Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Crystal Martin, MD Joins Cookeville Regional

Family Practice physician Dr. Crystal Martin has joined the staff at Cookeville Regional Medical Center. Dr. Martin will be joining Dr. Amy Hix of The Physician Associates of Cookeville Regional located at 128 North Whitney Avenue in Cookeville. Dr. Martin received her medical degree from American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine and she completed her residency in Family Practice at The University of Kentucky, East Kentucky Family Medicine Residency Program in Hazard, Kentucky. Dr. Martin is relocating to the Upper Cumberland. To schedule an appointment, you may contact her office at 931-646-4641.

Luna To Lead Highlands Debate Task Force

Bob Luna, senior partner of Luna and Birdwell Investment Group has been chosen to lead the Highlands Town Hall Debate 2010 Task Force. As chairman, Luna and the task force will have the responsibility of planning the first-ever televised General Election gubernatorial debate held outside of a major-metro area in Tennessee history. Luna is also current chairman of the Cookeville-Putnam County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. The Highlands – a regional public/private sector initiative between Overton, Putnam and White counties – is partnering with Tennessee Tech University, League of Women Voters of Tennessee and Nashville’s WTVF NewsChannel5 to produce Highlands Town Hall Debate 2010, the first non-partisan General Election debate for Tennessee’s 2010 gubernatorial election. The State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE) has also joined as a sponsor of the debate. The town-hall-style debate, which will offer a unique focus on rural economic development, education and health care needs, will be held on Tuesday, September 14 at 7 p.m. CST. It will be broadcast statewide. The debate will take place in Bryan Fine Arts Building (Wattenbarger Auditorium) on Tennessee Tech University’s campus in Cookeville. Republican Bill Haslam and Democrat Mike McWherter will hear first-hand about the challenges facing rural and suburban voters.

“It is vitally important that our next governor hear the concerns of rural voters and formulate plans to address their challenges,” Luna said. “I am honored to have the opportunity to be a part of this first-time event in the Highlands and what it means for the rural voter’s voice statewide.”

Luna encouraged those who want to be a part of the action to go to the debate Web site, http://www.highlandsdebate2010.com/, to submit questions by video or in written form. Video questions can also be submitted via YouTube.
“Remember that your questions must be on hometown issues – those mostly affecting rural and suburban areas of Tennessee,” Luna said.

Police Recover Stolen Lawnmower

Cookeville police criminal charges are pending against two people who allegedly stole a lawnmower from a vacant lot on Gainesboro Grade this week. Officer Brandon Tayes says that he had received information that someone in a white Chevrolet S-10 pick-up was going to deliver a stolen mower to a residence on Autumn Avenue. He says police followed that vehicle and observed the occupants pick the mower up and then drive back to Autumn Avenue. That's when authorities moved in to question the suspects. The driver initially claimed that the $2,000 John Deere mower belonged to his mother, but police say the mother told them it didn't belong to her. The man then admitted to picking up the mower at the request of 28-year-old Heather Nicole Minard of Cooke Street. He told authorities that he did not know who it belonged to. Minard, on the other hand, continued to insist that the mower belonged to the driver's mother. Because she had an active warrant outstanding, Minard was taken into custody, and police say charges are pending against her and the driver for possession of stolen property.

TTU Football Team Prepares For Road Game

The Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles will kick off coach Watson Brown’s fourth season at the helm with a visit to Arkansas to meet the No. 17 Razorbacks Saturday evening. It’s Tech’s 87th season of intercollegiate football, the 14th consecutive year that the Golden Eagles have squared off against an FBS opponent, and the third straight year that Tech has faced two opponents from the higher division. Both teams come into the game having won their last encounters, Tech wrapping up the 2009 season with a 6-5 overall record by downing Murray State, 45-14. The Razorbacks wound up 8-5 overall following a 20-17 win over East Carolina in the Autozone Liberty Bowl. Tech brings back 55 lettermen from last season including 16 starters. The biggest challenge facing Brown’s staff is replacing record-setting passer Lee Sweeney. Sophomore Tre Lamb is scheduled to make his first career start at quarterback. Last season, as a redshirt freshman, Lamb was 8-for-18 for 113 yards passing.

Education Reform Group Joins Debate Sponsors

Organizers of a gubernatorial debate in Cookeville in mid-September today announced that the State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE) is joining as a sponsor. The Highlands Town Hall Debate 2010 is scheduled for September 14 at TTU in Cookeville. SCORE, a not-for-profit, non-partisan group led by former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, encourages sound education policy decisions at the state and local levels. Frist, a surgeon who represented Tennessee in the U.S. Senate for 12 years, said SCORE supports a renewed focus on key issues, including education and health care.

"Ensuring a better education for Tennessee students is critical as we work to improve health outcomes and promote a better quality of life for all Tennesseans," he said. "SCORE is proud to support an open dialogue on the important issues in this election."

As the first televised general-election gubernatorial debate held outside of Nashville, Memphis, or Knoxville, the Highlands Town Hall Debate 2010 will give focus to hometown issues facing rural and suburban areas — with an emphasis on economic development, education, and health care. The Highlands is a public/private economic development initiative between Overton, Putnam, and White Counties managed by the Cookeville-Putnam County Chamber of Commerce.

Using guidelines established by its partners, the debate will offer a unique perspective on voter attitudes by soliciting video questions in advance via YouTube and allowing Tennesseans to vote on which questions they want asked of the candidates. Written questions may also be submitted via the debate’s web site. The debate will include a section for live audience questions and a section for candidate-to-candidate questions.

All Clear Given At TTU's Johnson Hall

Police at Tennessee Tech University have given an all-clear for Johnson Hall, an academic building that was evacuated earlier in the day. The all-clear, allowing students and faculty to return to the building, was issued about 2 p.m. University Police called for a lockdown of TTU's Johnson Hall around 11 a.m. after someone reported seeing a person with bullets in a restroom inside the building. The lockdown was initiated at 11:10 a.m. by University Police using the building's internal public address system. Around 12:30 p.m. University Police evacuated Johnson Hall to do a more thorough search of the building. City and university police officers were stationed at the building. All classes in Johnson Hall were cancelled for the day and evening. Classes will resume as scheduled on Wednesday.

TTU's Johnson Hall Evacuated

Tennessee Tech University police are evacuating Johnson Hall to do a more thorough search of the building. That after a lockdown was ordered just before noon on Tuesday when someone reported seeing a person with bullets in a restroom inside the building. City and university police officers are stationed at the building. All classes in Johnson Hall are cancelled for the day and evening, and students are being advised to please avoid the area. Tech officials say they will be notified when an all-clear is issued. As of now, no reports of any altercations, incidents or threats have been made. The lockdown was initiated around 11:10 a.m. by University Police using the building’s internal public address system.

Officials Monitoring Health Of Local Beehives

Hives of honeybees in the Cookeville area are said to be suffering from something called American Foulbrood, a contagious bacterial disease that can kill the entire hive. Symptoms include a distinctive odor in the hive, a sunken brood comb and evidence that the normally white larvae of the bees turning brown. The Cookeville Herald-Citizen said 44 colonies have been affected in Putnam, Overton and Cumberland counties. Typically, just eight cases are found each year in the entire state of Tennessee. In the past, beekeepers have been able to use antibiotics to control the disease. However, officials say this recent outbreak seems to be a new strain resistant to the current antibiotics. American Foulbrood cannot be transferred to humans, but it does kill bees that are ultimately responsible for the reproduction of countless species of plants.

Former Employee Suspected In Business Theft

The Putnam County sheriff's office is investigating the theft of more than two thousand dollars in cash from a business on Burgess Falls Road over the weekend. The owner told authorities that someone broke out the south side window of a show room and pulled out all of the drawers in an office, making off with $2,300. The victim says nothing else appeared to be disturbed at the business, which leads him to believe that the person who broke in and took the money could be an ex-employee, who was fired a few days ago. Detective Doug Burgess is investigating.

Cell Phone Scammers Still At Work In The Area

Putnam County authorities say con artists who are randomly calling local cell phone customers, trying to convince them to hand over bank account information, are still at work. The most recent report came this week from a Putnam County woman, who told the sheriff's office that she had received a call from a man claiming to represent Verizon wireless. As in earlier cases, that man told the woman that she was behind in the payment of her cell phone bill and that he needed her banking information to make sure that her service was not cut off. But, police say, this time the victim was not fooled. She told the scammer that her bill was current, and says that when she tried to get more information out of him, he became extremely evasive ... and hung up.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Newly Elected Officials Sworn Into Office

They don't take office until Wednesday, but many of Putnam County's newly elected officials were sworn in during a ceremony Monday night at the courthouse. The 24 members of the county commission had attended a training session before taking the oath of office along with other county elected officials, including new Trustee Freddie Nelson. Nelson, who is replacing the retiring Gail Glover, has reportedly been working in the trustee's office for the past few weeks to get a feel for the job. The University of Tennessee's County Technical Assistance Service also offers training classes for newly elected officials statewide. Meanwhile, the new mayor and city council in Algood will be sworn in on September 14th. Algood city manager Mike Patterson, who took the job after the controversial dismissal of former city manager Freddie Maxwell, has announced that his last day on the job will be September 13th.

DCS Investigating Unsanitary Living Conditions

The Putnam County sheriff's department says they have asked the Department of Childrens Services to investigate a case in which they found three young children living in what they described as "extremely unsanitary" conditions. According to Deputy Linda Jordan, the case began when she was dispatched to do a welfare check at a residence on Homestead Circle. She says that upon entering the home, she found nearly the entire floor covered with trash and no furniture in the house. She claims there was also trash in a room where two older children were sleeping and the kitchen counters were piled up with stuff. The father of the children told Jordan that the dog had gotten into the trash and he had not yet had time to clean it up. He says there was no furniture in the house because he was about to move to a new place, but Jordan says that she was unable to determine whether the furniture had been moved into that residence. No charges have been filed at this point.

THP Cookeville District Schedules Checkpoints

The Cookeville District of the Tennessee Highway Patrol will be conducting a series of what they call "Driver License Roadside Safety Checkpoints" in September. The first ones are scheduled for Friday, September 10th. Troopers will be set up along Highway 70-North and Highway 62 in Putnam County, looking for people who are out driving without being properly licensed. Lt. Brian Lawson, with the THP, says they have found the checkpoints to be an effective means of ensuring public safety because they realize the potential danger presented to the public by unqualified drivers. State law mandates that the THP publicize when they are going to have such roadside checkpoints.

Baxter Students Improvise For A Second Week

Baxter Elementary School students displaced by flooding earlier this month will spend at least one more week at Upperman High School and Cornerstone Middle School. Heavy rains from August 18th flooded parts of Baxter Elementary and damaged the building's electrical and telephone systems. The students were sent to Cornerstone Middle School, where classes were held in the auditorium while the damage was assessed. And, after officials realized the long-term nature of the repairs, Baxter Elementary students were divided between Upperman High School and Cornerstone Middle School in Baxter. Director of Schools Kathleen Airhart says an electrical engineer is evaluating the Baxter Elementary building through next week at least.

Labor Day Event Planned For Standing Stone Park

Cookeville area residents are being invited to travel to Standing Stone State Park on Saturday, September 4th, for the 10th Annual Night Light Contest. Campers can decorate their campsite with a creative selection of lights and judging begins after dark. There will be prizes given for most original display, but a camping fee is required to participate. For more information, please call (931) 823-6347. Meanwhile, you can also go to Standing Stone on Saturday, September 11, and be a part of the 28th National Rolley Hole Marble Championship. Organizers say this traditional marbles contest draws some of the country’s best players. Standing Stone State Park covers nearly 11,000 acres in Overton County within a triangle formed by highways connecting Livingston, Gainesboro and Celina. The park takes its name from the Standing Stone, an eight-foot tall rock standing upright on a sandstone ledge, which was supposedly used as a boundary line between two separate Indian nations. When the rock fell, the Indians placed a portion of it upon an improvised monument to preserve it. The stone is still preserved in Monterey.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

School System Seeks Children Who Need Services

The Putnam County school system today is advertising their participation in the federally mandated "Child Find" program. Officials say it's an activity in which school systems are required to search for and try to identify children, who live in the district and who may be eligible to receive what are called "early intervention" services. Putnam County schools provide speech and language therapy to a variety of students, many of whom come through referrals from doctors, day care center directors or others. If you know any disabled individual ages three through 21, including children attending private school, who are not presently receiving an appropriate service, you can call the school system's central office at 526-9777 for more information.

Court Date Set For Man Arrested At Fortune Teller

If he chooses to contest the citation, a 52-year-old man will be in court on September 27th on a charge of public intoxication. Cookeville police say they arrested the man after he allegedly caused a disturbance at a fortune telling business on Cedar Street last week. According to police reports, the man became upset because the "reading" provided for him did not "help" with his problems. When he refused to leave the business, employees called police. Officer Cary Matheney arrived to find the suspect allegedly intoxicated and cited him.

November Campaigns Heating Up In Putnam County

The August election is not yet a month old, but candidates running in November are already gearing up their campaigns in Putnam County. State Senator Charlotte Burks of Monterey will have a campaign kick-off event Tuesday night at 6:30 at the Cookeville Farmers Market. She is running for re-election in November against Republican Gary Steakley and independent candidate Joe Wilmoth. Meanwhile, incumbent State Representative Henry Fincher will hold his campaign kick-off on Thursday, September 9th, at the Hyder-Burks Ag Pavilion. His opponent, Republican Ryan Williams is having a luncheon Tuesday featuring a keynote speech from United State Senator Bob Corker. If you need more information, all of the candidates have a presence on the Internet, including Facebook accounts and websites.

FNP Joins CRMC Staff

Family Nurse Practitioner Michael Rawdon has joined the staff at Cookeville Regional Medical Center. Rawdon will be joining Drs. Amy Hix and Crystal Martin, both family practice doctors, of The Physician Associates of Cookeville Regional located at 128 North Whitney Avenue in Cookeville.

Rawdon received his Master of Science degree in Nursing from Vanderbilt University and graduated with Honors. He enjoys working with patients on wellness promotion, injury prevention and disease education.

Rawdon relocated to the Upper Cumberland with his wife and two children and is enjoying serving the patients of the region. To schedule an appointment with Michael Rawdon, FNP call The Physician Associates at 931-646-4641.

TTU Basketball Team Returns From Caribbean Trip

Any way you measure the distance, the Tennessee Tech men’s basketball team was a long way from home last week during its tour to the Dominican Republic. Coach Mike Sutton’s team returned to campus Thursday, just in time for the start of the Fall semester on Monday. He says the experience will benefit his squad this season.

“Everybody is back safe-and-sound and healthy,” Sutton said. “It was a wonderful opportunity. We got a chance to see all our kids perform in game situations. The competition level differed from top-flight professional programs to lesser ones, but every game was a challenge. They are very enthusiastic about their basketball in the Dominican Republic.”

The trip was sponsored by G.O. Ministries, a Christian non-profit organization dedicated to the ministry of short-term missions, with the goal of preparing participants to support the efforts of Christian leaders abroad.

Overall, Tech went 5-2 during the games they played on the trip, and Sutton was able to see how well his newcomers will mesh with the returnees. The 2010-11 Golden Eagle roster will include six new faces.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Putnam Jobless Rate Goes Down In July

The unemployment rate in Putnam County was down in July, according to the latest figures from the Department of Labor. The jobless rate here was nine percent, down four-tenths of a point from June, and substantially lower than the 9.9 rate of a year ago. Still, local officials say a lot of Putnam County residents are looking for work. Out of a labor force of just over 35,000 workers, more than 3,000 were unemployed. Around the region, Overton County's jobless rate was unchanged at 11.1 percent. Jackson County's unemployment was also in the double digits at 11.4 percent. And, in White County, it was 12.2 percent.

Watson Brown Show Returning To The Air

Tennessee Tech football fans throughout the region can follow the Golden Eagles during the 2010 season with a weekly call-in show that will be simulcast on both television and radio. Newstalk 1400 the Hub will be the radio outlet for the The Watson Brown Show, featuring the fourth-year Golden Eagle head coach. During the 30-minute broadcast, Brown will recap the previous week’s game, talk about highlights, preview the upcoming opponent, and answer questions from callers as well as e-mails. Fans can ask questions during the Monday night live broadcasts at 5 pm by calling 528-2222. E-mail questions should go to: WatsonBrownShow@gmail.com. The first show airs on Labor Day.

Putnam Election Commission To Hold Special Mtg.

The Putnam County Election Commission will hold a special called meeting next Wednesday, September 1, for the purpose of discussing three referenda that may be on the ballot in November. Those include a Liquor By The Drink referendum for the city of Algood, a referendum for the city of Cookeville to consider the sale of alcoholic beverages in retail package stores, and a referendum for Putnam County to consider implementation of the 1981 Financial Management Act. The signatures necessary for the Algood referendum have already been obtained, and officials expect to confirm the validity of the signatures needed for the Cookeville petition by the time the meeting is held next week. By law, the election commission must vote to approve the placement of any referendum on the ballot. The meeting is scheduled to take place at 8:30 am at the Election Commission office on County Services Drive.

Power Of 10 Program Recognized By Governor

The city of Cookeville's Power of 10 program has won an award from the Governor's Council on Physical Fitnesss and Health. It was one of nine programs recognized statewide for a Shining Star Award. The award program is designed to recognize the contributions of an individual or group for efforts to promote healthy lifestyles. The areas of recognition are communities (Where We Live); employers (Where We Work); and educational settings (Where We Learn). The Power of 10 program won in the Where We Live Category. The Power of 10 program is offered through the city's Department of Leisure Services. Each participant commits to walking two miles per day, five days a week. At then of ten weeks, they will have walked 100 miles. You can call the Department for more information on how to participate.

Sheriff's Department Investigating Animal Cruelty

Animal cruelty charges may be brought against a man who moved out of a home, but left some pets behind. Deputy Bill Hunter is investigating whether some dogs he found at the home this week were abandoned or were, unintentionally, left behind. He says the case began when officers were called to an apartment on Pippin Road by the landlord, who was requesting help in removing the animals. Hunter says the dogs were found in "terrible living conditions," without access to food or water. And he says that feces covered almost every square inch of the floor, mattress, and an old chair. Further investigation revealed that a woman who had been living at the apartment had been jailed in Jackson County, but Hunter says he needs to know whether the man, who was also living there, left the residence before or after the woman's arrest. If it can be proven that the man abandoned the animals, he will be charged with animal cruelty.

Upgrades Being Made To Tech Library

Navigating the Angelo & Jennette Volpe Library at Tennessee Tech University this semester may require a bit more help than usual, but the payoff is big. Work is already under way to create TTU’s learning commons on the library’s second floor entrance level by August 2011. The commons will become a modern, collaborative learning environment filled with the latest technology delivering blistering-fast wireless connectivity and the best research assistance available anywhere. It will incorporate group and individual study spaces and provide students with tutoring in everything from calculus to composition. The commons is part of an aggressive campuswide strategy to boost student success and retention. The learning commons is made possible with more than $2.01 million in one-time federal economic stimulus funding. It’s all part of the larger $10 million technology upgrade that will blanket campus with network connectivity 10 times faster than today’s speeds. Funding for the project is primarily from federal stimulus dollars and no student fees are being used for the project.

First, however, there will be some inconveniences at the library. Students will notice changes at the library almost immediately upon return to campus, said Douglas Bates, TTU’s new dean of library and learning assistance. Bates joined TTU this July and has been assigned by Provost Jack Armistead to transform the library. The second floor entrance level of the library is being cleared to prepare for electrical contractors who are expected to begin work in mid-December. It’s a monumental task. Some 7,000 shelves of periodicals must be relocated, circulation and other services must find new homes, and the floor’s bay of computers will go up one story.

“We’ve determined that the best course of action is to clear the second floor so that the construction work can be done faster. We’ll work through the end of this semester to clear the floor and move everything to other floors of the library,” Bates said. “It’ll be a tight squeeze, but I have a good sense that we’ll still be able to offer everything that we offer now, just in different locations.”

Elsewhere on campus, crews braved this summer’s hot temperatures to install fiber optic lines to academic and administrative buildings. Tech is in the midst of a major campus network upgrade, said S. Deivanayagam, associate dean for graduate studies and research for the College of Engineering and chairperson of the task force assembled to oversee the technology upgrades. Work progressed this summer for cabling to buildings, hardware purchases and initial design work for the learning commons and Clement Hall power system upgrades, he said.

“There’s not going to be a whole lot of disruption to current accommodations in Clement Hall. We think the transition will be seamless,” Deivanayagam said.

Once the technology upgrades are complete, TTU’s most of the 235-acre campus will be blanketed in wireless connectivity and wireline connections will be 10 times fast than they are today.

“Our wired connections will be gigabit and wireless will be a minimum speed of 130 megabits, scaling up to 300 megabits,” said Danny Reese, TTU’s associate vice president, information technology. “It’s amazing when you consider that all this data is flowing over optical fiber, which is a strand of glass not as thick as a human hair.”

TTU’s new campus data network will use switching components from Santa Clara, Calif.-based vendor Extreme Networks. Chattanooga-based Excalibur Integrated Systems is handling network design, migration and maintenance work.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Burks and Fincher Meeting With the Governor

State Senator Charlotte Burks and State Representative Henry Fincher are meeting with Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen Thursday to talk about the extent of flood damage to the area. Fincher says they are making a formal request of the governor to declare Putnam County a disaster area because of the damage from last week's floods.

"I look forward to the chance to sit down with Governor Bredesen and explain to him the extent of the devastation we suffered here in Putnam County," Fincher said, "and to make sure that he knows how many families and how many people have been affected."

Fincher says he has heard that the governor is sympathetic to the plight of local individuals affected by the flood, but says he believes a face to face meeting is important.

Putnam Woman Facing Four Potential DUIs

The Putnam County sheriff's office says a woman has been charged with first offense DUI after wrecking her vehicle this week -- but could find the charge amended, depending on what happens in three other pending DUI cases against her. Deputy Larry Bennett says the suspect -- identified as 37-year-old Tanya Rice of Shady Lane Road -- told him that a deer ran out in front of her vehicle, causing her to swerve into a ditch and hit some trees. She had left the scene by the time Bennett arrived, but later returned a few minutes later -- apparently to retrieve the vehicle. Bennett says Rice failed several field sobriety tests and also refused to submit to blood alcohol test. According to his report, prior bookings show that Rice has three other DUI cases pending in Putnam County. Her court date on the most recent charge will be September 27th.

Fall Semester Begins At Tennessee Tech

Tennessee Tech University students are moving into residence halls Thursday on what officials are calling the Great Move-In Day. About 335 students will call New Hall North home for the first time as the new $22 million complex, complete with grill, sorority suites, convenience store and state-of-the-art classroom, opens its doors. This evening, TTU senior Henry MacAfee, and special musical guests All of Us will perform at the Backdoor Playhouse. Students are invited to enjoy coffee and music from 8 to 11 pm. The show is free, but donations will be accepted for the performers and the Tech Players. At 3 p.m. Friday, freshmen and their families will gather for Convocation in Eblen Center. New students, all dressed in purple shirts, will recite an academic oath of integrity with TTU Provost Jack Armistead. They will be introduced to their academic deans and campus leaders before singing the Tech Hymn with the Golden Eagle marching band.

CRMC Technologist Receives National Certification

Scott Martin, a radiologic technologist at the Outpatient Imaging Center at Cookeville Regional Medical Center, has earned national credentials in Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). Martin earned the credentials from the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT). This certification is not mandatory, however it is strongly recommended by most facilities performing MRI. Martin underwent extensive preparation to prepare for this certification.

“Scott is to be commended for his efforts,” said Tim Hof, Chief of the MRI at Cookeville Regional Medical Center. “By obtaining this credential, patients as well as physicians are assured that MRI exams are being performed by a technologist who has met established standards of training and education.”

“Cookeville Regional is the largest medical facility in the Upper Cumberland, and this region deserves to have high quality medical care provided by well-trained and credentialed technologists in an ever-expanding field,” Hof points out.

The MRI department at Cookeville Regional Medical Center offers a full range of Imaging services, which includes Cardiac, Breast and Breast Biopsies. Cookeville Regional is the only facility in the Upper Cumberland to offer these services.

The ARRT is a nationally recognized organization that promotes high standards of patient care by recognizing qualified individuals in medical imaging, interventional procedures and radiation therapy.
ARRT provides a mechanism to recognize individuals who continue to demonstrate their qualifications through adherence to the standards of professional behavior and compliance with the continuing education requirements.

Vol State Community College Seeking Public Input

Volunteer State Community College is holding a series of town hall meetings to hear from the public. The College is developing its 2010-2015 strategic plan, and officials say in order to develop an inclusive and successful strategy, Vol State needs input from the community about the future of higher education in the area. This can include topics such as the type of classes the College should be offering, the cost of higher education, financial aid and access to college. Vol State President Dr. Warren Nichols and members of his administration will be on hand to answer questions at a meeting to be held on September 16 at the Millard Oakley Public Library from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at 107 East Main Street in Livingston.

Republican "Unity Tour" Comes To Cookeville

What Tennessee Republicans are calling a unity tour is scheduled to be in Cookeville Thursday -- but not with everyone on board. State Senator Diane Black won the nomination for Congress in the 6th District, just 300 votes in front of Lou Ann Zelenik. State Senator Jim Tracy was a close third. The state party announced a unity tour Wednesday with stops in Hendersonville, Cookeville and Murfreesboro. Zelenik, who did not concede the race for two weeks, is not scheduled to appear with her former opponents. A press release from the party says that Black will be joined by Jim Tracy, Kerry Roberts, and Gary Mann in Cookeville- the second stop on a Sixth District General Election kickoff tour that includes stops in Sumner, Putnam, and Rutherford Counties. Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Chris Devaney will also be joining candidates on the tour as they discuss the importance of electing a Republican to the conservative district that has been in the hands of Democrats for more than two decades. The stop in Cookeville is scheduled for 12:30 at Republican party headquarters on Broad Street.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Library Chairman Says Changes May Be Coming

A federal lawsuit filed against the Putnam County library, which we first told you about nine days ago, has now led to a potential discussion about the meeting room policies of the library. Local author Ilene Vick filed the suit with the help of a group called the Alliance Defense Fund, claiming that a policy, which prohibits the use of the library's meeting room for religious purposes, is a violation of her First Amendment right to freedom of speech and religion. Channel 4 News in Nashville picked up on the story yesterday, and is reporting that Peter Li, the chairman of the library board, and one of the defendants in the suit, told them that the library is considering making changes regarding the meeting room policy. Putnam County attorney Jeff Jones also told the TV station that the county is reviewing the policies and formulating a response to the suit. The library board is scheduled to meet the second week in September.

Orchestra Schedules Concert In Dogwood Park

The annual Bryan Symphony Orchestra pops concert in Dogwood Park is coming up next month, and officials say the program will feature music that includes something for everyone. The opening concert of the Orchestra's 2010-2011 season begins Labor Day weekend -- at 7:30 p.m., on Sunday, Sept. 5, at the Performance Pavilion of Cookeville's Dogwood Park. The music is scheduled to include the "Star Spangled Banner" and "Stars and Stripes Forever," as well as "Fanfare for the Common Man," movie music and Sousa marches. While the concert begins at 7:30 p.m., children's activities begin at 6:30 p.m. – and that's also when the Men of St. Michael's will be on-hand to sell hotdogs, snacks and drinks. Dogwood Park is located behind the Putnam County Library. Parking is available within a block of the park throughout that section of downtown, including parking lots behind the Cookeville Performing Arts Center, on the corner of Broad and Walnut, behind City Hall and more. The lot directly behind the Dogwood Performance Pavilion will be reserved for handicapped parking. In case of rain, the concert will move to Wattenbarger Auditorium, the concert hall of the Bryan Fine Arts Building on the TTU campus.

Property Assessor Discusses Damage Assessment

Putnam County property assessor Rhonda Chaffin says the Assessor’s office is continuing to work with the Cookeville-Putnam County Emergency Management Agency to keep up with properties in the county which may be eligible for a re-assessment because of flood damage. She says that any property owner who had flood damage needs to make an official report, and says the Assessor’s office needs this information on record by September 10, 2010 for the 2010 tax year. You can make the damage report by calling 646-INFO. If you have specific questions for the assessor's office, their number is 528-8428.

Putnam Officials Continue Damage Assessment

Putnam County officials are continuing to work with the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency in surveying flood damage from a week ago, and now the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, has joined the effort. This week, teams from FEMA joined in the effort to document damages and help declare the level of assistance that area residents could receive. Tyler Smith, director of the Cookeville Putnam County EMA said local officials "hope to have an answer soon on what types of assistance we will be able to get our citizens.” The process will take several days just to document all the damages, and is anticipated to take as much as two to three weeks before decisions will begin being made by federal officials once all the data is retrieved.

“We are doing all we can to provide the most accurate information possible to everyone involved. It’s going to be a long process, but we are hoping for the best” said Smith.

He says local residents who have already reported damage to emergency management offices can be assured the damages are being documented, and that information is being passed along to state and federal authorities during the process. Once the assessment process is complete, EMA officials say that every individual citizen who called with damage will be updated on the next steps to take.

“We will be calling everyone who has called us to report damages and letting them know what they need to do next," said Deputy EMA director Sharon Womack. "The biggest thing to do for now is to document damages by taking photographs or video, itemize any repairs or purchases, and keep your receipts.”

EMA officials have been working long hours since flash flooding began last Wednesday morning. Anyone who has not reported damage to the Emergency Management Agency is encouraged to call the hotline that has been dedicated for flood damage reports at (931) 646-INFO.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Teenager Charged With Reckless Endangerment

A Cookeville teenager, who told police he thought he could outrun them in his fast car, has now been charged with felony evading arrest and reckless endangerment. The 17-year-old was arrested over the weekend after being observed running several red lights and travelling through town at speeds in excess of 80 miles an hour. Officer Josh Ward says he first saw the teenager, driving a 1990 Nissan 240-SX down South Jefferson Avenue. He says the vehicle ran the red light at Jefferson and Veterans Boulevard, and ended travelling down I-40 for a short distance. But Ward says the vehicle became boxed in on the interstate and got off again on Willow Avenue, where he alleges that it forced another car onto the shoulder of the off-ramp before sliding sideways onto Willow, weaving from lane to lane between vehicles and running two more redlights before pulling into the Green Acres subdivison. Ward says the driver told him that he had traded for the vehicle three days prior to his arrest, and had not registered it in his name. When asked why he ran, the teenager allegedly told the officer that "he had a fast car and thought he could get away."

Police Continue Investigation Of Drive-By Shooting

Cookeville police today continue to investigate what some witnesses described as a drive-by shooting. It happened earlier this month at an apartment complex on 14th Street, and while authorities did not find the shooters, they did arrest the resident of the apartment -- identified as 39-year-old Timmy Thornton -- on charges of selling crack cocaine. According to a report released Monday, police responded to a "shots fired" call back on August 15th, and arrived to find Thornton riding on a bicycle in the area. They allege that Thornton had crack cocaine on him and also allege that he had a large amount of cash, which they seized as the possible proceeds from drug sales. Police say witnesses told them that some individuals in an SUV had driven slowly by the apartment complex where Thornton lives and fired several shots into that apartment. Other witnesses also allegedly said that they had arrived at the apartment with the intention of purchasing drugs from Thornton, who is -- according to police -- serving a ten-year probationary sentence from a previous drug case.

Ticket Sales Underway For "Backstage" Show

Tickets are now on sale for the next production in the "Backstage" series at the Cookeville Performing Arts Center. The Series will open a new season with a play called Dead Man's Cell Phone by Sarah Ruhl. It's described as a quirky romantic comedy, and will be directed by David Davidson Show dates are this Friday, August 27th through September 4th. Officials say the production does contain language that may not be appropriate for younger audience members. And, as with all backstage productions, seating is general admission and limited. Tickets cost twelve dollars for adults, ten dollars for seniors, and five dollars for full time students. You can call the box office at 528-1313 to reserve a seat. More information is available on the website www.cpactn.com.

Putnam Election Official Highlights Illegal Voting Case

Putnam County Administrator of Elections Debbie Steidl appeared on Fox News Monday, talking about the case of a man who apparently lied about his U.S. citizenship in order to vote in the 2004 presidential election. Steidl says that man has now been purged from the voter registration records -- at his own request.

"He wants to become a citizen of the U.S." Steidl said. "And for him to continue (that process) he has to get purged."

Steidl says the man had a letter from the Department of Homeland Security instructing him to purge his record. But she also says that she is bothered by the fact that it may be too late for the illegal voter to be prosecuted.

"It bothers me to no end," she said.

Steidl says local election officials are not allowed to question someone's answers on a form in which they swear that they are, indeed, a U.S. citizen, but says anyone who lies about it should be prosecuted for voter fraud.

Former Putnam Deputy Due Back In Court

A former deputy for the Putnam County sheriff's department is due back in court in Overton County Thursday on a charge of domestic assault. Authorities say 51-year-old Denny Ray Padgett of Monroe, Tennessee, was arrested at his home earlier this month in a domestic dispute with his wife. According to the Overton County sheriff's office, both had allegedly been drinking and Padgett had hit his wife and head-butted her during the argument. Putnam County sheriff David Andrews said that Padgett had been with the department for about ten years, but was let go after his arrest.

Money Now Available For 911 Dispatcher Training

Putnam County Ambulance Service director Randy Porter is in the news once again -- in his role as chairman of the state's Emergency Communications Board. That board has made $2.2 million in funding available to local Emergency Communications Districts for dispatcher training. He says the board requires all dispatchers to have 40 hours of supervised, on-the-job training and 40 hours of public safety communications coursework within the first six months of employment. Additionally, dispatchers must participate in regular continuing education. Porter says the training standards in Tennessee are modeled after the Association of Public Safety Communications Officials standards. The dispatcher training funds are available on an annual basis.

“Our Board has set solid standards for the training of 911 dispatchers,” said Porter. “We want to be sure the districts have the funds they need to train those dispatchers. Uniform training of dispatchers results in improved response to emergencies.”

The TECB was created by the General Assembly in 1998 to assist ECDs’ boards of directors in management, operations and accountability, with the goal of establishing reliable emergency communications for all citizens of the state. It’s a successful formula; in 2005, Tennessee became the third state in the nation to become Phase II-ready, meaning a 911 operator can obtain a wireless caller’s number and location information. In 2005, Tennessee received an award from the Congressional E911 Institute for having the nation’s best state system.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Purple Pride Days Begin Monday

Officials at Tennessee Tech University have decided to change the name of TTU Pride Days to Purple Pride Days. The event this year will begin Monday, Aug. 23, and run through Sept. 16, and officials say some new features are planned for this year’s annual celebration that welcomes students back to Cookeville.

“This year, the Office of Communications and Marketing partnered with Athletics to have a unified Pride Days promotion,” said TTU Marketing Director Bobbie Maynard. “It just made sense with all the work Athletics does with the Purple Pride Caravan and getting our communities energized about TTU. We now have a single yard sign design with the words ‘Purple Pride’ and the eagle head, as well as extending pride days from two to four weeks this year.”

Maynard also said that while some areas have been scaled back, such as free promotional items, other areas have been expanded, including the formation of a campus committee to help with Pride Days. Yard signs are still available for pick up on campus at the RUC Information Desk, Alumni Office, TTU Ticket Office and University Bookstore.

“We’ve also restructured the decorating contests this year,” said Maynard. “We still have the Awesome Office Decorating Contest for on-campus offices to participate in; but instead of a committee choosing the winner, we have online voting this year that runs through Sept. 8. So those who decorate earlier and get their photos submitted to us are up on the Web longer for voting. The prizes are also different this year. We’ve gotten many donations from local businesses who have been generous in their support of the university and the Pride Days promotion.”

In addition, another on-campus decorating contest is planned this year for students living in the dorms. Working with Residential Life, a contest is planned for dorm floors to compete against each other to show who has the most Purple Pride. The winning floor will receive a pizza party courtesy of Chartwells, as well as special seating and free concessions at the first home football game scheduled for Sept. 16. For a complete list of contest rules and prizes, as well as to see the directory of the local businesses offering TTU discounts, visit www.tntech.edu/pridedays.

Sentencing Hearing Set For Convicted Rapist

An October 25th sentencing hearing has been set for a Cookeville man, convicted this month on charges of rape and sexual battery by an authority figure. Authorities say 37-year-old Terry Dewayne Neal of West Thomas Allen Road could face up to 12 years apiece on each count of rape and anywhere from three to six years on the sexual battery charges. Neal was originally charged last year with six counts of rape, four counts of sexual battery by an authority figure, five counts of aggravated sexual battery and five counts of rape of a child. He was convicted on four counts of rape and three counts of sexual battery. Investigators say the case involved an inappropriate relationship with a 13-year-old girl that allegedly went on for several years.

Cookeville To Update Waterlines During Bridge Work

The city of Cookeville will be taking advantage of an already-scheduled bridge replacement contract east of town to do some upgrades to its waterlines in the area. Water Department Director Ronnie Kelly says the road department is replacing the bridge over the Falling Water River on Poplar Grove Road. Kelly says that he has met with the county's engineer and road supervisor to incorporate that work into the bridge construction project. He says it makes sense, in the long range planning for the area, to go ahead and upgrade the lines. The city has agreed to pay a pro-rated share of the cost of up to $140,000.

Nearly Two Dozen Putnam Road Hazards Remain

The Cookeville-Putnam County Emergency Management Agency says there are still nearly two dozen road issues around the county today, including bridges and roads, which remain washed away. But, officials say, even if the road is not closed, many are still damaged so that only local traffic should be using them. Among the detours around the area are parts of Kuykendall Road, North Quinland Lake Road, Dyer Long Road, Swafford Road, and Carrington Road. Meanwhile, officials say the bridge is still out in Baxter, where First Avenue North is closed from Cherry Street to Main Street. There is also still a problem on Claude Loftis Road, which is closed at Carroll Dyer Road. Emergency officials are keeping an updated list online when work on those roads and bridges allows them to be re-opened.

Property Assessor Assisting In Damage Assessment

Putnam County's Emergency Management Agency, in coordination with the Property Assessor’s Office of Putnam County, continues their work today to assess and document damages throughout Putnam County caused by the flooding last week. In an attempt to streamline the damage assessment process and give citizens a single point of contact, a hotline has been established to take damage reports in Putnam County. That hotline number of 646-INFO. By dialing 646-4636, citizens can report damages directly related to Wednesday’s flooding. Officials say damage that should be reported includes damage to any structure on your property which is taxed. When you call 646-INFO, you should be prepared to give the name of property owner; the property owner’s phone number, the address of property and a brief description of damage, to include damage to primary living/working areas, garages, basements, and storage buildings. Officials say a good rule of measure would be the height at which water was standing inside the structure at its highest point.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Swallows Appointed New Mayor Of Cookeville

The five newest members of the Cookeville city council were sworn in Thursday evening by Judge John Maddux. As is tradition, their first item of business was the appointment of a mayor. Council members unanimously appointed top vote getter Matt Swallows to the mayor's position. Larry Epps, who was the second highest vote getter in the election this month, was then appointed vice mayor. The new council also passed resolutions honoring the outgoing members of the council, which include Ryan Williams, Ricky Shelton, Sam Sallee and Jean Davis. Meanwhile, David Webb was announced as the mayor's appointment to the city planning commission, and Jim Woodford was appointed as the council's representative on that body. The council also voted to change the times of their monthly meetings. They had been held at 6 pm on the first and third Thursdays, but will -- in the future -- be held at 5:30 in the evening. City manager said he made the request to make it more convenient for the staff and the council to handle the city's business and still make it home in time for dinner.

Medicare Scammers Reported In Cookeville Area

Residents of Putnam County are reportedly being asked to be aware of a Medicare phone scam. A group calling itself Medicare Patrol reports that at least five Medicare recipients have complained to them that they have received the fraudulent calls regarding their Medicare benefits. Officials said the scammer calls, claiming Medicare benefits are changing and a new membership card needs to be issued. Then the caller asks for bank account information. If you've experienced this or know of other instances of Medicare fraud, you can report it by calling 1-866-836-7677.

Teenager Charged With Promoting Meth

Cookeville Police say the manufacture of the illegal drug called meth has now moved to a younger age group. Authorities have arrested a 15-year-old boy on charges of promoting methamphetamine. Police say the arrests came after they uncovered what they described as a clandestine meth lab. The case began when authorities received a report of suspicious activity at a convenience store on East 10th Street, Police say a teenager they found on the scene allegedly claimed possession of a garbage can found on the sidewalk. And they allege that it contained ingredients commonly used to manufacture meth, as well as two jars of potentially finished product. The juvenile's bond was set at $15,000, and he will appear in court on September 20th.

Surveillance Video Leads To Theft Charge

Surveillance video has led to theft and burglary charges being brought against a Cookeville man. Police say an ex-employee of Class A Oil and Lube on South Jefferson Avenue was identified on a surveillance tape, allegedly stealing $35 from the business. 23-year-old Joshua Ryan McDaniel of Southmeade Drive has been charged with theft and burglary.McDaniel was reportedly on this way back to the business on Monday to repay the money he had stolen, but was arrested when he arrived on the scene.

Child Seat Checkpoint Scheduled In Cookeville

Another Child Seat Safety Checkpoint has been scheduled in Cookeville. The Cookeville Police Department, Goody's and the Pilot Club of Cookeville will host a checkpoint at Goody's, located at 412 W. Jackson St. in Cookeville, from 2 to 4:30 pm Friday. Child seat technicians will be available to check child seats for correct installation and answer any questions that anyone may have about child seat safety and installation. The police department says many parents and others who transport children do not understand the potential deadly results from not using a child seat or booster seat at all or using one that is not properly used or secured in a vehicle.

Fincher Says Assessment Teams Are At Work

Flood damage assessments in Putnam County should be completed late today or early Friday by the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, and state representative Henry Fincher of Cookeville says he expects a disaster declaration to soon follow. Fincher says the trigger amount for Putnam County to be declared a disaster area is "a little over two hundred thousand dollars." He says, "Given all the damage we've had, I'm sure we've had that much damage in the county, probably much much, more." Following the assessment, Fincher says he will be following up with the Governor's office to make sure that the county gets what he calls "relief funds that we so desperately need."

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Well-Known Sparta Businessman Found Dead

Richmond Boruff, a White County businessman associated with Boruff Motors, has been found dead after a fire at his home. The details can be found at the website of the Sparta Expositor newspaper.

911 Probe Leads To Disorderly Conduct Charge

The Putnam County sheriff's office says a Cookeville attorney and his wife, who is a school teacher, have both been charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, after deputies made an investigation into a 911 call in which dispatchers heard only an open line and beeping in the background. Deputies Jason Phy and Josh Reams responded to the home on Burgess Mill Road. Reams says when he arrived, he heard what sounded like loud voices coming from inside the residence and alleges that a male subject -- later identified as 65-year-old Jerry Lee Burgess -- became irate when authorities began questioning him about whether everything was OK. Phy arrived on the scene a few minutes later and claims that Burgess refused to calm down, even after being told that he would be arrested if he did not. Phy says Burgess resisted as he tried to put handcuffs on him. He also claims that Burgess's wife, Lisa, scratched him as he was attempting to place her husband into custody. Both were taken to the jail where warrants were served on them, but both were also released on their own recognizance -- without the need to make a bond. Burgess reportedly told the deputies that the 911 situation was a malfunction of his fax machine.

Putnam County Schools Closed On Thursday

The Putnam County school system has officially announced that all Putnam County schools will be closed on Thursday -- mostly because of the continuing threat of flooding. School officials say the SAC (School Age Childcare) program will be provided at Park View School ONLY. For more information, you can check out the school system's website.

Rep. Fincher Begins Work To Get Disaster Relief

State Representative Henry Fincher of Cookeville says he has already begun the process of trying to get disaster assistance for those affected by flooding in the area on Wednesday.

"As soon as I heard of the extent of the damage, I got in touch with state officials, both at the Governor's office and the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency," Fincher said. "TEMA officials are in Putnam County to assess the damage. That's step one in getting this declared a disaster area so we can get funds from the state to help us with re-building and help local families."

Fincher said he would provide updates as they become available on the progress of any assistance that may be coming. He also asked that people keep those affected by the floods in their thoughts and prayers.

"I tell you it's heartwarming to live in a community where people pull together when bad things happen."

Red Cross Sets Up Shelter For Local Flood Victims

The American Red Cross has begun opening emergency shelters for those affected by the current flooding in Putnam and Overton Counties. The shelter is located at The First United Methodist Church at 204 East Spring Street in Cookeville. For those in need of sheltering, please enter the building by way of the entrance at Dixie and Broad (The Freeman Building). This full-service shelter will have snacks and water available, as well as the capacity to serve meals and provide overnight stays for those who have been affected by the flooding.

The Red Cross continues to assess the situation and weather to see if and where future shelters may be needed across Middle Tennessee. The Red Cross encourages those in affected areas to listen to the area radio and TV stations for possible flood warnings and reports of flooding or other critical information from the National Weather Service (NWS). If you are in areas that are affected, be prepared to evacuate at a moment’s notice. Be sure to use caution when traveling; do not drive through flooded areas. “Turn Around, Don’t Drown”.

The Red Cross is working to help those affected with disaster-caused needs on a case-by-case basis. Red Cross assistance may include basic food and clothing, emergency shelter, emotional support and referrals to other resources as needed. The Red Cross will continue to assess affected areas to determine if additional shelters are needed.

Putnam Rescue Squad Has Busy Day

Brandon Smith of the Putnam County Rescue Squad says Wednesday was a very busy day for volunteers -- especially those involved in the swift water rescue team. He says the Cookeville Water Treatment Plant, which keeps rainfall records for the city had recorded 8.5 inches of rain by noon. And more fell throughout the afternoon and evening. Smith also provided the following information:

Damage Estimates:
*Widespread flooding throughout Cookeville and the western areas of Putnam County near Baxter.
*Home flooded off of its foundation (2530 Dyer Long Road)
*State Highway 70 was closed, for a short period of time, to traffic in the Echo Valley area (between Cookeville and Baxter) due to flash flooding.
*State Highway 290(Gainesboro Grade) was closed for flash flooding temporarily at intersection of Shipley Road.
*A Bridge washed out on Pippin Road near Water Mill Road. (The picture above from the Cookeville Weather Guy website shows the damage there.)
*A natural gas main ruptured under flood water at Timber Trail off Dodson Branch Road.
*A train hauling large quantities of sand was derailed on Fisk Road near Cookeville High School when it is reported that the tracks were washed away beneath the train. No injuries were sustained in that incident.

Smith says the Putnam County 911 Center got its first call for help at 8:13am Wednesday, and the Putnam County Swiftwater Rescue team became inundated with rescue requests and immediately requested activation of the Tennessee Assosciation of Rescue Squads’ State Swiftwater Rescue Team, which responded with swiftwater resources to Putnam County from Smith County, Wilson County, Rutherford County, Cumberland County, Jackson County, and Smyrna. The Tennessee Highway Patrol also responded with air support from a Bell Jet Ranger helicopter to help survey damaged areas and spot stranded victims. TEMA also sent a representative to the Putnam County Emergency Operations Center to help coordinate resources.

Smith says a total of 16 calls for water rescues were answered in Putnam County, including some inside the city of Cookeville. Eight of those required swiftwater teams to enter the water and bring victims to dry land. And several of these rescues were from stranded vehicles that drove or were pushed into moving flood waters. One victim was rescued from a Dyer Long Road residence that was moved from its foundation by the fast-moving flood waters. And several people were rescued from an apartment complex on West 17th street in Cookeville and taken to safety at a nearby shelter that was opened for flood victims.

Putnam County Gets Grant To Fight Litter

As part of the effort to StopLitter in Tennessee, Governor Phil Bredesen and TDOT Commissioner Gerald Nicely have awarded more than three million dollars in litter grant funds to all 95 counties in Tennessee. The Putnam County portion of that is $42,250.

"Each year volunteers pick up almost 25 million pounds of roadside litter in Tennessee alone," said Bredesen. "Litter is an eye-sore, it's costly to clean up and it can be harmful to our environment, but it's totally preventable. These funds will be used by counties across the state to organize their pick-up efforts and conduct educational campaigns to teach children and adults about the importance of keeping Tennessee beautiful."

The funds that each county receives are determined by county road miles and county population in order to ensure an equitable distribution statewide. Funds must be used for litter pick-up activities and litter prevention education. Education funding can be used in a variety of ways, such as sharing litter control awareness with schools, citizens and businesses.

Rain Causes Flooding, Derailment, Schools Closing

Periods of heavy rain Wednesday have caused problems all across Putnam County, including several flooded streets and one trail derailment. Police spokesperson Sheila Julian says a train carrying sand derailed due to the flooding on Fisk Road at the railroad tracks just north of 10th Street. She says the public should be advised that Fisk Road is blocked in both directions. The immediate area impacted will be the traffic flow to and from Cookeville High School when school lets out today, and authorities are advising people to find an alternative route. The school system, meanwhile, has announced that they are releasing kids from class at 1:30 this afternoon. Putnam County Sheriff David K. Andrews said a rescue team had to pull two women off the roof of their car after it was trapped in floodwaters northwest of Cookeville. Andrews said the team was still out late Wednesday morning checking on reports of people stranded as several roads have flooded due to standing water and overflowing storm drains. And the weather service said more heavy rains were expected all day long.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Stolen Vehicle Found Crushed At Scrap Yard

Cookeville police are investigating the circumstances surrounding the apparent theft of a vehicle this month, which ended up in the scrap heap at a local metal recycler. The victim says he bought the vehicle -- a 1989 Mazda -- earlier this month, at about the same time as he was moving out of his apartment. But he says before he could move the vehicle, it went missing, and he told police that whoever took it had to have a trailer because the car wouldn't run. Meanwhile, police also investigated the possibility that the car may have been towed from the scene by the owner of the apartment building -- but that turned out to not be the case. Just as they were about to enter the car into a national database as stolen, the owner called them and said he had located it at PSC Metals -- where it had been crushed. Detectives are now following up on information about who brought the car to the recycler and how the suspect came to be in possession of it.

Orientation Scheduled For County Commissioners

The newest members of the Putnam County commission are being encouraged to attend an orientation session, scheduled for later this month. The twelve new members officially take office as of September 1st, but will have a swearing in ceremony following the orientation on Monday, August 30th, along with the current members of the county commission who won re-election this month. Meanwhile, one commission member has had to submit his resignation. Although Larry Epps term is scheduled to run through the end of the month, he is being sworn in tomorrow night to his newly elected position on the Cookeville city council. And the city charter says that council members cannot serve on both bodies at the same time.

Overton County Man Charged With DUI 5th Offense

A fifth offense DUI charge is pending against an Overton County man involved in an accident north of Cookeville. Police say Craig Willard Brown, of Willard Brown Road, was allegedly found passed out in a truck on Mirandy Road. They say his license had been suspended seven years ago -- after his fourth DUI conviction. Brown had reportedly hit a mailbox in the area, and deputies say the engine on the vehicle was still running when they arrived on the scene. Brown allegedly refused to submit to a test to determine his blood alcohol content. He was also charged with criminal impersonation for allegedly giving officers a false name.

Cookeville Native Joins Tech Coaching Staff

Cookeville native Corey Boyd has joined the Tennessee Tech women’s soccer program as an assistant coach, first-year head coach Daniel Brizard has announced.

“It’s great to be back in Cookeville with the opportunity to be involved in the community that gave me the chance to play and coach for several years,” Boyd said. “I enjoy the people I’ll be working with, both the coaching staff and the players, and I look forward to contributing to what I think will be a successful season in Tennessee Tech soccer.”

Boyd’s coaching experience includes acting as the head coach for the U17, U15 and U12 Upper Cumberland United Soccer Club teams, as well as the U17 girls U.C. United Club team. Prior to coaching for U.C. United, Boyd was the acting head coach for the Livingston Crew U17 boys club team and the assistant coach for the Abingdon High School men’s soccer team. In addition to his coaching resume, Boyd spent one season with the Nashville Metros PDL team, after earning a role as a two-year starter for Emory & Henry College as a wing player and striker. A graduate of Cookeville High School, Boyd was a member of the 2002 team that finished the season third in the state and advanced to the semi-final round of the state championship tournament. He was named MVP of the team during his senior season and was also named first-team all-district. Additionally, throughout high school he played club soccer for Cookeville United and was a member of the U19 D2 State Championship team.

“I feel that the addition of Corey will enhance the coaching staff and be beneficial to the team not only during training but also in games,” said Brizard. “Having a product of the local soccer club that has gone on to play at a high level as well as coach in numerous capacities says a lot for the area. We anticipate that Corey will have a positive impact with the team and will help us win an OVC Championship”

The Golden Eagles open the regular season this weekend with matches at Auburn Friday and UT Chattanooga Sunday. The first home match is Sunday, Sept. 5, when Tech hosts UNC Asheville at 3 p.m.

Monday, August 16, 2010

TTU Ranked Again By U.S. News And World Report

Cookeville's Tennessee Tech University is one of the Top 10 “Public Regional Universities” in the South, according to the publisher of U.S.News and World Report. TTU’s ranking is the top listing for a Tennessee public university in that category for the southern region. States included in the region are Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Arkansas. It’s the university’s ninth year being ranked one of the best in the region as TTU earned the 29th spot among Best Regional Universities in the South, which includes public and private schools, in the 2011 edition of America’s Best Colleges. The exclusive rankings, which include more than 1,400 schools nationwide, are available today at www.usnews.com/colleges, will also be published in the September issue of the U.S.News & World Report magazine, on newsstands starting Aug. 31.

“As we plan for new experiences for our students, such as learning communities, and as we focus on their needs, we are pleased to see these rankings reflect our efforts to serve students,” said TTU President Bob Bell. “We continue to focus on excellent academic offerings and exceptional education value.”

Over the past two decades, the U.S. News college rankings, which groups schools based on categories created by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, has grown to be the most comprehensive research tool for students and parents considering higher education opportunities. Among the many factors weighed in determining the rankings, the key measures of quality are peer assessment, graduation and retention rates, faculty resources, student selectivity, financial resources and alumni giving. TTU’s ranking indicates that 82 percent of its faculty members are full-time. About 37 percent of its classes have fewer than 20 students, and the student-to-faculty ratio is 21:1. Fifty-three percent of TTU entering freshmen are classified in the top 25 percent of their high school class. The main rankings are separated into four main categories, which have changed from previous years: national universities, national liberal arts colleges, regional universities and regional colleges. These categories are further subdivided by geographic region. Universities within the regional university category, such as TTU, offer a full range of undergraduate and master’s-level programs, but fewer doctoral programs (if any) compared to institutions listed in the national category. TTU offers doctoral degrees in engineering, education and environmental sciences. The regional university category is separated by region because, in general, schools in this category tend to draw students heavily from surrounding states. While TTU typically attracts most of its students from within the state, last year the university enrolled students from 40 other states and 65 foreign countries.

Putnam County Commission Has Busy Night

It was a busy night for Putnam County commissioners Monday night. They approved a budget for the county with no need for an increase in the property tax rate. It will remain at 2.75. They also OK'd a motion that would have voters in Putnam County decide by referendum whether or not they want to implement a financial management act for the county. But commissioners rejected a proposal to rent the fairgrounds to the so-called Slammin and Jammin Car Show. The vote on that issue was 19 to 5. A motion had been made to allow the show on a one-year trial basis, but the majority of the commissioners apparently thought that was a bad idea.

Police Investigating Restaurant Robbery

Cookeville police say two employees of the Pizza Hut restaurant at the corner of Willow Avenue and 7th Street were robbed by a masked gunman Saturday night of some money that they had intended for a bank deposit. Authorities say the two were approached as they were locking up the business Saturday night by a man with a handgun, who demanded the money from their bank bag. He was described as a white male, who was wearing dark pants, a black tank top, and who had a bandanna over his face. He reportedly ran west across Willow Avenue after the robbery, but an attempt to track him with a K-9 proved unsuccessful as police believe the suspect may have gotten into a vehicle at the point where the dog lost the track. Anyone with information on the case is asked to call the department.

Cookeville Man Scammed Out Of Rent Money

Cookeville police are investigating an incident in which a man says he was cheated out of $300 he thought he was putting down as a deposit on an apartment. The 22-year-old victim says he called a phone number listed on Local Sales Network for an apartment on Franklin Avenue, and was told to meet a man at the apartment. He says he gave that individual $300 dollars and was told to "call back" when he had the rest of the rent money. But the victim says when he attempted to contact the number again, it was no longer connected, and says the individual who owns the property in question has a different number than the one listed in the online posting.

Alleged Shoe Polish Thief Caught By Store Workers

Cookeville police say a 22-year-old Lee Avenue resident has been charged with theft of property, after allegedly trying to leave the Hill's IGA last week without paying for a bottle of white shoe polish. Offier Mitch Harrington says Joshua Lee Boyer was detained by three employees who had to hold him down on the floor until police arrived. Police say Boyer was also due to serve 19 days in jail on a previous charge. The shoe polish was valued at $3.89.

Fake Money Order Scam Crops Up Again

A Cookeville woman has reported to police that she has fallen victim to a scam in which she was sent counterfeit money orders, which she cashed at a local bank -- only to find out later than the money orders were no good. The woman says that she had she had posted her resume online and was contacted by a man wanting to hire her. She says he told her that the money was for orphanages and other non-profit organizations. The first two she cashed totaled $1700 dollars -- money which she sent by Western Union to an address in Arkansas. But when nearly $3,000 in additional money orders arrived, along with instructions for her to keep $200 for herself, the woman learned of the scam. Police say several people in the area have fallen victim to a similar fake check or money order scheme over the past couple of years.

Cookeville Man Facing Drug Possession Charges

A Cookeville man is facing drug possession charges today after police allegedly found marijuana and illegal mushrooms in his car. Officer Jimmy Blankenship says he observed those items in a vehicle that was occupied by 19-year-old Matthew Dillon Brewington of Scenic Lane. He says the investigation began early Saturday morning when he saw several young people walking to and from a vehicle that was parked at a business off South Jefferson Avenue. The officer alleges that Brewington had been unemployed, but was in possession of some $1800 in cash, which was seized by police as the possible proceeds from drug sales. Authorities say Brewington had four baggies and one pill bottle containing various amounts of marijuana, as well as two plastic bags full of so-called "shrooms."

Cookeville Police To Another Citizens Academy

The Cookeville Police Department is planning to hold another "Citizens Academy" next month, but officials say those interested in the program must sign up by this Friday. Since April 1995, the Academy has provided members of the community with an inside look at law enforcement. The Academy is designed to provide participants with an understanding of the operations and resources of the Cookeville Police Department and its various functions within the community. It also functions as a forum for citizens to provide feedback and make relevant suggestions to the department.

Spokesman Sheila Julian said, "The goal of the Citizens Academy is to provide a greater awareness and understanding between our department and the citizens we serve. We want to take you 'behind the scenes' to show you what an officer's life is really like: from the excitement of catching the bad guy to the frustrations of dealing with repeat offenders. We would like you to see the tasks we face every day and why we handle situations the way that we do. With this better understanding, we believe it becomes easier for police and citizens to work together in solving community problems."

The Cookeville Police Department traditionally offers two classes per year: one in the spring and one in the fall. The class covers a variety of topics and meets one night a week for 10 weeks, from 6:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m. and one Saturday from 9:00 a.m. until approximately 2:00 p.m.

Each class is designed to provide students with an insight into the various divisions and functions of the department. Several different officers instruct these classes to provide the students with a true representation of the officers of the department. The Academy incorporates hands-on training when possible for a more realistic experience for the student as well as "ride-alongs" in which students ride with officers during routine patrol.

To date, more than 450 participants have graduated the Citizens Academy, and many continue to be active in the Citizens Police Academy Alumni. The Fall 2010 session begins on September 13 and will meet each Monday night at 6:00 p.m. for the next ten weeks. The cost for the entire course is $35 per student. Deadline to register for the class is Friday August 20, 2010.

If you are interested in attending the next session of the Citizens Academy, you must be at least 21 years old, have no prior felony arrests, and no misdemeanor arrests within one year of application. To register for this class or for more information, call Sheila Julian at 520-5307.

Cookeville Succeeds In Retaining Football Playoffs

The city of Cookeville has apparently impressed the state's high school football association enough to maintain its role as host of the state championships for a few more years. Following a successful first year, the board decided Monday that the championships will be played at Tennessee Tech in Cookeville for at least the next three years. The Tennessee Secondary Schools Athletic Association's Board of Control voted to extend its original two-year contract with the Cookeville/Putnam County Chamber of Commerce, which would have ended following the upcoming championship games on Dec. 3-4, for another two seasons. Cookeville officials had proposed a four-year contract extension, in order to undertake improvements at Tech's Tucker Stadium. With the board action, the BlueCross Bowl contract will expire at the same time as the current classification period.

9/11 Essay Contest Announced

Public, private and home schooled students age 17 and under are invited to enter the Second Annual “Why I Remember September 11, 2001” Essay Contest. Essays from students in Kindergarten through 4th grades must be at least 100 words. Essays from students in 5th through 8th grades must be at least 250 words. Essays from students in 9th through 12th grades must be at least 500 words. One winner in each grade division will receive a $50 US Savings Bond and have his or her essay read at the Reflect and Remember Ceremony at the Putnam County Courthouse on Saturday, September 11th. All entries must be mailed to Essay Contest, P.O. Box 1305, Cookeville, TN 38503 and received by Monday, September 6th. You should include the entrant's name, grade and telephone number. Call 881-6481 for more information.

Local Tax Seminar Coming Up This Month

The Tennessee Department of Revenue, Tennessee Society of Certified Public Accountants 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 Tennessee Tech University campus.

This seminar is designed to provide current, in-depth information on Tennessee tax issues. State tax specialists will present recent developments in legislation, review online filing options and discuss various tax types and exemptions including sales and use, gift and inheritance, individual income, franchise and excise, unemployment and tangible personal property taxes. A detailed presentation on the transition of business tax from local to state government also will be featured.

Individuals who attend the seminar will be provided with comprehensive materials covering these topics and will have the opportunity to ask questions. Continuing education credits may be offered by the university and each seminar has a registration fee. Contact Carolyn Fox to register and confirm the cost of participating, and availability of credits by calling 372-3754 or e-mailing nfox@tntech.edu.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Full Agenda Facing Putnam County Commission

A proposed referendum on county finances, the recommended budget for the county, and a discussion of a car show are among the highlights as the Putnam County commission meets Monday night. The budget being recommended comes with no tax hike. The other two items are coming to the commission -- without a recommendation. Until just a few days ago, county officials were concerned that a tax hike would be necessary to fund the school system budget for the 2010-2011 fiscal year, but school officials say they were able to find enough money in energy savings from last year to avoid such an increase -- or any laying off of teachers. Meanwhile, the budget situation may have also prompted county commissioner Bob Duncan to propose that a referendum be held on adoption of a Financial Management Act for the county. Duncan says that because the county commission could not agree on the idea, the people of Putnam County should be given a vote. Finally, the issue of whether the so-called Slammin and Jammin car show should be able to rent out the county fairgrounds will come up for a vote tonight. That issue was discussed last month with no final resolution. The car show's promoter spoke to a committee of the county commission last week about some of the concerns that have been raised by local law enforcement.

TSSAA May Vote On Cookeville Proposals

Monday is the day that Cookeville officials may found out whether or not they'll get to host the TSSAA high school football championships beyond this year. Back In June, Cookeville presented two proposals before the group's board of control in hopes of extending its contract with the TSSAA as host site for the state football championships. Those two were tabled until Monday's meeting to allow board members time to study both proposals. Cookeville is in the final year of its two-year contract, and the board wants to decide whether to extend the deal or to put the championships back up for bid.

Putnam County Library Sued Over Use Of Mtg Room

The Putnam County library has been sued in federal court over its policy concerning the use of a meeting room at the library's main branch in Cookeville. Putnam County resident Ilene Vick claims in the lawsuit that her constitutional rights are being violated by what the lawsuit calls a "vague and overbroad" policy concerning what groups and individuals may or may not use the library meeting room. She claims a violation of her First Amendment right to freedom of speech and religion, and also alleges violation of her rights under the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution. She had wanted to use the library meeting room to discuss her book on evangelism, but the library's room usage policy prohibits meetings for "social, political, partisan or religious purposes." Vick claims that she was verbally denied usage of the room on at least three occasions last year and this year. She filed the suit last Thursday and is being represented by attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund.

Survey Indicates What To Expect From TTU Degree

A new survey claims that Tennessee Tech University offers students with a bachelor’s degree the highest beginning and mid-career salary potential of any public university in the state. According to Payscale.com, the starting median salary for a Tennessee Tech graduate is $44,500. After 15 years of experience, the median salary is $80,300, as reported by TTU graduates. Payscale.com is a company that owns the largest online employee salary database in the world and specializes in compensation data. TTU offers six of Payscale.com’s Top 10 College Majors that Lead to High Salaries: chemical engineering, computer engineering, electrical engineering, economics, physics, and applied mathematics.

More Than Two Dozen Arrested In Drug Round-Up

An on-going investigation in the Monterey area has led to the indictment of more than two dozen people on drug charges, many involving the sale and delivery of drugs like morphine and oxycodone. Police say the suspects include several juveniles and a number of adults, ranging in age from 19 to 49 years old. Most live in Monterey, but some also listed addresses in Cookeville and Overton County. The drug investigation also led police to suspects in other cases, including at least one case of burglary. The most recent indictments come just four months after 30 other people in the Monterey area were indicted on similar charges.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Accidental Shooting Leaves Three Injured

Cookeville police say that shortly before 7:30pm on Thursday night, they responded to an apartment building on N. Franklin Ave., where it had been reported that a child had been shot. Upon arrival, officers learned that three persons had been struck by shotgun pellets; a four-year old boy, his eight-year old sister, and their mother. The three had been sitting in their living room when a twelve gauge shotgun being held by 44-year old Scotty Robinson discharged, sending the shotgun pellets through the floor of his second-story apartment and through the ceiling of the victims’ first-floor apartment. All three of the victims were treated and released from the Cookeville Regional Medical Center. At the conclusion of the investigation, police say the matter will be referred to the 13th Judicial District Attorney’s Office for prosecutorial review.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Debate Organizers Seeking Questions

The Highlands Town Hall Debate, which is scheduled in Cookeville next month, has announced that it has begun taking written and video questions from Tennesseans on hometown issues, with an emphasis on economic development, education, and health care. To submit questions, you should visit www.highlandsdebate2010.com. Links on the site will guide you to an easy-to-use submission form for written questions and to the debate's YouTube channel for submission of video questions. Written questions may also be submitted on the debate’s Facebook page.

“We want to see what’s really on the minds of voters,” George Halford, president/chief executive officer of the Cookeville-Putnam County Chamber of Commerce and a Highlands partner, said. “We want voters to ask our candidates for governor the tough questions, and we want voters to submit those questions in whatever form they feel most comfortable with.”

In order to be considered for the debate, written questions must be submitted by 4:30 PM Central on Tuesday, September 7. A committee formed by the debate partners will choose which questions will be asked at the debate, which will be broadcast by CBS affiliates statewide from Tennessee Tech University in Cookeville from 7 to 8 pm Central on Tuesday, September 14. Tennesseans that submit the chosen questions will be asked to attend the Highlands Town Hall Debate and to ask their questions live.

Video questions must be submitted by 4:30 PM Central on Friday, September 3. All questions that meet the established guidelines will be displayed on the debate’s YouTube channel. Tennesseans may vote for the videos they want to see during the televised debate by clicking the “Like” button for their favorite videos. Voting will close at 4:30 PM on Thursday, September 9. The top vote-getters will be screened for duplication of subject matter and selected videos will be played at the debate on September 14 for candidate response.

“Videos will be disqualified if they have inappropriate material, personal attacks on the candidates, or are completely off topic,” Halford said. “Other than that, we’re asking voters to express themselves however they see fit. Remember that other people will have to vote for your video in order for it to be shown at the debate, so ask your question in the best, most-creative way you know how.”

The candidates will also be given the opportunity to ask each other questions during the debate.

Burglary Reported South of Cookeville

The Putnam County sheriff's department is investigating a reported break-in at a home on Riveroaks Drive Wednesday. The victims says they left for work about 7:30 in the morning and returned that afternoon to find that someone had been in the house. Among the items taken was a .22 caliber pistol and some gold jewelry. Detective Shane Higgenbotham is investigating. Meanwhile, the sheriff's office is also investigating the theft of some jewelry from a home Eastlake Drive. There was no sign of forced entry in that case.

Burgess Falls Park Readies For Celebration

Burgess Falls State Park and Natural Area is reminding local residents that they 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.

Sheriff's Department Investigates Reported Attack

They're not sure if it was an assault or a seizure, but the Putnam County sheriff's department is looking into what may have happened to a woman at Burgess Falls State Park this week. Deputy Joe Davis says he responded to the Cookeville ER on a report of a woman who had been assaulted. But, upon arrival, he learned that the 31-year-old victim, who is from Kansas, had been transported from the park to the hospital because she had been having seizures. The woman told him that she had stopped at a gas station outside of Nashville on Wednesday, which is where met a man and woman who told her they needed gas money to get to Fort Campbell. She says she gave them fifty dollars, but also says they talked her into following them to Burgess Falls Park. The last thing she remembers, according to the report, is taking pictures at the Falls. She had some memory of someone standing over her shouting and of being loaded into an ambulance. Davis says a bottle of Hydrocodone with one pill left in it was found beside the woman. There is no word on what happened to the people she met.

Putnam County Man Charged With TennCare Fraud

A Putnam County Grand Jury has indicted a Cookeville resident for TennCare fraud related to allegedly selling prescription drugs paid for by TennCare. The Office of Inspector General today announced the arrest of Jack Huffman, Jr, 47. The arrest is the result of a joint effort with the OIG and the Putnam County Sheriff's Office.

Huffman is indicted for selling the prescription drug Suboxone, which was paid for with TennCare benefits. Suboxone is an opioid medication, usually taken to treat addiction to other opiates, such as heroin. After obtaining the prescriptions, Huffman sold a portion of the pills to an undercover agent. Huffman has been charged with one count of TennCare fraud.

"The fraudulent misuse of TennCare pharmacy benefits is simply not tolerated by communities, providers and law enforcement," Inspector General Deborah Y. Faulkner said. "We are working closely with local law enforcement agencies and pharmacies across the state to investigate and prosecute these types of crimes."

TennCare fraud is a Class E felony carrying a sentence of up to two years in prison. District Attorney General Randy York is prosecuting.

The OIG, which is separate from TennCare, began full operation in February 2005 and has investigated cases leading to over $2.5 million paid in restitution and recoupment to TennCare, with a total estimated cost avoidance of over $171 million for the TennCare program, according to latest figures. To date, over 1,240 people have been charged with TennCare fraud.

Through the OIG Cash for Tips Program established by the Legislature, Tennesseans can get cash rewards for TennCare fraud tips that lead to convictions. Anyone can report suspected TennCare fraud by calling 1-800-433-3982 toll-free from anywhere in Tennessee, or log on to www.tn.gov/tnoig and follow the prompts that read "Report TennCare Fraud."

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Putnam County May Benefit From Cookeville Grant

The Putnam County commission will be voting Monday on whether or not to enter into an agreement with the city of Cookeville to pave Lee Seminary Road. Officials learned this week that the city has received a $1.9 million dollar grant to re-surface that road, which will serve the area of a proposed new business park. But -- because part of the road is in the county, rather than the city -- the county commission must agree to the terms of the grant as well and to what's called an "interlocal agreement" between the parties and the Tennessee Department of Transportation. The county's planning committee has recommended approval of the agreement, pending review by the county attorney.

"Sexting" Case Under Investigation

Putnam County sheriff's detective Jimmy Patterson is looking into a case in which a local teenager was sent pornographic images by a man in North Carolina. The teenager's grandparents reported that the inappropriate text messages came from a man who is the ex-boyfriend of the 17-year-old's mother. The Monterey residents who contacted the sheriff's office also gave detectives permission to view the images on their grandson's cell phone and to take the phone as evidence. Patterson will be following up on the investigation.

Former School Teacher Indicted On Sex Charge

A retired teacher in the Putnam County school system is free on bond today after turning himself in on a charge of sexual battery. 58-year-old Bruce Anderson of Dixie Avenue was indicted by the grand jury after they heard evidence in the case. Anderson's attorney, Shawn Fry, told the Cookeville Herald-Citizen that the allegations involve a now 18-year-old male student who claims that Anderson touched him inappropriately on the leg and in the crotch area during an incident in April of this year. The student reportedly told another teacher about the contact, and that teacher notified authorities.

Charges Pending In Case Of Drunk Juveniles

The Putnam County sheriff's department says they may bring charges of contributing to the delinquency of minors -- if they can determine just how three teenagers got hold of some vodka that they then placed into a Smoothie cup as they attended the Putnam County fair this week. A 16-year-old male and two 15-year-old females were questioned after reserve deputies noticed one of them in an intoxicated state and began an investigation. Authorities later found a second female and learned that the young man was so drunk that he had to be taken to the emergency room for treatment. The parents of all three were notified and Deputy Trevor Barrett says charges will be brought once investigators get statements from those involved. Meanwhile, the three juveniles have been banned from coming back to the fair for its duration this week.

Assistant Trainer Named To Tech Staff

Jake Fox, a graduate assistant athletic trainer at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga for the past two years, has been named assistant athletics trainer at Tennessee Tech University. Fox was announced as an addition to Tech’s staff this week by TTU head athletic trainer Joe Erdeljac. The 33-year-old Fox earned his masters degree in clinical exercise physiology while at Chattanooga. He will be assigned to the men’s basketball and softball teams. Meanwhile, the Putnam County school board has approved a contract with STAR physical therapy to provide athletic trainers at the three high schools in the county. It will cost the school system $75,000 this year to do that.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Cookeville Man Facing Drug Indictment

A White County man will be arraigned in Putnam County criminal court on November 16th after being indicted on a charge of possessing cocaine with the intent to sell or deliver it. Marty Dean Lamb of Belford Road, Cookeville, was arrested Monday afternoon by Jeff Phann of the U.S. Marshal's Task Force, as well as Task Force officer John Mackie. According to the report, the amount of cocaine Lamb is accused of trying to sell weighed in at 1.5 grams. His bond in the case was set at $10,000.

Constitution Day Events Planned At Tennessee Tech

Final plans are being put together for annual celebration of Constitution Day at Tennessee Tech. The day’s activities on September 14th include a nonpartisan gubernatorial debate and a discussion of the role of political satire in democracies. The Nolan Fowler and Elaine Fowler Palencia Constitution Day Celebration, now in its sixth year, commemorates the signing of the U.S. Constitution. Danna Young, an assistant professor of communication at the University of Delaware, is scheduled to give a talk on understanding the role of political satire. Young specializes in the study of media, politics and public opinion. She’ll discuss the impact of popular programs like “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” “The Colbert Report” and political satire websites like Funny or Die. The free event is set for 5 p.m. in Derryberry Auditorium and is open to the public. All educational institutions receiving federal funds are required each year in September to host a celebration commemorating the Sept. 17, 1787, signing of the U.S. Constitution.