box Office @ 931-528-1313 today to reserve your tickets.

CRMC Offers Artery Exploration Exhibit

On Saturday, April 17 Cookeville Regional Medical Center will be the site of a unique experience that will allow individuals to take a 3-D virtual tour in a mobile motion simulator called the Artery Explorer. The multi-sensory experience helps people visualize the progressive buildup of plaque inside the arteries known as atherosclerosis – a silent disease that is linked to nearly one in four deaths in the United States, according to the American Heart Association. The Artery Explorer will be available from 7:00 am until 3:00 pm and will be located in Parking Lot B on the corner of 6th Street and Cedar Avenue (outside the Cancer Center). Presented by AstraZeneca, the experience is free and open to the public as a part of a nationwide campaign called US AGAINST ATHERO to raise awareness of atherosclerosis – the progressive buildup of plaque in the arteries. No registration is required to experience the Artery Explorer. Inside the Artery Explorer, participants travel through the winding path of the human circulatory system as the arteries become narrow and blocked with plaque. Along the way, participants confront common risk factors for atherosclerosis, such as LDL (bad) cholesterol, high blood pressure and smoking. The experience culminates with participants colliding with a blood clot, demonstrating how atherosclerosis can result in a heart attack or stroke. The event is being held in conjunction with Cookeville Regional’s quarterly health fair that will provide numerous affordable and free health screenings from 7:00 am until 10:00 am with the Artery Explorer being available until 3:00 pm. To register for the health screenings, please call the Community Wellness Department at 931-783-2587 or visit the hospital website at to register on-line. Again, registration is not required for the Artery Explorer.

TBI Arrests Six Local Residents In Drug Round-Up

Two Cookeville residents, three from Gainesboro, and one from Livingston been arrested in a drug round-up in DeKalb County. Officials with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation say a total of nine defendants were indicted on charges of conspiracy to sell and deliver more than 50 grams of a Schedule II controlled substance and violations of the drug free school zone act. The investigation centered on the illegal sale of prescription drugs. The operation called "Yellow Dot" centered around the sale and distribution of hydromorphone, also known as Dilaudid. In February of 2009, TBI and the 13th Judicial District Drug Task Force received information about a string of home burglaries and shoplifting thefts by subjects who were supporting a Dilaudid habit. That information prompted the drug investigation. The defendants were selling Dilaudid ranging from $20 to $30 per pill at various locations in Putnam County and Cookeville. They are identified as Charles Dowis and Tabbie Wilson of Cookeville, Lakrisha Willis of Livingston, and Ron Stewart, Tim Young, and Ted Hooten, all of Gainesboro.

274 Cast Ballots On First Day Of Early Voting

A total of 274 Putnam County residents took advantage of the first day of Early Voting to go ahead and cast their ballots in the May election. Election officials say the first day went smoothly, but are reminding voters that this IS a primary, so they HAVE to choose whether they want to vote in the Democratic or Republican primary. You cannot vote in both. Sample ballots are posted in the lobby of the Election Commission office. Early voting hours are 8 am to 7 pm today, 8 am to 5 pm on Friday and 9 am to 1 pm on Saturday. The Early Voting period runs through April 29th.

Craigslist Scam Reported To Sheriff's Office

The Putnam County sheriff's department is warning local residents of a newly reported Internet scam. Detective Jimmy Patterson says a couple in the process of selling their home found out recently that the house had been put up on Craiglist as being "for rent." They notified their realtor and also sent an e-mail to Craigslist. Still, the victims say the realtor has gotten at least one inquiry from the falsified Craigslist posting, which has since been taken down. They also say their mother answered the ad, posing as a potential renter and got an e-mail in reply that appeared to be in the format of known scams from other countries. Patterson says this particular reply originated in an African nation, and officials say it's yet further proof that you need to be careful when doing anything online.

Early Voting Begins For May Primaries

Today is the first day of Early Voting in the May primaries. County election officials say those who wish to vote early can come by the Election Commission office, off South Willow Avenue between 8 am and 5 pm most days to cast their ballots. The office will be open until 7 pm on Thursdays and from 9 am to 1 pm on Saturdays for the next two weeks to accommodate those wishing to vote early. Voters should bring some form of identification with them and are reminded that they cannot be wearing any campaign shirts, hats or buttons in support of any particular candidate.

Cookeville Hospital Promotes "Decision-Making"

Cookeville Regional Medical Center is one several national, state and community organizations leading a massive effort to highlight the importance of advance healthcare decision-making -- an effort that has culminated in the formal designation of this Friday April 16th, as National Healthcare Decisions Day. As a participating organization, Cookeville Regional is providing information and tools for the public to talk about their wishes with family, friends and healthcare providers, and execute written advance directives in accordance with Tennessee state laws. Specifically, on Friday, from 9:00 to 10:30 am and again from 1:30 to 3:00 pm, members of the hospital Ethics Committee will be available at the Cookeville Kroger with free information about advance care planning and advance directive forms. They will also be available on Thursday, April 15 in the hospital’s main North Patient Tower lobby from 7:30 to 9:00 am and in the hospital’s Employee Dining Room from 11:30 am to 1:00 pm.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Bryan Symphony Plans Season Finale

Works by two titans of the 20th-century Soviet Union, Prokofiev and Shostakovich, will be part of the season finale of the Bryan Symphony Orchestra at Tennessee Tech University, set to begin at 3 p.m., Sunday, in Wattenbarger Auditorium. The program features the Prokofiev "3rd Concerto," with Cliburn Competition finalist Di Wu as guest pianist, along with Shostakovich’s "5th Symphony." For advance ticketing, call 525-2633, or visit the box office beginning at noon on the day of the concert. Admission is $28 for adults, $24 for senior citizens 65 and up, and $8 for students.

Woman Claims Sexual Assault By Insurance Agent

The Putnam County sheriff's department is investigating a report by a 61-year-old Cookeville woman, who claims that she was sexually assaulted in her home by an insurance adjuster. The victim filed a report with the sheriff's department on Monday, but claims the incident took place last Wednesday when an agent came to her house to inspect the basement for mold. She claims the man brushed against her and licked the back of her neck, while her husband and health care aide were upstairs in the house. She also claims the agent made crude comments, but says she waited until this week to report the incident because she has been sick. Detective Jimmy Patterson is investigating.

Action Delayed On Burks' Domestic Violence Bill

Action has been deferred on a bill sponsored by State Senator Charlotte Burks of Monterey, which would allow victims of domestic violence to get out of a lease if necessary. Burks talked about the bill before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, and agreed to withhold action on it, so that members of the committee could look over an amendment which clarifies what circumstances would have to apply for someone to get out of a lease. A group representating landlords says they oppose the bill because it holds landlords financially responsible for behavior that they don't have anything to do with, but Burks says the bill is in no way intended as a simple way for someone to get out of a lease. She says the goal is to protect victims of abuse.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Thieves Take Liking To IPODs

That piece of technology known as the iPOD has caught the attention of thieves in Cookeville this week. Police say iPODs were among the items taken in three out of four vehicle burglaries reported in recent days. One was reported on 13th Street, where the victim also told police that the burglar may have locked car doors that he had left unlocked. On the same day, an iPOD Touch, like the one pictured here, was stolen out of a car parked in a driveway on White Road and another was taken from a car on Messenger Road. In that incident, the victim told police that his car alarm did not go off and that the thieves also took cash, a digital camera, and more than fifty CDs.

Nude Store Clerk Charged With Public Intoxication

Public intoxication charges have been filed against the clerk at a local store -- who was allegedly drinking on the job. Police say the received a call about a clerk who was intoxicated and had an open beer out on the counter at Red Wolf's Trading Post on East Tenth Street. They arrived to find 46-year-old Linda Sue Hewitt of Carolina Avenue, with an odor of alcohol about her person and having slurred speech. According to the police report, Hewitt allegedly went into a restroom at the business and came out "nude and cursing." Police covered her up with a blanket and took her to jail.

Position Of Interim Road Supervisor Clarified

Putnam County attorney Jeff Jones has clarified what he said were questions about what role acting Road Supervisor Terry Lamb is performing. The county commission last month approved a bond for Lamb, but has not formally determined that a vacancy exists which they need to fill. According to Jones, a number of laws, many from the Cold War era, address the issue of appointing an "emergency interim successor" for elected officials. He says that when the late Billy Joe "Red" Lamb was hospitalized a few years ago, his brother, Terry, was named an "emergency interim successor," and says Terry Lamb resumed that role when "Red" Lamb passed away. No further action on the issue was proposed by any of the commissioners.

Guidelines For Veterans Memorial Discussed

A policy that's always been in place, but has never been put in writing, may soon be made official. County executive Kim Blaylock says it concerns who is eligible to have their name inscribed onto the monument of Fallen Heroes of Putnam County, located on the courthouse lawn. Blaylock says the practice has always been that those names were of veterans who were killed in action, but she says it's not actually written down anywhere. The issue came up after some local residents asked about having their loved ones added to the monument. After looking into the matter, the Putnam County Veterans Organization found that the requests were coming in for individuals not killed in action. The county commission will take up the matter next week.

Officials To Be Reminded Of County Vehicle Policy

A committee of the Putnam County commission has recommended that the county executive write a letter to all department heads and elected officials, reminding them of the county's policy as it relates to county-owned vehicles. That action comes after commissioner Marson McCormick proposed banning the use of campaign signs in vehicles. McCormick also wanted such vehicle to be better identified as belonging to Putnam County. But other commissioners say McCormick's concerns are already addressed -- either by state law or by existing policy. McCormick questioned whether that policy was being enforced, but did not specifically tell the committee which county vehicles he thought might be in violation of it.

Campaign Finance Reports Due Today

Today is the deadline for candidates running for political office in Putnam County to turn in their first quarter campaign finance reports. The reports cover spending that's taken place from the middle of January through the end of March. Another report is due at the end of April -- just before Election Day next month. Those candidates running for a part-time office that pays less than five hundred dollars a month may file what's called a non-disclosure form -- if they don't spend more than a thousand dollars on their campaign. Officials say the purpose of the reports is to allow the public to see who is supporting the candidates financially and how much money they are spending in their election effort.

Committee To Discuss Political Signs In Vehicles

The standing committees of the Putnam County commission meet this evening to talk -- at least in part -- about politics. Commissioner Marson McCormick has a proposal which would ban the use of campaign signs on county-owned vehicles. McCormick also wants every vehicle and piece of equipment owned by the county to be more visibly marked. Meanwhile, commissioners will receive what's being called a "clarification" of comments regarding the office of Road Supervisor. In other action, the committees tonight will be updated on the cost of purchasing updated software for the Putnam County juvenile court system.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

A $15,000 federal grant has been awarded to the Upper Cumberland Quilt Trail to support expansion, publicity and a new Web site to draw visitors and business to Putnam County. The Upper Cumberland Quilt Trail began last year as a collection of six barns near Algood that displayed large paintings of quilt patterns traditional to the region. Since then, interest in the project has expanded across the Upper Cumberland. According to project coordinator Kathy Daugherty, the trail now has 79 applications from host farms in the area interested in being officially included on the trail. Forty of those have already painted their barns, some with help from Cookeville High School student volunteers. The grant will be put toward the purchase of promotional materials for the trail, including brochures, maps, road signs and a new Web site. Supporters say increased visitors to the trail will bring customers to businesses in remote parts of the county. In addition, many host farms have set up farm stands selling produce, crafts and antiques. And one farm will be opening up a restaurant for Quilt Trail visitors.

Police Investigate Stolen Medicine Case

Cookeville police are trying to find a woman they said posed as a cop to steal pills from a blind woman. Police told the Herald-Citizen newspaper that the criminal knocked on the blind woman's door last Thursday, said she was an undercover officer and asked to see her medication. The victim then opened a locked box of Xanax and Hydrocodone. But police said the woman left with the pills when the victim asked for further proof the she was, indeed, a police officer. A similar case was reported earlier this year when a man claiming to be an officer took medications at gunpoint from a Cookeville man. A suspect in that case has been arrested.

Burks' Domestic Violence Bill To Be Debated

Victims of domestic abuse would be able to get out of a lease contract early in order to get away from their abusers under a bill sponsored by State Senator Charlotte Burks of Monterey. The bill is scheduled to be heard Tuesday in Senate Judiciary Committee. The bill would allow a victim of domestic abuse, sexual assault or stalking to terminate a lease upon submitting an order of protection, a police or medical report, or a written report from a domestic violence or child abuse agency. In a survey of domestic violence shelters and legal service agencies cited by the Tennessee Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, nearly two-thirds reported that they had worked with victims who wanted to break their leases out of safety concerns. Two-thirds of the surveyed shelters and agencies also said they had worked with victims who were evicted after incidents of domestic violence, including some cases in which women were evicted for calling the police.

Cookevillian Charged With Murder In Rutherford Co.

A Cookeville man, already jailed on charges of aggravated assault in Putnam County, has now been charged with murder in Rutherford County. Detectives claim David Newcomb killed 29-year-old Rhonda Sue Bailey and dumped her body in a creek under a bridge in western Rutherford County in May of 1994. Newcomb was given a six-year prison term after pleading guilty to dousing his girlfriend with gasoline in Cookeville last September. He has later booked at the Rutherford County Jail in connection with Bailey's death. Police say Newcomb was a suspect in the early days after the killing, but detectives said they didn't get the key information they needed to charge him until several new witnesses came forward recently.

Police Report Spring Break Vandalism At CHS

Putnam County school students are back in class Monday, but authorities say some of them took advantage of Spring Break to commit acts of vandalism -- including some at Cookeville High School. Police say anti-homosexual comments and obscene drawings were spray-painted on a building near the school's tennis courts. A concession stand and two trash cans had also been vandalized, and police say the tires were slashed on the vehicles of five students, who had gone to Chicago on a school trip, while leaving their cars parked at the high school. 

Friday, April 9, 2010

Donation Lets TTU Students Experience Wall Street

Thanks to a major donation by Nashville investment manager L.O. "Buzz" Heidtke and others, Tennessee Tech University students studying finance in the College of Business now have their own trading room to simulate the activities of a real-life investment firm. From Cookeville, students have access to the same research, analysis and information tools to buy and sell stocks as any top-notch Wall Street investment firm. Inside the new $150,000 Heidtke Trading Room, students manage three investment funds using the latest technology available. Finance professors utilize the latest teaching tools along with real-time market data to teach class. Students can view the rise and fall of stock exchanges worldwide, commodities, currencies, individual funds or sets of funds, and market newsfeeds from a wall of high definition television screens.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Budget Cutbacks Affect TTU Sports Programs

State budget cutbacks are beginning to have an effect on the sports programs at Tennessee Tech University. The school says that it is "restructuring" its intercollegiate sports programs, and two athletic teams -- rifle and women's tennis -- will be suspended effective July 1. In keeping with NCAA and Title IX requirements, the university will continue to field 14 sports teams, and the student-athlete gender participation rate will continue to be proportionate to the university's undergraduate student population. Scholarships will also remain budgeted according to Title IX standards. Athletic director Mark Wilson says the decision was based on a comprehensive assessment of the athletic programs the university offers, the costs required by each, and the strategic direction of the Department of Athletics. Fourteen student-athletes and one part-time coach will be affected.

THP and CPD Schedule Child Seat Checkpoints

The Cookeville district of the Tennessee Highway Patrol will be conducting a child seat safety checkpoint Saturday at Algood Middle School. The event takes place from 9 am until noon. It's being held in conjunction with the Pass It On Children’s Consignment sale also going on at the school. Meanwhile, the traffic division of the Cookeville police department will be having similar checkpoints later this month at two locations in Cookeville. State law requires that children not only be in safety seats, but that they be properly installed.

Tech Student Charged With Aggravated Assault

A Tennessee Tech student, charged with aggravated assault, will be in court on April 26th to answer to the charges. Police say 20-year-old Andrew Owensby was arrested after he allegedly pulled a knife on another student in a campus dorm. Tech police say that some students were "playing around" in the fifth floor hallway of Cooper Hall dormitory when Owensby reportedly pulled the knife and threatened to kill the other student. Police say they don't know what may have caused the altercation.

Cookeville Residents Injured, Killed In Traffic Crashes

Several Cookeville residents have been injured or killed in traffic accidents in White County this week. According to the Tennessee Highway Patrol, 56-year-old Jimmy W. Keisling of Charlton Square in Cookeville, was driving a 2008 GMC Sierra pick-up truck northbound on South Bunker Hill Road around 3 p.m. Tuesday, pulling a trailer of loose shingles, when the trailer dropped off the right side of the roadway into a ditch, pulling the vehicle into the ditch. The truck turned over and the driver was ejected. According to the report by Trooper William Morgan, no drinking or drugs were involved, but seat belts were also not being used, and that -- he says -- could have made a difference in the outcome of the accident. Also in White County Tuesday, four Cookeville residents were injured in a crash, which sent one to Erlanger Hospital, in Chattanooga, in critical condition. According to Trooper Dave Roark, 20-year-old Justin Hall of Cookeville, was driving south on Old Kentucky Road, with three passengers, when he pulled into the path of a truck being driven by 61-year-old David Seabolt of Sparta. Hall’s vehicle was ‘t-boned’ in the passenger side. Hall and three occupants in his vehicle were reportedly trapped in the wreckage. One critically injured passenger, identified as 22-year-old Logan Vickery of Cookeville, was airlifted from the scene. Charges are pending.

Alleged Shoplifters Also Charged With Trespassing

Criminal trespassing charges have now been filed against two individuals who were involved in trying to shoplift items from a local store that they had been told to stay out of. Police say citations were issued to 20-year-old Anda Michelle Coggins and her 22-year-old husband, Phillip Edward Coggins, both of Maddux Court. Ms. Coggins had allegedly attempted to steal more than $150 worth of swimsuits from the Kohl's store on West Jackson Street Tuesday night. According to police, Mr. Coggins was waiting in a car outside and allegedly knew that his wife was going inside to try and steal clothing that could be returned. Police say both had been told that they were not allowed back on the property because of previous charges against them.

Better Identification Of County Vehicles Proposed

At least one member of the Putnam County commission wants to more clearly identify county-owned vehicles and to prohibit the use of such vehicles as moving campaign signs. Marson McCormick has asked for the issue to be brought up next week before the planning committee of the county commission. His proposal would require having permanent emblems affixed to all county vehicles and equipment. The emblems would be at least six inches high, and McCormick says no county emblems that are magnets would be allowed. He would also disallow, effective immediately, any campaign signs on the vehicles, although the agenda item does not specify whether or not any elected officials are actually doing that.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


The American Hospital Association has awarded Bernie Mattingly, chief executive officer at Cookeville Regional Medical Center, with its Grassroots Champion Award. Mattingly is being recognized for what is described as his exceptional leadership in generating grassroots and community activity in support of a hospital’s mission. The award was created to recognize those hospital leaders who most effectively educate elected officials on how major issues affect the hospital’s role in the community, and who have done an exemplary job in broadening the base of community support for the hospital. The award is presented annually to one individual from each state.

Burgess Falls Park Plans Volunteer Day

A number of state parks in the area are holding events on Saturday. Burgess Falls State Park staff will team up with the White County Girl Scouts and Putnam County Master Gardeners for the Third Annual Volunteer Workday from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. at the park. Groups will work together to remove invasive exotic plants, in addition to weeding and mulching 20,000 square feet of the park’s award-winning Butterfly Garden. Volunteers will also plant more than 550 native plants, trees and ferns to help increase native habitat. Nearly 100 Girl Scouts are signed up to attend the volunteer workday and participants will receive a birdhouse, donated by the Friends of Burgess Falls. Meawnhile, Cordell Hull Birthplace will conduct a Spring Wildflower Hike on Saturday. Folklore, medicinal and edible use plant identification will be discussed. Hikers should meet at the Bunkum Cave trailhead at 10 a.m. and the Edgar Evins State Park’s staff will have a Spring Celebration on Saturday, with a variety of activities, including face painting, egg hunts, a live snake program, pontoon boat rides, bird walks, wildflower walks and butterfly identification walks.

Counterfeit Bills Surface At Several Local Stores

Counterfeiters are at work once again in Cookeville. Police say officials at U.S. Bank reported that they had received five counterfeit one-hundred dollar bills from area businesses in the overnight drop box. The bills came from Advance Auto Parts, Claire's, Rue 21, TJ Maxx, and Peebles -- all of which are located in the area of South Willow Avenue and West Jackson Street. At least two of the bills had the same serial number, but other than that, police did not say what caused them to be suspect. Detective Sgt. Tim Terry is investigating.

Evading Arrest Added To Charges Against Local Man

Evading arrest has now been added to the list of outstanding charges against a Cookeville man. Police say they arrested 27-year-old Tyree Edward Brent of Jackson Street after they responded to a reported fight between two women at a home on Boatman Street. The women apparently did not want to press charges, so police left the scene, but soon learned that Brent was at the location and that he had outstanding warrants against him. As he returned to the scene, Officer Myke Green says he saw Brent running away. He chased him and says Brent gave up when challenged with a Taser. He was wanted on a city warrant for Violation of Bond Conditions and on a county warrant for violating probation.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Sentence Handed Down In Gasoline Assault Case

A six-year prison term has been given to a Cookeville man who pleaded guilty this week to two counts of aggravated assault -- after being accused of splashing gasoline on his girlfriend and chasing her with a lighter. In return for this plea, prosecutors dropped attempted murder charges against 43-year-old David Newcomb. According to a report by Officer Chris Ferguson, police arrived on the scene last September to find the victim running from the residence, yelling "He's trying to kill me." Ferguson later found Newcomb with a gas can in one hand and a lighter in the other. The officer says he told Newcomb to drop the can, but ended up having to "take him to the ground." Ferguson says gasoline was splashed all over the place in the process and claims that Newcomb then began to "set things on fire." He allegedly set fire to a couch and also tried to set fire to Ferguson, singeing the hair on the officer's arm.

Drug Dealer Given 13-Year Prison Sentence

A woman who was arrested in a drug raid in Cookeville in 2008 has been given a thirteen year prison sentence and will not be eligible for parole for at least four years. That was the decision made by a judge in the case of 56-year-old Georgia Ann Tate. She was one of more than a dozen people arrested in November of 2008 after authorities conducted an undercover investigation they called "Operation Rock Crusher." Authorities say it focused on an area of town near the intersection of Chestnut Avenue and 3rd Street where they had received numerous complaints about drug activity. Authorities sometimes call the place "Crack Alley." Authorities say all of the others arrested in the case have also been sentenced -- most of them to jail time, although two were given the chance to attend drug treatment programs.

Overton County Mourns Loss Of Sheriff's Deputy

The law enforcement community in Overton County is mourning the loss of a sheriff's deputy in a freak accident on Tuesday. Officials say Chad Prichard was shining his flash light into a sinkhole as part of a cold case homicide investigation when he slipped and fell some 200 feet into that sinkhole, which is located near Standing Stone State Park. Sheriff W.B. Melton had sent Prichard, another deputy and two park rangers to the area of Rocky Mountain Road just outside of the park. When they came upon the sinkhole, Prichard apparently tried to get a closer look with his flashlight, and the ground gave way. Prichard had been with the Sheriff's Office for just 2 ½ months.