Thursday, September 30, 2010

Two Train Excursions Planned For October

Two train excursions from the Tennessee Central Railway Museum in Nashville will be making their way to Cookeville on Saturday, October 23 and Saturday, October 30 bringing an estimated 300 passengers to the streets of Cookeville’s Westside to eat and shop for around two-and-a-half hours. Passengers will enjoy the fall foliage colors during the peak of the season change during their trip from Nashville. Excursion trips from Cookeville to Algood will also take place for those looking for a shorter one-and-a-half hour adventure. The train will board at the Cookeville Depot at 11:30 a.m. and return at approximately 1 p.m.  Advanced ticket purchase is suggested as the train fills up quickly. Tickets for the Algood excursions may be purchased at the Cookeville-Putnam County Chamber of Commerce located at One West First Street in Cookeville. Tickets cost $30 for dome seats, $15 for coach seats for ages 13 and up, $10 for ages 4 to 12, and ages 3 and under ride free in an adult’s lap. 

“We welcome everyone to come to the Westside and greet the passengers as they arrive from Nashville,” said Laura Canada, Chamber vice president and Convention & Visitors Bureau director. “It will be an exciting atmosphere to watch and it’s a great opportunity to be a tourist in your own town.”

For more information about the Algood Train Excursions or ticket information, contact Stephanie McQueen at 526-2211 or For further information about the Tennessee Central Railway Museum, visit this link.

State Releases Audit Of Monterey Police Dept.

An investigation by the Comptroller’s Division of Municipal Audit, following the resignation of a former police chief, has found almost $30,000 worth of cash and property missing from the Monterey Police Department. The investigative report, which was released Thursday, details how the police department’s books failed to account for $23,613 in cash. For example, the report shows that former police chief Tim Murphy obtained $14,920 in cash from confidential narcotic investigation transactions even though there was no evidence the funds were used for police purposes. The former chief also received more than $5,400 in cash from the sale of vehicles seized by and forfeited to the Monterey Police Department that was never turned over to the city clerk’s office or deposited into the a city bank account. Additionally, a total of $3,274 seized during narcotics arrests was also missing. The report cites Murphy as the individual ultimately responsible for all of the cash.  Investigators also discovered that six new weapons purchased by the police department, worth more than $2,500, were missing. According to the report, at least seven additional retired service weapons or the proceeds from their sale were also missing. Murphy indicated to city officials that the retired weapons were either traded for new ones or officers purchased their old weapons directly from the department. However, auditors were unable to find any deposit records indicating the weapons were sold to the officers and, according to the department’s weapons vendor, no weapons were traded in by the former police chief when the new service weapons were purchased. 

According to court documents, in 1997 Murphy was responsible for purchasing a weapon for the Monterey Police Department that was allegedly used in a homicide. Murphy, then a Monterey patrol officer, purchased two Smith & Wesson 9 millimeter handguns in Rossville, Georgia. Although the guns were supposed to be used by the department, Murphy instead sold them to private citizens. One of the handguns was apparently later used by Byron “Low Tax” Looper to murder state Senator Tommy Burks. State auditors also found more than $1,200 in other missing property - including a tactical strobe light for an assault rifle and a $250 wrist watch that was confiscated by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation from Murphy when he met with state auditors and the TBI. Additionally, the investigation uncovered ammunition purchased by the police department that appeared to be incompatible with the department’s service weapons. Murphy admitted to investigators that he had taken cash and property from the Monterey Police Department that he was not entitled to and used it for his own personal benefit. 

The report also cites the improper use of the city’s tax-exempt status by members of the police department and a $1,261 cell phone bill that Murphy racked up from roaming charges on his city-issued phone during a personal trip to Central America. And the report cites several weaknesses in the police department’s cash collection and receipting procedures when dealing with seized and confiscated cash and property. Murphy pleaded guilty to official misconduct and theft of property over $10,000 last week in Putnam County Criminal Court. Sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 14, and he has asked for judicial diversion.

“Clearly, Mr. Murphy’s actions represent an egregious abuse of the public trust,” Comptroller Justin P. Wilson said. “That kind of conduct cannot be tolerated. I commend our auditors and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation officials for the work they did on this case. And I hope this case will serve as a warning that there are consequences for those who misuse public funds.”

“It is disappointing when public officials abuse their positions for personal gain and it is particularly disheartening when it is a police chief who is responsible for the safety of the entire community,” added Dennis Dycus, director of the Comptroller’s Division of Municipal Audit.

The report can be viewed online at:

Shoplifting Citation Issued Against Cookeville Man

Police say a man who opened a soft drink bottle and drank out of it without paying for the soda has been cited for shoplifting.  But authorities say that's not all the suspect -- identified as 26-year-old Robert Michael Robinson of Penthouse Road -- did while he was inside the Hill's IGA store this week. Store employees claim Robinson also opened an 18 ounce can of Drano and a box of Ziploc baggies. He then emptied the Drano into the baggies before being confronted by store employees.  He apparently gave no explanation for the behavior, and goes to court on the charge November 22nd.

Conflicting Stories Told In Animal Cruelty Case

Cookeville police say two people involved in what may be a case of animal cruelty have told conflicting stories about just what happened, but a suspect has been charged with aggravated cruelty to an animal.  The case began when Officer Justin Long answered a call on Breeding Avenue and was told that a neighbor of the victim had witnessed a man strangling her cat to death. The neighbor said the suspect's forearm was shaking and that the cat's head was down on a rock, its back legs were squirming and it was hissing.  But when she confronted the man, he picked up the cat and began walking away. The neighbor said the cat appeared lifeless, and told the owner what had happened. Police say the owner knew the man from the neighbor's description, but when authorities went to speak to him, he denied doing any harm to the animal, saying he was petting the cat and had put it up on his shoulder when confronted by the neighbor. He also told police that he put the cat down in the apartment building parking lot before leaving the area. But authorities say the animal was later found by its owner near a barn across the road from her home. A veterinarian reportedly found that the animal had suffered a broken jaw and severe head trauma. That's when police charged 32-year-old Jason Donald Davis of Fisk Road. He'll be in court on the charge October 18th.

Cookeville Police Investigating Home Invasion

Cookeville police are investigating a case of what they call "especially aggravated burglary" after two residents of West 6th Street reported that someone forced their way into their home early Thursday morning.  According to the report, it happened just before 1 am when one of the victims heard a faint knock at the back door.  When he unlocked the door to check on things, he says a tall, black male forced his way inside the home, pushing the victim backwards and implying that he had a firearm underneeath an orange shirt he was holding.  The suspect made his way into the living room, where the victim was forced onto the floor. The man then yelled "Give me your money or whatever you have!" Police say the suspect then noticed two laptops on the coffee table and grabbed them.  The victim's roommate, who was asleep at the time, woke up and entered the living room, where he saw the suspect grabbing the laptops.  As the suspect began to run, the roommate chased him out onto the front lawn and tackled him. But the suspect was able to free himself and continued to run northeast.  Police responding to the scene set up perimeter and attempted to track the suspect with a K-9 unit, but stopped that track after it appeared that the suspect had gotten into a vehicle and driven away.  They did recover the orange shirt he was carrying and a DVD drive from one of the laptops. Investigation continues.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Monterey Library Gets State & Federal Monies

The Monterey library is among dozens of rural libraries across Tennessee that will share in nearly $1.5 million in combined federal and state grants to provide computers, education courses and job skill training. The grants are targeted to help local residents improve computer-related skills so they will be more competitive as they seek jobs. The project is the culmination of more than a year’s effort by the Department of State and the Department of Economic and Community Development (ECD). The Monterey library will get more than $2,000 in grant funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, as well as nearly $14,000 from the state. The funds will be used to provide computers, peripheral equipment, high-speed Internet routers and instructors to conduct training classes.

Health Dept. Schedules Another Drive-Thru Clinic

The Putnam County Health Department has scheduled another drive-thru flu shot clinic next month. The clinic will be held from 8 am to 4 pm next Friday, October 8th, at the health department office on County Services Drive, off South Willow Avenue.  The cost of the shots is $32 for adults and $13.70 for children.  Officials ask that you have your TennCare or Medicare cards readily available when you go to the clinic so that they can properly bill those agencies.  For more information, call 528-2531.

Voter Registration Deadline Coming Up

Putnam County Administrator of Elections Debbie Steidl is reminding local residents that the deadline to register in time to vote in the November 2nd General Election is coming up soon.

"According to state law, anyone who votes in an election must be registered at least 30 days ahead of time," Steidl said. "For the upcoming election, that deadline date is Monday, October 4th."

"People who are already registered voters in the Putnam County don't have to worry about the deadline," Steidl said, "but anyone who has recently moved here needs to contact the Election Commission office before close of business on Monday to be sure that they are properly registered. Those who are turning eighteen and wish to vote must also complete the registration process by October 4th."

Applications for Voter Registration can be found at the Election Commission office at 705 County Services Drive, off South Willow Avenue on the lower level of the new Putnam County Health Department building. The forms are also available at many of the offices in the county courthouse, at the library, and at the post office. Those who wish to register in person should bring two forms of ID with them to the office. The ID must contain the voter's name and current address. Officials will accept a driver license, car registration, checkbook, utility statement, fishing license or any other document that contains both name and address. Birth certificates and social security cards are not acceptable forms of ID because they don't have the person's address on them. Anyone with questions can call the Election Commission office between 8 am and 4 pm Monday through Friday. The number is 526-2566.

State Prison Escapee Captured In Cookeville

A Tennessee Highway Patrolman today captured a male inmate who escaped from a prison work detail at Roan Mountain State Park. Brian D. Knighton, 34, a prisoner from the Northeast Correctional Complex-Annex in Mountain City, stole a state-registered 2007 Dodge Caravan, changed the license plates, and fled the upper East Tennessee state park just after 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, September 28. All THP units in the Cookeville District were instructed to “be on the lookout”, and by Wednesday morning, Trooper Erick McCormick (pictured above) noticed the vehicle at the Marathon Gas station located on South Jefferson Avenue in Cookeville. Trooper McCormick, who was assisted by additional State Troopers, took the subject into custody just before 11 a.m. Wednesday morning. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) and the Tennessee Department of Correction (DOC) are investigating. Knighton is serving an 18-year theft and aggravated burglary sentence from Moore and Bradley counties. He was scheduled for release in 2015. An escape charge is expected.

Jobless Picture Slowly Improving

The jobless rate in Putnam County continues a slow but steady improvement, according to the latest figures from the Tennessee Department of Labor.  The most recent report show the unemployment rate in Putnam County at 8.9 percent.  That's down a tenth of a point from the month before. And it's 1.2 percent lower than what was reported for August of 2009.  Still, officials say more than 3,100 people out of a labor force of 35,860 were out of a job last month. Many more, officials say, may be underemployed rather than fully unemployed.  Meanwhile, around the region, Overton County saw its jobless rate drop from 11.2 down to 9.5 percent. The unemployment rate in Jackson County remained in the double digits at 11.2 percent, while the rate in White County was 12 percent. In better economic times, Putnam County's rate hovered between four and five percent.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Edgar Evins Park Plans Celebration

Cookeville-area residents are being invited to reserve their spot now for Edgar Evins State Park’s 5th Annual History Hayride slated for Saturday, October 16. Hosted by the Friends of Edgar Evins State Park, this event is an opportunity to learn about the history of the park and the area, while enjoying fresh air and spectacular lake and hillside scenic views. Reserve your spot now as this event sells out quickly! Admission is $10 per person, with all proceeds benefiting the Friends of Edgar Evins State Park whose efforts help improve and preserve the park. Light refreshments also will be served.

Edgar Evins State Park is located on the shores of Center Hill Lake in the steep, hilly Eastern Highland Rim. The 6,000-acre park provides excellent recreational opportunities and accommodations on one of the most beautiful reservoirs in Tennessee. Wildlife is abundant, including three different owl species, numerous hawks and wintering bald eagles as well as the rare Cerulean Warbler – a summer resident of the park’s mixed hardwood forests, which include stands of Tulip Poplar, Oak, Hickory, Buckeye and Wild Cherry. The park was dedicated in 1975 and named for James Edgar Evins, a Dekalb County businessman and mayor of nearby Smithville. As a two-term state senator, Evins was instrumental in the development of Center Hill Dam and Reservoir. For more information about the History Hayride, please call (800) 250-8619. Additional information about the park can be found at

Habitat's Newest Home Under Construction

Officials with the Putnam County chapter of Habitat For Humanity say construction has begun on the first of nine homes on McCaskey Court. Habitat director Pam Ealey says the neighborhood will be unlike any other built before because this community is a future Earth Craft House neighborhood. The first of its kind in the region, its purpose is to provide a healthy and environmentally friendly home for first time homeowners. Ealey says with fewer indoor pollutants and contaminants, the house contributes to the family’s good health and well-being.  The Brooks family - Daniel, Dusti, Clay, and Max – will be the first to enjoy the benefits of an Earth Craft home in Putnam County. Max, The Brooks’ youngest son, was born with a congenital respiratory condition and requires 24-hour nursing care. With this new home, the family will have more space for the medical supplies needed for Max’s care,

Court Date Set For Alleged Jewel Thief

October 18th is when a Putnam County man is scheduled to make an appearance in General Sessions Court on charges of theft. Police say 25-year-old Anthony Heath Howard of Appletree Lane, Monterey, is accused of stealing nearly four thousand dollars worth of earrings from the K-Mart store in Cookeville. The thefts reportedly occurred on two separate occasions -- once in late August and again in mid-September. Police say the store's surveillance video, as well as fingerprints and other evidence were used to bring warrants against Howard. The charges in Cookeville come just a few days after Howard was arrested in a separate case out of Cumberland County. Sheriff's deputies there arrested him after receiving a theft call from Plateau Metal Sales. According to reports, store employees had called to report that a man had come into the store asking about tools, and acting suspiciously. When the man left the store, the employees noticed that he was walking funny, and discovered the tools missing from a display. The vehicle Heath was driving was discovered at mile marker 300 on I-40, and he was allegedly in possession of the missing items.

Military Appreciation Night Set For TTU Game

The trophy is named for Sgt. Alvin York, a decorated WWI Army hero, so Tennessee Tech University officials say it's fitting that on Thursday night when Tech begins its defense of the award by hosting UT Martin, military personnel will be recognized during the school's annual Military Appreciation Night. As part of the event, First Tennessee Bank will feed all military personnel attending the game under the white tent in the Magic 98.5 Tailgate Park, which opens at 4 p.m. All military personnel, active and retired, are invited guests to the game along with their families.

In a pregame ceremony, the Army will conduct an Oath of Enlistment on the field and welcome 73 new recruits. The will be followed by a rendition of "God Bless America" by Nashville band Due West, which is the featured musical guest in the tailgate park from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. The night is also the annual Football Alumni Reunion, with a special tribute to the 50-year anniversary of the 1960 Ohio Valley Conference championship team.

Once the activities move into the stadium from the tailgate park at 6:30 p.m, the first presentation of the evening will be a recognition of former Herald-Citizen Sports Editor Frank Layne as recipient of the OVC Media Lifetime Achievement Award.

Following the Oath of Enlistment and song by Due West, the Golden Eagle Marching Band will perform its pregame show.

At the coin toss at midfield, joining the officials and team captains, will be Brigadeer General Robert Harris.

At halftime, the Golden Eagle baseball team will be recognized for winning the 2010 OVC regular season championship. That will be followed by ceremonies recognizing the football alumni. The final activity before the band's halftime show will be a pinning ceremony for 11 Army ROTC commissioned cadets.

For information on Military Appreciation Night, the Football Alumni Reunion, or to order tickets, please call the Athletics Ticket Office in Eblen Center (931) 372-3940.

Cookeville Police Investigating Armed Robbery

Cookeville police say a woman working at an antique store on Cedar Avenue was robbed at gunpoint Monday afternoon by a woman, who claimed that she needed money to pay "ransom" to her ex-husband. The victim told police that it happened at about ten minutes to five when a petite, young woman, around 30 years old, pulled up in an SUV in front of the shop known as A Rare Find.  The white female, who was described as "very pretty," was dressed casually and had on a ball cap. She asked the clerk if anyone else was in the store, and then pulled a gun out of a large handbag, held it close to her body and demanded money.  The victim told police that she went directly to the register and retrived approximately three hundred dollars, which she gave to the robber. The victim says the woman appeared to be upset about having to rob the store, but left the business in a casual fashion and drove off in the SUV.  Anyone with information that may help is asked to call the police department.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Attempted Criminal Homicide Charged

Attempted criminal homicide charges are pending against a Putnam County man, who allegedly shot at his neighbor while she was out walking her dog. The sheriff's department arrested 63-year-old Carroll Eugene Overstreet after investigating an incident on Sparks Drive. Authorities say the victim told them that Overstreet threatened to kill her as she walked by his house, but she told him to put his gun away ... that she was not on his property.  As she walked back in the other direction, he allegedly shot at her with a .38 caliber pistol. Deputies say they found Overstreet in possession of that pistol, with one round that had been fired. Meanwhile, Cookeville police say an off-duty officer was instrumental in catching some shoplifters at Lowe's. Officer Shannon Smith was in plain clothes when he observed 29-year-old Brent Hamby of Baxter and 31-year-old Rainn Martin of Sparta allegedly take a cordless nail gun without paying for it. He described their vehicle to other officers who later stopped the men and issued them citations for theft and possession of drug paraphernalia. And it sounded too good to be true ... and it was. Cookeville police say a man was conned out of cash after being taken in by a story from someone who said he had a "friend" who worked at Electronics Express and could get two large screen televisions and a video gaming system for just $450 dollars. He gave the con man the cash, and was told to drive around the back to the loading dock. When no one showed up at the loading dock, the victim drove back to the front of the store ... to find the con man gone.

Benefit Concert Planned For Jackson County

The bluegrass group Dailey & Vincent’s inaugural Homecoming Concert will be held at the Jackson County High School Football Field in Gainesboro, Tennessee, on Saturday, October 2, at 5:00 p.m. Tickets are $15, and all proceeds go toward the newly formed Dailey & Vincent Helping Hands Fund, administered through the Cookeville Regional Medical Center Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization. The fund benefits underprivileged children in Jackson and DeKalb Counties in Tennessee. For tickets and information about the concert, visit their website.

Local THP Officers Promoted To New Jobs

The Tennessee Department of Safety today officially recognized the promotion of 14 members of the Tennessee Highway Patrol.  Among them were two officers with local ties.

Mike Hamilton has secured Lieutenant status with the THP District 3, Troop E in Robertson County. Lt. Hamilton was commissioned with the Highway Patrol in March 1997 and was first assigned to patrol duties in Putnam County. In 2000, he joined the Special Operations Team until returning to the road a couple of years later. The Livingston, Tenn., native was promoted to Road Sergeant in the Cookeville District in 2006 and was reassigned to lead the Cumberland County troopers in January 2009.

Jeremy K. Austin, an eight-year member of the THP, has been promoted to Sergeant of the Research, Planning and Development division. Austin began his career with the THP in January 2002, where he was first assigned to Putnam County as a Road Trooper. After a four-year stint on the road, Austin was transferred to RPD in October 2006 to work on the Electronic Crash Reporting System. Sgt. Austin continues to work with the TITAN electronic reporting system and technology, and also serves as the Reporting Agency Coordinator with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation for the Tennessee Incident Based Reporting System (TIBRS). Austin, a member of the THP Honor Guard, is married with two young children. They reside in Sparta.

Officials Pass Resolution On Repeal Of New Law

The Putnam County Election Commission has now taken another step forward in trying to repeal a law that requires them to review all new Voter Registration applications. The law was passed during the last session of the Tennessee General Assembly, and the commission had originally talked about sending a letter to state officials expressing their opposition to that law. But they voted instead to pass a resolution, saying essentially the same thing. The resolution notes that the office staff at the Election Commission already does the work that Election Commission members must now double-check and says that the members are not receiving any additional compensation for the additional work they are now required to do. The resolution calls that work "unnecessarily redundant" and says each county should be allowed to set their own policies, as needed, for such reviews. The resolution also asks the state to consider adopting a single, uniform application that meets the requirements of the law. Currently, election commissioners are reviewing about half a dozen different forms with slight variations in the information requested.

Election Commission Hears Complaints From Voter

A voter in Putnam County has decided to file two formal complaints with the state Coordinator of Elections concerning the way the August primary was conducted in Tennessee. Paula Tyler of Monterey appeared before the Putnam County Election Commission Monday to talk about the complaints, and while Tyler was complimentary of the way Putnam County handled the primary, she criticized Rutherford County and state officials for what she said were failures to follow the law. Tyler filed a general complaint form, contesting the legitimacy of Diane Black congressional candidacy, arguing that Black was ineligible to run for Congress because she was a "defaulter to the treasury at the time of the election." Tyler says Black had failed to pay taxes on some business property during the first two weeks of early voting. In a second complaint, filed under the Help America Vote Act, Tyler contends that the Rutherford County Election Commission violated the law by not having their office open on one Saturday during Early Voting. Tyler told local officials that the law should either be enforced or taken off the books. Because Putnam County's election commission could take no action on the complaints, they voted to forward them to the state.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

"The Tag Project" Coming To Cookeville

Contemporary furniture designer Wendy Maruyama will visit Tennessee Tech University on October 4th and 5th with her work-in-progress, "The Tag Project." Officials say the project is an effort to recognize the 120,000 mostly Japanese-Americans who were confined to internment camps in 1942. The San Diego, Calif.-based artist created the project after attending a memorial service several years ago for the famed 442nd Infantry Regiment, a unit that fought in Europe during World War II and consisted primarily of Japanese-American men. Alongside other Japanese-Americans, these men's families were consigned to U.S. internment camps by Executive Order 9066 after the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. "The Tag Project" is a hands-on activity in which Maruyama is attempting to write the names of each individual sent to a camp on a tag. Maruyama's primary activity on campus will take place in the lobby of the Bryan Fine Arts Building from 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 5. Participants will help Maruyama in her exhibit by making the tags to represent each individual who was sent to the camps. Maruyama's public lecture about "The Tag Project" will be held in Room 215 of Prescott Hall at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 5.

Ex-Police Chief Could Be Facing Jail Time

The former chief of police in Monterey, Tennessee, could be going to jail -- depending on the outcome of a sentencing hearing in December.  Tim Murphy has now pleaded guilty to charges of official misconduct and theft over $10,000.  The misconduct charge is a felony that carries a possible prison term of one to six years.  The theft charge could garner a sentence of three to fifteen years.  Prosecutors say Murphy, who was named police chief in 2008, stole nearly $30,000 in various cash and merchandise from the department -- including guns and ammunition.

Court Date Set For Alleged Drug Dealer

A November 16th arraignment in Putnam County Criminal Court has been set for a Monterey man, indicted on charges of selling drugs near a school.  Authorities say 33-year-old Matthew Christopher Redden is accused of selling prescription pain pills on at least two occasions at a location that was within a thousand feet of Uffelman Elementary School.  The sales allegedly took place back in February and the medication was identified by authorities as "buprenorphine," a drug that is also sometimes known as suboxone or subutex.  Redden is free on $30,000 bond, pending his arraignment.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Criminal Charges Now Pending In Gun Case

A Cookeville man, who was taken into custody by police earlier this month after he broke into a friend's apartment and threatened to shoot himself, has now been charged with reckless endangerment. We first reported back on September 13th that officers responded at about 5:30 in the morning to a man armed with a handgun at the Saxony apartment complex. At that time, police said 34-year-old Michael W. Johnson of Breeding Avenue had entered a friend’s unoccupied apartment and refused to exit. Police say Johnson indicated to friends by telephone communications that he may be suicidal, and during negotiations with Johnson, concern about his medical condition grew. At that point, entry was made into the apartment, and he was taken into custody for medical evaluation. He now has a court date on the reckless endangerment charge scheduled for October 25th.

Baxter Elementary Re-Opens On Monday

Students and teachers at Baxter Elementary School, who have been divided up between the high school and middle school in Baxter for the past few weeks, are getting back to a more normal schedule Monday.  The school system has now received permission from the state fire marshal's office to move back into the building, which was damaged by flooding in August. That damage revealed that the electrical systems in the older parts of the school were inadequate and potentially dangerous.  School officials now say the electrical and phone line have been replaced and have passed inspection. Officials say the cost of that re-wiring is expected to exceed $100,000.

Friday, September 24, 2010

New Momentum In Effort To Save York Institute

Tennessee Tech professor Michael Birdwell, the world's foremost authority on World War I hero and Fentress County native Alvin C. York, says he has renewed hope that the original structure built for the York Institute can be saved.  He says the York Institute's status on the National Register of Historic Places has been raised from statewide significance to national significance, thus making it eligible for a variety of grants that may save it.

"We're now at a point where we can see possible success," said Birdwell, Tennessee Tech University historian and archivist of York's papers. "There are grant programs that we are now eligible for because of that change in status. We had to get that done before we could move on to the next phase. This now allows us to go after some large-scale grants."

The York Agricultural Institute was built in Jamestown by York after his heroic service in World War I. York literally dug its foundation, sawed lumber, nailed planks and more during its construction. The original two-story brick administration building opened in 1927. The Congressional Medal of Honor recipient with a third-grade education said his experiences in Europe during the war made him realize the importance of education. With the notoriety he acquired as a war hero, York sought to improve the lives of people in the Upper Cumberland through education.

Many know of York through the 1941 movie "Sergeant York" starring Gary Cooper. Few know what he did for education in the Upper Cumberland after the war. Birdwell writes in a just-published issue of The Tennessee Conservationist Magazine:

"York's post-World War I focus on improving education in the state is an important part of his legacy that is not as well known...The York Agricultural Institute was the focus of York's effort to improve the welfare and education of people in Fentress County. A simple dream to improve the lives of the people of the Cumberland Pleateau turned into a mythic struggle worthy of Hercules."

The article, co-authored by Tennessee Historical Commission preservation specialist Claudette Stager, recounts both the financial and cultural difficulties York faced in establishing and operating the institute.

"This barely literate veteran's launching a campaign for education was fraught with difficulty, for it struck most of Fentress County's political and social leaders as ludicrous that York would build or administer a school...While regarded as a hero across America for his wartime exploits, at home York's fame did not help him with his efforts to start a school."

Work to save the building has been almost as miraculous as was York's capture of 132 German prisoners in France's Argonne forest in October 1918. The last extension courses provided by TTU were taught there in 1990. By 2008 the building had fallen into such disrepair that the state Department of Education decided to raze it. But the state signed an agreement with the Sergeant York Patriotic Foundation that year, and the foundation agreed it would stabilize the building and eventually restore it. The building was stabilized and hazardous materials were removed by December 2009 at a cost of $1 million.

The foundation now seeks to raise $4 million to rehabilitate the building and return it to its original mission: education for the people of the Upper Cumberland.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Court Date Set For Woman Indicted For Forgery

A November 16th arraignment in Putnam County Criminal Court has been set for a Baxter woman, accused of stealing a check from a co-worker and forging the victim's name on it.  Authorities say they used surveillance video from the bank where the check was passed as part of the evidence they presented to the grand jury.  That led to the indictment of 33-year-old Diane Christine Cronk of Henley Road, who authorities say had also been working at Plateau Mental Health Center at the time that the check was stolen back in May.  They claim she stole the check on May 2nd and cashed it on May 3rd in the amount of $425.  She is free on bond pending resolution of the case.

Police And Bank Investigating Debit Card Thief

Cookeville police are working with a local bank to identify a debit card thief. The victim told police that she lost her card after using it to pay for some gas back on September 7th. By four o'clock the next day, nearly three hundred dollars had been drained from her account at various ATMs around town. Two of the withdrawals took place about a minute apart at Jackson Bank and Trust on West Jackson Street.  The other two were reported at separate branches of Regions Bank on South Willow Avenue. Police say the woman was unsure initially if she had lost the card or it had been stolen, but says that she has now cancelled the account and is working with bank officials to prosecute the person who gained unauthorized access.

Tech Schedule Ranked Toughest In Nation

Watson Brown knew the schedule his team would face this season was tough. But just how tough is Tennessee Tech’s 2010 slate, which began on the road at Number 17 Arkansas followed by a trip to Number 4 TCU in the first two weeks? Tougher than Tennessee. Tougher than Georgia. Tougher than Virginia Tech. Tougher than…everybody. According to the Sagarin college football rankings, a computerized listing of all 245 NCAA Division I teams, both FBS and FCS, the Golden Eagle schedule ranks No. 1 nationally as the most difficult.

“I’m not surprised,” Brown said. “Those first two games would test any football team, and we have some really good teams ahead of us. The important thing right now is to just look ahead to the next game and try not to get caught up in those kinds of numbers. The season really begins right now for our team, with our game at Southeast Missouri. They are an awfully good football team, they haven’t played at home yet so they’ll have a big crowd, and we better just be ready to go play.”

CPAC Announces A Series Of Events

Officials with the Cookeville Performing Arts Center say a number of events are coming up this weekend and throughout the month of October, including a theatrical performance of a play called One Step, written and directed by Mary Evelyn Notgrass. It's being presented by the Home School Dramatic Society and will be performed tonight at 7 pm at CPAC. Tickets are five dollars for adults and three dollars for children. What's being called a "family" ticket is also available for fifteen dollars. Meanwhile, the Shakespeare in the Park 2010 production of The Merry Wives of Windsor opens tonight at seven at the Dogwood Performance Pavilion in Dogwood Park. Admission to the Shakespeare production is free and there will be performances every night, except next Wednesday, through October 2nd. And city officials say the annual Brown Bag lunch concert series will begin on October 1st. The free concerts are held every Friday in October at the Depot Museum from 11:30am to 1pm. The schedule is below.

October 1-   Jeff and Vida
October 8-   Matt Tidwell Mo’tet
October 15- Trio Vendezval
October 22- TBD
October 29- Cookin’ on the Square (Courthouse)

Dale Hollow Group Touts Roller Coaster Yard Sale

Officials with the Dale Hollow Marketing Group say the 25th Annual Roller Coaster Yard Sale is just around the corner. They are encouraging Cookeville area residents to explore the entire route across the miles of rolling hills and hollows surrounding Dale Hollow Lake from September 30th through October 2nd. And officials say 2010 marks a special milestone for this marathon yard sale – the 25th Anniversary. Organizers say there are more than 150 miles of treasures to discover. For more information, visit their website.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Goodwill Warns Of Cookeville Area Scam

Goodwill Industries of Middle Tennessee say they have gotten at least three reports so far of someone who is calling Cookeville-area residents, falsely claiming to represent the organization. Spokesman Suzanne K. Pittman says the scammer calls individuals who are having yard sales or estate sales and says that a Goodwill representative will come by and pick up any items they may want to donate. But Pittman says, in fact, Goodwill does NOT solicit donations in that fashion. She says any pick up by the organization has to be coordinated through their special projects team. Pittman says the agency is concerned that local residents are being fooled by someone using Goodwill's name to essentially steal items that the victims may believe they are donating to charity.

Cookeville Woman Charged With Impersonation

Cookeville police say a woman who was using someone else's driver's license to cover up the fact that her own had been revoked is now facing charges of criminal impersonation. Officer Christopher Ferguson says that he pulled over a vehicle this week after he noticed it weaving on North Dixie Avenue. The driver, he says, identified herself as Cece Cooper of Jamestown and produced a license with that name. But Ferguson says the picture on the license looked nothing like the driver of the vehicle. Further investigation revealed that the driver was, in fact, 36-year-old Leslie Danette Yorke of Landmark Lane, Cookeville. Ferguson says that Yorke was using Cooper's license because her own license is revoked. Meanwhile, in a separate incident, a Monterey man was charged with driving on a suspended license after he was accused of yelling at another driver while travelling north on Highway 111. 19-year-old Eddie Maddle Jr. of Clark Range Highway allegedly told officers that the driver of the other vehicle had locked up his brakes in front of Maddle's car and that he was going to "beat the guy if he got him to stop." They say Maddle's license had been suspended in August of 2009 for multiple traffic violations. And police say yet another incident of apparent road rage led to an elderly woman being treated at Cookeville Regional Medical Center. The woman claims that she was pushed down after cursing at a couple who stayed stopped at a green light. The couple claims the 73-year-old victim fell down as she got out of her car. Authorities say the woman did not want to press charges in the case.

Cookeville HS Singers To Perform With Orchestra

Cookeville High School singers will join their college counterparts in concert next week. The fifth annual Tennessee Tech/Cookeville High School collaborative concert will take place 7:30 p.m., on Tuesday, Sept. 28, in the Bryan Fine Arts Building. The concert will feature the Cookeville High School chorus under the direction of Michael Choate, the Tech Chorale under the direction of Craig Zamer and the University Orchestra under the direction of Dan Allcott, with violin soloist Wei Tsun Chang. Each group will perform on its own in addition to a finale with the combined choirs accompanied by the orchestra in a performance of Claudio Monteverdi's "Beatus Vir." Tickets are $5 and are available at the door. Proceeds from the concert help fund educational and travel opportunities for Tech's choral and orchestral programs. For more information, call 372-3650

"Freedom Writers" Teacher To Speak At Tech

Erin Gruwell, the teacher who was the inspiration behind the film "Freedom Writers," will be the guest speaker for Tennessee Tech University's Center Stage program next Wednesday, Sept. 29. Gruwell, a New York Times bestselling author, is known for her "unteachable" class in Long Beach, Calif., where she gave students a second chance through The Freedom Writers Diary. By having the students write in their own weekly diaries, she brought the divided classroom in Woodrow Wilson High School's Room 203 together through their stories of hard times. The event at TTU includes a question-and-answer session and a book signing followed by a catered reception. The 7 pm speech is open to the public and will be held in Derryberry Hall Auditorium. Admission is free.

Group Calls Need For Foster Care "Urgent"

Foster parents are urgently needed for children taken into foster care in the Cookeville area, according to Youth Villages, a private nonprofit organization that provides foster care and other services for children and families. They say children are placed into foster care when they can no longer safely live with their biological families because of abuse, neglect or other serious family issues. Youth Villages, which provides foster care services through a contract with the state of Tennessee’s Department of Children’s Services, aims to place children in foster homes in the children’s home school district or as close to home as possible to prevent children from experiencing further disruptions.

“We need many more foster parents who truly want to make a difference in a child’s life,” said Tina Dishman, regional foster care recruiter for Youth Villages. “There is a tremendous need for caring, nurturing foster families who are ready to open their hearts and homes to a child or sibling group in need of a home.”

The organization needs a minimum of 25 foster homes in the Cookeville area to avoid turning away children in need of a home and to be able to provide every child in the organization’s foster care program with caring foster families who will be the best match for the child.

“We have two families going through our training classes right now,” Dishman said. “But at the same time, we sometimes lose foster families because they either decide to adopt their foster child or move out of state for a job, or stop fostering due to health issues, for example. That’s why we always need foster families – and that’s why the need is so great right now.”

Youth Villages is looking for single adults, married couples and families in the wider Cookeville area, including Putnam, Dekalb, White, Cannon, Warren, Smith, Van Buren, Fentress, Pickett, Clay, Macon, Overton and Jackson counties. Youth Villages provides free training to foster parents, 24-hour support and monthly reimbursements to help offset the costs of adding a child to the household. Adoptions through Youth Villages are free, and foster parents typically have the first right to adopt if a child has lived with them for at least six months. Children become available for adoption when there is no viable member of the child’s birth family who can care for the child.

To learn more about becoming a Youth Villages foster parent, you may attend a free information session or foster parent training. Information sessions are set for Wednesday, Sept. 29 at 5 pm, Monday, Oct. 4 at 5 pm; Thursday, Oct. 7 at noon; Wednesday, Oct. 13 at noon; Monday, Oct. 18at 5 p.m.; Thursday, Oct. 21 at noon; and Wednesday, Oct. 27 at noon. Foster parent training starts on Saturday, Oct. 9. Information and training sessions will be held at the Youth Villages office at 1420 Neal St., Suite 202 in Cookeville. To register for an information session or training, or to inquire about becoming a foster parent, call Kristi Olson, foster parent recruiter, at (931) 525-6905.

Children referred to Youth Villages for foster care typically have been abused or neglected and may have emotional or behavioral issues, including anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and other issues, coupled with learning disabilities, ADHD, trouble managing their anger and frustration, and trouble sleeping at night, among others. The group says these children need caring families and a stable home where they will feel loved, can heal and thrive.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Former Sheriff's Deputy Now Baxter Police Chief

Danny Holmes, a former Putnam County sheriff's deputy and DARE officer in the county, has been named chief of police in Baxter. The Baxter board of aldermen named him to the position in a specially called meeting Tuesday night. On his Facebook account, Holmes said, "I am so excited to get back into Law Enforcement. I appreciate all of my friends & family." In recent years, Holmes had been working as a security officer at Cookeville Regional Medical Center. He had also run an unsuccessful campaign for the Democratic nomination to the County Trustee's office.

Equal Pay Advocate Coming To Cookeville

Lilly Ledbetter, the namesake of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, will be in Cookeville next week to talk about her experiences with gender-based pay inequality. The talk is scheduled for 7 pm on Tuesday, Sept. 28, in Derryberry Hall Auditorium. Organizers of the event say Ledbetter has made a groundbreaking impact in an effort to banish unequal pay on behalf of women and their families — resulting in the signing of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act into law. Because of her perseverance, the Alabama native has been called an advocate and a crusader for equal pay. Ledbetter worked as a Goodyear supervisor for almost 20 years before learning that she was a victim of discriminatory pay. The day she found out, she came home and told her husband that she wanted to file charges with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. She was awarded back pay after fighting eight years in court. However, the Supreme Court overturned the decision saying she did not file her complaint within required time limitations. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was moved to write a dissent challenging Congress to do something about pay inequality for women and that act was passed in January of 2009.
The law resets the 180-day filing period for every new discriminatory paycheck. Though she will not receive the money owed to her, Ledbetter has chosen to spend her retirement traveling the country speaking out against discriminatory pay. She wants to educate others on this issue so that they don't suffer the same fate. TTU is among several colleges and universities, including Harvard and Georgetown, that Ledbetter has been invited to speak at around the country.
The Women's Center and the TTU communications program will host this Center Stage event. It will be free and open to the public.

Tech Professor Gets National Research Grant

The National Science Foundation has awarded TTU civil and environmental engineering associate professor Ben Mohr about $300,000 to look at concrete at a nano-scale level and study the mechanisms of degradation that make it crack.

"It's a widespread problem that in the past we thought we could control by controlling the temperature," Mohr said. "But concrete that has been cast and placed under normal conditions still has problems. You can't use mitigation strategies for the durability problem if you don't know what causes it. People think of cement and concrete as very low-tech material. But the only way to understand what everyone sees is to study the materials at the microstructural level where it is apparent that the properties are most complicated."

And that's just what Mohr has been doing for four years, since being named the 2007 Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award winner from Oak Ridge Associated Universities.
Advances in instrumentation now allow Mohr to probe beyond the microscale level.

"We are looking at the stages of a product that forms during cement hydration that in later ages causes expansion and cracking," explained Mohr.

"I like to look at the environmental factors and the combination of materials and microstructure to find better solutions," said Mohr, who considers himself a non-traditional civil engineer, willing to take an interdisciplinary approach to his work. "There is such a focus now on using materials that are more sustainable, but I still ask 'Why can't we make materials we currently use last longer?'" he said.

Mohr teaches a graduate level course focused entirely on concrete durability and his grant-related work. But his education focus reaches beyond campus. Educational activities associated with the grant will include traveling to local middle and high schools to provide hands-on experiments that give the students a real-life view of how engineering is an important part of the modern world. Local primary school groups will be invited to campus to participate in hands-on learning experiences at Tennessee Tech's STEM Center. In addition to the educational activities, a residual stress analysis workshop is proposed at the end of the project to disseminate the strong background in this field at Tennessee Tech to other cement and concrete researchers. He has received about $520,000 as a sole principal investigator with NSF and has been a co-principal investigator on projects totaling more than $450,000 for the Tennessee Department of Transportation and Federal Highway Administration.

Feds OK Details Of Fifth Cookeville Interchange

The Federal Highway Administration has approved the "Fifth Interchange" for construction. This is the new interstate exit where Mine Lick Creek Road crosses Interstate 40 that officials say will unlock the potential of the new business park. In a letter dated September 14, federal officials say the interchange is "operationally acceptable," given that local officials have committed to constructing a northern connector road to that interchange.

State Representative Henry Fincher of Cookeville said, "I have fought for this new exit since my election, and this approval is a huge leap forward for this project. Now that we have federal approval, the State of Tennessee can get started on buying right of way and building the exit."

He added that Putnam County and the Highlands will then have one of the most attractive locations for business in the State of Tennessee.

Tech Returns Arrowheads To Native Americans

There's a happy ending today to a story that began when an unexpected package recently arrived at Tennessee Tech University. Kristin Wells, TTU director of development for the College of Arts and Sciences, was surprised when she received a box of 100 arrowheads, two old pipes, library books and a $25 check along with a letter from Gerry Lynn Gordon of Michigan.

"I would like to return them to a group of Native Americans in the area," Gordon said in the letter to the university "Most were found along Town Creek and (the) adjacent flood plain in the old pig farm."

The arrowheads were donated in the name of Brenda and Gary Waters Research Farm. Gordon says she found or was given the arrowheads by Kermit LaFever, Brenda Waters' father. While attending the Putnam County Fair, Wells ran into local representatives of the Indigenous Intertribal Corp., a non-profit organization based in Cookeville. Telling them the story of Gordon's wish, Wells decided that the IIC group would be a match for the box. After showing the arrowheads to the corporation they confirmed that the arrowheads were not a reproduction, but didn't know what tribes they were from. Linda Veal, president of the 35 -member ICC, says she plans to make shadow boxes for the arrowheads and use them in education efforts so Tennessee school children can learn more about Native American History in the area. Veal and Mary Cox-Pluff came to campus to accept the donation. Veal is of the Onondaga Nation; Cox-Pluff described herself as of the Algonquin, Mohawk, Onondaga and Maliseet descent. The ICC's future includes a cultural center on the Cumberland Plateau.

"Your letter brought tears to my eyes and my heart grew two sizes. I thank you for honoring my wishes," Gordon wrote in a letter, after being told the plans for her donation.

TTU Posts Record Enrollment Again

Enrollment topped 11,500 for the first time ever at Tennessee Tech University after climbing to a record high for the 10th consecutive fall semester. With a final headcount census of 11,538 students, TTU posted an enrollment increase of 6.4 percent, higher than any other Tennessee Board of Regents university and higher than the 4.6 percent average enrollment growth at TBR universities.

"We're very pleased to have our largest-ever freshman class," said Bobby Hodum, TTU's executive director of enrollment management. "This is the fifth consecutive year of growth in the freshman class, and it's a great indication that students consider TTU an excellent choice for helping them achieve lifelong success."

This year's freshman class of 1,910 is the largest ever to join Tennessee Tech. Undergraduate enrollment — at 9,436 — also is up from last year's enrollment.

"These numbers represent a 5.8 percent growth in undergraduate enrollment—evidence of a very healthy, sustainable pattern which will continue to help support the university for years to come," said Hodum.

Graduate student enrollment increased by 9 percent.

Monday, September 20, 2010

County Commission OKs Grant and Garden

Some members of the Putnam County commission say we can't afford it , but -- by an 18 to 4 vote Monday night -- the commission agreed to apply for a Homeland Security grant which would pay the salary of six full-time firefighters for two years. If the grant is awarded and accepted, the county would then be responsible for at least the third year of the salary, amounting to more than $230,000. Meanwhile, the commission has agreed to allow the usage of county property near the fairgrounds for the development of a community garden. Proponents say the idea is to use the garden as an educational tool and a way to encourage more members of the public to maintain gardens. It would be located near the corner of South Walnut Avenue and Veterans Drive. Commissioner Reggie Shanks had suggested that the garden be placed near the Jefferson Avenue entrance to the fairgrounds, but county executive Kim Blaylock said the space there was not large enough. She did say, however, that the Master Gardeners might be willing to maintain that space as well.

TTU To Open Conference Schedule On The Road

Tennessee Tech, which has not claimed an OVC title in 35 years, will visit Southeast Missouri on Saturday to open their conference schedule. SEMO has also never claimed an OVC crown, but they are coming off a stunning 24-21 win at No. 5 Southern Illinois last Saturday to improve to 2-1 overall. Tech, meanwhile, has had about 10 days to prepare for the game after downing Lane College, 43-0, last Thursday night. The Golden Eagles are 1-2 overall with their two losses coming at No. 17 Arkansas and No. 4 TCU. Tech has won four in a row from SEMO, including a 28-16 victory last year in which the Golden Eagle defense intercepted three passes in Tucker Stadium.

Cookeville Burglary Suspect Escapes

Chattanooga Police have been instructed to be on the lookout for a patient who had been undergoing treatment at Moccasin Bend Mental Health Institute. Authorities say the man is Joseph Boswell, a suspect in a Putnam County burglary case, who escaped from Moccasin Bend around 7:30 Sunday evening. Boswell was scheduled to be released from the facility on Monday. Police say Boswell has charges pending against him in Cookeville after he was found walking in the area of three business burglaries on South Jefferson Avenue earlier this month. Items taken in those burglaries were found nearby. Boswell is 21 years old, about six feet tall, weighs 204 lbs., has brown hair and eyes. If you've seen Boswell call police.

Foundation Trying To Purchase Cummins Falls

The Tennessee Parks and Greenways Foundation is trying to raise more than $1 million to buy Tennessee's largest privately owned waterfall and its director hopes the falls will eventually become the centerpiece of a new state park. The Cookeville Herald-Citizen reports the foundation has the one-time option to purchase 186 acres at Cummins Falls, just northwest of Cookeville in Jackson County. Kathleen Williams, executive director of the Tennessee Parks and Greenways Foundation, called the falls "fabulous" and "wonderfully beautiful." She said she cried when told there was a plan to develop the property. When that project fell through, a supporter of the foundation purchased it on the organization's behalf for a little more than $1 million. The foundation has until June 16 of next year to pay him back.

Details Not Forthcoming In Internet Sex Sting

Don't expect to hear much more from Cookeville police about the details surrounding the arrest of a west Tennessee man on a charge of soliciting a minor over the Internet for sex. In a press release issued Monday, police said, "This is a law-enforcement sensitive investigation involving issues pertaining to the protection of children on the internet. Because of the nature of this on-going investigation, there is no further information at this time."

For the past several weeks, Det. Sgt. Bobby Anderson has been conducting an on-line investigation that involved a police officer posing as a 15 year old girl. The investigation began when 40-year-old James Nelson Wood of Dyersburg, TN initiated contact with who he believed to be a 15 year old girl from Cookeville. As the investigation progressed, Wood made arrangements to travel to Cookeville to meet this girl with the intent to have sex with her. On Friday, September 17, Wood did travel to Cookeville and was immediately arrested by the Cookeville Police Department's ICAC (Internet Crimes Against Children) unit. Wood was taken into custody and booked at the Putnam County Criminal Justice Center on the Class E Felony charge of Solicitation of a Minor with the intent to commit Aggravated Statutory Rape. Bond has been set at $25,000.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Baxter Elementary Students Could Soon Move Back

Officials hope to get the all-clear from the state fire marshal's office this week to move Baxter Elementary School students back into their school, which was closed after officials found electrical issues in the building. They say they have also found out that the contractor who did the original work some fifty years ago is dead. The kindergarten through 4th grade students have been taken to Cornerstone Middle School and Upperman High School since the 20th of last month when flood damage revealed that the original contractor apparently replaced copper wiring with aluminum wiring in an effort to save money. Officials say the building is now being re-wired to bring it up to the applicable code.

Full Agenda Facing County Commission

A relatively full agenda faces the Putnam County commission as they meet Monday night. First up, they'll have to elect a chairman, chairman pro-tem and a parliamentarian. Bob Duncan is being recommended for the chairman's role, with Jerry Ford as chairman pro-tem. Kevin Maynard is the nominee for the parliamentarian position. Meanwhile, with twelve new members elected in August, the commission must fill appointments to the beer board, the adult-oriented establishment board, the ag extension committee, and several more. Also tonight, the commission will be discussing whether or not to apply for a Homeland Security grant which would pay the salaries of five full-time firefighters on the county's now mostly volunteer force. If the grant is awarded and accepted by the county, they would be responsible for at least a third year of funding for those positions. And commissioners will be talking about the potential location of a community garden. Supporters want to place at the intersection of Veterans Drive and South Walnut Avenue, near the county fairgrounds, to give it maximum visibility. Some commissioners say a better location would be on county-owned property near the soccer fields in north Cookeville.

Alleged Sexual Predator Caught In Cookeville

A coordinated effort by the Cookeville police department and its Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force has led to the arrest of a Tennessee man on charges of soliciting sex from a minor. Police claim 40-year-old James Nelson Wood drove here from Dyersburg last Friday to have a sexual encounter with what he believed was a 15-year-old girl. He was, in fact, talking online to an undercover police officer and was arrested when he showed up in town. The official charge against Wood is solicitation of a minor for the purpose of committing aggravated statutory rape. That's a Class E felony. Police say the local task force works with agencies across the state and across the country to keep children safe from sexual predators online. The bond for Wood was set at $25,000.

FEMA To Assist Local Officials With Applications

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) are now working with the state and local governments and certain non-profit organizations in Putnam and nine other Tennessee counties to begin the application process for federal reimbursement of eligible response and recovery costs associated with the August flooding.

"We're working with the state to start the process for public assistance applicants to submit their requests for federal funding," said Federal Coordinating Officer Gracia Szczcech. "Our goal is to assist them in getting the grant money needed to restore infrastructure back to pre-disaster condition."

FEMA assigns public assistance officers to work with eligible government and non-profit entities to help guide them through the application process. For approved projects, FEMA will pay 75 percent of the cost. The state and applicant are responsible for the remaining 25 percent. Projects may include debris removal, emergency services and repair or replacement of damaged public roads, bridges, utilities and facilities. Qualified private non-profit organizations may also receive assistance to restore certain kinds of facilities. These include educational, utility, emergency, medical, custodial care and other essential services.

Multi-Cultural Dance Peformance Coming To Tech

More than 500 years of historical dance converge into one flamenco performance at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 21, in Tennessee Tech University's Derryberry Auditorium. "La Esencia Del Flamenco" — the Essence of Flamenco — is a performance featuring choreography that is both collaboratively created and improvised on the spot. Flamenco is a style of music and dance native to the Andalusian region of Spain. The performers hail from Flamenco Louisville, an organization devoted to all things flamenco — including classes, workshops and professional performers. Diana Dinicola, a co-founder of Flamenco Louisville, will be part of the performance group as well.

"We've been creating and rehearsing like crazy," said Dinicola. "We can't wait for that moment when the whole performance connects with the audience."

Dinicola, who has extensive training from multiple flamenco programs, has traveled the world to perform and interact with other celebrated flamenco artists. She is also an active educator, teaching flamenco in underserved communities in Louisville, Ky., and throughout the state through ArtsReach. The performance repertoire is based on a system of song forms, or "palos," which allow improvisations around commonly known musical structures. The artists will perform via "cante" (singing), "baile" (dancing) and "toca" (playing of musical instruments). "La Esencia Del Flamenco" incorporates elements of melody, poetry, rhythm and movement into one complete presentation. It is a Center Stage event hosted by the President's Commission on the Status of Women, which provides educational opportunities about specific issues and events that enhance a general awareness and appreciation for diversity on campus. The commission also promotes an awareness of women's issues and oversees the TTU Women's Center and programming of interest to women in the community.

Leslie Burk of the TTU history department staff and member of the programming and publicity subcommittee for the commission, wrote the Center Stage request to bring the dancers to TTU. Burk has danced in the Middle Eastern style for nearly 20 years and the flamenco style for seven.

"Part of our focus with the commission is bringing diversity to campus through educational programming," said Burk. "This performance is a great mix of multicultural diversity and empowerment. Flamenco is a very empowering dance."

In conjunction with "La Esencia," there will also be a quick-start introductory flamenco class taught by Dinicola during dead hour the day of the performance. The class, to be held in Derryberry Hall Auditorium, is open to everyone – all ages and skill levels – and will cover three elements of flamenco: "brazeo," the movement of the arms and upper body; "zapateado," the footwork; and "compas," the rhythmic underpinnings of flamenco. The event is free and open to the public.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Suspicions Lead To Drug Fraud Charges

An October 25th court date has been set for a Putnam County man, arrested this week on charges of drug fraud. Authorities say 29-year-old Willie Nathan Jones of Burgess School Road allegedly forged a prescription from a doctor's office in Lebanon and tried to pass it at a local pharmacy. He was arrested after the pharmacy called the doctor's office and the physician said that Jones was not a patient of his and that he had not written any prescriptions for him. The scrip that Jones allegedly tried to pass was for the painkiller Percocet, and police claim that they found two other fake prescriptions from the same doctor's office under the seat of Jones's car.

Cookeville Alum Gets Starting QB Job In Ohio

The current starting quarterback at Ohio Wesleyan University is said to be showing potential and bringing hope to the football team's 2010 season. Freshman Mason Espinosa was born and raised in Cookeville. During his final year in high school, he decided to take his talents north, and according to a report in The Transcripts newspaper, since coming from Cookeville High School where he was the starting quarterback, Espinosa has entered into a new system and is expected to be the field general as a freshman. Espinosa said he has played football since he was 5 years old when he snuck onto a team for 6-year-olds.

Cookeville Woman Re-Unites With Mom In Ohio

A Cookeville woman and her birth mother have been reunited in Ohio after 39 years thanks to a conversation among employees at a newspaper where the younger woman placed an ad searching for her mother. The Toledo Blade newspaper reports that 39-year-old Abigail Flores Hall, of Cookeville, called its classified section to place an ad with information about her birth mother. Details included her mother's age and that her mother's siblings included two sets of twins. An ad saleswoman mentioned the item to a co-worker who thought the information sounded like her aunt and uncle's family. She found that a cousin was given up for adoption. The newspapers says Flores Hall and 55-year-old mother Maria Martinez met Wednesday in a tearful reunion.

Festival Of Voices Concert At Tech Friday

Seven high school choirs from around the state will perform alongside the Tech Chorale for this evening's Festival of Voices concert. The high school choirs are attending a clinic at Tennessee Tech with Sandra Snow, associate professor of music education and choral conducting at Michigan State University. After the clinic, the choirs will join forces 300 voices strong for a 7 pm concert in Wattenbarger Auditorium in the Bryan Fine Arts Building.

"The concert features a performance by each visiting choir, a performance by the Tech Chorale, and will end with a finale of two pieces performed by the joint choir of high school and college students combined. I strongly urge people to come and watch this unique experience," said Craig Zamer, director of choral activities at TTU.

This is the second year the Festival of Voices has been presented at Tennessee Tech. It is free and open to the public.

TTU Wins Game In Just One Half Of Play

Lightning struck early for the Golden Eagles as they built a quick lead, then bad weather followed, forcing officials to halt the game with 5:01 remaining in the second quarter as Tennessee Tech earned a 43-0 victory over Lane College Thursday night in Tucker Stadium.The win was Tech's first of the season (1-2) and the team's sixth consecutive victory on its home field. Lane (0-4) was the first Golden Eagle opponent from the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.Dontey Gay rushed for two touchdowns to pace the offense, finishing with 89 yards on just seven carries. Jocques Crawford had six carries for 57 yards including a four-yard TD run to open the scoring.

Meanwhile, the defense added a pair of scores in a game that last just 24:59. Marty Jones returned an interception 32 yards for Tech's third TD to make it 20-0, and Travis Adkins plucked a fumble out of mid-air and raced 17 yards to paydirt for the final touchdown and a 41-0 lead with 11:13 to play in the second quarter. The final points came on a safety when the Lane punter ran out the back of the end zone followed a low, bouncing snap. The Tech defense limited Lane to a minus 23 yards of total offense, setting a school record for fewest yards allowed. The Dragons had minus 23 rushing yards on 15 carries, picking up 15 yards but losing 38. Lane was 0-for-2 passing for zero yards. Tech set another school record by holding the Dragons without a first down.

Tre Lamb was 4-for-6 passing for the Golden Eagles for 47 yards, throwing a seven-yard TD pass to Tim Benford early in the second quarter that made it a 34-0 margin.A highlight of the night was Henry Sailes' punt returns. He returned three punts for 71 yards, an average of nearly 24 yards per return.Defensively, Will Johnson led Tech with five tackles, a quarterback sack and a fumble forced.

There was a 30-minute delay for lightning with 12:10 to play in the second quarter with TEch leadin 27-0. The teams left the field and many of the 8,522 fans left the stadium. When play resumed, the GOlden Eagles scored two plays later for a 34-0 lead.Six minutes later, more lightning flashed in the Cookeville sky and once again the field was cleared. Officials discussed the situation with the head coaches and declared that the first half was finished. There would be a 30-minute delay and the game would resume in the third quarter.However, heavy rains came and more lightning. Following another lengthy delay, the officials met with the coaches and checked the NCAA rules book, and the decision was made to officially end the game at that point.The Golden Eagles now have extra time to prepare for their next game, which is their Ohio Valley Conference opener at Southeast Missouri on Saturday, Sept. 25. Kickoff is at 6 p.m. in Houck Stadium in Cape Girardeau, Mo.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

White House OKs Flood Relief Money For Putnam

The White House has now approved federal aid for Putnam County and nine others in the state that had damage from flash flooding last month. The disaster declaration announced Wednesday also covers Jackson, Macon, Overton, Pickett, and Smith counties. Officials say areas in the counties received an average of six to seven inches of rain during August 17th through the 21st, with some areas getting more than 11 inches. The most severe damage was to roads and bridges. The assistance will provide reimbursements to local governments for repairing and rebuilding public infrastructure.

Local Bank Warns Of Potential Scam

No one has fallen for it yet, but a local bank reported to the Cookeville police department this week that several of its customers have been getting automated phone calls, which appear to be an attempt to get personal financial information. The bank says the robo-call tells the would-be victim that their debit cards have been cancelled by mistake and that they must press 1 and enter their debit card number to resolve the situation. A representative of F and M bank on South Willow Avenue told police that even the bank had been contacted by the scammers, but also said that no one from the bank would ever call and ask for account numbers or debit card information. They said no one should ever give that information out over the phone.

Annual Cemetery Walk Coming Up This Weekend

Organizers say the annual Cookeville Cemetery Walk, scheduled for this Saturday night, is designed to be educational, not ghostly. The candlelit walk will visit the grave sites of seven former citizens as a cast of local volunteers recreate their lives in autobiographical monologues. According to the Cookeville Herald-Citizen, the seven were chosen because of their prominent roles in Cookeville history. The event, the fifth of its kind since 2002, is a fundraiser for the Cookeville History and Depot museums. There will be two walks -- one at 6 pm and one starting at 8:30 pm. Tickets are fifteen dollars and are available at the box office of the Cookeville Performing Arts Center.

"Mock" Disaster Goes Well For Local Officials

Wednesday was a very active day for Tennessee Tech University, Cookeville Regional Medical Center, and local emergency responders. A simulated severe weather event, involving a tornado which swept through the northern portion of the city of Cookeville, put emergency plans to the test for two of the larger populated campuses during the weekday hours.

The “mock” event began with 911 calls flooding into Putnam County’s Emergency Communications Center. As Emergency Telecommunicators worked to sort through the information it became quickly clear that there were several buildings damaged and multiple injuries.

The first reports were from TTU’s Jere Whitson Hall which took a direct hit from the simulated tornado. TTU also took this opportunity to test their emergency notification systems throughout the campus. TTU Police Chief Gay Shepherd commented “We had a pretty seamless notification. Within 5 minutes we feel like the entire campus was notified of the events taking place.”

As Putnam County Emergency Medical Services and Cookeville Fire Department crews responded to the Jere Whitson Hall emergency, calls began coming in from TTU’s Tucker Stadium and Cookeville Regional Medical Center’s Emergency Department indicating that a portion of those buildings had collapsed. More victims were reported to be injured at those sites.

As the Putnam County Rescue Squad’s Structural Collapse Team worked to render the TTU building safe, EMS crews were ready to treat and transport those victims. Cookeville Regional Medical Center used the drill as a chance to set up the Upper Cumberland Region’s mobile hospital and EMS crews transported the most critically injured patients to the mobile emergency room.

The Cookeville chapter of the American Red Cross was also on hand to aid rescuers and implement their local disaster response plans. Due to CRMC being simulated as over capacity from the emergency drill, the Cookeville Surgery Center opened its doors to EMS crews to transport those less critically injured from the drill activities. The TTU Paramedic Program, under the direction of EMS Programs Director Dennis Parker, participated as patients for the mock exercise.

“We learned a lot about the coordination of all of these resources today. This has been a good chance for us to practice what we do and see how all of our individual emergency plans come together in a major event like this” stated Tyler Smith, Emergency Management Director.

The Local Emergency Planning Committee develops a disaster drill each year to practice and test emergency plans throughout the community. This year’s drill has been being planned for the last year, since the conclusion of last year’s drill. Each year the committee works to improve from the years past and make the annual event incorporate more resources.

Bowls Needed For Cooking On The Square

If you can build a clay bowl, the Appalachian Center for Craft needs you this Saturday, Sept. 18, for the 2010 Bowlathon. The event will be held from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. in the Clay Studio at 1560 Craft Center Drive in Smithville. Each year, clay artists and enthusiasts build hundreds of bowls during the one-day event. The goal for this year is to create 1,000 or more bowls. After the bowls are built, they are glazed, fired, and then donated to Cooking on the Square, an event later this fall supporting the Putnam County Habitat for Humanity. Bowlathon provides most of the bowls for Cooking on the Square, which is no small task, but one welcomed by those involved every year.

“The craft community enjoys giving back, and we want to build as many bowls as possible to support this very worthwhile cause,” said Vince Pitelka, head of the clay department at the Craft Center. “We know that the more bowls we can donate, the more successful we can help make Cooking on the Square.”

Pitelka says they are looking for volunteers with some experience with clay, using either wheel throwing or hand building techniques, to build bowls, plus other people who can wedge clay or can help weigh balls of clay to be used that day. The clay will be provided. Volunteers will be treated to refreshments including pizza, donuts, and drinks.The 2010 Cooking on the Square will be on Oct. 29.If you’d like to volunteer or have any questions about Bowlathon, please contact Vince Pitelka at 931-372-3051

Tickets Available For Murder Mystery Event

Tickets are still available for Out On A Limb Production’s Murder Mystery, “Death of A Lounge Act on Saturday, September 18 with doors opening at 6 pm at Thomas Andrews Restaurant at 32 W. Broad Street in Cookeville. Tickets are $ 25 per person, and the admission includes dinner and a mystery. Reservations can be made by calling Out On A Limb Productions at 858-1611. They can also be made in person at Thomas Andrews Restaurant. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Susan G Komen Foundation Race for A Cure.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Gubernatorial Candidates Spar In Cookeville

The state's focus was on Cookeville Tuesday night as the two candidates for governor of Tennessee participated in the first televised debate held outside a major metropolitan area. Both Republican Bill Haslam and Democrat Mike McWherter said they would focus on improving the economy through the creation of jobs. Haslam said more and more employers are seeing the value of Tennessee as a low-tax state, but McWherter -- in the first negative comment of the night -- said the average Tennessean could not "price gouge" their way to prosperity. That's an allusion to charge of price gouging leveled against Haslam's family-owned Pilot Oil Company. The debate was co-sponsored by the Highlands Initiative of the Cookeville Putnam chamber of commerce and aired statewide, including on Nashville's Newschannel 5.

Congressional Candidate Opens Cookeville Office

Diane Black, congressional candidate for the 6th district, gathered with a crowd of supporters Tuesday afternoon for the opening of her Cookeville campaign office.

“Every campaign I have been a part of has been grassroots, and I am thrilled to open the office in Cookeville today,” said Black. “From this office, volunteers and supporters will work to make sure that all of our Republican candidates are elected in November, from Mayor Haslam on down.”

Among the assembled supporters were Bobby and Jean Davis, Black’s Campaign Co-Chairmen for Putnam County.

“Having served the citizens of Cookeville for several years, I know that Diane shares our conservative values,” said Bobby Davis, former mayor of Cookeville. “Like so many of us in Cookeville and the surrounding area, she has some serious concerns with how things have been operating in Washington, and I believe she has the right ideas on how to get Washington back on track.”

“Diane is a good friend, and the opening of this office exhibits her commitment to this community and to voters all across the 6th district,” said Jean Davis, former mayor and council-member in Cookeville. “I am proud to join her and her supporters here today.”

The Cookeville office will serve to coordinate volunteer activity and campaign outreach in Clay, De Kalb, Jackson, Overton, Putnam and Smith Counties. The office is located at 921 D South Willow Ave., in Cookeville.

Man Indicted For Selling "Pounds" of Marijuana

A September 20th arraignment in Putnam County criminal court has been set for a Cookeville man, arrested at a home on Mine Lick Creek Road, after police went there to serve an indictment against him. Officer Shannon Smith says that CNET officers took 31-year-old Christopher E. Weber into custody on an indictment for the felony sale of over ten pounds of marijuana. The case was apparently investigated by the TBI, and the indictment alleges that Weber "unlawfully and knowingly" sold 10 pounds of marijuana back in February of this year, and that a few days later, he sold another 10 pounds of the drug. His bond in the case is set at $20,000.

Local Meth Cooks Now Dumping Their Labs

Putnam County authorities say people involved in the manufacture of methamephetamine are becoming more likely to leave abandoned labs on the side of the road. The Cookeville police department is investigating one such case in which a tree-trimming crew found a trash bag on a newly developed residential lot on South Creek Drive. Police say the bag contained used up matchbooks, pseudoephedrine packs, rubber gloves and a coffee filter -- all of which are common to the cooking of meth. Meanwhile, authorities say the Department of Environment has been asked to check out a creek on Baxter Road after someone apparently dumped some meth components in there. Officers initially responded to a report of a naked man in the creek. They didn't find the suspect, but did recover coffee filters, drain cleaner, a lithium battery and other meth-related items.

Putnam Gets More Than $300K In Safety Grants

Governor Phil Bredesen and Tennessee Department of Transportation Commissioner Gerald Nicely have announced that the District Attorney’s office has been awarded a highway safety grant of more than $178,000 to support a program called B.E.S.T. -- or Better Enforcement Stopping Tragedy. It's one of five Governor's Highway Safety Office grants that came to Putnam County. The grants are awarded to agencies that successfully applied for funding based on a defined problem and statistical need. Applications are reviewed and scored by highway safety advocates, and the agencies that meet the criteria for funding received awards. In addition to the DA's grant, Tennessee Tech University was awarded $112,000 to continue its educational program featuring Ollie the Otter. The Baxter and Monterey police departments received $5,000 for high visibility enforcement campaigns, while the city of Cookeville's police department got $25,000 for its Safe Streets program.

Cookeville Resident Noted Wikipedia Editor

The Chattanooga Times-Free Press has written up a story on a Cookeville man, who has become known for his editing of Wikipedia pages. Tennessee Tech student Brian Stansberry tells the paper that the number of Wikipedia editors dedicated to developing East Tennessee articles can be counted on one hand.

“Some people paint, some people collect stamps,” Stansberry said. “Wikipedia is just a hobby of mine.”

Since 2007, Stansberry has made more than 10,000 edits on hundreds of pages, including the entries for Chattanooga and Cleveland, Tenn. For instance, Stansberry deleted a list of “notable residents” from Cleveland’s page.

“For some reason a lot of people in Cleveland kept adding their names to the list even though they’re not notable people,” he said.

Despite never visiting Cleveland, Stansberry has become the most frequent editor of the city’s page, mostly cleaning up messes left by inexperienced editors. Stansberry said he’s passionate about the parks and the cities in East Tennessee, which is why he cares so much about helping out. Stansberry said he frequently searches Library of Congress archives to add historic photographs to Tennessee cities.

Detective Fired After Altercation With Officers

Putnam County sheriff David Andrews has terminated the employment of a detective who allegedly fought with fellow officers who were trying to take him into custoyd. The sheriff fired Detective Mike Hoover on Friday. Hoover allegedly threatened suicide last week and eluded deputies for several hours before they finally caught up with him behind a barn on Spring Creek Road. After a brief struggle, deputies took him into custody and he was charged with public intoxication and assault. The sheriff says Hoover has been on administrative leave since a civilian got hold of his service weapon and fired it a few weeks ago. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is still investigating that incident.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Commissioners Disagree On Community Garden

Several motions were offered Monday night as the planning committee of the Putnam County commission discussed the possibility of allowing the Master Gardeners to use county property on the corner of Walnut Avenue and Veterans Drive as the site for a proposed community garden. But after some 30 minutes of debate, no decisions were reached, as all of the motions failed. One motion would have allowed the garden near the fairgrounds site; one would have allowed it near the soccer fields in north Cookeville; and one would have required that the county fair board be consulted before any decisions were made. All three failed to gain a majority vote, each ending with six commissioners in favor and six commissioners in opposition. That apparently means that the idea will go before the full commission next week without a specific recommendation. Meanwhile, the planning committee also split on which of their members should be named to the nominating committee of the county commission. After three ballots, Jim Martin was finally approved by a one-vote margin.

November Election Ballot Finalized

The Putnam County Election Commission has given approval to the ballot which will be used for the state's General Election in November. That ballot will include elections for the office of governor, as well as U.S. Congress, State Senator, and State Representative. In addition, voters in the city of Cookeville will see a referendum on whether to approve the legal sale of alcoholic beverages in retail stores, while voters in Algood will determine whether to allow the legal sale of alcohol for on-premises consumption. What will NOT be on the ballot is a referendum on the 1981 Financial Management Act. The county commission met in special session last night to consider a resolution on that issue, but voted 18-to-5 to take no action.

TTU Makes Final Preparations For Debate

Tennessee Tech University rolls out the red carpet Tuesday as host for the Highlands Debate 2010. Dignitaries and media representatives from throughout the state will be welcomed to campus. Among them, of course, will be Tennessee's future governor. Republican candidate Bill Haslam faces off with Democrat Mike Mcwherter for an hourlong debate beginning 7 pm. Officials say that for TTU, this is an historic happening because it is the first televised gubernatorial debate held outside a major metropolitan market. Traditionally, Tennessee major-party candidates for governor participate in three debates in the state's major media markets of Memphis, Nashville and Knoxville.

"We're ready," said TTU President Bob Bell. "Hosting this debate at TTU is a major campuswide project involving nearly every administrative unit and several academic units, especially our Department of Music and Art. This effort reflects the true spirit of our entire TTU family. This debate also highlights the tremendous collaborative efforts of our city, our county, the Highlands and so many supporting organizations."

The Highlands Debate 2010 is part of the larger Nolan Fowler Constitution Day Celebration (, now in its sixth year, which commemorates the signing of the U.S. Constitution on Sept. 17, 1787. The day's activities include:

* Student engagement: An all-day showcase of student political engagement in the Tech Pride Room in Roaden University Center. Student organizations will register new voters, hand out literature and conduct a straw poll. To vote in the straw poll, just bring a can a food for the local food bank and place it in the box for the candidate of your choice.

* Political satire: Come to Derryberry Hall Auditorium at 5 p.m. for a presentation about the role of political satire in democracies. Presenter Danna Young, a specialist in the study of media, politics and public opinion, will discuss the impact of such programs as "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart."

* Gubernatorial debate: Remain in Derryberry Hall Auditorium for a live feed of the 7 p.m. Highlands Debate 2010 originating from Wattenbarger Auditorium in the Bryan Fine Arts Building on campus. The debate will be shown live on NewsChannel5 WTVF-TV and on CBS affiliates statewide. You're free to cheer (or jeer) the candidates and their answers inside Derryberry Auditorium.

* Dancin' on Dixie concert: Join the after-debate party at the corner of 12th Street and Dixie Avenue immediately following the debate. Free music, popcorn and drinks will be available. For more information, see the Constitution Day website.

Court Date Set For Accused Burglar

An October 18th arraignment in Putnam County General Sessions Court has been scheduled for a Chattanooga man, facing three counts of burglary. Police say 21-year-old Joseph Allan Boswell is accused of breaking into three businesses along Jefferson Avenue early Friday morning. He allegedly stole a flat-screen television and two computers, which authorities say were recovered in the area near where they stopped to question him as he walked along the road that morning. Bond in the case was set at $15,000.

Police Respond To Report Of Man With A Gun

At approximately 5:30 a.m. this morning, Cookeville Police Department officers responded to a man armed with a handgun at an apartment complex located on the east side of the city. Authorities say 34-year-old Michael W. Johnson of Cookeville had entered a friend’s unoccupied apartment and then refused to exit at the request of officers on the scene. Police say Johnson indicated to friends by telephone communications that he may be suicidal, and they say that during negotiations with Johnson, concern about his medical condition grew. At this point, a decision was made to make entry into the apartment, and Johnson was taken into custody for medical evaluation. Police say possible charges will be determined at a later time.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Volunteers Still Needed For Flood Recovery

As we first reported last week, Putnam County did not qualify for Federal Emergency Management Agency assistance, but a long-term flood recovery effort is underway and needs volunteers.
If you are interested in helping with Phase I of what's being called the Long Term Flood Recovery initiative in Putnam County, there will be a training session held by one of the board members on Tuesday. It will be held from 11 am to noon in Room 370 of the University Center at Tennessee Tech Officials say volunteers will be requested to make phone calls to flood victims after receiving training from a local board member on how to conduct the phone interviews. The trainer will share a list of questions that must be asked and train participants on how to respond to random questions they may get as well.To participate, call Michelle Huddleston at 372-6120.

Committees To Discuss Homeland Security Grant

The Fiscal Review Committee of the Putnam County commission will meet Monday evening to discuss giving approval for county fire chief Daryl Blair to apply for a Homeland Security Grant, which would provide funding for five full-time firefighters for a period of two years. The county currently uses a mostly volunteer force. If the grant is awarded and accepted, the county would then become responsible for paying the salary of those firefighters for a third year a cost of $171,000. That works out to a salary of just over $17,000 per firefighter. Also tonight, the committee will talk about whether to supplement an already existing property tax relief program for some residents of Putnam County. Meanwhile, the planning committee of the county commission will consider the establishment of what's being called a community garden and will consider an agreement with the city of Cookeville to share in the cost of replacing a bridge on Poplar Grove Road. The city wants to do some waterline improvements as part of the bridge replacement project.