Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Disguise Fails To Work For Man Driving Illegally

Authorities say a 62-year-old Cookeville man, whose driver license has been revoked, is apparently trying to disguise himself from police by wearing a woman's wig. The sheriff's department says Marion Edward Peden of South Washington Avenue was seen driving a white Lincoln Town Car on Jefferson Avenue near Kroger and, according to the report, "Mr. Peden appeared to be wearing a woman's wig on his head." But officers say they had already received information about his alleged disguise and also about the kind of car he would be driving. Peden was ultimatel stopped at the intersection of Stevens Street and Walnut Avenue and charged with driving on a revoked license. Authorities say he has been arrested before on the same charge.

High Speed Chase Leads To Criminal Charges

A Putnam County man has been charged with evading arrest and driving on a revoked license after allegedly leading sheriff's deputies on a high speed chase Tuesday afternoon. Deputy Jeremy Nash says it began when he responded to the area of Claude Loftis Road on a report of a suspicious vehicle. Someone called the sheriff's office saying that he had noticed a man get out of a red Saturn and apparently hide something in the bushes before getting back in the car. Deputy Chris Brown soon spotted that vehicle and attempted to flag them down, but they kept going. That's when Nash parked his patrol car at the next intersection, partially blocking the roadway and turning on his blue lights. He says the vehicle went around his patrol car, nearly striking the back end of it and continued down the road at a high rate of speed. He says the vehicle then ran a stop sign and ended up in a hayfield, but travelled through that field until it crashed into the woods. The driver, identified as 36-year-old Christopher Kevin Padgett of Edgewood Drive, then ran into the woods, but was captured when he came out on the other side. There is no indication on the report as to why Padgett fled from the traffic stop.

Craigslist Scam Pops Up Again In Cookeville

For at least the third time this year, a Cookeville area resident who has a home up for sale has been notified that the home is being offered "for rent" on the website called Craigslist. The victim told police that a man in California e-mailed him after finding a posting for the house. He said the posting reported that the house was for rent for $770 a month. But the owner says, in fact, it is not. And says the e-mail contact person wanted the money sent to Africa. The victim said he was going to contact Craigslist to have the posting removed. In a case from earlier this year, authorities say several "renters" were duped into renting the same place and lost their money to the scammer.

EPA May Investigate Tire Fire In Putnam County

A Putnam County resident has been told by the sheriff's department that he may be hearing from the EPA after authorities discovered him burning tires on his property on Brindley Hollow Road. Deputies were dispatched to the area on Tuesday night in reference to a fire and say when they first talked to the homeowner, he denied knowing about any fire. When asked again, the 74-year-old man allegedly admitted to burning some brush, but authorities say when the fire department went to check on the blaze, they found that he was burning tires in the fire. Under the law, tires are not supposed to be burned. Officials say when tires are illegally burned, oils and soot can run off and contaminate both surface and ground water.

Career Fair Attracts More Than 1,600 Students

More than 1,600 eighth graders from Jackson, Overton, Putnam, and White county schools were given the chance to explore their future job opportunities at the Highlands Career Fair held recently.
The Highlands Workforce Development and Education Committee hosted the Career Fair at the Hooper Eblen Center on Tennessee Tech’s campus in an effort to encourage students at a younger age to stay in school, so they might be better equipped to achieve their life goals. Thirty-five area businesses set up booths designed to attract and peak student interest in career clusters. These businesses provided information on job opportunities and educational requirements for each position.

“Students with a higher education level will help attract 21st century jobs to this region,” said Susan Elkins, vice-president of Extended Programs and Regional Development at Tennessee Tech University and Highlands Workforce Development and Education Committee chair.

Keynote Speaker “Gator” Harrison, of 94.7 The Country Giant (he's the one in the middle of the photo above,) provided a motivational speech to the students about the importance of thinking about their future. Having attended White County High School, he emphasized the importance of graduating and getting a good education. Harrison encouraged students to think about what they love to do and to find a job doing just that. Other guest speakers from area governments and businesses spoke to students throughout the day including, Kim Blaylock, Putnam County Executive; Deeta Ellzey, HR director of Oreck Corporation; Jim McGeehin, Flowserve plant manager; and Jeffery Guth, law enforcement officer from Sparta. Each speaker focused on educational requirements necessary to secure a job in their line of work.

“As students begin to understand the relationship between education level and higher future earnings, graduation rates should improve,” said Lynda Breeden, Adult Education coordinator for Putnam County and chair of the Highlands Career Fair Committee.

In March of 2007, the Highlands Initiative, in partnership with Tennessee Tech University, Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development, Upper Cumberland Human Resource Agency, and Overton, Putnam and White County schools, commissioned a workforce development study to address the question of “What factors influence students graduating from high school in the Highlands counties of Overton, Putnam & White?” The results of the study, coupled with discussions from participating school systems, indicated that pilot dropout prevention programs in each of the high schools involved in the study would be very beneficial to the efforts of the systems and schools to raise graduation rates. One specific goal was the implementation of a Highlands Career Fair.
According to the Tennessee Department of Education School System Report Card data, participating Highlands counties are ahead of the game when it comes to graduation rate since the study was commissioned in 2007. While the State of Tennessee’s 2009 average graduation rate is 83.2% with a 1.4% improvement over 2007, Overton County’s rate is 91.7% with a 2.4% increase over 2007. Putnam County’s rate is 91.5% with a 7.2% improvement, and White County’s is 88.5% with a 14.1% improvement over 2007.

The mission of the Highlands Workforce Development and Education Committee is to improve educational attainment and job readiness of the future workforce and increase training and skill development opportunities for the current workforce to match the needs of targeted industries and existing industry. The committee is an active part of the Highlands Initiative, a collaborative public/private sector program designed to boost economic and community development in Overton, Putnam and White counties. The committee is also working to establish a workforce study action team to address recommendations from the Wadley-Donovan Workforce Study including a Highlands’ Speakers Program and the Tennessee Scholars Program among other goals. For more information on the initiatives of the Highlands Workforce Development and Education Committee contact Lillian Hartgrove at 931-526-2211 or For information on the Highlands Initiative, visit

New Physician Joins Cookeville Regional Medical

Obstetrician and gynecologist Christine K. Pham has joined the staff at Cookeville Regional Medical Center. Her office is located at OB/GYN Associates located at 317 North Hickory where she has joined Drs. Bert Geer, Jeffrey Gleason, Paige Gernt and Michael Pippin. Dr. Pham received her medical degree in 2004 from the University of Missouri School of Medicine in Kansas City, Mo. She completed her residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia. She practices a full range of Obstetrical and Gynecological services including high-risk obstetrics, adolescent care, routine gynecology, and laparoscopic gynecologic surgery. Dr. Pham is accepting new patients. To schedule an appointment, call 528-7527.

Vehicular Assault Charged After Crash Investigation

A Florida man, involved in a serious wreck in north Cookeville early Wednesday, has been charged with vehicular assault. Police say 32-year-old Charles Smith of Port Charlotte, Florida, was driving on a steep part of Kenway Street about 3 am when he lost control of his pick-up truck, left the roadway and struck a tree head-on. A passenger in the vehicle, identified as Jeff Ritchey, was seriously injured and had to be airlifted from the scene. Police say Smith was not seriously injured, but did appear to be intoxicated and allegedly failed several field sobriety tests. He'll be in court on July 26th.

More Work To Begin Soon On Rail Trail Project

Governments in Putnam County are ready to award a contract to start a planned 19-mile hiking, biking and multi-use path. Called "Rails With Trails," it would run from Cookeville to Algood and Monterey. The project is a partnership among the governments of Cookeville, Algood, Monterey and Putnam County. Bids were opened late last week for trailheads at Cinderella Park, the Cookeville Depot and in Algood. W&O Construction had the lowest bid at $298,500. The bid now has to be approved by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, which awarded a grant to Putnam County in 2006. According to the Cookeville Herald-Citizen, officials said work might get started by mid-July.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Dispute Leads To Aggravated Assault Charge

A Putnam County woman has been charged with aggravated assault after allegedly throwing a glass flower pot at another woman and then trying to use a piece of the broken glass to slash the woman's face. Sheriff's Deputy Jeremy Nash says it happened at a home on Brown Ridge Road, north of Baxter Monday afternoon when 27-year-old Christina Lynn Goolsby arrived to pick up some items that belonged to her. The victim told Nash that Goolsby's property had been placed outside the front door because she did not want Goolsby coming into the house. That led to an argument in which Goolsby allegedly threw the flower pot and several other items into the home. The victim says that she used her left arm to block her face when Goolsby tried to cut her, and the deputy says he observed several lacerations on her arm. Goolsby had left the scene by the time authorities arrived, but was later arrested with her bond set at $2,500.

Sex Partner Steals Money From Cookeville Man

Cookeville police are investigating a report of theft in which a Washington Avenue man says that he was taken advantage of by a woman he had just finished having sex with. It happened on Saturday night, and the 26-year-old victim told authorities that he had invited a girl over for a sexual encounter that he paid her for. According to a report by Officer Derrick Springs, while the victim was in the bathroom after the encounter, the woman left with his wallet, $640 in cash, a debit card and his passport. He told Springs that he was not sure what the woman's name was -- possibly Jessica or Amanda. A description of the suspect and a phone number were turned over to the police department's Criminal Investigation Division.

Woman Arrested After Driving "Drunk" Friend's Car

A Cookeville woman has been charged with DUI after a police officer noticed her driving on the wrong side of the road this week. Officer Adrienne Lintz says that the vehicle in front of her had to swerve into a parking lot to avoid being hit head-on by a car that had crossed into the other lane of travel. Lintz pulled in behind that vehicle at Gear Heads tavern and says the suspect's vehicle began rolling backward toward her patrol car before a passenger put it into park. The driver, identified as 45-year-old Judy Ann Dillon of Crockett Drive, allegedly told Lintz that she was driving because her friend was "too drunk to drive." Dillon also allegedly admitted to having "a few beers" and taking a Xanax earlier in the evening. She was charged after failing a field sobriety test.

Overton County Man Facing Drug Charges

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is accusing an Overton County man of trying to get rid of some illegal drugs as authorities entered his hotel room in Cookeville. Police say 42-year-old Bruce Edward Phillips of Hilham was arrested after they made an investigation at the Days Inn motel. He was charged with possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia for allegedly having a box full of hypodermic needles in the room. A tampering with evidence charge was reportedly brought because Phillips allegedly disposed of several Dilaudid pills just as TBI Agent Harold Eaton entered the motel room.

July Arraignment Scheduled For Alleged Burglars

July 19th is the court date that has been set for several individuals charged with burglary after being accused of breaking into the Lakeside Deli in Monterey this month. Police say Jerry, Barry, and Brigham Whitehead of Hillwood Street in Monterey were arrested, along with 18-year-old Richard Andrew Binge of Canada Flatt Road. The break-in occurred on June 22nd, and police say surveillance video led them to the suspects, who reportedly broke into the business on three separate occasions that night. The cash register, more than 200 cartons of cigarettes, and several bottles of beer were stolen. The stolen cash register was later found in a field near the Whitehead home.

Cookeville Man Charged With Assault In Mississippi

A Cookeville man has been arrested in Columbus, Mississippi, on charges of assault. Police say an altercation occurred on Sunday morning when four men decided to share a taxi on the way from a nightclub to the Columbus Inn and Suites motel. A spokesman told the Starkville Dispatch newspaper that, "Words were exchanged inside the taxi, but it is still unclear as to why the four men started fighting." Police say the men were construction workers and they say alcohol was invovlved. One of the victims was taken to the emergency room with a concussion and some broken teeth. 27-year-old Robert Hadley of Sycamore Street in Cookeville was later arrested and charged with aggravated assault.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Putnam Deputies Find Another Mobile Meth Lab

Two White County residents are facing drug charges today after flagging down a Putnam County sheriff's deputy on I-40 between Cookeville and Baxter on Sunday. The two -- identified as 39-year-old Robert Kyle Addair and 32-year-old Amy Michelle Belli -- both of Pates Ford Road, told Corporal Bryan Cook that they had run out of gas. But Cook says Addair was acting strangely, in a way that the deputy believed was related to use of a controlled substance. When he took Ms. Belli back to the vehicle, he found THP Trooper Jeremy Wilhite already on the scene, and Wilhite told Cook that two clear bags had been found on the ground right next to the vehicle with several items related to the manufacture of meth -- including coffee filters, hydrogen peroxide, and Pyrex cooking dishes. Both subjects allegedly admitted to manufacturing meth and were taken to jail. Addair also had a pending criminal court indictment served on him.

Police Investigating Robbery Of Pizza Business

Cookeville police are continuing to investigating the robbery of the Domino's Pizza on North Willow Avenue over the weekend. According to a report by Officer Justin Long, the robber made off with about $120 dollars in cash. Authorities say he had entered the business just after eleven o'clock Saturday night, then left briefly, but returned and said he was not leaving until he got the money from the register. He told the clerk that he needed the cash because his home was in foreclosure and he needed to make a payment. And while no weapon was displayed, the employee said the suspect kept reaching into his pocket as if he had a weapon. She finally gave him about a hundred dollars in five dollar bills, plus about twenty one-dollar bills. The suspect was described as a white male, about six feet tall, in his late 20s, with a red mustache, a blonde, long beard and a goatee. He was wearing big, dark sunglasses and a long black shirt with a gray undershirt. Police later recovered some black clothing and latex gloves believed to have been worn by the suspect.

Cookeville Woman Victim Of Second Burglary

Cookeville police are investigating the burglary of a home on Washington Avenue over the weekend. The victim told authorities that someone had kicked in her back door during a previous break-in, so she had been using a washer and dryer to block that door. But when she left her apartment for a short period of time Saturday, she came back to find that the washer and dryer had been moved and a burglar had made off with a Play Station 3 video gaming system and a camcorder. She told police that the thief apparently used her laundry basket to carry the stolen items out. Meanwhile, in a separate incident, police say no charges have been filed in the assault of a man in the Walmart parking lot on Sunday. The 29-year-old victim, who is reportedly from Missouri, was found unconscious in the parking lot about 3 am. He had blood coming from his forehead, but told police that he could not remember what happened. Officer Chris Melton says witnesses told him that the man, who was "very intoxicated," had apparently started a fight with a group of men in the parking lot and had been injured in the altercation. He was treated and released at the Emergency Room.

Textbook Rental Coming To Tennessee Tech

Beginning this fall, the Tennessee Tech University Bookstore will begin offering a new, multi-channel textbook rental program designed to save students some money. Officials say the program will allow students to rent textbooks for less than 50 percent of the cost of purchasing a new printed textbook. The decision to offer a textbook rental program was a joint decision made by Tennessee Tech and Barnes & Noble College Booksellers.

“In tough budget times for individual students and the university, we want to take every opportunity to help students stretch the dollars they invest in their education,” TTU President Bob Bell said. “We hope this program is one that benefits new and current students when they return to campus this fall.”

Other program features include:

Students can pay the rental fees using any form of payment currently accepted by the bookstore – including campus debit cards. They can highlight or mark the rented books just as they would if they purchased a book and planned to sell it back to the bookstore. And they can convert their rental to a purchase during the first two weeks of class. The rental period is for the duration of the semester, and books are due back at the bookstore no later than 10 days after the last day of finals. Officials say e-mails will go out as the end of the term approaches reminding students to return their books. Books not returned (or returned in unusable condition) will be subject to replacement and processing fees.

“We are committed to providing students with the widest range of content options and price points available,” said Brian Stark, vice president at Barnes & Noble College Booksellers. “Whether students are interested in new books, used, digital, unbundled, or now rentals, they know they can find what they want at the Tennessee Tech University Bookstore.”

Barnes & Noble began piloting their rental program earlier this year at 25 campus bookstores across the country. Response from students where the program was piloted was tremendous. In particular, students like having the option of getting their books immediately—as opposed to waiting for a shipment to arrive—and they appreciated knowing that the books they were renting were guaranteed to be the right books for the classes. More than 90 percent of the students surveyed said they would rent from their campus bookstore again.

TTU Hosting Governor's School For IT Leadership

Thirty-six high school students from throughout Tennessee are engaged in a fascinating time of discovery though the Governor’s School for IT Leadership. The school is held at Tennessee Tech University each summer and it allows the students to develop business plans using information technology solutions to real-world business problems, said Curtis Armstrong, decision sciences and management chairperson within the College of Business. The school is now in its ninth year and involves 18 girls and 18 boys. It began during the Memorial Day weekend and concludes this week with formal presentations to a group of judges made up of business leaders from the community.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

TTU Hires New Soccer Coach

Daniel Brizard, an assistant coach at LSU for the past five seasons, has been named head coach of the Tennessee Tech women’s soccer team. Brizard, 36, begins his new position July 1. In addition to LSU, Brizard has coached at Florida International University, South Alabama and the University of Missouri at St. Louis.

"I’m honored to have this opportunity to coach at Tennessee Tech, and I’m excited about the possibility of competing for championships in the Ohio Valley Conference," Brizard said. "I would like to thank President Bob Bell, Mark Wilson, Frank Harrell and the athletic administration for this opportunity. I’m looking forward to keeping the team moving in the right direction, continuing to see improvement, and winning some OVC Championships," he said.

Brizard has enjoyed a high level of success at LSU, something that TTU Director of Athletics Mark Wilson expects to continue.

"We’re excited to bring Daniel to Tennessee Tech and we look forward to him leading our women’s soccer team to Ohio Valley Conference championships and continuing the team’s success academically."

At LSU, the Tigers have earned a reputation for their tenacity on the defensive end of the field and Brizard has helped build that reputation while coaching the team’s goalkeepers.
In the past three years, Brizard and the Tigers have won three consecutive SEC Western Division championships and advanced to the NCAA Tournament all three years. LSU was 14-4-2 in 2008 and went 15-4-5 last season. The Tigers boasted the top defensive unit in the SEC and posted goals against averages of 0.82 in 2008 and 0.71 in 2009.

Prior to the start of his coaching career, Brizard was a four-year starter and team captain on the men’s soccer team at Berry College in Rome, Georgia from 1991-95. He earned his bachelor’s degree in sports performance/exercise science from Berry College in 1995 and spent two years in the Navy before beginning his coaching career in 1998.

Schools Director Says Budget Pressures Continue

The director of the Putnam County school system says that inflationary pressures will make it difficult to come to terms on a budget this year. Doctor Kathleen Airhart says that inflation adds about two million dollars, on average, to the cost of maintaining the school program from one year to the next. She had hoped to have a budget in place by July 1st, but has not yet heard anything official from the county's budget committee. Airhart says that state revenues have remained relatively steady, but local monies are still a concern, especially given the fact that sales tax revenues have been steadily shrinking over the past few years. She says that sales tax revenues have shrunk for each of the three years that she has had to prepare a spending plan. And says without some relief, programs like art, music, and career and technical education -- which are not mandated by the state -- may have to be cut. She also says transportation and athletic programs will be looked at as the school board attempts to "share" the impact of any cuts among all programs.

Putnam Jobless Rate Declines Again

Putnam County continues to see slight declines in its jobless rate. The May unemployment rate, according to the Tennessee Department of Labor, was 9.2 percent -- down three tenths of a point from the nine and a half percent rate that had been recorded in April. It's also down nearly half a point from the May 2009 rate of 9.6 percent. Out of an estimated work force of 35,340 people, 3,250 were out of a job in May. Meanwhile, the jobless rate continues to hover in the double digits for other counties in the area. It was 10.7 percent in Overton County; 11.5 percent in Jackson County; and 12.5 percent in White County.

Cookeville Man Charged With Sexual Exploitation

A Cookeville man is reportedly facing charges of sexual exploitation after being arrested in Georgia last week. According to The, 25-year-old Emanuel Leonard Lopez of Clay Street in Cookeville was arrested on June 18, 2010 for Sexual Exploitation of a Child, Criminal Attempt to Commit Child Molestation and Criminal Attempt to Commit Aggravated Child Molestation. There were no details released on the victim or the circumstances of the crime. Lopez was released on a $30,000 bond, and will be back in court later this year.

I-40 Road Project Expected To Wrap Up Next Month

A Putnam County road project to prevent rock slides along Interstate 40 is to be completed in July. A spokesman for the Tennessee Department of Transportation said the work along the highway was recommended as a safety measure by the agency's geo-technical office. Rockslides have been an issue on several Tennessee roads this year. During an effort to blast away loose rock last week, officials say a boulder came tumbling into the roadway itself, but no injuries were reported. The work is being done by Highways Incoporated.

Neglect Charges Pending Against Cookeville Father

A father in Cookeville will be in court next month on child neglect charges after police said he locked his 16-month-old in a hot car. Someone called police after seeing the boy locked in the car alone at a Walmart store. Police said 22-year-old John Teague, the father, told them he had gone into the store for a few seconds to get a drink. The officer put the child in a patrol car to cool off. The temperature outside at the time was 94 degrees, officers said. The Department of Children's Services released the boy to his mother. Police say it is a crime under Tennessee law to leave any child unattended in a vehicle.

Court Date Set For Alleged Burglar

A July 19th court date has been set for a Cookeville man, charged with breaking into a home in Algood this month. Police say 20-year-old Wilmoth Earl Denson of East Broad Street was arrested after someone allegedly noticed him trying to break into a home on Circle Drive. As it happens, authorities say that home had been quarantined just a few days before the break-in attempt when police allegedly found the makings of a meth lab there. Five people are facing charges in the meth case. Denson's bond on the burglary charge was set at $5,000.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Council Approves Negotation For 7th St. Property

The Cookeville city council Thursday night gave authorization to City Manager Jim Shipley to begin negotiations for the purchase of several pieces of property along 7th Street, which officials say may be needed for a street widening project and for the acquisition of additional parking for Cookeville Regional Medical Center. The authorization also includes permission to begin eminent domain proceedings if the negotiations fail. Hospital CEO Bernie Mattingly says they have tried to purchase the property, but could not come to an agreement. However, the owner of several parcels told the council that she had not been approached in recent years. Meanwhile, a local resident who rents one of the homes on the property urged the council to consider the possibility of lost revenue if she is forced to move. Mayor Sam Sallee said he hopes the two sides can reach a negotiated price, but says the project is what he called "a growing pain." Meanwhile, the council approved the appointment of Dr. Jeff Gleason to the board of trustees of the hospital for a seven year term.

Tunes 4 the Troops, a non-profit venture to deliver new and used CDs and DVDs to troops stationed abroad, will partner with Tennessee Tech University and other volunteers for a “packing party” this Saturday in Cleveland, Tennessee. Tunes 4 the Troops’ founder Kaylee Marie Radzyminski is a TTU Army ROTC cadet and engineering student, who began her efforts at the age of 15. Radzyminski, a Cleveland, native, is networking with TTU’s Extended Programs and Regional Development and the Service Learning Center to gain support for her cause. The first supported effort will be a packing party to send more than 40,000 new and used CDs and DVDs along with MP3 players and iPods to war zones, including Iraq, Kuwait, Afghanistan, and the Horn of Africa. The event will take place at Cleveland High School in East Tennessee on Saturday at 8 a.m. until all the boxes are shipped. More than 200 boxes are expected to be sent out by Radzyminski, Tennessee Tech students, faculty, alumni and others. The event is open to any one wanting to help. For more information about the organization, visit Tunes 4 the Troops is supported by TTU President Bob Bell; Susan Elkins, vice president for Extended Programs and Regional Development; TTU’s University Service Learning Center and Rotary District 6780.

Tech Student Killed In Maine Car Accident

A 20-year-old Tennessee Tech student has been killed in a car crash in Maine, while serving as a missionary for the Tennessee Baptist Convention. Palmer Maphet of Mount Juliet died after the car in which he was a passenger was hit head-on by another vehicle. Maphet was very involved in Tennessee Tech’s Baptist Collegiate Ministry, according to BCM Director John Aaron Matthew. After the accident, Matthew posted on Facebook that Palmer had served as team leader of his freshman spiritual-growth team and this past spring began his new position on the upperclassmen-discipleship team. Matthew asked for prayer for the Maphet family and for the rest of the mission team in Maine.

Cookeville Seeks TSSAA Contract Extension

The city of Cookeville is asking the TSSAA for a four-year contract extension on the rights to host the annual state high school football championship games. The city currently has a two-year contract, and hosted their first championship series last fall. Representatives of the Cookeville-Putnam County Chamber of Commerce requested the extension this week at the Association's Board of Control meeting, but the request was tabled until August. According to the Tennessean, Cookeville has presented two proposals for the extension. The first is to increase the guarantee to $254,000 the first two years and to $258,000 for the final two years with the association getting no gate receipts. The second calls for the contract to go up by $1,500 each year. Gate receipts would also be split between Cookeville and the association.

Cookeville Employees May Have Longer Commute

A major Cookeville employer has announced that it's moving more jobs out of town -- but this time, the employees are expected to follow the jobs. Cummins Filtration has announced that they will be opening a call center in Nashville that will be in the same facility as their world headquarters. It will consolidate the current call centers operating in Cookeville, Memphis, and Columbus, Indiana. Officials say about 15 employees probably will transfer from Cookeville to the new Nashville call center, and others will come from the other two locations, plus some newly hired workers. The center is to be operational by the end of the year. The Cummins Filtration unit also has a manufacturing plant in Cookeville.

TTU Names Douglas Bates New Dean of Library

Tennessee Tech University has appointed Douglas Bates, university librarian at Brigham Young University-Hawaii, to the newly expanded role of dean of Library and Learning Assistance at Tennessee Tech University. His appointment is effective July 1 and he will report directly to TTU Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Jack Armistead. Bates will lead a partnership involving staff members of the Angelo and Jennette Volpe Library and Media Center, all TTU learning assistance programs, the academic support function of Information Technology Services and the Technology Institute. Among his first items of business is to develop and implement a learning assistance commons on the first floor of the library. The learning commons as envisioned by the TTU Library Redesign Committee is among several strategies aimed at improving the university’s student retention rate. Bates holds a doctorate in educational administration from Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas, and a master of library and information science from Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.

“I am looking forward to working with Dr. Bates. He was the search committee’s top choice, and he brings experience and expertise in both of the areas encompassed by his new title: the library itself and the rapidly developing area of learning assistance,” Armistead said. “We were especially attracted to his understanding of what we are calling the learning commons. He will be in charge this year as we transform the main floor of the Volpe library into a space that integrates academic assistance, information services, technology access, and versatile study spaces to best meet the learning and information needs of TTU students.”

Bates said he’s enthusiastic about his new role because he sees it as precisely the right direction for libraries of the future.

“I’m looking forward to getting everybody together and creating a plan for a set of services that will enhance the ability of the library and all these other services to add value and make a difference in the lives of the students and faculty,” Bates said. “We want to give students a richer experience when it comes to information and learning support services. Libraries need to change, and the way they need to change is dependant on what students and faculty need. We need to prepare ourselves to offer services and resources that will be of benefit to them.”

Bates comes to TTU with 23 years of experience working at university libraries in roles of increasing responsibility. He has served as university librarian at BYU-Hawaii since 2002, providing that library’s executive leadership, vision, direction and managing all aspects of the library’s programs and services. Prior to his position at BYU-Hawaii, Bates held a variety of positions at the Hale Library at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas. There, he was chairperson of the access service department, administrator for the library’s information management system, director of instruction support services and head of the documents unit. He began his university library career at Texas Tech University in documents reference and served as cataloger. Bates will move from Laie, Hawaii, to Cookeville with his family this month.

THP Plans Roadside Checkpoints In Putnam County

The Cookeville District of the Tennessee Highway Patrol will be conducting another in a series of Driver License Roadside Safety Checkpoints in Cookeville later this month. The THP says they will be out on South Jefferson Ave. on Friday evening, June 25th. They will also set up a checkpoint on State Route 290 in Putnam County. State Route 290 is also known as the Gainesboro Grade.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

TTU: No More Workforce Reductions Expected

Unless something drastically changes in the state’s budget or in the Tennessee Board of Regents tuition recommendation, Tennessee Tech University officials are not planning any additional campus-wide reductions in force this year.If, as expected, Gov. Phil Bredesen signs the budget document approved by both houses of the Tennessee legislature earlier this month, higher education base funding reductions will be held at 6 percent. Earlier discussions included an additional 3 percent cut, but some funding was restored to avoid that scenario.

“Our state legislative leaders did a good job of sparing higher education from deeper cuts,” said TTU President Bob Bell. “The proposed budget, along with the recommendations made by the TBR committee on tuition increases, is a very difficult but reasonable one considering the economy and state budget concerns.”

The TBR committee for business and finance has also recommended a tuition increase that, if approved by the full board on June 25, will help keep budget reductions at the 6 percent level.

“It means we likely will not have to implement our more severe reduction scenarios this year,” said Claire Stinson, TTU vice president for Business and Planning.

Early this month campus officials began implementing the 6 percent budget reductions (a cut of approximately $2.7 million), including a reduction in force. This year’s 6 percent scenario represents a total state appropriation reduction of more than 30 percent since 2008 for TTU. In order to help offset some of those drastic reductions, the TBR will consider a proposal to raise tuition 5.2 percent for students enrolled in 12 credit hours, and higher for those taking more hours (students taking more than 12 hours will still pay $35 less per credit hour than those students taking less than 12 hours). However, that recommendation must still be voted on by the full board of regents during its June 25 meeting. Campus officials had already budgeted for a projected 5 percent tuition increase, along with 1.8 percent enrollment growth. Any changes greater or less than those predictions can have a positive or negative impact on the budget, Stinson said. Growth in the state’s economy could also have an impact on state employees, including those in higher education. While Governor Phil Bredesen proposed a 3 percent bonus for state employees in his budget, legislators replaced that plan with a proposal for a one-time supplemental longevity payment – contingent upon state general fund revenues increasing by at least $50 million in the current year.It won’t be known until September whether that goal has been met, so the bonus, if available, will be paid in October. If funded, the payment will equal to $50 per year of service with a minimum payment of $150 and a maximum payment of $1,250. To be eligible, an employee must have at least one year of service prior to Oct. 1, 2010.Also included in the legislative budget is funding for some capital maintenance projects on college campuses.

For TTU, that means planned maintenance and renovation projects can proceed, including:

Roof repairs on six campus buildings.
Waterproofing improvements to the South Patio of the Roaden University Center to repair leaks.
Adding safety guardrails to the road leading to the Appalachian Center for Craft.
About $1.5 million for critical academic classroom renovations, beginning with Henderson Hall.

“It’s important to note that we will not know the full budget picture for TTU until October,” said Stinson. “Our budget is always dependent on the state’s economy. At this point we will not be making any additional cuts in July unless the tuition plan changes dramatically from what the committee proposed.”And while the budget bill has not yet been signed by the governor, indications are that he does not anticipate vetoing any part of it.

A timeline for what to expect regarding the coming fiscal year’s budget includes:

***June 24-25: The TBR meets and will set tuition rates. If a tuition increase is approved at higher than 5 percent, TTU’s budget will benefit. If it is set lower than 5 percent, more reductions will be required.

***July 1: If additional reductions are required because of tuition changes, campus officials will identify cuts.

***September: As enrollment numbers are finalized, officials will know whether additional funds will be available (if growth is greater than 1.8 percent) or more cuts are required. State economic officials will also have a clearer picture of whether one-time employee bonuses will be funded.
October: A full and final budget picture will be available. If funded, one-time bonuses will be distributed.

The Complete College Tennessee bill passed by the legislature early this year also mandates a state shift in future higher education funding. The funding formula, which was previously based heavily on increasing enrollment, will now be driven by enrollment, retention and graduation rates. The budget impact of that formula change will likely begin in Fall 2011.

“We have a strong planning system in place,” said Bell. “We will see some interesting progress being made over the next year. Challenges will continue, but Tennessee Tech University will become better and stronger in the long run. Our faculty, staff and students represent the life of our university, and they will define our future.”

Heat Brings Warning For Cookeville-Area Drivers

The Tennessee Department of Safety is reminding local drivers that they should never leave children -- or pets -- in an unattended vehicle, which can be a dangerous and sometimes deadly offense. Safety Commissioner Dave Mitchell says Tennessee is one of fifteen states that have laws against leaving a child unattended. On a typical sunny, summer day, experts say the temperature inside a car can reach potentially deadly levels within minutes. Even on a mild day at 73 degrees outside, an SUV can heat up to 100 degrees in 10 minutes and to 120 degrees in just 30 minutes. At 90 degrees outside, the interior of a vehicle can heat up to 160 degrees within several minutes.

"A child or a pet should never be left in an unattended vehicle under any circumstances – especially in the heat," said Mitchell. "Motorists should routinely make sure all occupants exit the vehicle whenever they leave a car. An illness or even worse, a death, due to such a senseless tragedy is absolutely preventable."

Child Seat Safety Checkpoint Planned For Friday

The traffic division of the Cookeville Police Department, along with Sam’s Club and the Pilot Club of Cookeville will host a Child Seat Checkpoint at Sam’s Club, located at 1177 Sam’s Street, on Friday, June 18, 2010 from 2 to 4:30 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. Randy Brown, who oversees the checkpoints, says that research on the effectiveness of child safety seats has found them to reduce fatal injury by 71 percent for infants (younger than 1 year old) and by 54 percent for toddlers (1 to 4 years old) in passenger cars. He says many parents and others who transport children do not understand the potential deadly results from not using a child seat or booster seat at all or using one that is not properly used or secured in a vehicle.

Mobile Disaster Center Opens in Putnam County

A Mobile Disaster Recovery Center will operate in Putnam County from Wednesday, June 16, through Saturday, June 19, to provide assistance to people affected by the severe storms and flooding between April 30 and May 18, 2010. It is located in the Women’s Building at the Putnam County fairgrounds, off South Jefferson Avenue. The hours are from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. A Mobile Disaster Recovery Center allows the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to travel to designated counties to answer questions about applications and to review information FEMA needs to process applications. Recovery specialists can supply contacts for other programs that may be able to provide assistance. Disaster officials suggest that before visiting the centers, people first register online anytime at or call 800-621-FEMA (3362) or (TTY) 800-462-7585. Lines are open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Three Candidates Conducting Write-In Campaigns

Three people have now filed the paperwork necessary to conduct a write-in campaign for the August 5th general election. County commission candidates Bobby Vinson and Tom Dyer have decided to seek election as a write-in. Earlier this month, commissioner Johnnie Wheeler also announced that she would be a write-in candidate. All three came up a few votes short in the May primaries and say their supporters have urged them to consider a write-in campaign. Wheeler lost her bid for the nomination by 33 votes; Dyer fell 43 votes shy of winning; and Vinson lost out by just 16 votes. Election officials say none of the names of the write-in candidates will appear on the ballot, but any write-ins cast for those candidates will be counted.

Cookeville Planning New Recycling Collection Site

Cookeville city officials are planning to open a new recycling drop-off site in the northern part of town to encourage local residents to recycle. The city council on Thursday night will consider the purchase of three glass recycling bins from what's called a sole source provider. Officials say that means only a single company makes the item that meets their specifications. The new recycling site will be located on 15th Street. The city already has recycling bins on West Jackson Street, South Jefferson Avenue, in Tech Village and at the corner of Spring Street and Locust Avenue, by the Justice Center. But officials say they are asked on a fairly regular basis to expand the locations available to people who want to recycle. The Putnam County waste collection sites accept cardboard, plastics, paper and aluminum -- but not glass.

Cookeville Woman Falls For Internet Scam

Cookeville police say a local resident has been cheated out of $2,000 after she responded to a request on the Internet. The 52-year-old victim told police on Tuesday that she had met a man on the Internet, who claimed to be stranded in Africa. The report doesn't specify whether the interaction came through e-mail, instant messaging or some other contact, but the woman told police that she later received a check through the U.S. mail in the amount of $4,800. She says that she deposited the check into her account and then sent $2,000 by Western Union money order to someone identified as Babatunde Lawal in the town of Lagos, Nigeria. The woman says that she was supposed to receive $500 for conducting the transaction, and says that she had, in fact, purchased another money order before discovering that the check was fake and that the whole thing was a scam.

Drug Re-Sale Charges Pending In Two Cases

A Cookeville woman who allegedly took prescription medication from a patient she was caring for and then gave it to an accomplice to sell is facing charges today. Police say 44-year-old Sharon Gail Dyer was arrested after a traffic stop during which authorities allegedly found a pill bottle containing xanax, clonazepam, and oxycodone. Police say Dyer and the passenger in the vehicle, 48-year-old Cary Ray Hamlet, both initially denied ownership of the pills, but they claim Dyer later told them that she is a nurse who took the pills from a patient and gave them to Hamlet to sell. Both were arrested, but will be in court on different days this month.

TTU Receives Federal Money To Study Math

Tennessee Tech University has received a $957,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to boost student achievement in math. The grant funds a project to boost the early success of students taking math classes that feed them into science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines — also known as STEM courses. The school was one of 20 universities awarded grants under the NSF's Science Talent Expansion Program's Division of Undergraduate Education. Some 199 universities overall applied for grants of the type TTU received. Currently, TTU graduates an average of 350 to 400 students with math, science or engineering majors. The university hopes the new grant could boost the total to 550 or more within the next five years. The funds will be used to redesign introductory math courses and increase the amount of support students are given at the entry level

Grant To Focus On Safe Routes To School

Governor Phil Bredesen today announced Safe Routes to School funding for the city of Cookeville totaling $244,763 for improvements at Capshaw Elementary, Avery Trace Middle and Jere Whitson Elementary Schools. The Safe Routes to School program is a statewide initiative designed to make bicycling and walking to school a safer, more appealing and healthier alternative for students in kindergarten through eighth grade.

"The Safe Routes to School program is a great opportunity for schools, communities and government officials to work together to promote a healthier lifestyle for Tennessee children," said Bredesen. "The program helps create safer walking and biking environments for students and funds activities to encourage children and their parents to consider walking and biking to school for a more active lifestyle."

Capshaw Elementary, Avery Trace Middle, and Jere Whitson Elementary Schools will utilize the Safe Routes to School funds for sidewalk construction, crosswalks, and pedestrian facilities. Funds will also be used to provide a safety educational program and promotional activities to encourage walking and biking as a safe and healthy initiative that will impact over 1,700 students. The grant is made possible through a federally funded program administered by the Tennessee Department of Transportation.

"The Safe Routes to School program is an innovative program that integrates health, safety, traffic relief and environmental awareness under one umbrella," said TDOT Commissioner Gerald Nicely. "Funds may be used for infrastructure projects and for other programs that directly support increased safety and encourage elementary and middle school children to walk and bike to school."

Monday, June 14, 2010

Con Man Scams Store Clerk Out Of Money

Cookeville police say surveillance video may help them identify the man who conned a local store clerk out of a hundred dollars last week. Police say it happened at the Big Lots store when a man attempted to pay for a soft drink with a $100 bill. As he did so, he began fumbling around in his pockets and never handed over the money, but was able to convince the clerk that he was owed $99 in change. As soon as he left the scene, the clerk realized what had happened and contacted the manager, who called police. The suspect was described as a white male, around six feet tall with a Hispanic accent. Police say he is also a suspect in a similar case already under investigation.

Property Assessor To Hire New Employee

Putnam County Property Assessor Rhonda Chaffin is asking the county commission to approve the hiring of a new employee, who would help her office conduct the state-mandated re-appraisal of all the property in the county next year. Chaffin told the county's fiscal review committee Monday night that she gave up an employee last year because of the tight budget situation, and she says that she's been short-handed ever since. She also said that she had nearly 3,000 new pieces of property to appraise that weren't on the tax rolls in last re-appraisal year of 2006. The new worker would help coordinate all of the work that will be required by the state and is expected to be on the job as of July 1st. The fiscal review committee recommended the hire Monday night, but it must still be approved by the full county commission.

Police Issue Drug Citations To Bonaroonies

Cookeville police issued drug possession citations to more than half a dozen people headed to the Bonaroo music festival over the weekend. Officer Chris Melton says he was travelling on Highway 111 when he noticed five vehicles that "only had about five feet between them." He also says they were doing 64 miles an hour in a 55 mile zone. He stopped all of the cars, warned the drivers about speeding and following too closely ... and then obtained permission to search the vehicles. That search turned up various amounts of marijuana, and Melton issued citations to six people from Maryland or Virginia. Meanwhile, Melton says on that same day, on the same highway, two more people -- this time from New York -- were issued drug citations, in a separate traffic stop, after a police K-9 unit reacted to their vehicle. One of those who was issued a citation initially refused consent to be searched, hoping, she said, that "your dog was not trained very good."

Campaign Sign Ban Gets Another Recommendation

Putnam County's planning committee has concurred with the Land and Facilities Committee in recommending a ban on the posting of political campaign signs in the county's right of way along the private drive that leads to the Election Commission office. Ambulance Service Director Randy Porter says the volume and size of the signs that went up before the primary in May caused him to express concerns about the safety issues involved -- especially given the fact that ambulances travel that same driveway. Commissioner Eris Bryant, who chairs the Land and Facilities committee, also said Monday night that safety issues were the overriding factor in making the recommendation to ban the signs. Two members of the committee -- Reggie Shanks and Mike Medley -- voted against the recomendation, which will be put before the full county commission for a vote next week.

Committee Recommends Grant Application

Putnam County's Fiscal Review committee has recommended approval of the county's application to FEMA for a federal grant that -- if awarded -- would help with the purchase of a $245,000 fire truck and more than $150,000 in equipment for the county fire department. County executive Kim Blaylock says the grant deadline came up before the committee could meet, so she authorized the application. She says the county's match on the federal dollars would be ten percent or $39,787. About twice that amount of money was in this year's budget as a potential match for a grant that the county did not get. Meanwhile, the committee will be recommending that the full county commission go into recess next week so that any last minute budget amendments can be approved. Blaylock says it's easier to balance the books after the final payroll of the year is processed.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Full Agenda Awaits Fiscal Review Committee

A number of last minute budget amendments await recommendation Monday night as the fiscal review committee of the Putnam County commission meets. The first six items on their agenda concern budget amendments, while another is a request for the committee to discuss the possibility of recessing tonight's meeting -- or perhaps next Monday's full county commission meeting -- so they can come back in session toward the end of June and approve any budget amendments that may be needed to close out the fiscal year. Meanwhile, the committee will consider a resolution that will allow the county to continue operations until a new budget is passed and would authorize borrowing money through what are called "tax anticipation notes" to generate cash flow until new revenues start coming in. The committee will also discuss a $522,000 capital outlay note that would pay for new software and some needed paving around the county.

Arraignment Date Set For Dealer In Fake Drugs

A July 13th arraignment has been set for an Overton County man, indicted by the Putnam County grand jury on charges of selling counterfeit drugs. Authorities say the indictment of Daniel E. Johnson of Rickman Road comes because it is against the law to sell both real and fake illegal drugs. Johnson is accused of five counts of selling a counterfeit controlled substance, five counts of delivering that counterfeit drug, and one count of selling more than half a gram of real methamphetamine. The sales allegedly took place in July and August of last year. Meanwhile, authorities say July 13th will also be the arraignment date for at least two other individuals indicted in separate investigations of illegal drug sales. They were identified as 21-year-old Victoria Ann Edmonds of Cookeville and 26-year-old Anthony Joe Hamilton of Smithville.

Classic Car Owners Invited To Pall Mall

Vintage car owners in the Cookeville-area are being invited to take part in a special event at York General Store in Pall Mall, Tenn., on June 19th. David Robbins, general manager of York General Store, said that anyone wishing to drive up and display a cherished automobile should stop by York General Store for instructions. He is also asking all local musicians who would like to play during the day to contact him at 931-879-3657. There is no charge for participating in the cruise in or for playing at the event. York General Store is a reproduction of one operated by Sgt. York and his family early in the 20th century. It serves as the official visitor center for Sgt. Alvin C. York State Park and is operated at the expense of the nonprofit Sgt. York Patriotic Foundation.

CMA Music Fest Takes Toll On Cookeville Resident

A Cookeville resident was one of the hundreds of people who suffered from heat exhaustion or some other medical condition during the CMA Music Fest this year. Pat Robertson told Nashville's Newschannel 5 that it was "just absolutely too hot" when she began suffering the symptoms of heat stroke. Just after 11:30 Friday morning, Robertson became overheated near the corner of Third Avenue and Broadway. EMT's transported Robertson to a first aid station at Riverfront Park so she could cool down. But it could have been worse. Two people reportedly fractured their ankles by falling on the first day of the festival. And a security guard working the festival died during the event.

FEMA Declares Putnam County Eligible For Aid

The White House has issued a federal disaster declaration for Putnam County, making federal assistance available to help individuals, businesses and communities recover from the devastation of recent flooding. The disaster declaration makes a range of assistance available for individuals, including grants for home repairs, funding for temporary housing and other major flood-related expenses. Individuals have until August 12th to apply. Federal officials say property owners should register damage with FEMA -- even if their property is insured. You can register online at or by phone at 1-800-621-FEMA.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Cookeville Company Promoting Conservation

A Cookeville-based company is receiving notice today for its fuel conservation practices. Averitt Express says its drivers may now compete for twenty $500 gas cards and a Ford F-150 four-wheel drive in a company challenge on fuel-efficient practices. All of the fleet's drivers may enter the contest. Truckers will work on teams whose goals are to save more fuel in six months than was saved in the same period last year. All who meet or exceed the goal will be entered in a drawing for a chance to win the gas cards or truck. The winner of the Ford will be announced in December. According to Averitt spokesman Chris Asberry, the fuel-savings program is the second time the company has used incentives to promote conservation. In 2008, the fleet challenged employees to reduce use of electricity, water, paper and fuel.

Putnam County United Way Planning "Day Of Action"

United Way of Putnam County is hosting a "Day of Action" in a couple of weeks. On Monday, June 21st, volunteers will be needed from about 10am to 3pm to help put together first aid kits and other supplies for the flood victims in Nashville and the surrounding areas affected by the flooding last month. The event will take place at the United Way office in Cookeville. Officials say United Way of Putnam County has teamed up with other counties and other emergency response organizations to get these items distributed to the proper places. For more information, call 526-2723.

Homeless Woman Charged With Statutory Rape

A July 13th court date has been set for a homeless woman who was indicted by the Putnam County grand jury on charges of aggravated statutory rape and sexual battery. Authorities say the indictment was served against 25-year-old Kristine Ann Kidder, who was reportedly staying a local women's shelter. Detective Jimmy Patterson investigated the case in which Kidder is accused of having sexual relations with a 15-year-old boy earlier this year. Authorities say the victim was also mentally disabled and claim that Kidder either knew or should have known that.

New Contract Needed To Provide Water For Airport

The Cookeville Water Department has entered into a new agreement with the O'Connor Utility District -- to help that agency provide more water to its customers. Director Ronnie Kelly told the Cookeville city council this month that the district is requesting that O'Connor's maximum water consumption be increased from the current 12 million gallons per month up to 20 million gallons per month. He says the increase was needed to serve a new industrial park and to provide a 12-inch water line over to the Upper Cumberland Regional Airport. O'Connor Utility District serves an area of northern White County -- between Cookeville and Sparta.

TTU Tuition Hike Not As Much As Expected

Students attending Tennessee Tech University this fall will see an increase of between five and ten percent per semester, if a proposal approved this week by a committee of the Tennessee Board of Regents also gets the approval of the full board. The committee had been expecting to recommend an even higher tuition hike, but members say a last-minute increase in state appropriations helped them to avoid that. Still, the proposed increase will mean that the cost of going to Tech in the fall will go up about about $120 for students carrying 12 credit hours. For students carrying 15 credits or more, tuition will increase an average of 7.8 percent, or $180 per semester. For students carrying 18 hours, tuition goes up 10.2 percent, or $240 per semester.

Sheriff's Department Investigating Harassment Report

The Putnam County sheriff's office is investigating a report of harassment in the Heathwood subdivision this week. The victim told authorities that she woke up Tuesday morning to find that her yard had been "toilet papered." She says that condoms, tampons, and silly string were also found in the yard and says that a toy ball that her three-year-old daughter plays with had "disturbing drawings and writing on it." The items were placed in an evidence bag, and authorities say they have at least two suspects in the case, who were believed to have been in the neighborhood on the night the vandalism took place.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Police Officer Accidentally Shoots Himself

An off-duty officer for the McMinnville Police Department is recovering from an accidental gunshot wound he suffered while getting ready to go to work this week. 36-year-old Brian Emery, who lives in Putnam County but works in McMinnville, showed up at the emergency room of Cookeville Regional Medical Center, Tuesday afternoon with a gunshot wound to his finger. Putnam County sheriff's deputy Scott Stockton says that Emery told him that he was putting his gear in a bag and picked up his duty weapon -- which he had placed in an off-duty holster. Emery said there was also a belt-keeper that was stuck in the holster that he thought would simply fall out. But it didn't. Instead, when he went to put the gun in the bag, the belt keeper snagged and caused the gun to go off. The bullet struck Emery on a finger of his left hand and then lodged in the floor of his home. Stockton said the wound was "small" and "superficial."

Tech Researcher Says Flooding Will Affect Fisheries

The unprecedented flooding that occurred in Middle Tennessee in early May will have a dramatic – but short-lived – negative impact on the region’s fisheries. That according to a researcher at Tennessee Tech. Phil Bettoli, a Tech biology professor and assistant unit leader for the U.S. Geological Survey’s Cooperative Fishery Research Unit based at Tech, says that anglers will notice a “missing class” of many fish species in three to four years. He says that several naturally occurring fish species in the Cumberland River – like largemouth bass, sauger and crappie – probably didn’t reproduce this year during the optimal period from mid-April to late-May. And, if they did, their eggs or young were likely flushed out of their river or stream habitats and died. Trout populations, usually supported by stocking programs, also will be badly affected, he said. But he says in places like the Caney Fork River below Center Hill Dam, the state will simply restock trout because the fishery is so highly valued.

“There will be measurable affects on fish communities, and for the most part, it won’t be good. But it’s short-lived,” Bettoli said. “Some fish prefer habitats that are more lake-like and others thrive when it’s more river-like. But with a flood of that magnitude, there are a lot of species that are probably just going to skip a year of reproduction.” That’s the bad news for the region’s fisheries. But there’s good news, too, Bettoli said.

“The next year, the fish will make up for it. Nature has a way of bouncing back from extreme conditions very quickly. Eventually, nature has its way,” he said.

TTU biology researchers are working now to assess fish populations in the Caney Fork River as part of an ongoing project for the U.S. Corps of Engineers. Already, they’ve noticed a sizeable shift in the number and sizes of trout compared to last year. As their work continues, Bettoli says, biologists will be able to report the impact of the spring flood and heavy winter rains on the river’s 50 to 60 other species.

TTU Baseball Team Wins Sportsmanship Award

The Tennessee Tech University baseball team is the recipient of the 2009-10 Team Sportsmanship Award as announced Wednesday by the Ohio Valley Conference. This marks the first time since the inception of the award in August of 2005 that the baseball program at Tech has received the honor. Voted on by the student-athletes and coaches of the respective sports, the team awards are bestowed upon the Conference squads deemed to have best exhibited the standards of sportsmanship and ethical behavior as outlined by the OVC and NCAA. Included in the areas for evaluation are the conduct of student-athletes, coaches, staff and administrators and fans. And while this is a first-time award for the Golden Eagles baseball program, it is the fourth sportsmanship award given to a TTU program in the 2009-2010 season alone. The women’s soccer, golf and outdoor track teams also received the award this year.

Animal Cruelty Investigated

The animal control officer at the Putnam County sheriff's office says he is continuing to investigate complaints about a local "pet sitting" service. Deputy Chris Brown says he spoke to a woman recently whose son had left his dog at a commercial pet sitter while he was out of town. The woman says the dog appeared to be in good health when it was dropped off, but says they learned upon returning to town that the dog -- a two-year-old Weimaraner -- had died. Brown says animal control officers have answered other calls at the business in the past, but did not indicate whether animal cruelty charges would be appropriate in this particular case.

One Crash Leads To Another In West Cookeville

They call it rubber necking, and authorities say it's a dangerous practice -- if not entirely preventable. It's what happens when people slow down to look at a wreck on the side of the road. The Putnam County sheriff's department says two rubberneckers who were looking at a crash scene on West Broad Street Monday evening ended up having a second wreck. The driver of one of the vehicles told Deputy Jeremy Nash that he had stopped to observe another crash that had occurred when he was rear-ended by the car behind him. The driver of that car also told the deputy that he had looked over at the accident for a "split second" before driving into the back end of the car ahead. Damage to both vehicles was said to be minor and no injuries were reported.

Police Investigating Break-In At Dacco Plant

Cookeville police are working with the Jackson County sheriff's department to investigate a burglary at the Dacco plant on Bowser Road this week. Police say the Jackson County sheriff's department contacted them requesting help in confirming that a Dodge truck which had been recovered in their county was, in fact, stolen. Officers went to the Dacco plant building and found that someone had apparently cut off a lock on the building to gain access and had stolen two trucks, as well as about 70 transmission housings, valued at some $200 apiece. Investigation is continuing. Meanwhile, police say ten catalytic converters, valued at $5,000, were stolen by someone who broke into the lot at Cumberland Chrysler. The thief also broke out the windows of several vehicles and stolen at least three radios.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Residence Quarantined After Police Find Meth

A mobile home being rented in a trailer park on Sliger Road has been locked and quarantined after Cookeville police report finding the makings of methamphetamine during a search there Monday. Officer Brian Long, who is the designated meth officer for the police department, reports that a search of the trailer and surrounding area turned up several ingredients commonly used in the manufacture of meth -- including coffee filters, tubing, cold tablets and the fertilizer ammonium nitrate. Four people were charged in the case, identified by police as Cynthia Ann Terrell, Anthony Nelson, Christa Gail Robbins and Allen McBride. Long says he also plans to charge a fifth suspect in the case -- even though that man did not have any drugs on him. He says the man had purchased more than 22 grams of ephedrine across the state last month and says that possession of just nine grams is a felony. The Register of Deeds office and the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation were notified of the quarantined trailer, while the owner of the property was given a list of what are known as "construction haz-mat hygienists."

TTU Offering "Non-Traditional" Sports Camp

Tennessee Tech University’s Campus Recreation and Fitness Center will be offering a unique experience for children ages 8 to 12 this summer with what they are calling a non-traditional, non-competitive sports camp. The camp will offer nontraditional sports, including ultimate Frisbee, ping pong, 4 square, and dodgeball and the more traditional indoor soccer and racquetball, plus swimming at the end of each day. The camp offers two sessions: Camp 1 is June 28 through July 1, and the signup deadline is June 21. Camp 2 is July 19 through 22 with a signup deadline of July 12. The camp day runs from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Students can sign up for one sport per day, even taking the same sport twice. Fitness Center members pay $95 per student. All others pay $125. Pre-registration is required. For more information, call 372-6212.

High School Rodeo Finals Coming To Cookeville

The Tennessee High School Rodeo Association's state finals will be held in Cookeville starting Thursday night. The event will be held at the Hyder Burks Pavilion. The winners will be eligible to participate in the national finals in Gillette, Wyoming, during July. The rodeo finals are open to students who were in grades nine through 12 during the past year and have been competing in events throughout the season. The rodeo in Cookeville will be held Thursday through Saturday with the competition taking place beginning at 7 p.m. each night.

Man Shot By TBI Agent Facing New Charges

A July 12th court date has been set for a Cookeville man, now charged with attempted murder for allegedly trying to run over an officer who was trying to serve a warrant on him. 46-year-old Michael Lynn Horn is also described by the TBI as a suspect in the death of 28-year-old Cynthia Crabtree, whose body was found in Smith County earlier this month. Authorities say Horn was shot in the arm as he allegedly back his vehicle toward an undercover agent with the TBI. That agent, and several other officers, had been attempting to serve a warrant on him for failing to appear on a DUI charge. Horn was treated and released from Vanderbilt Hospital this week, and is now being held without bond in the Putnam County jail. Authorities have not yet offered any details on why he may be connected with the death of Crabtree, who was reported missing last month. Officials have said that her death was apparently not a homicide, but they haven't yet said how her body came to be on the roadside in Smith County.

Identity Theft Case Being Investigated

Cookeville police say a local resident has reported a case of identity theft in which someone got hold of his social security number and used his identity to open up an account with Charter Communications in St. Louis, Missouri. The victim told police that he was unaware of the activity until he got a collection letter from Charter, claiming that he owed more than a thousand dollars. He says he contacted Charter to let them know that he didn't open any account with them, and was advised to file a police report. The company is also reportedly looking into the matter through their fraud division. Meanwhile, in a separate case, police say an employee of the Dollar General store on S. Jefferson Ave. told them that her purse had been stolen from a locker room area in the store. The purse contained a social security card, checkbook and debit card. But whoever stole the purse left behind the victim's keys and cell phone.

Summertime Crime Under Investigation

Summertime means that summer crimes are on the uptick in the Cookeville area. Police are investigating the theft of more than $50,000 in lawn mowers from a business on Interstate Drive. Employees at Tri-Green Equipment, a local John Deere dealer, told police that someone had cut the fence on the west side of the property and parked behind the building. They then broke down another gate and were able to steal six "zero-turn" lawn mowers, valued between $9,000 and $12,000 apiece. Three of the mowers taken were still in their shipping crates. The business says two customer mowers and a demonstration model were also taken, and the thieves stole gasoline from other mowers on the lot by disconnecting the gas lines and draining the fuel.

Meanwhile, in other incidents, someone stole a TroyBilt leaf blower and a weedeater from the garage of a home on 9th Street; thieves tried but failed to break into one of the concession stands at the Park View ballfields; and two residents of Tanglewood Drive reported thefts from their vehicles. Investigation continues.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Vehicle Theft Charges Filed Against Lake City Man

A man from Lake City, Tennessee, who was involved in a traffic accident in Monterey last week, is today facing charges of stealing a truck in Cookeville. Police say the case began when someone noticed a young man in a neck brace outside a residence near 6th Street and Peachtree Avenue. He asked the man if he was OK, and the man reportedly told him that he had just been kicked out of the emergency room and needed money. When that request was declined, the man began to walk away and was observed just moments later walking onto the grounds of the Kappa Sigma house where he allegedly got into a black truck and drove recklessly through the property, destroying a volleyball net in the process. The owner of the truck later told police that no one had permission to drive it, and the suspect was later identified as 21-year-old Steven A. Seiber. Police say he had given false information to officials at the hospital, possibly in an attempt to conceal his identity. They say a witness was able to positively identify him through a driver's license photo.

Quick Change Scam Costs Cookeville Business

Cookeville police say a local business has been scammed out of $140 by a man who pulled what is described as a "quick change scam" on the cashier. Police say it happened at the Baskin Robbins ice cream store on S. Jefferson Ave. when a man came in, ordered a single scoop cone and paid for it with a five dollar bill. The suspect then told the clerk that he had, in fact, paid with a twenty -- not a five. And the clerk says he also confused her by asking for some of his change in quarters. She says a female accomplice was also talking at the same time to one of the other employees of the store. The two left in an older model Ford pickup, possibly with an Illinois registration, and when the clerk counted down the register, she found that it came up $140 short. Authorities say such scams crop up every few months around the area, usually conducted by someone who talks quickly and keeps asking for different denominations of change.

"Shots Fired" Case Investigated At Cookeville Club

Cookeville police say they continue to investigate an incident in which several shots were fired at a vehicle near the Club Jet nightclub over the weekend. According to a report by Officer Chris Melton, the victim was "very hesitant" to provide many details about the incident, other than to say that "several guys started making comments to him" as he was leaving the club early Sunday morning. He refused to tell police anymore about who those individuals were, but Melton says that five shell casings were found in the road and says police located several bullet holes in the victim's car. The victim was reportedly asked to write out a statement about what happened, but refused.

Police Investigate Report Of Child Ingesting Drugs

Cookeville police say the Department of Childrens Services has been notified of an alleged incident at a home on Sliger Road in which a small child reportedly ate a pill that had been dropped on the floor. Officer Darrin Stout says authorities became aware of the incident after receiving a call on Sunday morning from someone who claimed that he had gone to the home to conduct a drug deal. The victim says he ran from the home when someone pulled a gun on him and claims that shots were fired as he fled the scene. But he would not wait around to talk to police about the incident. Stout says officers went to the home and received permission to conduct a search, which turned up a marijuana grinder, a pill bottle with marijuana inside, and seven oxycodone pills. They did not, apparently, find a gun. One of the people in the home, identified as 38-year-old Alicia Wiggins was cited for simple possession of drugs and drug paraphernalia. Stout says the child was taken to the hospital to be evaluated.

Cookeville Police Investigating Shooting

The following is a press release from the Cookeville Police Department:

At approximately 1:01 a.m. on Monday, June 7th, we received reports that a shooting had just occurred in the area of 9th Street. Officers Jamey McCurry and Anthony Reep responded to the location, searched the area, and secured the crime scene.

While on scene, dispatch advised that there was a gunshot victim in the ER at Cookeville Regional Medical Center. The victim was a passenger in a vehicle that had been shot several times. The victim, Michael Jenkins, 35 years old, had received multiple gun shot wounds and is in critical condition. The driver did not sustain any injuries.

Investigation is on-going. Anyone who might have information is asked to call CRIMESTOPPERS at 520-STOP (520-7867).

Wreck On I-40 Critically Injures Two People

A crash involving a mail truck along Interstate 40 east near Cookeville Monday morning critically injured two people and slowed traffic. The wreck happened at about 7 a.m. at mile marker 288. Authorities say the left lane of the highway had to be closed to allow for an air ambulance to land. The two injured people were transported by Life Flight helicopter to a Nashville hospital. Details on who they were and what caused the wreck were not immediately available.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Cookeville Doctor Appointed To State Committee

Dr. Eric Fox has recently been reappointed to serve on the Insurance Issues Committee of the Tennessee Medical Association (TMA) for a two-year term. The Insurance Issues Committee monitors and addresses all insurance issues, both government and commercial, affecting physicians, practices and patients in Tennessee. This includes reimbursement, regulation and policy changes, lawsuit settlements, contracting issues, networks, pay for performance, workers compensation, etc

“It is an honor to be asked to serve in this capacity as the healthcare environment continues to change and it is a great opportunity for me to expand my knowledge,” says Fox. “In today’s medical community, it is vital to learn all that you can to help in furthering the cause of medicine for both patients and physicians.”

Dr. Fox earned his medical degree from the University of Louisville School of Medicine, Louisville, Kentucky, in 1988. He completed his family practice residency at the University of Alabama in Birmingham, Alabama. Dr. Fox served as the attending physician and clinical assistant professor at Meharry Medical College in Nashville. He was also the preceptor of Vanderbilt University Emergency Medicine Residents at the General Hospital in Nashville. Dr. Fox is a member of the Tennessee Academy of Family Physicians and the American Academy of Family Physicians.

Dr. Fox is on staff at Cookeville Regional Medical Center. He is also the clinical associate professor in the family medicine department at East Tennessee State University’s Quillen College of Medicine, Johnson City, Tennessee. His office is located at the North Willow Family Medicine, 428 North Willow Avenue in Cookeville. To contact the North Willow Family Medicine, call 931-372-7788 or visit Cookeville Regional on the web at Dr. Fox is currently accepting new patients.

TTU To Invade Bonnaroo ... Again

A group of Tennessee Tech University instructors, current and former students plan to put the “groovy” into learning at Bonnaroo again this year. This is the fourth year TTU volunteers have operated The Academy at the massive Manchester music festival. The Academy offers festival-goers a variety of workshops that help them stretch their minds and their creativity during Bonnaroo’s run of June 10th through the 13th. The Academy is staffed and organized by TTU English instructor Andy Smith along with Mark Harry Creter, assistant professor of theater and artistic director for the Backdoor Playhouse. The TTU volunteers operate from a tent inside the festival’s Centeroo area offering free workshops in everything from theater, percussion, poetry and painting right next to sessions on heirloom gardening, eco-friendly cob construction and how to “green” your automobile.

Prescott Central To Be Temporary K-8 School

Putnam County school officials say a delay in the completion of two new schools in south Cookeville this fall may mean that all of the students who end up at that school will actually start the year somewhere else. The construction company building the new Prescott South elementary and middle schools told the school board this month that final work won't be completed until mid to late September. And school officials say city codes prevent them from moving into the new buildings on a piecemeal basis, so the working plan right now is to have the Kindergarten through 8th grade students begin their year at the current Prescott Central Middle School on 10th Street. The administrators and teachers assigned to Prescott South would also start the year there, and would move -- as one -- into the new school when it becomes ready for occupancy.

Friday, June 4, 2010

TBI Agent Shoots Suspect In Cookeville

On Friday afternoon at approximately 5 pm, a Special Agent with TBI’s Drug Investigation Division shot a suspect while trying to serve a failure to appear warrant on him on Thomas Road in Cookeville. Authorities say the suspect, who was shot once in the arm, is 46-year-old Michael Lynn Horn, last known address 1258 East Piney, Dickson, TN. Five agents were attempting to serve a failure to appear warrant for a March 2010 DUI arrest, when Horattempted to run over one of the agents. The agent fired his weapon shooting Horn once in the arm. He is being treated at the Cookeville Regional Medical Center and is expected to be okay. Horn is a suspect in the death of Cynthia Crabtree of Putnam County, TN. Crabtree’s decomposed body was found just off Grant Highway in Smith County, TN on May 28, 2010. She was reported missing on May 21, 2010 and was last seen on May 18, 2010 traveling to Nashville, TN with an unknown male. Horne is a convicted felon who is currently in violation of the sex offender registry. Dickson County Sheriff’s Office is in the process of getting warrants for sex offender registry violation after Horn moved out of Dickson County and failed to register as a sex offender at his new, unknown address. He has a criminal history in both Dickson and Putnam Counties that dates back to 1987 and includes attempted first degree murder, aggravated kidnapping, aggravated assault, drug charges, theft, reckless endangerment with a deadly weapon and worthless checks. He was convicted in 1991 of attempted rape and is considered a violent sex offender who is required to register for life. Agents are currently in the process of determining charges against Horn for trying to run over the agent with his vehicle. The agent involved in the shooting is on routine administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation. His identity and picture are not being released since he works as a drug agent. Supervisors in TBI’s Criminal Investigation Division are handling the investigation.

Turning Lane Project Approved By City Council

The Cookeville city council has now authorized city manager Jim Shipley to acquire property needed for the addition of a turning lane at the intersection of Walnut Avenue and Jackson Street. Shipley told council members that some additional right of way is needed to complete the project, and he says that while he is negotiating with property owners and believes the negotiation will be successful, he also needs the authorization to use eminent domain to acquire that right-of-way, if the parties cannot come to an agreed up price. City officials say Jackson Street at Walnut Avenue is one of the more dangerous intersections in town when it comes to accidents.

Alleged Child Rapist Captured In Cookeville

A July 20th court date has been set for a Cookeville man, who is charged with raping a now 13-year-old boy on several occasions over the past two and a half years. Authorities say 40-year-old Robert Allen Bowman, who is said to be homeless, was captured in Ensor Park, after police made a public plea for information on his whereabouts. Bond for Bowman was set at $85,000. According to the indictment in the case, Bowman is accused of rape and aggravated sexual battery of a boy he knew. The abuse started when the boy was eleven years old, but it was just this year that the child came forward with information about it. Cookeville police detectives took their evidence to last month's meeting of the Putnam County Grand Jury which issued an indictment against Bowman.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

County Commissioner To Stage Write-In Campaign

Fifth district Putnam County commissioner Johnnie Wheeler, who came in third last month among five candidates in the Democratic primary, has now filed papers to run for the seat once again in August as a certified "write-in candidate." Election officials say that means that while her name will not be on the ballot, any write-in votes cast for her by people living in the 5th county commission district will be counted. Wheeler says a number of individuals have told her that they were not aware that she was running in the Democrat primary and, therefore, requested a Republican primary ballot and could not vote for her. Candidates whose names WILL be on the ballot in August for the 5th District seat include Democrats Terry C. Randolph and Anna Ruth Burroughs and Republican Ray Stallion. Any other candidates who wish to run a write-in campaign have until noon on June 16th to file the paperwork.

Cookeville Council Delays Passage Of Budget

The Cookeville city council Thursday night delayed approval of a budget for the city for the upcoming fiscal year, which begins on July 1st. The proposed spending plan will not require any tax increase for city property owners, but does contain some cuts to a handful of non-profit agencies, and city officials say they need more time to discuss just if and where those cuts will be made. Meanwhile, the council was told that the city will be getting another law enforcement grant from the Edward F. Byrne Memorial Fund. Grants director Melinda Kiefer says the money will not require any matching funds from the city and will be used to purchase shotguns for police patrol vehicles.

Fraud Cases Investigated By Cookeville Police

At least two cases of fraud are under investigation today by the Cookeville police department, and video evidence may help authorities solve at least one of them. Officials with Potters Builders tell police that someone had charged more than $1,500 worth of building materials to an account belonging to a local man, who later claimed that he never purchased or authorized the purchase of the material. The suspect had purchased items at the store on at least two occasions in late May and also made a purchase from the Potters store in Algood. Authorities say that Algood incident may have provided them with a video the suspect taken by cameras at the nearby Sonic restaurant. Meanwhile, police say they have recovered a $20,000 rollback wrecker that had been reported stolen in Crossville. They came across the vehicle when a man reported that he had sold his truck to someone who had paid him with a fake check. The con man told the victim that he should drive the roll back wrecker to Knoxville to pick up another check, but the man went to police instead where it was confirmed that the wrecker was stolen.

Woman Found In Neighbor's House

Criminal trespassing charges are now pending against a Putnam County woman, who apparently walked into a neighbor's house the other night and fell asleep on a couch. The Putnam County sheriff's department says it happened on Little Brook Road. They say one of homeowners got up about 4 am to go to work, came downstairs to leave, and found 30-year-old Laura Lee McCormick laying on her couch. When deputies arrived on the scene, McCormick was using the restroom and allegedly did not know where she was. According to reports in the case, she lives a few hundred feet down the road.

Another False Report Given To Algood Police

Another false report has been given to Algood police about a crime that didn't happen exactly as the victims described. Police chief Jim Eldridge says that 20-year-old Nicholas Lee Slatten of Cookeville and 18-year-old Kenneth Allen Hill of Sparta initially reported that they had been robbed as they drove along Wall Street Tuesday night. But the chief says their story did not add up, and further investigation revealed that while the two had, indeed, lost some money it was part of what Eldridge described as a "drug deal gone bad." They have now been charged with filing a false report, while 36-year-old Christopher Doyle Lafever of Cookeville was charged with felony theft for allegedly taking money from the "victims" and running off without providing any drugs.

Shoplifter Caught Wearing Un-Purchased Underwear

A shoplifting warrant has been taken out against a Sparta woman, who allegedly tried to steal more than a hundred dollars worth of clothing from the Kohl's store in Cookeville. Police say 20-year-old Cassidy Rianna Hazzard of RCB Lane was arrested after store employees watched her take an armful of clothing into a fitting room, and then come out of that room carrying just a single pair of jeans. A second pair of jeans, a bra, and a tin of Godiva candy were allegedly found in her purse when she was stopped outside the store. And the police report says that she was found to be wearing a bra that belonged to the store, having put her own bra in her purse as well. A female officer escorted Hazzard back to the fitting room to change bras, and then transported her to jail.

Man Flees Police. Leaving Girlfriend Behind

Cookeville police say a White County man, who allegedly ran from a traffic stop to avoid being arrested on an outstanding assault warrant, later changed his mind and pleaded guilty to all of the local charges against him. Officer Cary Matheney says the case began when he clocked 22-year-old Eddie Monroe Frady of Van Elrod Road, Sparta, doing 55 in a 30 mile an hour zone. The officer says Frady quickly turned off on a side street and pulled into someone's driveway before leaping out of the vehicle and running off. Police say he left his girlfriend and her two children behind in the van, but later texted her asking that she come pick him up at Walmart. Instead, police officers went to Walmart and arrested him on charges of evading arrest, driving on a suspended license and public intoxication. When Frady told Matheney that he was sorry he didn't stop, Matheney reportedly said, "Don't apologize to me. Apologize to the two kids and girlfriend you dumped in somebody's driveway." In court the next day, Frady requested that he be allowed to plead guilty to all of the charges in Cookeville, so he could go to Bledsoe County and take care of the pending charges there.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

School Board To Vote On Sale Of Carbonated Drinks

Carbonated drinks may be on their way back to Putnam County high school vending machines on a permanent basis. Such drinks had been banned by the school board a few years ago, but they were allowed on a temporary basis earlier this year. They will vote Thursday on whether to continue the practice of offering sugar-free carbonated beverages. Officials say they hope that offering diet drinks in the vending machines will encourage students to reduce their calorie intake. Some school officials have also said that not offering carbonated drinks in the school vending machines did not necessarily mean that students were avoiding the sugary drinks. They say some students simply brought them to school in their backpacks for consumption during lunch hours. Officials say the sales from vending machines also provide the schools with much-needed revenue.

Man Blames Shoplifting On Need To "Pay The Rent"

"I had to pay the rent somehow." That's what police claim a Cookeville man said when asked why he went through so much trouble to steal five DVDs from the Walmart store. Police say 34-year-old Carlen Ben Gentry of Crabtree Circle set off the merchandise detector as he left the store Monday night and ran away when a store employee tried to stop him. He headed for a wooded area between Walmart and the Cookeville city garage and allegedly jumped the fence at the garage in an attempt to get away. Gentry, who police say was out on bond on drug charges, has now been charged with theft of property and criminal trespassing.

Chewing Gum Thief Charged With Burglary

A man who allegedly stole a stick of chewing gum out of a car in Cookeville has now been charged with vehicle burglary. Officer Marc Declaire says he was monitoring traffic on North Willow Avenue early Wednesday morning when 26-year-old Jacob David Parsons of Kenway Street caught his attention. Declaire says that Parsons was staggering the roadway of North Willow, and says he thought Parsons was intoxicated and possibly a danger to himself. The officer says he watched as Parsons walked into the parking lot of an apartment complex and says when he drove into the parking lot, he found Parsons inside a vehicle there. Parsons reportedly told the officer that he was getting gum out of a friend's car, but further investigation revealed that the owner of the car did not know Parsons ... and wanted to press charges. According to the report, the gum (Wrigley's Juicy Fruit) was valued at 50 cents.

Drunk Driving Of Four Wheelers Alleged

The Putnam County sheriff's department says DUI charges are pending against two individuals who were allegedly drunk as they drove a four-wheeler down several roads in the western part of the county. Deputy Jamie Hunter was dispatched to Hopewell Road over the weekend on a report of someone passed out on a four wheeler in the roadway. She says that she made contact with the four wheeler on Highway 96 and says a male passenger motioned for her to go around. When Hunter activated the patrol car's emergency lights, she says that she heard the four wheeler start and saw the front end come off the road. Hunter says a woman was driving at the time and after pursuing the four wheeler for about a mile, that driver appeared to be slowing down when the male passenger knocked her hands off the handle bars and took over the driving. He drove for another mile before finally pulling over. The two were identified as 41-year-old Kellie Snow of Buffalo Valley and 31-year-old Brian Scott Nixon of Hickman, Tennessee. They'll be in court on July 12th. Meanwhile, the sheriff's department is also investigating a case in which a man on Burgess Falls Road is accused of driving his four wheeler while drunk. That man, according to his neighbor, does not have a license because of eight previous DUI convictions.

Cookeville Council To Consider Budget

The Cookeville city council Thursday night will consider first reading of an ordinance providing a tax levy for the 2010-2011 fiscal year. Under the proposal being considered, no increase in property taxes is anticipated. But officials are still debating just where they might be able to make some cuts in the budget. Following their adoption of a tax levy, the council will hold a public hearing and consider on first reading an ordinance authorizing appropriations to local non-profit and charitable organizations. Cookeville public television station is among those on that list, as are Pacesetters, the Upper Cumberland Drug Court and the Plateau Mental Health Center. Some council members have suggested that non-profit funding be reduced this year, so that the city can put more money into its fund balance. Also tonight, the council will consider authorizing City Manager Jim Shipley to acquire property needed for a proposed street improvement at the intersection of Jackson Street and Walnut Avenue. The action authorizes either negotation or condemnation of the property.

Questioning Continues In Cookeville Woman's Death

Authorities say they have now questioned more than twenty friends and acquaintances of a Cookeville woman, whose body was found by a roadside in Smith County last week. 28-year-old Cynthia Dawn Crabtree had been reported missing last month, after she reportedly left the area in the company of an as yet unidentified man. Detectives say they are still waiting on a full toxicology report from the autopsy as they attempt to determine her cause of death, but they say -- right now -- it does not appear to be a homicide. They hope to wrap up their investigation into the cause of death within a week or so and also determine what may have happened in the hours leading up to it.