Thursday, July 29, 2010

580 More People Taking Advantage Of Early Voting

More than 580 Putnam County residents turned out on Thursday to take advantage of Early Voting for the August 5th election. Officials say Thursday was the only day in this election cycle that they have topped the five hundred mark in a single day, although they came close on Wednesday. Lines at the election office were generally short throughout the day in spite of the volume of voters. Residents who wish to do so may still vote early at the Election Commission office Friday from 8 am to 5 pm or Saturday from 9 am to 1 pm. Those who don't get the chance to cast an early ballot may also go to their precincts on Election Day next Thursday.

Campus Construction To Close Eblen Center

Just a few days after announcing that they were open to walkers once again, officials at Tennessee Tech's Eblen Center say construction inside the Eblen Center and nearby on the Tennessee Tech campus is forcing the University to temporarily close the arena to any walking by the public.

“We feel badly about having to close for walkers again, especially after just re-opening a week ago following office renovations inside Eblen Center,” said Mark Wilson, TTU Director of Athletics. “This additional work as part of the chilled water system and the closing was not expected by the athletics department.”

The building will close on Monday, Aug. 2, and is expected to remain closed for 2 to 3 weeks as the University replaces faulty pipe insulation around the back half of the concourse. In addition to the work being done inside Eblen Center, a construction project is also underway along McGee Boulevard that will keep the road closed for a couple of weeks, according to Larry Wheaton, TTU Facilities Engineer.

“We’ll be replacing leaking chilled water pipes that are undersized,” explained Wheaton. “The job was bid back on May 5 but the subcontractor from Nashville was flooded, so it’s put things behind schedule on our project.The job has now received all the materials. We were notified this week that they would start Monday, so it’s short notice. It was in our contract specifications to get the job completed before school starts, so that’s our goal."

Information on reopening the facility will be posted on

Cookeville Debate To Focus On "Relevant" Issues

As the Highlands Initiative, Tennessee Tech University, and the Tennessee League of Women Voters prepare for the Highlands Town Hall Debate 2010 on Sept. 14 in Cookeville, a just-released statewide poll shows that rural voters are anxious to hear what the candidates for governor will do to create jobs in their hometowns and generally feel that state government has focused too much on large economic development projects at the expense of small business growth. According to the poll, 54 percent of Tennesseans believe that improving the economy and creating jobs are the most-important issues currently facing state government. The debate in Cookeville will give focus to hometown issues facing Tennessee's rural and suburban areas, with an emphasis on economic development, education and health care. It will be broadcast from 7 to 8:00 p.m. central time on NewsChannel5 in Nashville.

"Our candidates for governor should hear firsthand about the challenges facing these voters and begin to formulate plans to address those challenges," said George Halford, president/chief executive officer of the Cookeville-Putnam County Chamber of Commerce and a Highlands partner. "A one-size-fits-all approach won't work in governing Tennessee. Our rural and suburban areas require different tactics to meet their needs."

For the Highlands Debate, Tennesseans will have the opportunity to submit questions to the candidates for governor in writing or via YouTube videos. The candidates will also be given a chance to ask each other questions. The Highlands is a regional public/private sector initiative between Overton, Putnam and White counties. Launched in 2006, the program has achieved several economic development successes due to unprecedented levels of collaboration and regional cooperation among community leaders.

Volunteers Sought For Fall Funfest

Tennessee Tech University will be coordinating the skate park and the inflatable activities for kids at the Fall Fun Fest once again this year. Organizers say this is the 3rd annual collaboration with TTU and CityScape on the Fall Fun Fest, which will be held September 10th and 11th in and around the square and Cookeville West Side. Tech officials say they need volunteers for a number of tasks. If you would like to volunteer for the event, you can contact Michelle Huddleston at 372-6120.

Business Tax Seminar To Be Offered In Cookeville

The Tennessee Department of Revenue and Tennessee Tech University will co-sponsor the annual 2010 Tennessee Business Tax Seminar on Monday, Aug. 30 from 8:15 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. in the Tech Pride Room of the Roaden University Center, located on the Tech campus. This seminar is designed to provide current, in-depth information on Tennessee tax issues. State tax specialists will discuss various taxes and present recent developments, including new legislation. You can contact Carolyn Fox at TTU to register and confirm the cost of participating, and availability of credits by calling 372-3754.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Budget Work Sessions To Continue

Members of the Putnam County budget committee will meet once again tonight as officials work toward getting a spending plan put together in time for a vote next month. Officials say it's still too early to tell whether a tax increase will be needed for the upcoming fiscal year, but they may know more about that issue after their meeting this evening. They are scheduled to talk about the budget for the school system, which has been described as needing some $1.7 million additional dollars in local revenue -- just to maintain the status quo. Several departments in the county general portion of the budget will also be discussed. Earlier this week, the committee gave approval to spending plans for the road department, sheriff's department and election office, among others. The meeting begins at 6:00 in the County Executive Conference room at the courthouse.

Text Messages Lead To Criminal Indictment

The Putnam County sheriff's department says an investigation of inappropriate text messages has now led to the indictment of a Florida man on charges of soliciting a minor for sex. Authorities say 41-year-old John R. Travers of Port St. Lucie, Florida, was indicted after evidence in the case was presented to the grand jury. He is reportedly an acquaintance of the victim's father and allegedly sent the girl text messages which would have resulted in "the criminal offense of statutory rape." Travers is also accused of fondling the girl while he was employed at a store in Baxter last year. The investigation began after the girl showed her mother the messages that Travers allegedly sent her. His bond has been set at $60,000 and he will be arraigned on the charges September 20th.

Changing Of The Guard For Hospital Foundation

The Foundation at Cookevile Regional Medical Center has elected several new board members as it enters its fourth year of operation. The new Foundation president is David Horner, owner of Hooper, Huddleston and Horner funeral home. Steve Boots, branch manager of UBS Financial Services has been elected as vice president, while Kevin Bowling of PrePak Systems, was elected secretary of the board. Other board members include treasurer Bob Duncan, a local CPA, and Lem McSpadden, owner of A Plus Home Inspection. Marla Williams of the Legal Aid Society and retired teacher Carolyn Medley were also re-elected to the board for three year terms. The board meets on a quarterly basis and foundation members serve in a volunteer capacity. The Foundation's primary goal is to raise funding for patient assistance programs, equipment and furnishings, and endowments.

Residents Reminded Of Burgess Falls Butterfly Fest

A reminder today that Burgess Falls State Park and Natural Area will host the 6th Annual Butterfly Garden Celebration from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, August 14. A variety of educational programs will be offered in the award-winning Native Butterfly Garden and surrounding park for this event. Scheduled programs will include:

A Walk in the Woods: 9 a.m. – State Naturalist Randy Hedgepath will take participants on an easy hike through the forest, talking about trees and telling their stories. Participants will meet at the River Trail/Service Road Loop trailhead.

Goodness Snakes Alive: 10 a.m. – The park’s cold-blooded residents will be discussed at the park amphitheater.

Dragonflies and Damselflies: 11 a.m. – Join Richard Connors for an easy walk, learning how to identify these unique insects. This program will begin at the park amphitheater, and participants are encouraged to bring binoculars.

Landscaping with Native Plants: 11 a.m. – Meet at the amphitheater to learn how to landscape with native plants and attract butterflies and other wildlife to your own yard.

Butterfly Identification Walk: Noon and 2 p.m. – Middle Tennessee Naturalist John Froeschauer will lead an informal butterfly identification “walk and talk,” beginning in the open garden and continuing into the nearby woodland habitat. His talk will focus on native butterfly food and nectar plants. Participants are encouraged to bring binoculars. The program will be held at noon, with a repeat presentation at 2 p.m.

Creek Studies: Noon – Participants will learn to measure a stream’s health by observing the animals that live in it. They will meet at the picnic pavilion and should wear wading shoes.

Hike to the Big Falls Overlook: 2 p.m. – Participants will join the park’s Ranger staff for an hour-long hike from the picnic shelter to the main falls overlook. They should wear sturdy shoes and bring water. Meet at the amphitheater.

Burgess Falls is a 350-acre park, which lies on the rugged Eastern Highland Rim in Putnam and White counties. It is noted for its sheer bluffs, narrow ridges, waterfalls and diverse forests. The Burgess Falls Native Butterfly Garden was created by park staff, the Putnam County Master Gardeners, countless volunteers and the Iris Fund group. For more information about the Butterfly Garden Celebration at Burgess Falls State Park and Natural Area, please call (931) 432-5312.

Auditions Scheduled For Shakespeare Production

Cookeville’s Shakespeare in the Park produced by Leisure Services will hold auditions for the upcoming production of The Merry Wives of Windsor on August 1 and 2 at 5:30pm at the Dogwood Performance Pavilion. David Johnson will be the play’s director and has asked that those auditioning choose 2 contrasting monologues and be prepared to do cold readings from the script. This production has a variety of roles for all ages and both genders. Those auditioning should also bring their calendars and all conflicts between now and October 2. The play will begin rehearsals immediately with performances Friday, September 24 through Saturday, October 2. For more information please contact the Performing Arts Center at 528-1313 or visit

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Cookeville Council To Consider Quarry Expansion

The Cookeville city council next week is scheduled to hold a public hearing on the proposed expansion of a quarry, located off Highway 70 near Old Cavalry Road. The city planning commission this week denied a requested re-zoning of the property, but did approve a motion that it intended to improve access to the quarry. The quarry was already in operation when the area was annexed by the city of Cookeville, but officials say any efforts to expand the operations now fall under the city's zoning guidelines, and for what is now the third time, a request to rezone the property has been rejected -- in part because of the concerns of nearby property owners.

Forgery Suspect Arrested After Traffic Stop

An August 16th court date has been set for a Cookeville woman, charged with five counts of forgery. Authorities say 27-year-old Caysie Elizabeth Banks of Park Drive, is accused of stealing checks from a number of people and then forging those checks in order to buy things that had been advertised on the Local Sales Network. Police say at least half a dozen people fell victim to the scam, and others may also come forward. They usually met Banks in a local parking lot and exchanged the merchandise for a check, which they later found out was no good.

CRMC Board Honors Outgoing Member

The Board of Trustees at Cookeville Regional Medical Center passed a resolution at its July meeting recognizing board member Doug Dycus for his years of service on the hospital board. Dycus’s term ends this month. Jeff Gleason of Cookeville has been appointed by the Cookeville City Council to fill the vacant seven-year seat beginning August 1. Meanwhile, Cookeville Regional is welcoming Pulmonary and Critical Care specialist Dr. Hima Kona to the area. Dr. Kona will be joining Dr. Bernadette Hee and Dr. Vijay Rupan in the Pulmonology Group of the hospital’s Physician Associates. Dr. Kona is Board Certified in Pulmonary, Critical Care and Internal Medicine. After receiving her medical degree from the Kurnool Medical College in India, in 1997, Dr. Kona completed a residency and internship in Internal Medicine at Coney Island Hospital in Brooklyn, NY.

Court Date Set For Alleged Burglar

Police say a man who broke into a Cookeville ice cream store early Monday has an arraignment date in General Sessions Court next month. 37-year-old Brian Neal Hammons, of Hodgenville, Kentucky, is accused of prying open a rear door at the Baskin Robbins store and then drilling into a safe. A man working in a nearby building heard the commotion and called police, who captured Hammons as he ran out the front door. Police claim they found several metal cutting tools in his backpack. He'll be in court on the 23rd of August.

Congressional Candidate Coming To Cookeville

Democratic Congressional candidate Ben Leming will be in town Wednesday, greeting industry employees as they head to work and sharing what he calls his “Battle Plan” to rebuild the nation’s economy. Leming is also visiting the Upper Cumberland Human Resource Agency to show his support for that organization. Leming says he will be speaking on how his plan will aid in the economic development of America. The plan calls for investments in small and existing businesses, modernization of the nation’s infrastructure, funding for technical training and education programs that train the 21st Century workforce, and investments in renewable energy.

“Jobs are the single most important issue facing this district and this country,” said Leming. “Any representative in Congress needs to have a plan to address this issue. I’m excited to share my plan with Middle Tennesseans.”

Leming, a Marine Captain, Naval Academy graduate, and Iraq War helicopter combat veteran, is running for the seat vacated by retiring Congressman Bart Gordon in Tennessee’s 6th Congressional District.

Leisure Services To Hold Dance Open House

The Cookeville Leisure Services Department School of Dance will have an Open House on Monday, August 2, from 4 to 6 pm at the Recreation Center at 180 CC Camp Road near Cane Creek Park. Officials say all dancers interested in registering for dance may do so at this open house or at any point until September 1st. Class schedules and tuition details are available at the Performing Arts Center now and will be available at the open house. There are classes available for ages three through adult in the disciplines of Ballet, Modern, and Jazz. Dance Faculty and Staff will be on hand to answer questions for the upper and lower levels and will be available for any questions regarding placement, class description, and dancewear. All classes will take place in the Leisure Services Dance Studios in the Recreation Center beginning the week of August 9 and continuing through May 2011. For more information on any of the classes, call 528.1313.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

One Week Left For Early Voting

Putnam County Election officials say that more than 2,300 voters have chosen to cast their ballots early so far in this election cycle. The Early Voting period for the August election will end this Saturday. Voters in Algood, Cookeville, Monterey and Baxter are choosing members of their city councils, while those who don't live in the cities are voting on the races for Trustee, Road Supervisor, and other county-wide offices. Meanwhile, the Republican and Democratic parties in the state of Tennessee are also having primary elections for the offices of Governor, U-S Representative, State Senate, and State Representative. Voters who wish to participate in that primary must choose which primary they want to vote in. Sample ballots are posted at the entrance of the Election Commission office, located off South Willow Avenue on County Services Drive.

Putnam County Schools Start New Semester

The vacation is more or less over now, as the Putnam County school system resumes classes this week. Students are going from 8 am to 10 am Monday, will have Tuesday off as teachers go through a "work day," and then will start their regular classroom schedule on Wednesday, which is described in the school calendar as the first full instructional day. Fall Break comes up in October, but the students will have two days off between now and then. One is on August 5th, when classes are cancelled because of Election Day. The other will be Labor Day. School officials are starting the year without a finalized budget, and they say they expect the enrollment numbers to fluctuate somewhat between now and Labor Day. Meanwhile, local police agencies are also expected to step up enforcement efforts in school zones.

Eblen Center To Re-Open For Walkers

Tennessee Tech's Eblen Center will reopen to the public for walking on Monday, July 26 after being closed for recent office moves and renovations.Walkers are asked to park in the South Lot, located between Eblen Center and the soccer field, and enter the arena through the South doors on that side of the building. The building will usually be accessible to walkers from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. daily, but will close on occasion for events. On Fridays, the building does not open to walkers until 11 a.m. A monthly schedule listing closing dates and other announcements is posted inside the South doors. Tech officials remind walkers that the building concourse houses numerous offices, and request that noise be kept to a minimum in consideration of staff working in those offices. For more information about walking in Eblen Center, you can call 372-3940.

Agreement Extended For Tech Football Broadcasts

Tennessee Tech University Athletics and Cookeville Communications have agreed to a new, multi-year partnership featuring the Golden Eagle Sports Network. Magic 98.5 will continue to serve as the flagship station for Golden Eagle Football broadcasts while Newstalk 1400 the Hub will be the flagship station for fans to listen to Tech Basketball games.

“We value this broadcast partnership and look forward to the radio broadcasts on the Golden Eagle Sports Network,” said Mark Wilson, TTU Director of Athletics. “We are excited that Magic 98.5 will continue as the flagship station for Tennessee Tech football and that Newstalk 1400 the Hub will continue to carry the broadcasts of men’s and women’s basketball games. We appreciate everyone at Cookeville Communications for embracing TTU Athletics.”

With the 50,000-watt Magic 98.5 as the flagship station, Tech’s football broadcasts can be heard throughout middle Tennessee on the Golden Eagle Sports Network. The football game broadcasts reach from the Kentucky border in the north to Spencer and Manchester in the south, from Nashville and Murfreesboro in the west to Crossville and Jamestown in the east.

“We think it’s a perfect combination to carry the Golden Eagle football games on Magic 98.5,” said Jerry Zimmer, owner and general manager of Cookeville Communications. “It brings together exciting football with a large, enthusiastic audience. We’re excited about broadcasting the games, and also about all the other things surrounding the games such as the tailgate park, ticket giveaways and some of the other things we have planned."

As part of the partnership, Magic 98.5 will continue to serve as co-host of the Purple Pride Caravan which has stops scheduled around the region leading up to the first home football game. The football season opener is Saturday, Sept. 4, when the Golden Eagles play at the University of Arkansas. Once again, veteran broadcaster Roger Ealey will be in the booth to call the action.

“Magic 98.5 listeners are an audience we want to capture,” Wilson said. “They are the ones who provide the excitement and enthusiasm when they are in Tucker Stadium, and they are the listeners we want to get our message to about Tennessee Tech football.”

Soaring Science Eagle Makes First Flight At TTU

An art piece designed to capture the imagination of students and visitors to the Millard Oakley STEM Center at Tennessee Tech University is now in its rightful place. Officials say the wooden sculpture – called the Soaring Science Eagle – by Cookeville artist Brad Sells celebrates the STEM Center’s mission to excite students from pre-school through college to study in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields.

“Brad and I have talked for several years about him doing a meaningful wood sculpture on the campus of his alma mater, Tennessee Tech University,” said TTU first lady Gloria Bell. “We have both been very excited about what the center will do for our region to excite students from pre-school through college in these fields of study."

Harry and Debra Stonecipher provided funding for the sculpture. Harry Stonecipher is a TTU Foundation Board of Directors member and a 1960 TTU physics graduate who is the former president and chief operating officer of The Boeing Co. The Soaring Science Eagle was carved from a solid piece of red oak taken from a tree that grew on 10th Street in Cookeville. The tree’s trunk was five-feet in diameter. The finished piece of art with its 15-foot wingspan was installed in the hall’s lobby earlier this month. The periodic table and formulas from physics and mathematics are carved into the eagle’s underbelly.

TTU Wraps Up Summer Institute For Teachers

Thirty teachers from across the state attended a summer institute at Tennessee Tech University to obtain credentials to teach special education. The institute, which compresses a semester’s worth of study into 13 intense days, provides teachers the opportunity to tutor children from 8 to 11 a.m. while taking classes in preparation for their licensure requirements during the afternoon and evening until 9 p.m. After assessing the children individually, institute participants worked with the children on math and reading skills as well as fun science projects and social studies lessons.

“They evaluate where the skills lie, where strengths and weaknesses lie, and build lessons that we are watching and evaluating,” said Laura Graves, assistant professor of curriculum and instruction within TTU’s College of Education. “That is where the institute participants are getting the teaching piece they have not gotten before.”

The state Division of Special Education has contracted with TTU and other universities in the state to provide special education courses for teachers who serve children with disabilities. Attending the institute is made possible through grant funding from the state that also extends funding support for courses throughout the year. To be eligible, participants must be teaching on a transitional or alternative license. For more information, call Helen Dainty at 372-3116

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Cookeville Man Facing Drug Charges In Florida

A Putnam County man, who has had legal problems locally, is now facing charges in Florida as well. Deputies say they found more than 800 Oxycodone pills in a locked glove box during a routine traffic stop Tuesday night. The driver was 23-year-old Derrick Choate of Cookeville who was pulled over in Pasco County for driving without a tag light. While a deputy wrote the citation, a detective released a drug-sniffing dog, who alerted them to drugs in Choate's 1998 Chrysler. Authorities say the glove box contained 805 30-milligram Oxycodone pills and 34 80-milligram Oxycodone pills. Choate, who is from Cookeville, told the deputy he did not have a prescription for the drugs, according to an arrest report. Choate was arrested and charged with two counts of trafficking Oxycodone. He is being held on $100,000 bail.

Shoplifting Case Leads To Drug Charges

The Putnam County sheriff's department says a man, accused of stealing a ball cap from Love's Truck Stop, is also facing other charges today. Deputy Bo Sherrell says the shoplifting incident was reported about ten o'clock Wednesday night when a clerk reported that a man had taken a University of Tennessee ball cap without paying for it. Sherrell found that man -- identified as Larry Hopkins Jr. -- in the parking lot of the business and asked him where he got the hat. Hopkins reportedly replied that he got it in Texas. Sherrell then told him that the clerk believed the hat to be stolen and that she believed he may have also stolen something else. Sherrell then did a patdown search of Hopkins which allegedly turned up ten Xanax pills in a white plastic bag. A warrants check revealed that Hopkins was wanted for failing to appear in court on an aggravated burglary charge and also for failing to pay more than $4,000 in court costs. Hopkins was arrested on those outstanding warrants and also charged with theft of property and simple possession of drugs.

Putnam Jobless Rate Goes Up Again In June

Putnam County's unemployment rate spiked upward once again in June, climbing three-tenths of a point over what it was May. According to the Department of Labor, the jobless rate here is now 9.5 percent. That's worse than last month, but better than this time last year, when the unemployment rate was 10.3 percent. Out of a workforce of some 35,000 people, more than 3,300 were looking for a job. Meanwhile, around the region, the jobless rate in Overton County was up four-tenths of a point to 11.1 percent. It was 11.9 percent in Jackson County, and 12.8 percent in White County. The national unemployment rate for June was 9.5 percent.

T-DOT Says I-40 Work Will Continue Next Month

The Tennessee Department of Transportation now says it will be August before what they call "rockfall mitigation" is complete on I-40 between Cookeville and Monterey. In their latest report on road closure activity, T-DOT says the contractor will have a right shoulder closure in order to work on the project, and says nighttime lane closures may be needed, but that one lane will be maintained in both directions at all times. They say the possibility also exists daily for a potential rolling road block due to rock blasting activities. Emergency lane closures on an as needed basis will be implemented during daylight hours to accommodate pothole repair. All other lane closures will be from 7 pm to 6 am.

Scholarships Awarded at Cookeville Regional

The Food and Nutrition Services Department at Cookeville Regional Medical Center and Pepsi Bottling Group teamed up to award $6,000 in scholarships to children of hospital employees. The four scholarship recipients are Paige Rupe and Emily Rupe, twin daughters of Seanna Rupe from the Medical Records Department. Both are graduates of Cookeville High School. Kara Ann Maynard, daughter of David Maynard from The Cancer Center, who is also a graduate of Cookeville High School. And Bethany Maynard, daughter of Sheri Maynard from Highland Rim Home Health. She is a graduate of Upperman High School.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

New Trial Denied For Convicted Child Rapist

The state's Court of Criminal Appeals has upheld the child rape conviction of a man, convicted in Putnam County Criminal Court, saying that potential new evidence in the case did not warrant a new trial. Tony Lee Crowe was convicted by a Putnam County jury of two counts of rape of a child and two counts of aggravated sexual battery after an investigation in which a neighbor's child claimed that he had assaulted her when she went to visit his house and use the computer. A friend of the victim also claimed to have seen the assault, but later recanted her testimony. And Crowe's lawyers claim that newer testimony from that witness should have been grounds for a new trial. However, the local court found that the new story told by that witness did not have credibility and the appeals court has now agreed.

Olympic Medalist Coming To Cookeville

Tickets are now on sale for Cookeville Regional’s Golf Classic Celebrity Dinner featuring Olympic champion Bruce Jenner. The dinner will be held in conjunction with the hospital’s eighth annual charity golf tournament to raise money for the hospital’s Foundation with proceeds to benefit the Cancer Care Fund, the Caring Hands Fund and the Save-A-Life Mammogram Project – all designed to help patients with needs not met by insurance. Jenner is known to many as the “World’s Greatest Athlete,” earning that title when he broke the decathlon world record in the 1976 Olympic games in Montreal. Again this year the four-person scramble has been expanded to two days – Thursday, August 12 and Friday, August 13 at the Cookeville Golf Club with the dinner being held on Thursday evening at the Leslie Town Centre. The dinner event will be open to the public with a limited number of tickets available for sale at $60 each or $400 for a table of eight. Tickets must be purchased prior to the event – no tickets will be available at the door. There are also a limited number of teams slots still available for the golf tournament. The cost to play in the tournament is $600 per team ($150 per player). For more information about participating in the tournament or to purchase dinner tickets, contact Melahn Finley at 783-5654.

Cookeville Woman Scammed By Fake Repairman

Cookeville police are advising local residents to be aware of a potential scam that may be making the rounds. Officer Michael Herrick took a report this week in which an elderly resident reported that she was cheated out of $375. The victim told Herrick that she found a man outside of her home last week, looking at the vents. The man then told her that he was checking her home for mold, and said that she had a problem, but that he could fix it for her. The woman told the alleged repairman that he needed to speak with her daughter about it first, but police say the man came back to the woman's home this week, claimed to have spoken to the daughter, and convinced her to give him a check for the work. He then left the scene and has not returned.

Night Games Featured On Tech Football Schedule

The lights will be burning bright at Tucker Stadium this fall as four of Tennessee Tech’s five home games in 2010 will be played in the evening. The Golden Eagles open their home slate with a couple of Thursday night contests, hosting Lane College on Sept. 16 in a non-conference game and UT Martin on Sept. 30 in an OVC game. Both of those contests will kickoff at 7 pm. Tech’s first Saturday game against defending OVC champion Eastern Illinois on Oct. 16, will also be played in the evening with a 7 pm starting time. The only afternoon home contest of the season will be Homecoming. That’s slated for a 1:30 p.m. kickoff on Saturday, Nov. 13, against Eastern Kentucky. The regular season finale is against Jacksonville State on Saturday, Nov. 20. Originally an afternoon contest, the game has been selected for the OVC TV Game of the Week and kickoff has been moved to 6 pm.
Season tickets for the 2010 Golden Eagle season are on sale through the Athletics Ticket Office in Eblen Center, or by calling 372-3940. Tickets may also be purchased online at

Small Business Workshop Planned For Gainesboro

The Tennessee Small Business Development Center will conduct a free seminar, called"How to Start a Small Business," on Wednesday, August 11th, in Gainesboro. The seminar is presented in cooperation with the Gainesboro/Jackson County Chamber of Commerce and addresses topics of interest to potential entrepreneurs and new small business owners -- including start-up basics, business structures, planning, cash needs, and financing options. The seminar will be conducted at the Jackson County UT Ag Extension office at 757 S. Grundy Quarrels Highway. Lunch will be provided by the chamber and preregistration is required. Space limited to 25 participants. Reservations may be made by calling 372-3706 or online at The center is a community outreach initiative of TTU's College of Business, and is part of a network that operates statewide to assist small businesses by providing free counseling.

Cookeville Nurse On "Expert" Panel

Melissa Geist, Tennessee Tech University assistant professor of nursing, has been selected to serve on the American Nurses Credentialing Center Content Expert Panel for the national Pediatric Nurse Practitioner certifying exam. In this position, Geist will work with leaders in pediatric nursing from across the country to review content and develop the test plan for certifying exams. In order to be considered for the position, Geist submitted evidence of involvement in academic nursing as well as active participation in pediatric nursing practice. Geist also works with Volunteer Medical Group as a family and pediatric nurse practitioner as well as in the emergency department at Cookeville Regional Medical Center.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Cookeville To Host Televised Gubernatorial Debate

The Highlands program of the Cookeville-Putnam County Chamber of Commerce announced today that it will partner with Tennessee Tech University, Nashville’s WTVF NewsChannel5, and the Tennessee League of Women Voters to produce a non-partisan gubernatorial debate on Tuesday, September 14 at 7 pm. The town-hall style debate will be held in TTU’s Wattenbarger Auditorium.

Organizers say being the first televised General Election gubernatorial debate held outside of Nashville, Memphis, or Knoxville, the debate will give focus to hometown issues facing Tennessee’s rural and suburban areas, with an emphasis on economic development, education, and health care.

"Our candidates for governor should hear firsthand about the challenges facing these voters and begin to formulate plans to address those challenges," George Halford, president/chief executive officer of the Cookeville-Putnam County Chamber of Commerce and a Highlands partner, said. "A one-size-fits-all approach won’t work in governing Tennessee. Our rural and suburban areas require different tactics to meet their needs."

The debate will also offer a unique perspective on voter attitudes. Debate organizers will solicit video questions via YouTube and allow Tennesseans to vote on which questions they want asked of the candidates.

"Our primary responsibility is to ensure the debate is a non-partisan and fair forum that addresses the relevant concerns of voters," Kathy Edwards, vice president of the Tennessee League of Women Voters, said. "But we are extremely excited about plans that include the ability for Tennesseans to ask the candidates unscripted questions online. This will be valuable in expanding communication between the candidates and voters and will give us an indication of the mood of the electorate that we don’t believe this state has seen before."

The debate will also include a section for live audience questions and a section for candidate-to-candidate questions.

"This debate will be unlike any other that we’ve had in Tennessee," Halford said. "The location gives it a first-of-its-kind platform and the format opens new avenues for voters to learn what the candidates really think. This will be one to watch."

The Highlands is a regional public/private sector initiative between Overton, Putnam, and White Counties. Launched in 2006, the program has achieved several economic development successes due to unprecedented levels of collaboration and regional cooperation among community leaders.

Animal Hoarding Case Under Investigation

The Putnam County sheriff's department continues to get calls about a local woman, who reportedly has more than 50 dogs and cats living with her in a trailer off the Gainesboro Grade. Deputy Josh Reams was dispatched to the home on Monday after someone complained of an odor coming from the residence. He says he observed several animals locked inside, but says that the windows were open with what appeared to be fencing nailed to the outside of the trailer. He made contact with the woman there, who said all of the animals belonged to her, although she did not know exactly how many there were. She told Reams that she had already spoken to the county's animal control officer about the situation and said that she was able to feed all of the animals and care for them properly. But officials say they're not so sure of that and have contacted the state Health Department to do a followup investigation.

Two Arson Cases Reported In Recent Days

Two apparently unrelated cases of arson are under investigation today in the Cookeville area. Authorities say the state fire marshal's office is investigating a suspicious blaze that damaged a building on Hulon Ferrell Road last week. Authorities say the wood frame structure had been vacant for a couple of years when it caught fire. One nearby resident reported hearing a boom shortly before the fire was discovered and authorities say there was no electricity to the building at the time. Meanwhile, officials are also trying to discover who deliberately set fire to a city of Cookeville work truck at Cane Creek Park Sunday night. The same truck had been vandalized a couple of weeks ago, but officials say, in this case, someone broke into the park and then broke into the truck, setting the cab on fire. The vehicle was destroyed. Anyone with information that may help is asked to call the police department.

Court Date Set For Man Caught With Drugs

An August 6th court date has been set for a Cookeville man, charged with possessing drugs with the intent of re-selling them. Police say 20-year-old Christopher Papacsi of Grider Road was arrested after a traffic stop on South Willow Avenue. Officer Shannon Smith claims that Papacsi was speeding and says that during an investigation subsequent to the traffic stop, authorities turned up about six ounces of marijuana, some of which was found individually wrapped in plastic bags. Police say a specially trained drug dog was brought in for a search after Papacsi allegedly became nervous during questioning about the possibility of having illegal drugs.

Sleep Apnea Surgery To Be Discussed

The AWAKE Support Group will be discussing the topic of surgical treatment for sleep apnea at its next meeting, scheduled for Thursday, July 29 from 6 to 8 pm at Cookeville Regional Medical Center in Education Rooms 2, 3 and 4. Dr. Scott Keith of Upper Cumberland Otolaryngology will be the speaker. According to the National Sleep Foundation, sleep apnea may affect between twenty and forty percent of the adult snoring population. Doctors say untreated sleep apnea can be harmful to your health, and new surgical treatments may be able to provide relief for sleep apnea. Sponsored by the Sleep Center at Cookeville Regional, the AWAKE. support group is for people in the Upper Cumberland area with sleep disorders, and anyone with a sleep disorder is encouraged to attend.

Burgess Falls Park Plans Butterfly Garden Event

Burgess Falls State Park and Natural Area will host the sixth annual Butterfly Garden Celebration from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, August 14. A variety of educational programs will be offered in the award-winning Native Butterfly Garden and surrounding park for this event.

“The programming for this year’s celebration offers a variety of special activities, designed with all ages in mind,” said Bill Summers, park manager. “The celebration also is an opportunity to enjoy the butterfly garden at the peak of its beauty and learn what makes it such an important asset to Burgess Falls.”

Scheduled programs will include:

9 a.m. – A Walk in the Woods
State Naturalist Randy Hedgepath will take participants on an easy hike through the forest, talking about trees and telling their stories. Participants will meet at the River Trail/Service Road Loop trailhead.

10 a.m. – Goodness Snakes Alive
The park’s cold-blooded residents will be discussed at the park amphitheater.

11 a.m. – Dragonflies and Damselflies
Join Richard Connors for an easy walk, learning how to identify these unique insects. This program will begin at the park amphitheater, and participants are encouraged to bring binoculars.

11 a.m. – Landscaping with Native Plants
Meet at the amphitheater to learn how to landscape with native plants and attract butterflies and other wildlife to your own yard.

Noon and 2 p.m. - Butterfly Identification Walk
Middle Tennessee Naturalist John Froeschauer will lead an informal butterfly identification “walk and talk,” beginning in the open garden and continuing into the nearby woodland habitat. His talk will focus on native butterfly food and nectar plants. Participants are encouraged to bring binoculars. The program will be held at noon, with a repeat presentation at 2 p.m.

Noon – Creek Studies
Participants will learn to measure a stream’s health by observing the animals that live in it. They will meet at the picnic pavilion and should wear wading shoes.

2 p.m. – Hike to the Big Falls Overlook
Participants will join the park’s Ranger staff for an hour-long hike from the picnic shelter to the main falls overlook. They should wear sturdy shoes and bring water. Meet at the amphitheater.

Burgess Falls is a 350-acre park, which lies on the rugged Eastern Highland Rim in Putnam and White counties. It is noted for its sheer bluffs, narrow ridges, waterfalls and diverse forests. The Burgess Falls Native Butterfly Garden was created by park staff, the Putnam County Master Gardeners, countless volunteers and the Iris Fund group. For more information, call 432-5312.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Putnam Commission Fails To Agree On Car Show

No decision yet on whether a controversial car show should be allowed to rent the Putnam County fairgrounds. The county commission debated the issue for some time Monday night, but several motions concerning the so-called "Slammin and Jammin" car show failed to gain enough votes for passage. Supporters of the show say it would provide an economic boost to the area. Opponents say it's more trouble than it's worth, especially given the number of criminal citations that went along with the show for the seventeen years that it was held at the Wilson County fairgrounds in Lebanon. But, because no motion offered by the commission gained passage, officials say the issue may come up again next month for consideration by the county's planning committee. If it gains approval, it may be one of the final acts of the incumbent members of the commission, some of whom will leave office as of September 1.

National Marble Champion Has Local Ties

Three Cookeville area youngsters, representing Standing Stone State Park, emerged among the country’s elite marbles competitors, or “mibsters,” at the 87th Annual National Marbles Tournament held recently in Wildwood, New Jersey. The national tournament hosts kids ages 9-14 from across the country, playing the game of Ringer over the four-day competition. Fourteen year old Corey Goolsby of Hanging Limb in Overton County won the boys national championship and was crowned the 2010 King of Marbles. First prize includes a $2,000 college scholarship and a trip back to Wildwood next year to be inducted in the National Marbles Hall of Fame. Of all the competitors in the tournament, Corey found himself in the final against his cousin and neighbor, 13 year old Austin Wright, who held onto second place and secured the title of boy’s National Runner-Up. In the girl’s division, nine year old Logan Mayberry of Celina in Clay County finished third in the nation.

Putnam Republicans To Host Governor's Forum

A gubernatorial forum, hosted by the Putnam County Republican Party, has been scheduled in Cookeville for later this month. Organizers say it will be held at the Cookeville Performing Arts Center on Tuesday, July 27th. Doors will open at 6:15 pm, and the opening ceremonies of the program are expected to begin at 6:45 that night. The event is free to the public. Officials say they expect all of the major Republican candidates for the office to be in attendance.

Seven-Footer May Play This Year For Tech

Liam McMorrow, a 7-foot center from Toronto, has transferred to Tennessee Tech from Marquette University and will join the Golden Eagle men’s basketball squad immediately, according to coach Mike Sutton. McMorrow sat out the 2008-09 season as a redshirt transfer student at Marquette after his freshman season at Canada’s Durham College. He was on the sidelines again last year due to health reasons and because he didn’t play at Marquette in 2009-10, Tech will request an exception waiver from the NCAA to allow McMorrow to be eligible immediately this season for the Golden Eagles.

Tech To Hold Open House For New Dorm

The newest residence hall at Tennessee Tech University will greet its first visitors with an open house, scheduled from 2 to 4 pm on July 30th. The public is invited to be among the first to tour the building. The $22 million hall took two years to complete and opens officially in August just in time to welcome students for the fall semester. Some 338 students will call New Hall North’s Dixie Avenue location home. Among the hall’s features are 114 single-occupancy rooms and 112 double-occupancy rooms, all with private bathrooms. Multipurpose rooms with televisions and space for recreation are available on all four of the hall’s floors. Adjacent to the hall is a grill, convenience store, suites for sorority meetings and a state-of-the-art classroom. New Hall North will also be home for one of the two living and learning village communities that will launch at TTU this fall. Living and learning villages are a system designed to give students more supportive, small-college experiences within the context of a larger university. TTU now has nine residence hall complexes with enough rooms for 2,313 students. The next major project for TTU’s residence halls is renovation of the M.S. Cooper-Pinkerton Residence Hall, which is about 50 years old.

Early Voting Totals Topping 300 Per Day

Another 356 residents of Putnam County took advantage of the opportunity to vote early on Monday, bringing the three-day total to 784. Election officials say voters have another week and a half to go by the Election Commission office and cast their ballots before Early Voting wraps up on July 31st. Residents are choosing representatives on the city councils of Cookeville, Algood, Baxter and Monterey, as well as members of the Putnam County commission. The only two contested county-wide races are for Trustee and Road Supervisor, but the school board seats in Districts 2 and 4 are also being decided. Meanwhile, the state of Tennessee is conducting a primary election to determine the Republican and Democratic nominees for Governor, U.S. Congress, State Senate and State House of Representatives.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Putnam Commission Scheduled To Discuss Car Show

Members of the Putnam County commission Monday night may be deciding whether or not they want to OK the rental of the county fairgrounds to an event called the "Slammin and Jammin" car show. Event organizer Charlie Cobble has approached local officials about using the fairgrounds in September for the show, which -- for the past 17 years -- has been held at the Wilson County fairgrounds in Lebanon. Some local officials are wondering why Cobble would want to move the event, but others say the prospect of bringing several thousand people to town for the show will be good for the local economy -- especially the restaurant and hotel business. Local law enforcement officials note that Lebanon police had to issue some 400 citations to participants attending the last event in Lebanon, and have said that they believe commissioners should be aware of potential problems.

Alcohol Deemed Factor In I-40 Wrong Way Wreck

At least three people had to be taken to the hospital over the weekend after a head-on crash on Interstate 40 in Putnam County. Authorities say it happened at the 286 mile marker, which is the entrance from South Willow Avenue. They say a driver of a pick-up truck got onto the westbound lanes of the interstate heading into the wrong direction and hit another car head-on around 4:30 p.m. Saturday. The westbound lanes reportedly had to be shut down for more than two hours while wreckers cleared away the damaged cars. Authorities said none of the injuries suffered during the wreck was life-threatening, but they say the driver of the pick-up truck has been charged DUI.

Vol State Livingston Plans Registration Event

New students at Volunteer State Community College at Livingston can combine barbecue and rock and roll with fall class registration during an event called Registration Rocks later this week. Officials say it’s a fun way to get ready for the fall semester and see what the new and expanded Livingston campus has to offer. Students don’t have to register on that day. Registration will be open all summer. However, they say that with increasing enrollment students are urged to register early to make sure they get the classes they want. New students need to apply to the college before they can register. That can be done online or in-person. Registration Rocks will be held on Thursday, July 22 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the Livingston campus at 113 Windle Community Drive. It is free and open to everyone. Call 931-823-7065 for more information.

Cookeville Community Mourns Hargrove Death

The Cookeville community today is mourning the death of local theatre icon Margery Hargrove in a housefire on Friday. The 83-year-old Hargrove died when the home on First Street caught fire early Friday afternoon. Officials say they are still investigating the cause of the blaze. Hargrove was involved in the creation of the Wesley Arena theatre, Cookeville Summer Theatre, and the construction of the Cookeville Performing Arts Theatre, whose auditorium bears her name. There was a moment of silence in her memory at the opening night performance of Cinderella -- the current production in that auditorium. Cookeville Fire Chief John Kendrick said a neighbor called 911 about 12:30 Friday afternoon and reported seeing smoke coming from the house. He says most of the fire damage was contained to a front room, which is where what is believed to be the body of Hargrove was found.

FEMA Specialists To Talk At Cookeville Lowe's Store

Cookeville-area homeowners rebuilding after the spring floods can receive information from hazard mitigation specialists with the Federal Emergency Management Agency or FEMA, beginning Monday, July 19. FEMA mitigation specialists will be available from 8 am to 6 pm at the Lowe's store, located at 510 Neal St . in Cookeville from now through the 26th. FEMA says the specialists can answer questions about protecting homes from future disaster damage, as well as offer other home improvement tips and techniques. Topics will include mold and mildew cleanup and prevention, flood insurance, flood- and wind-resistant building methods, wind straps and other measures to make homes stronger and safer. Publications on these topics will also be available. Officials say there is no cost to talk with the specialists.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Early Voting Underway In Putnam County

Early voting is underway as of today in Putnam County. People can cast their votes early from now through the 31st of July at the county election commission office, off South Willow Avenue, or they can go to their precinct on Election Day August 5th. There is both a county general election and a state primary election on the ballot this time. The state primary will determine nominees for the offices of governor, congressman, state senator, and state representative. The county general election will have the offices of Trustee, Road Supervisor, Sheriff, County Executive, County Clerk and Register of Deeds. In addition, all seats on the Putnam County commission are up for election, as are three seats on the six-member county school board. The cities of Algood, Baxter, Monterey and Cookeville will also be holding municipal elections. Five council members will be elected from the ten candidates running for Cookeville council. Congressional Candidate Diane Black will be in Cookeville this afternoon as part of what she is calling an "Early Voting" tour.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Council Gives Final OK To Cookeville Budget

The 87-cent property tax rate for residents of the city of Cookeville will remain unchanged after the city council Thursday night gave final passage to its budget. But finance director Mike Davidson says that some monies will be moved around. The city has re-allocated four cents of the tax rate from the Debt Service fund to the State Street Aid fund. Davidson says that means $262,000 additional dollars will be available for road paving in the upcoming year. The council also approved a more than $37,000 change order for design and engineering work on the Highlands Business Park and they OK'd a bid from Highways, Incorporated to add a turn lane onto South Jefferson Avenue at the entrance of the new schools under construction there.

New Dental Discount Program To Be Offered

The Putnam County executive's office will be the location for local residents who want to pick up information about a new discount program for dental services being offered through the National Assocation of Counties. County commissioner Johnnie Wheeler says Putnam County is one of only 38 nationwide to pilot the project. Local residents who don't have dental insurance can sign up for the program starting today. Wheeler will be on hand with activation cards from one o'clock to 2:30 this afternoon on the third floor of the Putnam County Courthouse. After that, she says, the cards will be available for pickup in the Putnam County Executive's office.

Burglary Charges Filed Against Two Local Residents

Two Putnam County residents were arrested this week on charges of theft and aggravated burglary after the sheriff's department investigated a break-in at a home on Water Plant Road. Authorities say 18-year-old Samantha Marie Willis and 26-year-old Russell Wade Norrod are accused of taking more than five thousand dollars worth of merchandise out of a home last Thursday and later pawning that merchandise at two different pawn shops in the area. They'll be in court on the charges on August 16th.

September Arraignment Set For Alleged Rapist

A September 20th arraignment date has been set for a Cookeville man, indicted by the Putnam County grand jury on charges of rape. Authorities say 26-year-old Michael Tyrone Johnson of West Fourth Street is accused of raping a 14-year-old girl in her home back in December. Police say the delay in presenting evidence in the case to the grand jury came about because of their decision to wait on test results from the state's crime lab. Johnson was already in jail, serving time for violating probation in a previous case, when he was indicted for the most recent crime. His bond on the rape charge is $25,000, but he won't be eligible for release from jail until he finishes his sentence for violation of probation.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Man Who Abandoned Dog May Face Criminal Charges

The Putnam County sheriff's office says a man who moved out of a rented home on Cumby Road about two weeks ago may face criminal charges for leaving behind a dog that had also been living at the home. The landlord contacted the sheriff's office about the incident this week and said that she had rented the home to some people she knew, one of whom had a dog. But she says that man apparently moved away earlier this month and left the dog behind. She says the dog's apparent owner won't return her phone calls, and says the dog continues to run at large in the neighborhood. Putnam County's animal control officer Chris Brown says that some traps have been set out in an attempt to catch the stray animal, and says that charges will be filed on the owner for abandonment.

Key Dates Approaching For Cookeville High Students

Some key dates are coming up soon for students who will be attending Cookeville High School this year. School officials say they want students to pick up schedules and ID's and also pay the fees that are due on specific dates and times for each grade level. Next Monday, July 19, the 10th grade class came come by the school from 9 am to 11 am to do that. On Tuesday, July 20, 12th graders can take care of things between 9 and 11 am, while 11th grade students should do so from 1 pm to 3 pm. Anyone with questions can call the high school. Classes begin for Putnam County students on July 26.

Work Underway On Cookeville Tree Inventory

Tennessee Tech University professor Douglas Airhart is working through a grant from the USDA Forest Service and the Tennessee Department of Agriculture’s Division of Forestry to increase the total number of trees identified on Cookeville’s main roads. The grant supports expanding the existing tree inventory in the city by minimum of 350 trees at sites that include Broad Street, Spring Street, Willow Avenue, Jackson Avenue, Lowe Avenue and Washington Avenue.

“The gist of the project is to evaluate new developments to check for compliance with the zoning ordinances for landscaping and parking lots and to check current status of trees from previous developments for continued compliance,” said Airhart.

As the budget allows, the City of Cookeville will implement recommendations in the Cookeville Tree Board’s management plan of planting, pruning, maintenance and removals. The planning commission is considering this as an addition for the new comprehensive plan for Cookeville.

“Our city has a landscape ordinance that requires the evaluation and maintenance of trees, but in these tough economic times, it is difficult to provide manpower toward this effort,” said James Mills, Cookeville city planner. “This grant benefits the city because it provides services and manpower that don’t require taxpayer dollars. This assistance is appreciated.”

Because trees soften add color, absorb excess noise, filter the air, provide shade, and may increase property values, it’s become increasingly important for city property owners to learn more about tree care.

Through the grant, Airhart and the Cookeville Tree Board will develop an educational brochure about tree care that will be distributed through utility billing. There’s also an educational component for training city planning, codes, and plans personnel and other staff.

Cookeville Area Foster Parents Being Recruited

Youth Villages, a private nonprofit organization, has announced that they have a great need for foster families in the Cookeville area. The organzation will offer free information sessions in July and training in August for people in the Cookeville area interested in learning more about becoming foster parents. The sessions will be held on July 21 at noon and July 28 at 5 p.m. Free training starts on August 17, from 6 to 9 p.m. and continues Tuesday and Thursday evenings through September 30, at the Youth Villages office, located at 1420 Neal Street, Suite 202, in Cookeville. Officials say they are looking for single and married adults over the age of 25 and living in the wider Cookeville area who are interested in becoming foster or adoptive parents. For more information, call Kristi Kashner, the foster parent recruiter, at 525-6905.

Putnam Habitat Chapter Begins New Initiative

Putnam County Habitat for Humanity has been selected as one of only 55 affiliates nationwide to participate in Habitat for Humanity International’s Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative. The focus: improving housing conditions while partnering with other community organizations to provide services that enhance the overall quality of life across struggling neighborhoods. As part of the first phase, Putnam County Habitat officials will receive special training on how to revitalize targeted neighborhoods through a variety of housing solutions and community development efforts.

“We are very excited to have been selected to be one of only 55 affiliates in the first “working group” of this new initiative of Habitat’s. I surprised our staff and Board of Directors last week with the news and everyone is ready to do all they can to support this venture! I’m looking forward to sharing this news with all of our partners across the county,” said Pam Ealey, Put Co Habitat for Humanity Executive Director

“The affiliates selected to take part in the first phase of the Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative are a select diverse group so that we can learn how NRI will work in as many different affiliate situations as possible,” said Larry Gluth, senior vice president of Habitat’s U.S. and Canada area office. “We’ll take lessons learned from this first phase and incorporate them as the program expands over time. The Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative adds another dimension to our mission of providing families with decent, affordable places to live.”

Through the initiative, Habitat for Humanity will work with other community organizations to determine the projects that will be carried out locally. Habitat services may include new house construction, rehabilitation of vacant and foreclosed properties, house repairs for low-income homeowners, and weatherization to make houses more energy-efficient and affordable.

As Habitat for Humanity transitions through the Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative, officials say they will be able to make a larger impact in Putnam County at all levels of housing issues. In the next few months, PCHFH will begin determining which programs to proceed with initially that will create a solid foundation to build upon. The Board of Directors will also begin the process of selecting one particular neighborhood in our community; to approach residents with the idea of the NRI program and how together, with others' support, the community can partner to improve the neighborhood.

“As part of the 'working group' we will share insights and feedback to Habitat International that will be used to develop the program and help Habitat affiliates participate in the NRI program,” said Pam Ealey. “This is a two to three year process, and while each of us care deeply about housing issues across our county we won’t be ready to jump in and start working just yet. I do promise to keep the media informed and our website updated, so the public will know as we become prepared to take on those projects”

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

YouTube Helps Tech Professor Speak To 5th Graders

A short documentary video posted on YouTube has proven to be an effective way for a Tennessee Tech University professor to reach fifth graders with important messages about earth science.
Civil and environmental engineering professor Faisal Hossain produced “Space: Come Hell or High Water” as an outreach, multi-media presentation for students in public schools to inspire 5th graders to study STEM fields and pursue a career in earth science.

“This short documentary overviews the societal value of current and emerging water satellite missions to the public and the young generation,” said Hossain.

The National Association of Environmental Professionals honored the video at a conference, awarding Hossain’s research group, SASWE or Sustainability Satellites, Water and Environment, with the NAEP 'Education Excellence' award.

“The award was mainly for education aspects of our work,” said Hossain. “We want to help young students understand how their future careers could involve understanding planet Earth using NASA systems.

You can watch the video here.

Tech Athlete Named To "Honors Court"

Tennessee Tech's Frank Davis has been recognized by the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) with selection to the NABC Honors Court, honoring collegiate basketball student-athletes who have excelled in academics during the 2009-10 season. Davis, a senior guard from Gainesville, Ga., is one of just three Ohio Valley Conference players named to the list. At the end of the 2009-10 season, Davis was named recipient of the team's Sam Harley Lynn Award for his overall contributions to the team. In addition, Davis won the team’s Cumulative Academic Award, going through his Golden Eagle career with a 3.41 GPA. He served as a team co-captain and won the team’s 3-Point Shooting Award.

Cremated Remains Found Among Lost Items

Cookeville police have now gotten the OK to return the cremated remains of a relative to man in Illinois. That after a local woman found the remains among some apparently abandoned property on Dixie Avenue. The woman told police that the box of property included videotapes, books, jewelry and an urn which had come from The Funeral Directors Crematory inf East St. Louis, Illinois. Through that organization, police were able to contact the son of the woman whose remains were contained in that urn. He told police that his sister had been custody of the urn, but that he hadn't heard from her in many years. Officer Ronnie Franklin checked with the residents of the apartment building where the property was found, but none of them claimed it. And an official with the DA's office told Franklin that if the property had not been reported stolen, it was OK to make arrangements to have the remains shipped back to Illinois.

Cookeville Man Charged With Sexual Battery

A September 20th arraignment date has been set for a Cookeville man, who has been indicted by the Putnam County grand jury on a charge of sexual battery. Authorities say 44-year-old Carey Aaron Bass of Tolbert Drive, was arrested after sheriff's detective Jimmy Patterson presented evidence in the case. He has since been freed on bond. Authorites say the victim in the case claims that Bass sexually assaulted her back in April and that he did so without her consent. He had been inspecting her house for an insurance claim at the time. The 61-year-old victim claims that when Bass came to her house to inspect the basement for mold, he brushed against her and licked the back of her neck, while her husband and health care aide were upstairs in the house. She also claims the agent made crude comments.

Cookeville Man Charged After Road Rage Incident

A Cookeville man is facing charges of aggravated assault in Cumberland County after incident of alleged "road rage." According to the Crossville Chronicle newspaper, a Crossville Police officer on routine patrol witnessed the act of road rage when the driver of a pickup truck swerved toward a motorcycle, causing the cyclist to lose control of the motor bike. 29-year-old Antonio Villegas W. Fourth St., in Cookeville, was charged with aggravated assault and with having no driver's license. Police say Villegas also allegedly told the arresting officer that he was in this country illegally. According to the report, Villegas was traveling on N. Main St. when he swerved toward a motorcycle. When asked why he did so, Villegas allegedly replied that the cyclist "flipped him off and made him mad."

Wetlands Mitigation To Be Discussed

The Putnam County commission will apparently be going along with the Cookeville city council in a plan to have a private non-profit group establish a wetland mitigation area that's being mandated by the development of the Highlands Regional Business Park, south of I-40. Cookeville Public Works Director Greg Brown told members of the county's planning committee this week that a pond on the property will have to be drained, and that the city has agreed to allow a group that does wetland mitigation to restore a stream that feeds into that pond and have it feed into Cane Creek instead. The non-profit group will do the work for free, he says, and will recoup their costs by selling what are called "wetland mitigation credits" to developers who need them in the future. County commissioner Gene Mullins made the motion to accept the mitigation plan, but noted that experts at Tennessee Tech have said that the 50 feet of so-called "riparian" area on the banks of the stream should probably be wider.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Commission To Debate Pros and Cons of Car Show

The so-called "Slammin' and Jammin' Car Show," which has been held at the Wilson County fairgrounds for the past seventeen years, may be coming to Cookeville. But it will take a vote of the Putnam County commission next week to OK the show. County executive Kim Blaylock says that she has heard concerns from law enforcement officials that the show may cause more problems than it's worth, but says that she doesn't feel she has the authority to NOT rent out the fairgrounds to a potential vendor. Cookeville police chief Bob Terry addressed members of the county's planning committee Monday night, saying that the issue is not necessarily with what happens inside the gates of the fairgrounds while the car show is going on, but what happens when the exhibitors hit the streets after the show. He says that Lebanon police issued 400 citations and arrested 40 people at the last show in Wilson County. On the flip side, officials say the show was responsible for bringing in several thousand people who added at least $500,000 to the local economy. The planning committee sent the issue to the full commission -- without a recommendation.

Council Candidates Lead Campaign Spending

Monday was the deadline for candidates running for office in Putnam County to file their second quarter campaign finance reports, and while some candidates missed the deadline, a review of the reports turned in shows that the Cookeville city council race has seen the most money spent so far. Ten people are vying for the five council seats and, collectively, they have spent more than $50,000 on their campaigns. The top spender among the nine candidates who filed a timely report was Jim Woodford, who had more than $13,000 in expenditures between April 1st and June 30th. Connie Albrecht reported spending just over $11,600; while John Donnelly and Matt Swallows each had expenditures of about $6,500. Larry Epps, Alma Anderson, and Anthony C. Maxwell had spending reports in the range of $3,500. Zach "Papa" Bollen reported just over $1,300 in expenditures while Paul Spite reported total expenditures of just $38. He would normally have been exempt from filing a report, except that reports are required for any office paying at least $500 a month -- and that is what the monthly compensation is for council members.

Court Date Set For Child Abuse Suspect

A preliminary hearing date has now been set in General Sessions court for a Cookeville woman, who is charged with child abuse and neglect for allegedly leaving her seven-month-old baby alone in a rented room at a home on Chestnut Street. Police say 29-year-old Jerrah McKinzie Vincent was arrested after they conducted an investigation which began when two other residents of the home heard a child crying in an adjacent room. They told police that they had tried to contact the child's mother, but had been unable to. Vincent was later taken to jail on a separate charge, while officers signed a criminal complaint for the child neglect. They say the child's father was in jail and that Vincent had reported leaving the child in the care of another woman. Her hearing on the neglect charge has been scheduled for August 11th. The child was turned over to the custody of DCS.

Putnam Teenager Facing Rape Charges

A Putnam County teenager, who allegedly had sex with a girl under the age of thirteen, will now be tried as an adult. Authorities say 18-year-old Travis Jerred Meadows of Algood, was originally charged as a juvenile for incidents that occurred over the course of several years, starting in 2006. He's now been indicted on three counts of rape of a child, one count of attempted rape of a child, and one count of aggravated sexual battery and will be arraigned on those charges in Criminal Court on July 20th.

New TTU Women's Basketball Assistant Coach Hired

A standout player at the University of Alabama and an assistant coach at Mississippi State and her alma mater, Stacey Franklin is the newest member of the Tennessee Tech University women’s basketball coaching staff, joining second-year head coach Sytia Messer as an assistant coach. Franklin spent 12 seasons as an assistant coach with the Bulldogs at Mississippi State, before returning to Alabama for the past two years. She began her new post with the Golden Eagles on July 9.

"I am honored for the opportunity that Coach Messer has given me to work on her staff and be a part of her winning tradition," Franklin said. "I competed against TTU as a player and a coach, and I could not be more thrilled to be a part of the team. The success that the players have had on the court and it the classroom is outstanding, and I am looking forward to helping to continue that success this year."

While at MSU, Franklin helped lead Mississippi State to eight postseason appearances, including four NCAA Tournament berths. During that time, the Lady Bulldogs posted seven winning seasons.
While on the bench at MSU, the Lady Bulldogs recorded 25 wins over ranked opponents, 18 of which were when MSU was not in the rankings. Franklin helped lead MSU to the program's only SEC championship game in 2000 against Tennessee. While on the recruiting trail Franklin helped bring some of the top talent in the nation to Starkville. While at MSU, Franklin helped coach two Kodak All-Americans, eight first-team All-SEC players, five SEC All-Freshmen Team players, and 54 Academic All-SEC selections. Franklin helped coach the 2003 WNBA first overall selection in LaToya Thomas and the second overall pick in 2005 in Tan White. A total of eight players have gone on to play professional basketball under Franklin.

Franklin's primary areas of responsibility included player development, practice and game preparation and scouting. As a part of player development, Franklin coordinated student-athlete seminars on life skills in many areas, including financial planning, nutrition, professional etiquette, team building and media training. A four-year letterwinner at the University of Alabama from 1989-1993, Franklin co-captained the Crimson Tide to a 23-7 record and second round appearance in the NCAA Tournament as a senior. She was named to the all-SEC Freshman second-team in 1989 and garnered three all-SEC Academic Honor Roll nominations.

While a player at UA, Franklin was involved in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, appeared on the Dean's List on five occasions and was a nominee for the Paul "Bear" Bryant Scholar Athlete Award.
Prior to beginning her tenure at Mississippi State, Franklin served as junior varsity softball coach and assistant for the varsity softball and basketball teams at Tuscaloosa Academy. A native of Smyrna, Ga., Franklin attended Campbell High School, where she was a two-time Cobb County Player of the Year. She still ranks as the top scorer and rebounder in CHS history. Franklin is a member of the Women's Basketball Coaches Association.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Cookeville Walmart Unveils New Design

The Cookeville Walmart, located at 768 S. Jefferson Ave., will celebrate a grand re-opening this week, giving local shoppers a glimpse of the company’s next generation of store design. Walmart officials say the results of a three-month remodeling project will be unveiled at the Cookeville Walmart at 8 a.m. Friday, July 16. Among the improvements, they say, are a new layout, wider aisles, low-profile shelving, a bright interior paint scheme, enhanced lighting and easy-to-read signage.

“We listened to our customers and have redesigned the store to make shopping at Walmart even easier,” said store manager Brad Downs.

The remodeled Cookeville store features a more open shopping environment with wider aisles. Walmart also aligned the departments that customers shop most frequently, making it quicker to purchase everyday items.

“The new layout is easier to navigate, which will save our customers time as they shop for necessities,” said Downs.

Among the changes, Walmart has combined the Site-to-Store pick-up location and photo lab into a single area at the rear of the store. The remodel also brings Walmart customers an expanded electronics department, and a new department called Celebration Station has been added and will feature party supplies, greeting cards, balloons and helium tanks, cake supplies and gift wrap. The grand re-opening celebration is scheduled to begin with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 8 a.m. During the ceremony, store associates will present grants from the Walmart Foundation to local organizations.

Pay Raise Sought For Election Workers

The fiscal review committee of the Putnam County commission will be asked to consider raising the pay rate for people who operate voting machines in the county. The county election commission wants to pay those individuals $100 a day, saying that machine operators are required to have computer skills that other Election Day workers do not need. The election commission says the money for the pay raise could come from the $50,000 they say was saved from consolidating voting precincts. State law requires that the county commission approve compensation for election workers. Meanwhile, the planning committee Monday night will be discussing what is described on the agenda as a "wetland mitigation in the Highlands Business Park." The meetings begin at 5 pm on the top floor of the county courthouse.

Light Poles At Local Ballfield May Be Recalled

Light poles installed at Upperman High School in Baxter eight years ago may be part of a recall being ordered by the Consumer Product Safety Commission because of concerns that they may fall over. In fact, stadium light poles across the country are the focus of a national recall after eleven poles snapped falling onto buildings and sport fields, mostly in the state of Texas. So far, there have been no reports of injuries. The commission issued the recall on July 6, for Whitco Company LP stadium light poles manufactured between 2000 and 2005. They say a crack at the base of the steel poles where the pole meets the base plate can cause the pole to fall. They say engineers should inspect light poles affected by the recall for cracks and fractures. The commission also says that poles from that company were delivered to Upper Cumberland and Volunteer Electric Membership Co-ops during that time.

Several To Be Arraigned Next Week In Criminal Court

The arraignment date for the July session of Putnam County Criminal Court comes up a week from Tuesday, and officials say that a number of individuals picked up in recent days on criminal charges will have their first official court appearance at that time -- including several who are facing drug charges in cases that have been investigated by the TBI. The agency presented evidence at a recent term of the grand jury and was able to get indictments on three people. They are identified as 42-year-old Bruce Edward Phillips of Hilham, 33-year-old Rhonda Marie Tatrow of Cookeville, and 51-year-old Angela Faye McCrary of Cookeville. Tatrow and Phillips are accused of selling a drug called hydromorphone; McCrary is charged for selling methadone. Officials say hydropmorphone is a narcotic drug also known as Dilaudid. Methadone is a drug that is sometimes used to treat heroin addiction.

Cookeville Grandmother Scammed Out Of Money

Cookeville police say they are still investigating an incident in which someone scammed a grandmother out of $2,700 last week. The thief pretended to be the victim's grandson. The Cookeville Herald Citizen reports a man claiming to be in London, England called the woman this past week. He pretended to be her grandson who is serving overseas and claimed to have suffered an injury. The scam artist then asked her to send money by Western Union. The grandmother did so even though she admits the caller's voice did not sound like her grandson. It turns out the grandson is not hurt and is actually in Kuwait. Police Lt. Carl Sells reports that a similar case occurred a few months ago, but, in that instance, the victim took the time to contact another relative before sending any money.

Cookeville Native Gaining Notice In The NBA

A man who was born in Cookeville some 26 years ago is about to get millions of dollars from the NBA. J.J. Redick's mother and father were living in the area and working as pottery artists back in 1984 when he was born. Redick was home-schooled while they lived here, and the family later moved to Roanoke, Virginia. He became a stand-out player at Duke University and has been playing for the Orlando Magic of the NBA. But over the weekend, the Chicago Bulls offered him a $19 million dollar three-year contract. The Magic have a few more days to match that offer. Redick was the 11th overall pick in the 2006 draft. Officials say he has steadily improved in the NBA, and become a key player off the bench for the Magic.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Cookeville Regional Hosting Health Fair

Cookeville Regional Medical Center will be hosting a health and fitness fair on July 24 from 7:00 am to 10:00 am. The health fair is open to the public and provides an opportunity for community members to participate in affordable health screenings to stay abreast of their health.

Numerous affordable screenings available include:

Blood Pressure
Cholesterol and Lipid Profile
Vitamin D Level
Prostate Specific Antigen
Bone Density Screening
Complete Blood Count
Oxygen Saturation
Complete Chemistry Profile
Thyroid Profile
Hemoglobin A1C
Blood Type
Vascular Screening
Calcium Score

The health fair will be held in the hospital’s Education Center located inside the East entrance of the hospital beside the Emergency Room. Registration is required to attend. To register and to see complete pricing of screenings, please visit the hospital’s website or call The Community Wellness Department at (931) 783-2587.

Couple Charged For Leaving Kids Alone In Car

An August 9th court date has been set for a couple from Clay County, Tennessee, who are accused of leaving their children alone in a hot car. It happened at the Cookeville Kroger store on Wednesday evening. Police say 38-year-old Deshawn Lamont Tucker and 29-year-old Tabatha Kay Newman of Celina are charged in the case. Police say they violated section 803 in Chapter 10 of the Tennessee Motor Vehicle laws. That's the one that makes it a crime to leave children unattended in a vehicle. Authorities say the mother of the five children -- all under the age of ten -- had gone into the store, leaving the kids with her boyfriend. But he then allegedly also decided to go inside, leaving the kids alone. Someone passing by the vehicle reportedly saw the children and called police.

How Running A Stop Sign Can Turn Into A Felony

A Cookeville man is facing felony evading arrest charges today after a Cookeville police officer allegedly observed him run a stop sign. Sgt. James Harris says it was about 10:30 Tuesday morning when he saw the white Ford Thunderbird run a stop sign at Shipley Street and Stevens Street without even slowing down. He attempted to make a traffic stop, but claims that the driver -- identified as 18-year-old Wiliam Glenn Reagan of Shipley Street, ignored the blue lights and siren and proceeded to "blow through the stop sign at Stevens Street and Walnut Avenue at a high rate of speed and in the oncoming traffic lane." Harris says Reagan then apparently tried to make a right turn into the parking lot area that runs along the side of Panda Garden when he lost control of his vehicle and ended up sliding up over the grass embankment and into the parking lot of Church's Chicken. He claims that Reagan began to flee the scene, but stopped when ordered to get on the ground. In addition to the felony evading charge, he was charged with reckless driving, driving without a license, and violation of the registration law.

Local Taxi Driver Scammed Out Of Fare

The Putnam County sheriff's office is investigating what is described as a "theft of services" report. A taxi cab driver from Crossville reported that she had picked up a woman in Cumberland County Wednesday and agreed to drive that woman to a home on Belka Road in Putnam County, which is a short distance from the county line in the Glade Creek area. The cab driver says her passenger told her that she worked at the home and was going to go inside to get a check to pay for the fare. The driver noticed the woman go up onto a deck at the side of the home, but when she later went to check on the woman, she was nowhere to be found and no one answered a knock at the door. The suspect was described as a white female, with a light complexion, a medium build and light brown hair pulled back into a ponytail.

Rotarians Of The Year Named

C. Pat Bagley, Tennessee Tech University dean of the College of Agricultural and Human Sciences, has been named co-Rotarian of the Year by the Cookeville Rotary Club. Also named to the honor is Brad Davis, a financial advisor with Edward Jones in Cookeville. The awards were announced at the recent Rotary Gala held at the Leslie Town Centre. The awards, presented annually by the 145-member Cookeville Rotary Club, are given to one or two Rotarians who have gone above and beyond expectations. In January with a group of 21 students and faculty members from TTU, Bagley toured a boys’ orphanage in Puebla, Mexico, and helped raise more than $700 to support the orphans. He also provided leadership for a Group Study Exchange Rotary group from Pakistan, which visited Cookeville in April, and was involved an international grant to provide adults in Bolivia books and teachers to promote adult literacy. Davis provided leadership to initiate the first Rotary Club Soccer Tournament in Cookeville this year, attended by 50 soccer teams, some as far away as Memphis.

Beekeepers To Swarm Campus Of TTU

A literal buzz will be coming from Tennessee Tech University this weekend as about 400 Heartland Apicultural Society members swarm campus for their annual meeting. Tech officials say apiculture, the keeping of bees on a large scale, promises to offer sustainable pollination and of course, honey, on TTU’s Waters Farm, so they say this was a natural fit for the organization.

“We purchased 12 colonies for a faculty grant research project, and this conference will allow us to highlight several opportunities, including our university’s commitment to the green revolution and sustainable agriculture,” said Bruce Greene, TTU agriculture professor.

Nathaniel Collett, an agriculture major helping Greene manage the bees, says this summer the bees are being fed sugar water two days a week because they arrived between flowering seasons.

“Next summer, we expect the bees to pollinate plants on the farm and begin producing honey we can sell on campus and in the community at the Farmer’s Market,” said Collett.

The conference, hosted in cooperation with the University of Tennessee, meant having to provide colonies, which house about 2,000 bees each, in a convenient location for training. That location, temporary home to six colonies brought by UT representatives for demonstrations, turned out to be President Bob Bell’s Walton House lawn. Collett says the area is clearly marked so the bees aren’t a danger to unsuspecting visitors. Conference topics include: Getting Started in Beekeeping; Queen-Rearing Basics, and Honey Management. But organizers say there’s also drama and conflict covered during “Bear vs. Beekeepers” and “Blue Sky, Dragonflies, and How to Keep Our Bees out of the Neighbor’s Pool.”

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Tip Leads Police To Stolen Vehicle In Cookeville

Cookeville police have charged a Robertson County man with theft of a motor vehicle after finding him in possession of a pick-up truck that had been stolen in Crossville. Officer Ronnie Franklin says he went to the Plateau Mental Health Center building on South Willow Avenue this week after receiving information passed on by the Cumberland County sheriff's office that a 1999 Ford F150 might be found there. Franklin says he found the truck parked behind the building and says a white male subject was standing next to it. That man was identified as 30-year-old Travis Matthew Lane of Cross Plains, Tennessee. Lane allegedly admitted to having taken the truck from Crossville. He was transported to the Putnam County jail and served with the auto theft warrant.

Vandals Strike At Dogwood Park

Cookeville's newest park, which is still mostly under construction, has been hit by vandals. According to police, sometime over the weekend, someone used red spray paint to draw and write all over a building that was under construction at Dogwood Park, which is located on Broad Street across from city hall. The report, by Officer Lester Langford, says the drawings included a clown's face, a character with a long nose that the vandal had labeled "Pinocho," and what were described as other "vulgar" drawings. Langford says no paint can was located in the immediate area, but detectives have photographed the vandalism and are continuing to investigate. The newest portion of Dogwood Park was started a few years ago when the city agreed to purchase an old shopping center property that was mostly vacant and turn it into a green space.

Purple Pride Caravan To Begin Rolling Soon

The Purple Pride Caravan gets rolling soon, with stops planned at seven communities around the region plus two events in Cookeville, all in anticipation of Tennessee Tech’s 2010 football season. The Caravan provides Tech football fans with the opportunity to meet Golden Eagle head coach Watson Brown, pick up schedule cards, win free tickets to the first game and register to win other prizes. For additional information on the caravan or to purchase tickets for the upcoming football season, call 372-3940.

2010 Purple Pride Caravan Schedule:

Tuesday, July 13 – Celina (Sav-A-Lot)
Tuesday, July 20 – Smithville (Sav-A-Lot)
Tuesday, July 27 – Monterey (Sav-A-Lot)
Tuesday, August 3 – Livingston (First National Bank)
Tuesday, Aug. 10 – Gainesboro (Sav-A-Lot)
Tuesday, Aug. 17 – McMinnville (Sav-A-Lot)
Tuesday, Aug. 24 – Sparta (First National Bank)
Tuesday, Aug. 31 – Cookeville (Sav-A-Lot)
Tuesday, Sept. 14 – Cookeville (First National Bank)

Tech Advises Summer Grads On Commencement

Even though Tennessee Tech University will not hold a summer commencement ceremony this year, the school says that summer graduates can still take part in the fall commencement to be held in December. Summer graduates receiving an undergradate degree must visit the Records Office website to enter two responses: a “yes” or “no” about walking in fall commencement and the address to mail their diplomas. Summer graduates will not receive a reminder of the ceremony later in the year, and unless they respond that they plan to attend, there will not be a seat reserved for them.

TTU Researchers Assisting "Dinosaur" Fish

Researchers at Tennessee Tech University have found one piece of a scientific puzzle that they say just may help save an endangered species from extinction. The pallid sturgeon is known as the “dinosaur” of the Missouri and Mississippi rivers and has been on the endangered species list since 1990. This primitive species has been around since the late Cretaceous period 70 million years ago when dinosaurs roamed the earth. Today, there are believed to be fewer than 10,000 left in the Missouri and Mississippi rivers. Scientists believe the endangered pallid sturgeon is no longer reproducing in its natural habitat in sustainable numbers because the rivers have been so altered by dams and channelization. And TTU scientists have now proven that commercial fishing is having a direct and detrimental impact on the species as well. The U-S Fish and Wildlife Service is considering what to do with that information.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Sheriff's Department Investigating Homicide Case

Officials with the Putnam County sheriff's office are releasing very few details about the death of a man, who was found murdered on the front porch of his home Sunday morning. Officials confirm that they are treating the death of 48-year-old John Gregory Williams of Cookeville Boat Dock Road as a homicide, but they have not yet revealed what the cause of death was or any details as to how he died. They do say that Williams had a criminal record dating back several years, but are not saying whether that had anything to do with his death. He reportedly lived alone and his body was found about 1 am on the porch by a neighbor. It has been sent to Nashville for an autopsy.

Stabbing Incident Still Under Investigation

Cookeville police are continuing to investigate a stabbing incident in which a local resident was seriously injured over the weekend. Police say they are looking for witnesses who may be able to provide information about the stabbing of 42-year-old Marlin Glenn Wallace of Baxter. They say Wallace was apparently stabbed during an altercation on Minnear Street in Cookeville about 3 am Saturday. Officers arrived to find him lying on a concrete patio and bleeding from stab wounds to the neck and back. A resident of the home told police that he "didn't see anything and didn't know anything" about how Wallace came to be injured.

Arson Charges Pending In Monterey Fire

A man who authorities say is homeless has been charged with arson in a fire which heavily damaged the old fire hall in Monterey over the weekend. Authorities say 56-year-old James W. Maddle had reportedly been seen living in a vacant building near the old fire hall and allegedly admitted to having fireworks and a lighter on Saturday when the blaze broke out. The flames spread from the vacant building to a garage that was being used as a weight room for the police department and also to the old fire hall itself which was being used to store equipment for the town's water and street departments. The total damage caused by the fire was estimated to be $150,000. Maddle will be in court on the charge July 12th.

Several Unusual Theft Cases Under Investigation

Cookeville police are investigating several unusual theft cases today -- including one in which a set of stilts were taken from an apartment on Ellis Avenue. The victim told police that he had been working on a drywall project in the apartment when the stilts were stolen. They were valued at more than three hundred dollars. Meanwhile, a resident of Walnut Avenue told police that an antique, cast-iron "boot scraper," in the shape of a Dachshund, had been stolen from her home. The loss was one hundred dollars in that case. On Broad Street, police say someone broke into a detached garage and made off with a generator, valued at nearly three hundred dollars. And on Hillsdale Drive, a resident told police that someone tried to steal a four hundred pound statue of Jesus that was supposed to be inside a flower bed. During the moving process, they damaged the nose and finger on the statue -- before apparently giving up.

Children's Theatre Tickets Now On Sale

Tickets are now on sale for the Cookeville Children's Theatre production of "Cinderella," which opens at the Cookeville Performing Arts Center next week. Show dates begin on Friday, July 16th at 7:30pm, with additional shows on July 17th at 2:00pm & 7:30pm July 18th at 2:00pm July 22nd at 7:30pm July 23rd at 7:30pm and July 24th at 2:00pm & 7:30pm. For more information, you can contact: the CPAC box office at 528-1313, or visit the web site

Monday, July 5, 2010

Court Date Set For Alleged Jewel Thief

A Clay County man will be arraigned in Putnam County General Sessions Court on July 26th after being arrested for stealing jewelry from the K-Mart store last week. Police say 37-year-old Brian Mayes is charged with felony theft for allegedly taking several bracelets, earrings, and necklaces from the display case at K-Mart and fleeing the scene. Store employees were able to get a tag number on his vehicle, which was later stopped in Jackson County. According to reports, Mayes allegedly confessed to stealing the more than two thousand dollars worth merchandise from the store.

Supreme Court Rules On Putnam Murder Case

Nearly 10 years after the crime, the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals has once again upheld the first degree murder conviction of a Putnam County man who had, most recently, argued that his constitutional rights were violated because he had an ineffective lawyer. Garner Dwight Padgett, who had received a life sentence for the murder of Matthew Eric Smith in March of 2001, claimed in what's called a post-conviction appeal that the trial court violated his federal and state constitutional rights at the trial by asking members of the jury pool whether they could be fair to both sides, thus lowering the State’s burden of proof. He also claimed that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel at the trial for failing to object to the court’s asking whether the members could be fair. But the Court of Criminal Appeals failed to find merit in either claim.

So Far, So Good On Hospital Smoking Ban

It's now been nearly a week since officials at Cookeville Regional Medical Center implemented a campus-wide smoking ban at the hospital -- both inside and outside. Prior to July 1, smoking had been allowed in designated areas outside the hospital, but even those have now been eliminated. Hospital spokeseperson Melahn Finley says that as a health care organization, Cookeville Regional is committed to the health and safety of our employees and patients. She says , "we believe that we have a responsibility to take a leadership role on this major health issue, and allowing people to use tobacco products defeats this purpose."

Officials say Cookeville Regional’s decision to go tobacco-free is not an attempt to “force” anyone to quit using tobacco products. Rather, the tobacco-free initiative is a concrete way to demonstrate their ongoing commitment to healthy living. If you would like assistance on how to quit smoking, visit the Quit 4 Life Support Group on Thursday evenings at 6 pm in the hospital cafeteria conference room or call (931) 528-QUIT.

"Major Changes" Coming To Cookeville Transit Buses

What are described as "major changes" are coming later this week to the Cookeville Area Transit System. Officials say the changes will include a revision of the routes that the buses run and an effort to encourage more people to use the buses. There will now be two routes running through town, the Green Route and the Purple Route. The Green Route will run in a clockwise pattern starting at the UCHRA Hub and making its first stop at Wal-Mart. The Purple Route will run in a counter-clockwise pattern starting at the Hub and making its first stop at Goodwill Shopping Center. The so-called CATS system is being funded right now by federal stimulus dollars, but officials have said that the buses may stop running if local governments don't step in when the federal money runs out. Starting this Saturday, July 10th, CATS buses will be running from 6 am to 6 pm Monday through Friday, while the Green Route buses will also travel on Saturdays from 6 am to 6pm. The bus system will also be offering free ride Saturdays during the month of July.

Chamber Of Commerce Holding Candidate Forums

The Cookeville-Putnam County Chamber of Commerce is holding two political candidate forums this month in an effort to educate its membership about the people running for both the Cookeville city council and the Putnam County commission. The Chamber is inviting members to attend what they are calling the Business Before Hours: Meet the Candidates Series. Part One is scheduled for one week from Tuesday and will focus on candidates running for the 24 available seats on the Putnam County Commission. Part Two will be held on July 20 and will focus on the ten candidates running for Cookeville City Council. Organizers say they have asked the candidates to present their platform on business-related issues that affect the Chamber’s Membership.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Cookeville Council Approves No Tax Hike Budget

There will be no tax increase for residents of the city of Cookeville this year, but there will also be no tax reduction. The city council Thursday night approved a budget and tax levy that keeps the rate where it was this year. City finance director Mike Davidson says it would be 87 cents. There was an effort by council members Ryan Williams and Ricky Shelton to lower that rate by four cents, but that motion failed to gain approval. The council did, however, approve moving four cents from the debt service fund to the state street aid fund to be used for additional street paving.