Sunday, October 31, 2010

UCHRA To Administer Putnam Drug Court

The Fiscal Review committee of the Putnam County commission Monday night, November 8th, will consider a request that would allow the county to enter into a contract with the Upper Cumberland Human Resources Agency to administer the county's drug court.  Local officials say the drug court is a viable alternative to jail time for some offenders, but they say the administration of the program has been an issue for the past couple of years -- in particular, a decision that was made to move the administrative office to Obion County. Contracting with the UCHRA would, apparently, keep the contacts locally-based.  Meanwhile, both the Fiscal Review and Planning Committees will be discussing recommendations about what to do at various waste collection centers around the county.  An ongoing issue at the Bangham community center was brought up last month, but some commissioners say that any issues should be prioritized by the department. And, on a related note, the Planning Committee will discuss document shredding at the Putnam County Transfer Station.

Scammers Fail To Get Money From Putnam Man

A Putnam County man has reported an apparent scam to the sheriff's office. While the victim says he didn't lose any money, it may have been because he was pro-active when he got a call last week from the website,, thanking him for their 14-day trial and informing him that he would now be charged for the service on a monthly basis.  He told the caller that he had never used the service and didn't want it, so they agreed to cancel the charge on his credit card.  He then had the account closed, only to receive a call from a company in Greenbrier, Tennessee, asking him why he had canceled his purchase of a $900 camera. Once again, he told the caller that he had not ordered a camera and that someone else was using his identity.  According to the sheriff's report, the man has not -- at this point -- had to pay for any unauthorized charges.

Tech Professor Chosen To Help Assessment Study

As more than half the states in the country begin to agree on what makes a high school graduate ready for college or a career, Tennessee Tech University's Holly Anthony is playing a major role in how that group is putting student assessment to the test.  For the first time, a consortium of 26 states is working toward the development of common assessments for K-12 students. Tennessee, one of 11 governing states in the group, recently chose a four-member team to represent the voice of higher education in Tennessee and to engage in discussions about this next-generation assessment system. Anthony, TTU associate professor of mathematics education, was chosen as the mathematics faculty member. She says the development of common K–12 assessments across the states is a breakthrough in measuring and comparing education outcomes across the nation.

Court Date Set For Alleged Beer Thief

A November 15th court date has been set for a Cookeville man accused of stealing beer from a local distribution business.  19-year-old Gregory L. Parker of Huntland Road was arrested by Algood Police after he allegedly broke into a fenced area at SEC Enterprises on Burton Branch Road and stole more than a dozen cases of beer out of trucks that had been loaded for the next day's deliveries. Police say Parker was also charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor because he allegedly had a juvenile with him during the incident.

Men Accused Of Stealing Tracks From Railroad

Two men from DeKalb County have been accused of stealing the rails off of railroad tracks in Putnam County.  The Cookeville Herald-Citizen reports that a Nashville and Eastern Railroad employee stopped two men last Thursday after he saw them with about 40 feet of rails in the back of their flatbed truck. He ordered them to unload and called the sheriff's office.  According to the report, 26-year-old Ryan Walden and 51-year-old Kenny Stults said they took the rails because they were broke. They allegedly told deputies that they didn't think they were stealing because they thought the tracks were not in use. The railroad says the rails are, in fact, valued at some $3,000.  The two will be in court on theft charges November 22nd.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Last Day Of Early Voting Has Heaviest Turnout

A total of 1,154 Putnam County residents went to the Election Commission office on Thursday to cast their ballots on the final day of Early Voting.  For most of the eleven hours that the office was open, people were lined up out the door, but officials say the wait for most of them was no more than about five or ten minutes.  On average, workers in the office processed one voter every 30 seconds.  Some voters who drove by and saw the line chose to come back later in the day, and the final "early" voter cast his ballot just before the office closed at 7 pm.  Those who missed the chance to vote early can still cast their ballots on Election Day next Tuesday.  Polls in Putnam County will open at 9 am and close at 7 pm. Election Day is also a holiday for some county workers and for students in the county school system.

Charges Pending In Apartment Burglary

Putnam County sheriff's Deputy Randy Brown says he has taken out warrants charging a Cookeville woman with aggravated burglary and theft of property, after she allegedly broke into a neightbor's apartment and stole a flat screen TV.  It happened at an apartment complex on Littlebrook Road when one of the residents reported to the sheriff's office that he arrived home to find that the glass to the side door of the residence had been shattered.  Another neighbor reported seeing 29-year-old Lindsey Elise West and another female suspect, carrying off a TV, loading it in the trunk of a green four door car, and speeding away.  Deputy Brown says the eyewitness account was enough to convince him to seek warrants. He says West also has active warrants pending against her in both Putnam and Jackson counties for issuing worthless checks.

Arraignment Date Set For Meth Suspects

Two Cookeville residents and two from Athens, Tennessee, will be in court on November 22nd, facing charges of manufacturing methamphetamine.  That after Cookeville police found the makings of a meth lab in a local motel room this week.  Police say they recovered several items commonly used in making the drug when they conducted an investigation at the Clarion Inn motel on South Jefferson Avenue.  The suspects were identified as 23-year-old Christa Gail Robbins and 39-year-old Allen Dale McBride, both of Cookeville, along with Melissa and Robert Davis of Athens, Tennessee.  Police say they obtained permission to search room 238 of the motel and recovered Drano, hydrogen peroxide and other known meth making material. They also allegedly found some finished product in the room.

Grandson Of Gandhi To Speak At Tech

Arun Gandhi, the fifth grandson of Mohandas K. "Mahatma" Gandhi, is scheduled to speak at Tennessee Tech University at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 4, in Derryberry Hall Auditorium. His Center Stage presentation is entitled "Lessons I learned from Grandfather." In it, he discusses the core teachings and lessons passed to him by his grandfather, with peace being a central theme.

"We want to create world peace, but peace is not merely the absence of war," said Arun. "There is so much internal strife and that prejudice feeds into the national aspect. We have to change ourselves if we want to change the world."

Julia Baker, assistant professor of German, proposed the event after attending one of Arun's previous lectures. Arun was born in 1934 in Durban, South Africa. Growing up under the discriminatory apartheid laws of South Africa, he says he was beaten by white South Africans for being too black and black South Africans for being too white. His talk in Cookeville next week is free and open to the public. It is being co-sponsored by the Indian Association of Cookeville.

Sonographer Certified At CRMC

Robert Scott, a cardiovascular sonographer at Cookeville Regional Medical Center, has earned national credentials in Cardiovascular Sonography from Cardiovascular Credentialing International. Hospital officials say Scott underwent extensive preparation to prepare for the certification. CCI is a not-for-profit corporation established for the purpose of administering credentialing examinations as an independent credentialing agency. They began credentialing cardiovascular professionals in 1968.

“Robert is to be commended for his efforts,” said Larry Marek, Chief Sonographer for the Imaging Center at Cookeville Regional. “By obtaining this credential, patients as well as physicians are assured that cardiovascular ultrasound exams are being performed by a technologist who has met established standards of training and education.”

The Imaging Center at Cookeville Regional offers a wide array of imaging services for the Upper Cumberland region including the region’s first “all digital” full-service outpatient imaging facility at its Outpatient Imaging Center located at 251 West Third Street – just one block from the hospital.

Freezing Temperatures Expected In Cookeville

The National Weather Service says freezing temperatures are likely for the Cookeville area Friday night and into Saturday.  Forecasters say colder and drier air has pushed into the region, and they say that under the clear skies Friday night, low temperatures could drop down in the upper 20s.  A freeze watch is in effect for late Friday night through Saturday morning, although forecasters say that during the day on Saturday, temperatures will quickly warm up. However, the freeze will cause damage to any crops and plants that are left unprotected from the weather.

Leisure Services Dept. Plans Halloween Event

The Cookeville Department of Leisure Services will be hosting  a free Halloween costume contest at Dogwood Park tomorrow, at 3 pm.  Organizers say registration for the event begins at 2:30. The categores include "cutest," "scariest," and "most creative."  Department officials say awards will be given in a variety of age groups, including birth to age two, three to six years old, seven to 12; 13 to 17; and 18 and up. The winners from each age group and category will compete for Best Overall Costume. For more information about the event, call 520-4386.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Thousands Spent In Final Days Of Campaign

State Reprentative Henry Fincher of Cookeville has gotten another $10,000 in campaign contributions in the three weeks since the beginning of October. Meanwhile, his opponent, Ryan Williams has collected nearly $23,000 in contributions. Those numbers from the most recent campaign finance reports. Fincher's contributors include political action committees or PACs for the Tennessee Education Association and the Tennessee Highway Contractors.  Several attorneys are also listed as contributors.  Williams's money comes from  CAS-PAC, a political action committee formed by House Republican Caucus Chairman Glen Casada of College Grove, Tennessee, and from RAAMPAC, which stands for Republicans Achieving a Majority Political Action Committee.  Fincher has spent just over $21,000 in the past three weeks and has more than $46,000 on hand. Williams reports expenditures of nearly $44,000, with about $17,000 on hand.

In the race for state senate, Democrat Charlotte Burks reports picking up another $17,000 in contributions, while Independent candidate Joe B. Wilmoth and Republican Gary Steakley had not yet filed reports with the state.

Search Reveals Guns Hidden Under Car Hood

The Putnam County sheriff's department has charged a Crossville man with theft after finding him in possession of some guns that had been reported stolen in Cumberland County on Monday.  Deputy Jason Phy says 19-year-old Joshua Lloyd Mills was a passenger in a vehicle that was stopped on Highway 70 Tuesday night.  Phy says he got consent to search that vehicle and alleges that he and Deputy Josh Reams found two pistols hidden underneath the hood of the car.  Mills allegedly told the officers that the guns belonged to him, but a check revealed that they had been reported stolen.  Meanwhile, in a separate case, theft charges were brought against a man who allegedly shoplifted a pair of tennis shoes from the Sears store and some clothing from TJ Maxx. Authorities say 35-year-old Shannon Ray Mee of Bloomington Springs was alleged seen on a security video leaving the store with those items.

Man Accused Of Kidnapping His Own Mother

An Algood man has been charged with assault and kidnapping -- in a case involving his own mother.  Police say 43-year-old Jeffrey Joseph Bryant allegedly attacked his mother in her home last week, tying her up with a lamp cord and tape. He reportedly then drove her to a hospital in Madison, Tennessee, and left her there.  She was treated at that hospital for five days before recovering enough to report the crime this week.  Bryant was arrested after a traffic stop in Union County, Tennessee.  Charges against him include domestic assault and aggravated kidnapping. Police say they are also searching for his girlfriend, who they say was an accomplice in the crime.

Man Given 20 Year Sentence In Sex Assault

A Cookeville man will be 57 years old before he gets out of prison after a judge handed down a 20-year sentence this week.  Terry Dewayne Neal had been convicted of four counts of rape and three counts of sexual battery against a 13-year-old girl.  Authorities say he had been abusing the victim for several years, and say he also has charges pending in cases involving two other young victims.  His actual sentence was ten years per count on the rape charges, and three years on the sexual battery, but the judge ruled that some of that time could be served concurrently.  The effective sentence, officials say, will be 20 years behind bars, and once he gets out Neal will be on the state's sex offender list and will be on supervised probation for the rest of his life.

Sentencing Hearing Scheduled For Garrett

A woman who pleaded guilty this week to a charge of reckless homicide in the stabbing death of her ex-husband last year will find out in December how long she may have to serve in prison.  Second degree murder charges had originally been filed against Dana Kay Garrett of Claude Loftis Road in the Double Springs community, but prosecutors say they did not have enough evidence to prove that charge. Authorities say that in September of 2009, Ms. Garrett stabbed 34-year-old Toney Dale Garrett in the chest with a kitchen knife during an argument. She then called 911, but Mr. Garrett died soon thereafter. Police say the couple had a history of domestic violence. Reckless homicide is a class D felony punishable by not less than two years in prison. Garrett could have gotten a sentence of more than fifteen years if she had been convicted of second degree murder. Her sentencing hearing is set for December 13th.

New Staff Members Added At CRMC

Two new staff members have been added to the rolls at Cookeville Regional Medical Center. Pathologist Dr. Meiklejohn D. McKenzie has joined the staff at Cookeville Pathology. After receiving his medical degree in 2006 from Kansas City University, Dr. McKenzie completed his residency and internship in Anatomic and Clinical Pathology at The University of Alabama at Birmingham. Dr. McKenzie is board certified in Anatomic and Clinical Pathology and he is a member of the United States Academy of Pathology, College of American Pathologists and American Society of Clinical Pathology. Meanwhile, pathologist Dr. Don Asberry has also joined the staff at Cookeville Pathology. Dr. Asberry received his medical degree and completed his residency at East Tennessee State University. Dr. Asberry is a member of the American Society of Clinical Pathology.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Mattress Fire Leads To Criminal Charges

A Putnam County man is facing a number of charges today after he allegedly set fire to a mattress at a home on Plunk Whitson Road. The sheriff's department says 30-year-old Brian David Barefield has been charged with arson.  The call began when Barefield's grandfather was awakened early Tuesday morning by the smoke detector going off in his house.  He went to his grandson's bedroom and reportedly found the younger man sleeping on a mattress that was on fire.  He took part of the mattress and threw it in the yard, and the county fire department arrived on the scene to make sure the blaze was out.  Deputy Chris Miller also responded to the scene and claims that Brian Barefield was passed out on a mattress that appeared to be burned. He alleges that Barefield smelled strongly of alcohol and says the man told him that he set the mattress on fire because he was "mad at his grandpa."  In addition to the arson charge, Miller obtained warrants charging Barefield with  reckless endangerment, domestic assault and resisting arrest.

Sleep Support Group To Discuss Medical Bills

"Don’t Lose Sleep Over Medical Bills" will be the topic of the AWAKE Support Group at its meeting on Thursday, November 4 from 6 to 8 pm at Cookeville Regional Medical Center in Education Rooms 2, 3 and 4. Charlotte Cummins, director of Patient Financial Services, and MaryBeth Rittenbury, manager of Patient Financial Services will be the speakers. They will address common questions concerning the costs of testing, deductibles and co-pays as well as payment options of medical bills. Sponsored by the Sleep Center at Cookeville Regional, the A.W.A.K.E. support group is for people in the Upper Cumberland area with sleep disorders, and anyone with a sleep disorder is encouraged to attend. For further information, contact Christopher Clinton at 783-2753.

Cookeville TDEC Office To Hold Coat Drive

In celebration of America Recycles Day, scheduled for Nov. 15, the Cookeville office of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation will host a coat drive during the first half of the month to benefit various local charities. Officials describe it as an opportunity to recycle gently worn items, while helping both the environment and a person in need. Community members are invited to participate, including local, state and federal government offices, along with local businesses, companies and non-profits. The charity drives will be held November 8th through November 19th. Drop off times will be held during regular office hours – Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The Cookeville field office is located at 1221 South Willow Avenue. They will be accepting new and/or used coats, which will be delivered to Operation Stand Down, the primary non-profit resource for military veterans in Middle Tennessee.

THP To Be Looking For Halloween Drunk Drivers

The Cookeville district of the Tennessee Highway Patrol will be conducting a driver license checkpoint on Highway 70 in Cumberland County on Halloween night, but officials say that's not all they will be doing to curb drunk and dangerous drivers over the holiday. Safety Commissioner Dave Mitchell says local State Troopers are "prepared to patrol and remove any and all drunk drivers from our roadways.” Last year in Tennessee, two people were killed in two crashes on Halloween between midnight, October 31, 2009, through 6 a.m., November 1, 2009. Both of those crashes involved alcohol. And the THP says Halloween is the most dangerous day of the year for pedestrian injuries and deaths among young children.

Free Legal Clinic Offered To Local "Heroes"

The Putnam County Bar Association is participating with the national "Wills For Heroes" foundation to host a free legal clinic in Cookeville on Saturday. The clinic is designed for police and firefighters, EMTs, and paramedics to get their legal affairs in order. Participating lawyers will help those individuals and their spouses draft wills and will help provide basic estate planning. The free clinic will be held Saturday from 9 am to 2 pm at the Tennessee Tech School of Nursing. Those who want take part in the offer should sign up by this Friday at five o'clock, by calling Rachel Moses of the Legal Aid Society at 528-7436. Lawyers who want to volunteer their services should also contact Moses.

Deadline Extended For Cookeville Business Event

The deadline to register for the Business Matchmaking event in Cookeville next month has been extended.  The event is being hosted by the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development’s Business Enterprise Resource Office and GE Aviation.  Those interested in participating now have until October 31st to register. Tennessee Business Matchmaking: An Aerospace Procurement Symposium will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 9,  on the campus of Tennessee Tech. Organizers say the event will enable Tennessee’s small, minority- and women-owned businesses to learn about existing and upcoming procurement opportunities with public and private entities in the aerospace industry including GE and their Tier 1 suppliers. More than 75 small, woman- and minority-owned businesses, 15 buyers and several exhibitors are expected to be in attendance.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Family Of Homicide Victim Disagrees On Plea Deal

The family of a man allegedly stabbed to death by his wife has told a local newspaper that they disagree with the plea agreement that the suspect is reportedly scheduled to enter in Criminal Court Tuesday.  Family members of the victim, Toney Dale Garrett, tell the Cookeville Herald-Citizen that no jury trial will be held for 28-year-old Dana Kay Garrett. Ms. Garrett is accused of stabbing her husband to death at their home in the Double Springs community in September of 2009 as the two argued. Authorities say they had been on several domestic violence calls at the home  She was charged with second degree murder, but family members tell the newspaper that she will be allowed to plead guilty to a lesser charge.  District attorney Randy York said he could not comment on any potential plea negotiations.

Burglar Flees After Homeowner Returns

A Cookeville man struggled with a burglar he caught in his home last week, but police say the suspect eventually got away.  It began when the victim returned home and heard someone moving about in the back of his house on Old Sparta Road. The man got a rifle he keeps near the front door and went to investigate. When he got to the rear of the house, he met a man carrying one of his guns under one arm and a crowbar under the other.  According to the police report, the suspect dropped the gun he was stealing when the victim pointed a rifle at him, but began pleading with the homeowner and was able to get close enough to him so that a struggle ensued.  The suspect then ran out the back door, was chased and tackled, and even had his own crowbar thrown at him -- but ultimately got away.  He was described as a short, white male with reddish brown hair and a slender build, in his early 20s.

TTU To Offer Concentration In Agri-tourism

Tennessee Tech University has formally recognized the marriage of agriculture and tourism – Tennessee's top two income-producing industries – with the creation of a new degree concentration in agri-tourism. The first classes offered within the concentration, part of the current bachelor of science in agriculture degree, will be offered Spring Semester 2011. TTU is the first university in Tennessee to formally offer a degree concentration in agritourism. Along with the new degree concentration, the School of Agriculture is proposing an extensive renovation of the historic Shipley Barn located on the Gainesboro Grade, west of TTU's main campus. School of Agriculture Director Billye Foster envisions creation of the Shipley Heritage Farm Center, a 1830s-style farm and laboratory for TTU's agri-tourism students.

Early Voting Total Tops 6,000 In Putnam County

With the early voting period scheduled to end on Thursday, Putnam County election officials now say more than 6,000 people have taken the opportunity to cast early ballots. The early voting period runs from 25 days before an election to five days before. That means Thursday, October 28, will be the final day. Meanwhile, Administrator of Elections Debbie Steidl is reminding those who don't have the chance to vote early that the county's 25 voting precincts will be open at 9 am on Election Day, November 2nd, and remain open until 7 pm that day.

"A lot of voters will hear on the Nashville television stations that polls are opening at 7 am," Steidl said. "But, by state law, each county election commission in the state sets their own hours for opening and closing of the polls. In Putnam County, the election commission voted this month to open polls at 9 am, just as we have for more than 30 years. Election workers are not allowed to let anyone into the polling place to vote before before nine o'clock in the morning."

Steidl also says that at seven o'clock that night, an election worker will be stationed at the end of the line of voters at each precinct, and anyone in front of him will be allowed to vote, while no one who shows up after 7 pm is allowed to vote. Anyone with questions can call the Election Commission office at 526-2566.

African Poet To Be Guest Lecturer At TTU

Tennessee Tech University's Center Stage series will present African poet and guest lecturer Tanure Ojaide this Thursday, Oct. 28, when he discusses the topic of "African Literature, Globalization, and the Quest for Peace."  The lecture is free and open to the public. It will be held at 7:30 p.m. Thursday in the University Center's Multipurpose Room. Those attending the presentation are also welcome to an evening of multicultural activities – from dance to food – also being held in the Multipurpose Room starting at 6 p.m. Ojaide teaches at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte.

Born in the oil-rich but economically impoverished Niger Delta area of Nigeria, Ojaide was raised by his grandmother in a riverine rural environment. He attended a Catholic grammar school and federal government college, Warri. Ojaide was educated at the University of Ibadan, where he received a bachelor's degree in English, and Syracuse University, where he earned the master's degree in creative writing and a doctorate in English. A fellow in writing of the University of Iowa, his poetry awards include the Commonwealth Poetry Prize for the Africa Region (1987), the All-Africa Okigbo Prize for Poetry (1988, 1997), the BBC Arts and Africa Poetry Award (1988), and the Association of Nigerian Authors Poetry Award (1988, 1994, and 2003).

Ojaide's body of work includes 15 poetry collections, a memoir, two collections of short stories, three novels and five books of literary criticism. His novel Sovereign Body was a finalist for The Commonwealth Literature Prize for the Africa Region in 2005. His non-fiction manuscript, Drawing the Map of Heaven: An African Writer's Experience of America, was finalist for the Penguin Prize for African Writing (2010).

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Ex-Roommate Facing Domestic Assault Charge

The Putnam County sheriff's office says their investigation of a fight between two male roommates ended up with one of them being cited for domestic assault.  Deputy Larry Bennett says the case began when one of the roommates showed up at Cookeville Regional Medical Center with injuries to his eye and forehead.  The victim told authorities that he did not want to pursue the case, but Bennett informed him that officers must investigate assaults and make an arrest -- if they can determine an aggressor. Bennett says the 42-year-old man at the hospital told him that his roommate was using drugs and he decided to move out, but claims that the roommate hit him with a fist and tackled him as he tried to get away, causing the victim to hit his head on the pavement.  He says he got away from the roommate by hitting him with a rock that was laying nearby. Bennett then took out a domestic assault warrant on the roommate, attaching bond conditions that forbid his contact with the victim. 

Sexual Battery Charges Against Cookeville Man

A 20-year-old Cookeville man has been charged with sexual battery after an incident involving a 12-year-old girl.  Police say Chris Ray Hale of North Chestnut Avenue was jailed on $100,000 bond after being arrested in connection with an allegation that he had sexual contact with the girl while she was visiting his home in early October.  Investigators say the alleged fondling occurred while Hale, the 12-year-old, and another girl were watching a movie in the home.  When the child's mother found out about the incident, she called police. Authorities reportedly took statements from both Hale and the victim as to what happened.

Professional Development Week At TTU

The College of Business at Tennessee Tech University is offering its third so-called Professional Development Week this week. As a part of the program, each business student attends workshops on written and oral communications along with sessions on other professional development topics. Amy Jo Carpenter, a student-to-career program manager and organizer of the Professional Development Week, says the week "serves as a 'rite of passage' into the next phase of a student's college career."

Speakers range from local business professionals to politicians and CEOs. Employers from companies all over the nation attend and all serve as mentors for students. The oral and written communication workshops are presented by local professionals and cover the importance of impeccable and accomplished oral and written communication skills in the workplace.

Public Hearing Monday On Land Use Plan

The Cookevile planning commission Monday night will hold a Public Hearing and consider for adoption the Cookeville 2030 Plan. This meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers at the Cookeville City Hall located at 45 East Broad Street. The Cookeville 2030 Plan is a comprehensive future land use plan for the City of Cookeville and its Urban Growth Boundary. Its purpose is to formulate a coordinated, long-term strategy for the future growth and development of the City of Cookeville. Copies of the Cookeville 2030 Plan are available for review in the office of the Cookeville Planning Department located in City Hall. The plan may also be viewed by clicking here. All interested citizens are encouraged to attend the hearing.

Cookeville To Host Annual LWV Conference

The League of Women Voters of Tennessee will be having its annual conference in Cookeville this year and will host a community reception open to all citizens on Friday, November 5 from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. in the Community Room at the Cookeville office of the Progressive Savings Bank. Refreshments will be served. The group describes itself as "a nonpartisan grassroots organization whose members do the hands-on work to safeguard democracy." Most recently the league partnered with Tennessee Tech University and the Highlands of Tennessee to co-host a gubernatorial debate. The league's annual fall conference at the Baymont Inn and Suites in Cookeville. It's being offered free of charge.

“We are delighted to host a community reception and our statewide meeting in Cookeville this year,” said Faith Trapp, League board member. “This offers us a wonderful opportunity to meet with individuals in the Cookeville area who are interested in learning more about the league and how they can’t get involved in encouraging greater civic participation and healthy debate on the issues that matter most to the Highlands area.”

Among the presentations at the fall conference, Mark Quarles, Consulting Geologist, Global Environmental, will address Fracting and Dr. Lori Maxwell, Professor of Political Science, Tennessee Tech University, will discuss open vs. closed primaries. These presentations will be at 1:00 p.m. and 2:30 p.m., respectively, on Saturday, November 6. Additional topics will be covered as well. For a full conference schedule, visit their website. Conference participation is offered free to all in the Highlands region, and pre-registration is not required.

"The League of Women Voters of Tennessee believes that the hands-on work of an engaged citizenry can and does lead to civic improvement at all levels of government," says Faith Trapp. "The league is thrilled to come back to Cookeville for this weekend of events immediately following the November elections. The league is a celebration of such a basic part of our democratic process—the right to vote—and the opportunities to channel that power into real, lasting change, starting at the grassroots level."

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Shoplifters Continue To Hit Local Stores

The holiday season is not yet upon us, but authorities say shoplifters continue to plague several area stores, many times taking things that are not of much value.  Cookeville police cited 35-year-old Deanna Hamilton of Algood after they responded to a report at Hill's IGA this week.  The store claims Hamilton concealed a roll of duct tape in her purse, then paid for some other items, and attempted to leave the store without paying for the tape. Its value was placed at just over six dollars.  Meanwhile, 61-year-old Jo Helen Smith of Clark Road, Cookeville, was issued a shoplifting citation after she allegedly tried to take a necklace and some bras from the Sears store on Tuesday.  Smith reportedly admitted to the theft and told officers that she was a "kleptomaniac."

TTU Offers ACT Test Prep Courses

Tennessee Tech officials are advising local students to relieve their test anxiety and better prepare for the ACT national exam content areas by taking the ACT Test Prep course through the University. General test-taking strategies, as well as specific strategies for taking the ACT assessment, will be taught along with a review of the major content areas: English, reading, math and science reasoning. One subject will be covered each night with a culminating review the final evening. Classes are coordinated to end just prior to a national test date of Dec. 11, 2010. They will be held from 6 to 8 pm on Tuesdays, Nov. 2 through Dec. 7, in Henderson Hall, Room 305. Registration and payment must be made online. The registration deadline is Nov. 1. For more information, contact Dennis Tennant at 372-3300.

Putnam County To Get New Fire Truck

Putnam County's fire department will be getting a new truck, thanks in part to a grant from the state Community Development Block Grant program. State officials announced this week that Putnam County will be receiving nearly $300,000 to assist with infrastructure improvements. That money will be matched on the local level by more than $48,000 in funding. Officials say the funds will be used to purchase a new fire truck. The grant dollars were provided by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and were allocated under a procedure authorized by the Tennessee General Assembly. Officials say they are still waiting to hear about some other grant money that may allow them to hire full-time firefighters for the department.

Ex-Motel Resident Charged With Burglary

A man who had been evicted from a Cookeville motel room has now been charged with breaking into the business located next to the motel. Authorities say 50-year-old Hernandez Desicato Wilson had been living at the Winona Inn motel on East Spring Street, but had been evicted shortly before a break-in Tuesday at the Fireside Lounge, which is located on the other end of the building. Police say the owners gave them Wilson's name as a possible suspect in the case, and he later admitted to the crimes. He reportedly cut his hand while tossing a rock through the window of the Lounge, but got away with just a five dollar roll of dimes. He also allegedly told police that he drank a beer while inside. Burglary and theft charges are now pending against him in General Sessions court.

Cookeville Armed Robbery Suspect Caught

Cookeville police say they will present evidence to a grand jury next week against a Cookeville woman, arrested in connection with robberies in McMinnville, Crossville and Sparta.  They believe it is probably the same woman who held up the shop called A Rare Find in Cookeville last month.  Authorities say the woman was arrested, on October 19th, for her alleged involvement in an armed robbery in McMinnville, and is being investigated for possible links to three other armed robberies in just over four weeks around the Upper Cumberland area. According to a report in the Sparta newspaper, McMinnville law enforcement officers responded to a report of an armed robbery at Cash N Dash, on Sparta Street in McMinnville, and issued an advisory to surrounding counties of the suspect's description. A while later, Smithville Police Officer Matt Farmer reportedly initiated a traffic stop of a white Nissan Pathfinder on Highway 56 in Smithville, and came into contact with 22-year-old Patricia Allison East Johnson of Walton Lane, in Cookeville.  While Farmer was talking with Johnson, he reportedly noticed a gun, got Johnson out of the vehicle and placed her into custody. During the investigation, evidence was reportedly found that pointed to Johnson as a suspect in the armed robberies in Cookeville, Sparta, Crossville and McMinnville. Putnam County court officials say Johnson is already wanted in this county for failing to appear in General Sessions court on a domestic assault charge.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Loud Music Complaint Leads To Charges

Cookeville police say a complaint about loud music at a home on Blake Circle this week led them to break up a party in which several people under the age of 21 were gathered to drink.  Officer Chris Melton says he could see several subjects inside the living room as he arrived on the scene, but says once they saw his patrol car they started running to the back of the house.  He says a total of nine people under the age of 21 were located and admitted to drinking alcohol. According to Melton's report, all of them were issued citations for illegal consumption and all of the alcohol in the home was poured out.  The 19-year-old woman who lives at the home was also cited for possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia.

Overton County Man Cited By Cookeville Police

An Overton County man is facing several citations after being stopped by Cookeville police.  Officer Craig Taylor says it all began when he noticed a car driving on Stevens Street without headlights.  When he stopped the vehicle, he says the driver,  29-year-old Shane Lee Dunn of Monroe, allegedly admitted that his drivers license was suspended and that he did not have insurance.  Taylor says Dunn also smelled of alcohol and allegedly told the officer he couldn't perform any field sobriety tests "because he was drunk."  Taylor also claims that he found a hand rolled marijuana cigarette on Dunn ... and says he was driving in a vehicle whose tags had expired last month. 

Democracy In The Muslim World To Be Discussed

A discussion of democracy in the Muslim world will be held in Cookeville next week. National security policy analyst Mohamed Elibiari of Dallas will join Awadh Z. Binhazim of Nashville, the founder of the Islamic outreach organization, for a panel discussion Monday, Oct. 25. The event will be held from 7 to 9 pm in the Multipurpose Room of the Roaden University Center. It's being sponsored by Tennessee Tech University's Center Stage program and is part of the "Issues in the Muslim World" speaker series. The event is free and open to the public. Wali R. Kharif, a TTU history professor, is the campus host for the event.

Elibiari is currently pursuing a certification in homeland security studies at Michigan State University's School of Criminal Justice. He was a 2008-2009 fellow at the University of Southern California American Muslim Civic Leadership Institute, a joint program through USC's Center for Religion and Civic Culture, and Georgetown University's Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding. He is a contributing expert on religion, politics and culture for The Dallas Morning News and the weekly Texas Faith blog. He also co-founded the Freedom and Justice Foundation in 2002 to promote a centrist public policy environment in Texas and spearheaded founding of the Texas Islamic Council in 2005. Prior to founding the Freedom and Justice Foundation, Elibiari spent seven years working in the banking and information technology industries.

Binhazim is founding president of Olive Tree Education of Nashville, an Islamic education and outreach organization. He has more than 20 years of university-level teaching experience and has spent the last 13 years providing Islamic instruction and education. He has taught courses on Islam at the Vanderbilt University Divinity School and has designed curricula to teach Islam to new Muslims and non-Muslims. He is currently a professor of pathology at Meharry Medical College and Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Space Ride Commemmorated At TTU

A framed CD that flew into space on the shuttle Atlantis is now on display at the Tennessee Tech Bryan Fine Arts Building. The CD was recorded by the Tennessee Tech tuba ensemble and was taken into space last November by astronaut Barry Wilmore, an alumnus of the school. Part of the display is a photograph of the CD floating in the Atlantis cockpit beside Wilmore. The CD, titled "Legacy," was recorded by Tech music professor R. Winston Morris and the Tennessee Tech 40th Anniversary All-Star Alumni Ensemble in 2007.

CRMC Ranked Number 1 In Coronary Intervention

Cookeville Regional Medical Center today announced that it has been ranked the best performing hospital in Tennessee and among the top 10% of all hospitals nationwide for coronary interventional procedures from HealthGrades, the leading independent healthcare ratings organization. The recognition is based on the Thirteenth Annual HealthGrades Hospital Quality in America study, released today, which analyzes patient outcomes at virtually all of the nation’s hospitals. In addition to the quality recognition in the cardiac service line, Cookeville Regional Medical Center’s orthopedic and spine surgery programs have been ranked among the top 5% in the nation for their quality.  The hospital received HealthGrades highest rating – five-stars – across multiple categories: coronary interventional procedures, treatment of heart attacks, hip fracture repair surgery, back and neck surgery, and spinal fusion surgery. 

““We are both proud and honored to have received such recognition from a nationally known source for our quality of care,” says Bernie Mattingly, CEO at Cookeville Regional.  “It is the result of the combined efforts of so many individuals at our facility who continually strive to bring our region the latest in health care treatments and technology with a personal touch.”

The HealthGrades study, the largest annual report of its kind, analyzed patient outcomes in nearly 40 million Medicare hospitalization records from 5,000 hospitals over the years 2007, 2008 and 2009. This year’s study found:
·         Across all 17 procedures and diagnoses in which mortality was studied, there was an approximate 72% lower chance of dying in a 5-star rated hospital compared to a 1-star rated hospital, and a 53% lower chance of dying in a 5-star hospital compared with the national average.
·         If all hospitals performed at the level of a 5-star rated hospital across the 17 procedures and diagnoses studied, 232,442 Medicare lives could potentially have been saved from 2007 through 2009.

The new 2011 HealthGrades hospital ratings were posted today and are free to the public at

Cookeville Regional Medical Center is a 247-bed facility with more than 140 physicians in 37 different medical specialties. For more information about Cookeville Regional and the services it provides, visit the website at

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Meth Discovered After Driver Flees Traffic Stop

Suspects from Cookeville and Sparta are facing criminal charges today after a highway patrol trooper allegedly found a meth lab in their vehicle. Authorities say 41-year-old Tracy Darren Grissom of Cookeville and 32-year-old Amy Carmella England of Sparta were charged after Grissom allegedly fled from a traffic stop on Monday and ended up wrecking his car. The THP says the chase began on Hilham Road when an officer clocked Grissom's vehicle doing 60 miles an hour in a 45 mile zone. The trooper says Grissom fled on foot after crashing his vehicle into a tree on Paran Road.  England was a passenger in the vehicle, and authorities claim they found a mobile meth lab in the car as well.  They say Grissom was later captured and both have been charged with promoting the manufacture of meth.

Appointments Made To County Fair Board

The newest members of the Putnam County fair board have now been appointed by the county commission -- and they include three former commissioners. Bill Dyer, Dale Moss, and David Randolph were appointed Monday night. They had been among 12 candidates for the public seats on the board. Former fair board member Andelene Shanks was also re-appointed. The three county commission seats on the fair board went to David Gentry, Cathy Reel, and Marsha Bowman. The terms run for three years until Octoer 2013.

County Commission To Study Funding Requests

The Putnam County commission did not agree to give five thousand dollars to the Monterey High School chorus to help fund their trip to an international event in Italy next year, but they did vote to form a study committee which will try to determine what parameters must be met in order for the county to provide help to the chorus or any other organization seeking funding from the county. County executive Kim Blaylock had argued that the invitation for the chorus to represent the United States in the event was "an honor" and that the county should be able to provide $5,000 toward their $80,000 fund raising goal. But some members of the county commission said that they had already heard of at least three other organizations with plans to come and ask for money -- if the commission granted the request of the Monterey chorus. One commissioner said he would write a personal check for the group, but did not believe in using taxpayer money for such things.

Hearing Set For Habitual Driving Offender

A Nov. 17 hearing is set in Cookeville for a man cited for driving on a suspended or revoked license 17 times. Forty-one-year-old Fred Burton Adams Jr. of Cookeville was arrested about two weeks ago, and after police checked his driving record, it was found that he had been cited 16 times previously. All were in Putnam County except for one in Overton County.  According to the Cookeville Herald-Citizen, the offenses dated back to 1985. Until now, the most recent was February 2002.

Brown Bag Lunch Concert Series Continues

The Cookeville Department of Leisure Services Brown Bag Lunch Concert series continues this Friday at the Depot Museum, at 116 W Broad Street in Cookeville. The featured act this week is Carissia and Company. The free concerts take place from 11:30 am to 1 pm. The city provides part of the funding with additional funding provided by the Cookeville Arts Council.  Six dollar lunches are available on site from The Country Chick. You can choose from Chicken Salad or Club Sandwich and chips, dessert, and drink. For more information on the event, call 528-1313.

PBS "Roadshow" Appraiser Coming To Cookeville

Lark Mason, an appraiser with the public TV program "Antiques Roadshow," who is also an author and educator, will be in Cookeville next Tuesday, October 26th attending what's being called "The Heartbeat of Jingdezhen," and exhibit by artist T.J. Edwards. Mason is a gradute of Tennessee Tech, who now lives in New York, and is recognized internationally for his expertise in Chinese art and antiquities. Cookeville's public television station, WCTE and the Putnam County chapter of Habitat for Humanity are presenting the event, which also includes the filming of the final scenes of a documentary being produced by Todd Jarrell. Because of the filming, attendance at the event is limited to 125 people. Tickets are on sale now for $25 each at WCTE or at the Habitat office on East 15th Street.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Friends Of Burgess Falls To Meet

The Friends of Burgess Falls State Park and Natural Area invite all current members, as well as those interested in becoming members, to attend the Annual General Membership Meeting this weekend. This year’s meeting will be held on Saturday, October 23, at the Park Pavilion beginning at 10 a.m. The group will discuss upcoming projects and review the past year’s activities. Officials say in 2010, the Friends group achieved 501c(3) status, allowing them to continue their efforts to protect the park and offer educational programming, such as the Burgess Falls’ Junior Ranger program. Those interested in working together to support and enhance Burgess Falls are encouraged to attend the meeting. For more information, contact Mike Mason at (931) 761-5878 or the park office at 432-5312.

November Arraignment Set For Alleged Car Burglar

A November 16th arraignment in Putnam County criminal court is facing a Baxter man, charged with 12 counts of auto burglary. Police say 22-year-old Stacy Matthew Elrod and another man allegedly broke into a dozen vehicles in the parking lot of Willow Park Apartments back in August. Police say Elrod and his co-defendant broke out the windows of several vehicles, taking CD players and several other items of value.

When the break-ins were discovered a few hours later, police were able to find a witness who described suspicious activity by two men in the parking lot. Further investigation led to evidence being taken to the grand jury and indictments being issued.  Authorities say some of the property has been recovered.

Local Sex Offenders Get Reminder Letter

The more than 100 people living in Putnam County, who are on the state's registered sex offender list, have now gotten a letter from the Board of Probation and Parole, reminding them that they are not allowed to do some things on Halloween. Sex offenders under supervision of the Tennessee Board of Probation & Parole are being restricted from taking part in any Halloween or fall and harvest activities. Each sex offender has signed a letter acknowledging that they are prohibited from participating in Halloween activities.

The letters advise sex offenders that:

*Neither they, nor anyone in their home, can answer the door to trick or treaters on Halloween;
*They cannot pass out candy;
*Their homes cannot be decorated for Halloween, either inside or outside;
*They cannot host Halloween parties at their homes;
*They cannot go to haunted houses, corn mazes, hay rides or any other seasonal activity;
*They cannot be at any function where children are gathered, including private residences;
*They cannot give any Halloween treats to children;
*They cannot wear costumes and
*They cannot take any child trick or treating.

Probation officers will enforce the restrictions throughout the month by making additional visits, both announced and unannounced, to verify that the sex offenders on their caseloads are in compliance with these restrictions. On many of these visits, the probation and parole officers will be accompanied by local law enforcement officers for added emphasis on the seriousness of the restrictions.

Cookeville To Get Dunkin' Donuts Franchise

A Dunkin' Donuts store is on its way to Cookeville.  The Canton, Mass.-based company said  Jim and Athena Skellion, new franchisees for the company, have agreed to open two restaurants, one in Cookeville and the other in Crossville.  Both are scheduled to open in 2012, although the location has not been announced. Officials with the chain say that, ideally, franchisees should possess a minimum net worth of $500,000 and liquid assets of at least $250,000, but financial qualifications will vary based on the opportunity available by market.  Historically a doughnut and hot coffee chain, Dunkin' Donuts has expanded its offering to include frozen and iced beverages, a full bakery assortment including bagels and muffins, breakfast sandwiches, and an all-day Oven-Toasted menu which includes flatbread sandwiches, hash browns and buttermilk biscuits. Officials say the new platform marks the most significant change to Dunkin' Donuts' product lineup since the company launched espresso-based beverages in 2003.

TTU Faculty Member Receives Geography Award

Tennessee Tech University's Lisa Zagumny will accept a national award next month for her work developing a geographic literacy program that integrates the geography of Muslims and Islam into middle school social studies classes.  The award comes from the National Council for the Social Studies, the largest association in the country devoted solely to social studies education. Zagumny, a curriculum and instruction associate professor in TTU's College of Education, said the 2009 NCSS Grant for the Enhancement of Geographic Literacy provided her and three co-presenters the opportunity to develop a March 12 workshop at the Tennessee Council for the Social Studies. The co-presenters were current and former College of Education graduate students Melissa Creek, Abir El Daba and Amanda Richey.

"The objective of our program was to integrate the geography of Muslims and Islam into middle school social studies and to equip middle school social studies teachers with authentic multicultural tools to enhance geographic literacy in their classrooms and curriculum," Zagumny said.

The award covered conference registration for 20 participants, lesson plans and supplemental materials. The award is co-sponsored by Nystrom Herff Jones Inc., a publisher of maps, globes and atlases.The NCSS awards receptions takes place next month at the NCSS's 90th annual conference in Denver.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Field Trip Funding To Be Discussed

Members of the Putnam County commission Monday night will decide whether or not they want to give $5,000 toward the effort of the Monterey High School chorus to be the United States representative to an international choral event being held in Italy next year.  County executive Kim Blaylock says the invitation is "an honor" and believes the county can afford to put five thousand dollars toward the effort.  She says a previous commission made a similar decision several years ago when they voted to help Cookeville High School fund band uniforms.  But other commissioners say contributing to the cause would create a precedent that could lead to every group that needs funding to ask for help from the commission.  Also Monday night, the commission will discuss approval of a lease with the Nashville and Eastern Railroad Authority and they'll consider eight appointments to the county fair board.  The meeting begins at six on the third floor of the county courthouse.

Fatal House Fire Ruled Accidental

A frayed extension cord. That's what authorities say caused the fatal fire that took the life of long-time Cookeville resident Margery Hargrove earlier this year. A report confirms that the fire in July was accidental in nature. Fire chief John Kendrick told the Cookeville Herald-Citizen that the lightweight cord had a fan, a lamp and an oxygen machine plugged into it, and had become frayed -- perhaps by being rolled over by Ms. Hargrove's wheelchair.  They believe the electrical fire was sparked from the extension cord and quickly spread to a bookshelf that contained several papers. Although autopsy results have not yet been released, officials say they believe she died of smoke inhalation.

STEM Center Starts Safari Saturdays

The STEM Center at Tennessee Tech University, which is dedicated to the teaching of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, is inviting Cookeville area children in grades Pre-K through 3 and their families to attend STEM Safari Saturdays scheduled for this Saturday, October 23 and Saturday, November 6 from 9 am to noon. Organizers say the kids will experience hands-on, minds-on, engaging activities in basic science and mathematics. The session this week will focus on what's being called Spooky Geometry. Tell-Tale Wildlife is the name of the November event. Officials say STEM Safaris are flexible experiences, and families may come and go as their schedule allows. However, an adult family member must remain with children throughout the event. The workshops are free, but reservations are requested. If you plan to attend, call 372-6573

Republican Party Apologizes For Mail Piece

The Tennessee Republican Party has issued an apology for sending out a mail piece saying that Democrat State Rep. Henry Fincher of Cookeville voted in favor of giving driving privileges to illegal immigrants when, in fact, Fincher did not do that.  In an e-mail to media outlets, Gregory Gleaves, the Party's executive director said, "The State Republican Party apologizes for this one error regarding Rep. Fincher's illegal immigration voting record. This was simply a clerical error on an independent expenditure mailer that wasn't authorized by any candidate."  The incumbent Fincher is facing Republican Ryan Williams in the race for state representative.

Monterey Bridge Honors Fallen Soldier

A bridge on Interstate 40 in Putnam County has been named for a soldier who died in Afghanistan in 2007. Family and friends gathered Friday to dedicate the bridge in Monterey to Sgt. Alex van Aalten. The 21-year-old van Aalten, died on April 20, 2007, from wounds suffered during a rescue mission of Dutch troops in Sangin, Afghanistan. He was serving with the 82nd Airborne at Fort Bragg, N.C. The Army awarded van Aalten a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart, and he was posthumously awarded the Netherlands' Gold Medal of Merit of the Minister of Defense. Tennessee lawmakers had passed a resolution designating the I-40 bridge that spans Highway 70 between Exit 300 and Exit 301 at Monterey for van Aalten.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

THP Warns Of Local Deer-Related Crashes

The Tennessee Department of Safety is reminding Putnam County residents that an increase in deer-related crashes is likely during the months of October through December. Cookeville area motorists are encouraged to be watchful of deer on the move during these months. THP Colonel Tracy Trott says it is particularly important to pay attention and stay alert, especially on roads less traveled, during hunting and mating season. He says motorists should exercise extra caution when not traveling on a major thoroughfare. Between 2005 and 2009, less than 10 percent of deer-related crashes occurred on interstate highways. According to numbers provided by the state, Putnam County has seen an increase in deer-related crashes annually for the past five years. In 2004, 83 crashes were blamed on deer; in 2005, the number was 82; in 2006, 102 wrecks were caused by deer; in 2007, it was 91; and in 2008, the number of crashes was 110.

Twelve People Vying For Five Seats On Fair Board

The Putnam County commission will have no shortage of candidates to consider when they meet on Monday to make appointments to the county fair board. The fair board's by-laws mandate that some members of the commission and some members of the public be appointed to the body. The three commission appointments to be considered on Monday are David Gentry, Cathy Reel, and Marsha Bowman -- all commissioners who were newly elected this year. Meanwhile, there are 12 people who have been nominated for appointment to the other five positions available on the fair board. They are Dale Moss, Julie Tallent, Bill Dyer, Tony Honeycutt, Vinny Faccinto, Brinn Kiser, David Randolph, Nelson Lafever, Andelene Shanks and Mike Sullivan. The fair board appointments are for three-year terms to expire in October of 2013.

Sparta Robbery May Be Connected To Cookeville

Law enforcement officials in Sparta and Cookeville are considering the possibility that a woman who robbed a store in Sparta this week may be the same one who pulled off a similar robbery in Cookeville last month. Detective Allen Selby says a woman driving a white SUV robbed a check cashing business on Tuesday. She was described as being about 5-feet-5-inches tall and weighing around 120 pounds.  That description is similar to what a Cookeville store clerk remembered about a petite young woman who robbed her. In both cases, the suspect reportedly told the clerks a story about why she needed the money.  Officials say they are studying surveillance video to pick up any clues to the woman's identity.

Edgar Evins Park Preparing For "Hayride" Event

Officials at Edgar Evins State Park are reminding Cookeville area residents of the 5th Annual History Hayride, to be held on Center Hill Lake this Saturday, October 16. Organizers say there are still a number of seats available. They describe the Hayride as a wholesome, family-oriented event rather than a Halloween ride, although one of the new characters will be a gravedigger from the 1930s when bodies were exhumed from existing cemeteries to be reinterred during the construction of Center Hill Reservoir. Some of the other characters will include an area moonshiner, a local foxhunter, and the Revolutionary War veteran who founded the town of Liberty. Also back by popular demand will be the character of Elizabeth Dale, the daughter of the founder of Liberty who later became known as "The Black Widow of Hazel Green."

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Attorney To Update Commission On Lawsuits

Putnam County attorney Jeff Jones will be meeting with members of the county commission next week to update them on the litigation that the county is involved in. Officials say the meeting is not open to the public because it falls under an exemption to the state's Open Meetings Law, which allows governmental bodies to discuss lawsuits with their attorney. Jones told members of the county planning committee this week that Chancellor Ron Thurman has recused himself from hearing one of the lawsuits involving the county. That's the one where a court is being asked to determine whether or not members of the county election commission are technically state employees or county employees. According to Jones, there is case law that indicates they may be state employees, but others say that case law refers to Administrators of Election, not election commission members. At issue in that case is whether the county or the state will be paying for defense of a lawsuit against three members of the county election commission. Officials say the bill for legal services in that case is now more than $80,000, but the county would be responsible for just $50,000 of that before their insurance kicks in.

Scam Artist Unsuccessful In Cookeville

Cookeville police say enough people have now heard about a scam that has been tried in this area over the past several years that fewer victims are now falling for it.  But, they say, that doesn't stop the scammers from trying variations.  The most recent case involved a Cookeville woman who had advertised a dining table for sale on Craigslist.  She was asking $375 for the table and began corresponding by e-mail with someone who said they were interested in purchasing it.  But that individual then sent her an e-mail saying that she had "mistakenly" sent a check for $2,500. She told the would-be victim to simply cash the check and wire the balance back to her.  But the Cookeville resident didn't do that. Instead, she contacted police who say the check is most likely fake. They took the check, copies of the e-mails and a Fedex packing slip, as they continue their investigation.

More Than 400 Cast Ballots On First Day Of Voting

Putnam County election officials say more than 400 people took advantage of the first day of Early Voting to cast ballots for the November election. Officials say that shows an increased interest in this particular election, perhaps because of the mid-term Congressional elections or because the cities of Cookeville and Algood have liquor questions on their ballot. The races being voted on include those for Tennessee governor, Tennessee House, Tennessee Senate, and United States House of Representatives. In the races for governor and Congress, there are no incumbents, but in the races for state legislature, incumbents Henry Fincher and Charlotte Burks have opponents, while incumbent Charles Curtiss does not have.

Cookeville Ranked Among Top Sports Towns

The publication known as The Sporting News has published its annual list of the Best Sports Cities, and Cookeville has made the list. According to the publication, Cookeville came in at 206 nationally, six places behind Chattanooga, but ahead of Bristol, Martin, Kingsport, and Greeneville. Nashville was 18th on the list; Murfreesboro 104th. Cities were ranked based on the win-loss records of their college and professional teams, fan attendance and the number of teams in each city. Chicago was rated the best sports city by the magazine.

Streaks On The Line In Tech Game

A host of streaks surround Saturday night's game when Tennessee Tech entertains the Eastern Illinois Panthers at 7 p.m. in Tucker Stadium. The Golden Eagles are hoping to begin a winning streak, following a 34-21 win at Austin Peay last weekend. Tech is looking to post back-to-back wins and launch a successful second half of the 2010 season. The Golden Eagles are 2-4 overall and 1-2 in conference action. Eastern Illinois, meanwhile, is eyeing the game as a chance to snap an eight-game losing streak, the team’s longest since 1977. The Panthers come to Tech winless with an 0-6 overall record, including an 0-4 mark against OVC foes with losses to UT Martin, Jacksonville State, Southeast Missouri and Eastern Kentucky. But they have won five years in a row over the Golden Eagles, including a 23-15 victory last October in Charleston in which the Golden Eagles had a chance to win late in the game but couldn’t connect in the end zone for a deciding score.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Campaign Finance Reports Filed By Candidates

New campaign finance reports show that incumbent Henry Fincher has more money on hand in his bid for re-election to the State House of Representatives than his opponent Ryan Williams.  According to 3rd Quarter reports, which were due yesterday, Fincher has more than $62,000 available to finish out the race. He has received contributions from several fellow attorneys and from a number of political action committees, including those associated with realtors, bankers and the Tennessee Education Association. Williams, meanwhile, reports a balance of just under $38,000.  He has received contributions from such local residents as Cookeville city council member Connie Albrecht. Republican Congressional candidate Diane Black of Gallatin has also given to his campaign. The political action committees supporting Williams include those for National Health Corp and one called the NRW PAC, which apparently stands for Nashville Republican Women.  Meanwhile, far fewer dollars are being spent on the race for State Senate. Republican Gary Steakley reports third quarter contributions of just under $3,000, most of which he has spent. Incumbent Charlotte Burks reports having spent about half of the nearly $60,000 she had available. Independent candidate Joe Wilmoth did not file a report by the deadline, although he had reported having just over $3,000 on hand in a previous report.

Early Voting Starts Wednesday In Putnam County

Putnam County Administrator of Elections Debbie Steidl says that beginning Wednesday, October 13th, registered voters in the county will have the opportunity to cast their ballots for the November 2nd general election.  And Steidl says that she is encouraging all voters to take advantage of early voting.

"Local voters have come to enjoy the benefits and convenience of voting early," Steidl said.  "They can vote at their own convenience and not worry about rushing to the polls on Election Day."

She says early voting provides an additional 14-day period to cast ballots, including two Saturdays. In Putnam County,  early voting is conducted at the Election Commission on County Services Drive, just off South Willow Avenue.  The hours are 8 am to 5 pm on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday; 8 am to 7 pm on Thursday and 9 am to 1 pm on Saturday.  The races for Tennessee governor, U.S. Congress, State House and State Senate will be on the ballot. And, for voters in Cookeville and Algood, referendum questions concerning the sale of alcohol will be voted on.

Marshals Arrest Fugitives In Cookeville

Officers from the U.S. Marshal's Task Force rounded up an aggravated robbery suspect from Murfreesboro at a home in Cookeville on Monday.  And police say they captured two other fugitives at the same home. 20-year-old Walter Johnson of Nashville was arrested on charges of aggravated robbery and reckless endangerment in connection with the robbery of a Mapco store in Murfreesboro last month. Murfreesboro Police Detective Ed Gorham obtained the warrants after the suspect was identified through the media. Task force officers also located Joseph Schibik of Cookeville in the house.  He is wanted for aggravated robbery charges in Cookeville. Leonard Kemp of Nashville, who was wanted for violation of the sex offender law, was also arrested.

Trustee Says Tax Bills Are Going Out

The Putnam County Trustee's office is mailing out 2010 property tax notices this week. Trustee Freddie Nelson says the taxes are now due and payable, but do not become delinquent until after February 28th of 2011. Beginning March 1st of next year, any unpaid property tax will begin to accrue interest and penalties at the rate of 1.5 percent per month until paid. Nelson says 2009 property taxes can also still be paid in the trustee's office through March 31st. Nelson also says that seniors should check with his office to see if they qualify for the state's tax relief program. For this year, the income limit to qualify for that program is $26,830. The Putnam County commission has also appropriated additional funding to the program to assist senior citizens who own property. Nelson says if a senior qualifies for the state program, they will also qualify for some assistance through the county. He says disabled veterans and disabled homeowners may also qualify for tax relief. Taxes may be paid by mail or in person at the trustee's office in the courthouse. Owners who have purchased property during 2010 and do not receive a tax notice may call the Trustee's office at 526-8845. And anyone who hasn't received their tax notice by the first of November should also contact the office.

Planners Question Habitat Project

Planners in Putnam County have decided against granting final plat approval for a Habitat for Humanity development. According to the Cookeville Herald-Citizen, the county's Regional Planning Commission said the nine-lot New Hope subdivision just south of town may have drainage issues. Last month, regional planners expressed concern about a pond on the property, which developers have made efforts to drain. The final plat shows no water in that general area although some sort of wetland still remains. Habitat developers say they have studied the drainage issue intensely and a number of controls have been put in place. They are hoping to work something out with the planning commission.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Rail Lease OK'd, But Not Monterey Chorus Money

Putnam County's planning committee is recommending that the county commission approve a 40-year lease agreement with the Nashville and Eastern Railroad Authority for the right of way necessary to construct a Rail Trail between Cookeville and Monterey.  The county would pay $50,000 up front on the lease and would then make annual payments of about $2500 a year to the railroad.  They would also have to purchase a liability insurance policy as part of the agreement.  Officials say it may be several years before the actual trail is constructed, but they say the lease is a necessary step in moving the project forward.  Meanwhile, the fiscal review committee has failed to agree with county executive Kim Blaylock that the county should allocate $5,000 toward helping the Monterey High School chorus attend an event in Italy next year.  Blaylock says the invitation is a great honor and that the Monterey chorus is the only American chorus invited to take part.  But commissioner Kevin Maynard, who works for the school system, said he was concerned about setting a precedent, where the county commission agrees to fund some "field trips" but not others.  The issue now goes to the full commission for a final vote.

Six People Arrested On Meth Charges

Cookeville police say there's been an uptick lately in the number of people arrested for manufacturing methamphetamine. Authorities say three people were arrested on Sunday at the Walgreens pharmacy -- one day after three other people were arrested at the same location. In both cases, they aroused suspicion by purchasing large quantities of Sudafed. Police say those arrested on Sunday were identified as Johnny Dexter Key, Dennis K. Binkley and Tracy Christine Peters. In addition to the Sudafed, police say the found two cans of starter fluid and a lawnmower battery in the suspects' vehicle.  The day before, Marcus Justin Piercy, Deanna Kay Sliger and James Corinth Moore were arrested after they came into the store one after the other to purchase Sudafed.  Officers allegedly found meth residue and some finished product in their vehicle. All of the cases come to court on November 15th.

FBI Investigation Leads To Child Porn Charge

A Cookeville man reportedly maintains that he has done nothing wrong in spite of his indictment on charges of sexual exploitation of a minor. The FBI says they presented evidence against 52-year-old Charles Linah Parris to the grand jury after allegedly finding him in possession of sexually explicit images involving children. The investigation apparently began in July of 2009, but the indictment was served earlier this month.  Parris has posted a $5,000 bond in the case and is scheduled to be arraigned in Putnam County Criminal Court on November 16th.

Cookeville Man Charged With Child Rape

A Cookeville man, who was found alone in a car with a 14-year-old boy late Sunday night, has now been charged with child rape. Police say the investigation began after an officer noticed the car at the Jere Whitson ball park. The 14-year-old told police of the alleged sexual contact and says the suspect also had sexual contact with the boy's eleven-year-old brother. Police say 27-year-old Stuart Ray Dilldine of Bradley Drive is charged in the case. According to reports, Dilldine is an acquaintance of the family and is accused of allegedly engaging in sex with the victims on numerous occasions over the past couple of years, but is -- for the moment -- charged with only two counts of rape of a child.

TDOT Makes Official Interchange Announcement

It's been known about for several weeks, but on Monday, officials with the Tennessee Department of Transportation traveled to Cookeville to make the official announcement.  TDOT officials joined Senator Charlotte Burks and Representatives Henry Fincher and Charles Curtiss to announce federal approval for a proposed new Interstate 40 interchange at Mine Lick Creek Road in Cookeville. The Federal Highway Administration has approved TDOT's Interstate Access request for the proposed interchange after determining that the diamond interchange alternative to connect I-40 to U.S. Highway 70 North and eventually to State Route 136 is operationally acceptable.

"Access into and out of a community is vital to its continued growth and development, so it is vital our infrastructure keep pace with expansion in the Cookeville area," said TDOT Commissioner Gerald Nicely. "Highway 70 North and State Route 136 are main routes in the city and once complete this interchange will improve access and increase economic development opportunities in this area."

The project is part of Putnam County's and Cookeville's long range transportation plan. The original request for a new interchange was made by former Cookeville Mayor Charles T. Womack, and the initial Interchange Justification Study was completed in August 2000. TDOT submitted the current Interchange Justification Study to the Federal Highway Administration in March 2010, and it was approved on September 14, 2010. TDOT plans to construct a diamond interchange on I-40 at Mine Lick Creek Road. The northern side of the interchange will connect to U.S. 70 North and the southern side will connect to Lee Seminary Road and will eventually tie into SR-136. The project will enhance economic development south of I-40 by providing access to the Highlands Business Park. The project is estimated to cost around $14 million.  TDOT will begin the ground survey of the project later this year in preparation for preliminary plans, which should be ready by spring of 2011. Final right-of-way plans are slated to be complete in spring of 2012, after which the project can proceed to right-of-way acquisition. Right-of-way funding for the project is included in the state's three-year plan, but funding will not be authorized until completion of preliminary design work and issuance of final right-of-way plans in the spring of 2012. Construction has not been funded yet, but the project should be ready for construction funding in 2013.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Busy Agendas Facing County Commission

The standing committees of the Putnam County commission meet Monday night to discuss a variety of topics. Among other things, they'll talk about financial aid for the Monterey High School chorus, improvements to the Bangham waste collection site, appointments to the county fair board, and a lease with the Nashville and Eastern Railroad Authority. The Fiscal Review Committee will be discussing whether or not to recommend giving money to the chorus in Monterey. They'll also be the ones talking about the Bangham waste collection site.  The Planning Committee of the county commission, meanwhile, will hear about a lease needed for the railroad company, as it relates to the development of a proposed rail trail between Cookeville and Monterey.  That committee will also discuss improvements to the intersection of Highway 111 and Quinland Lake Road.  Meanwhile, the Nominating Committee will discuss who should be appointed to represent the three commission seats, as well as five other appointments to the Fair Board.  The committees will begin their meetings Monday evening at 5:30 on the third floor of the county courthouse.

Fincher Discusses Putnam Tax Revenues

State Representative Henry Fincher of Cookeville has announced that during the current 2010-2011 fiscal year, approximately $154.9 million in state appropriated expenditures will flow into Putnam County through various state agencies and programs.

“Two years ago, as we began dealing with the long-term effects of our nation’s economic slowdown, the Tennessee Legislature made a commitment to keep our state running without higher taxes or massive cuts,” said Fincher. “Our economy continues to grow stronger, and though there are still challenges ahead, Tennessee looks to make a full recovery in the months and years to come.

Fincher says that budgeted state appropriations benefiting Putnam County include more than $40 million for K-12 education, more than $8.2 million in what are called state shared tax collections; $31 million for health and social services; $6.8 million for justice and public safety;  and just under $2 million for state highway projects.

"Difficult decisions had to be made in order to produce a balanced budget with no new taxes, but even with the tough decisions we were able to maintain the programs that matter most like Tennessee’s BEP 2.0 program,” said Fincher. “Going forward I intend to continue to protect these programs from reductions and hope others in the legislature will put children and families first in every financial decision we make. This budget proves that government can tighten its belt and still fund necessary services,” said Fincher. “Despite the bad economy, we have cut overall spending while getting more money to Putnam County for K-12 education, Tennessee Tech, and law enforcement.”

Commission Opposes Diversion For Ex-Employee

Members of the Putnam County Election Commission have now sent a three-page letter to District Attorney General Randy York, expressing their opposition to the granting of pre-trial diversion for a former employee.  Sherry Bryant was terminated from her job in the election office last year after commission members learned that she had been convicted of a felony drug offense back in the 1990s and that she had been illegally voting in spite of that conviction. Bryant was one of several individuals indicted earlier this year on charges that they had voted or registered to vote without having their rights restored.  And while some of those individuals have been granted diversion, Election Commission members say Bryant should not be given that opportunity because it would tend to minimize a crime that they say is considered serious under Tennessee law.  The decision on whether to grant diversion in any case is, ultimately, up to the presiding judge, although the opinions of prosecutors, defense lawyers, and victims are usually considered as a part of that process.

TTU Hosts Regional History Conference

Tennessee Tech University's history faculty will host more than 100 historians on the campus later this week, who are attending the 26th Annual Ohio Valley History Conference.   In addition to the TTU history department, conference host institutions include Austin Peay, East Tennessee State, Murray State, Eastern Kentucky and Western Kentucky universities. Presenters at the conference hail from more than a dozen states. TTU history faculty members are leading or presenting many of the panel discussions, including one on the Civil War, another on the African-American experience in the 20th century, tales of the Upper Cumberland, science and medicine, propaganda during and after World War II, health issues in history and economic history, among others. Those interested in attending are welcome to examine the full list of panel discussion topics and registration information available at the Tech website.

Students Conducting Book Donation Drive

The  University Service Center at Tennessee Tech will be collecting new and used children's books this month as part of an effort to help low-income pre-school children. A collection tub will be located outside Room 108 of the University Center all month.  And on Saturday, Oct. 23, the community will be invited to bring books to campus for National Make a Difference Day from 9 am to 2 pm. This year the focus is on Early Childhood Development in Putnam County. Because the Pre-K program is based on low household incomes, the children in these programs are considered educationally "at risk." Organizers say the books that are collected will be taken into the Pre-K classrooms for the children to take home with them. What is left over will be distributed to the teachers to have in their rooms.The last week of the month a team of TTU students will go into the classrooms to deliver these books and to spend a little time in each room reading to the kids.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Council OKs Hospital Property Acquisition

The Cookeville city council has OK'd the acquisition of three properties that will ultimately become part of the campus of Cookeville Regional Medical Center.  CFO Paul Korth says the properties are located on North Willow Avenue, West 7th Street, and North Hickory Avenue.  They will be purchased for approximately sixteen dollars per square foot and will become part of the overall hospital campus.  At the request of the city manager, the council passed a motion to allow for acquisition by either negotiated purchase or by eminent domain.  Council member Larry Epps said he supports the project, but he abstained from the vote because of his professional association with some of the people involved.

Local Homeowner Complains About Quarry Trucks

Cookeville city manager Jim Shipley says that officials will be contacting the owners of a local rock quarry Friday to make sure they are complying with regulations concerning the covering for their trucks. A local homeowner complained to the city council Thursday night that some of the trucks are not in compliance. Judy Butler said, "We are having a lot of problems with trucks not covered. There are rock and gravel all up and down Highway 70, where they're piling them high and falling off. There are certain regulations that they have to meet and they're not meeting them, so I would like for (the council) to consider whatever needs to be done in those situations." The quarry owners have been at odds with neighboring homeowners for several years.

New Twist To Shoplifting Attempts

Two Cookeville women have been cited for shoplifting at the Cookeville Walmart, even though police say they paid for some of the items they took. According to reports, 43-year-old Tammy Human and 26-year-old Crystal Ivy Jones allegedly went through the store with empty Walmart bags, placing items in those bags and proceeding to the check out area. That's where police say they paid for a cart full of items, but also attempted to leave the store with an additional $338 in unpaid merchandise before being stopped by store security. The two have now been banned from the property.

State Media Pick Up On Passed Out Mom Story

Television outlets across the state are now reporting on the case of a Cookeville area mother, who was charged with child neglect after police found her passed out in a vehicle, with two young children in the back seat.  A shopper at the Cookeville Walmart spotted the woman this week. Police said Ashley Bull was drunk and passed out behind the wheel with her car still running and in drive. Authorities say they think Bull and the children may have been in the parking lot for up to 45 minutes. She has been charged with child neglect and DUI.

Monterey Officials Plan Standing Stone Day

The annual Standing Stone Day celebration at Whittaker Park in Monterey takes place this weekend, starting on Saturday at 7 am. Organizers say this year's event will feature a classic car show, food and craft booths, local merchant specials, and entertainment, including Native American song and dance.  The event is sponsored by the Standing Stone Historical Association.  Also this weekend, the 13th Annual Liberty Square Celebration and Lester Flatt Memorial Bluegrass Day will be held on the square in Downtown Sparta. It begins on Saturday at 11 am. The featured events there include a truck and car show, kids games, food vendors and rides.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

TTU Now Officially "Storm Ready"

The National Weather Service has now designated Tennessee Tech University as one of only four StormReady universities in the state and 60 in the nation. Officials with the weather service say the community preparedness program encourages universities to take a new, proactive approach to improving hazardous weather operations. Emergency managers also have clear-cut guidelines on how to improve their hazardous weather operations.

"This recognition is the result of resources and equipment that allow for the timely notification of dangerous weather conditions," said Kent Clawson, TTU's coordinator of environmental health and safety.

The university also hosted a weather spotting training session for the community in conjunction with its efforts to qualify as a StormReady university.

Ckvl. Man Charged With Aggravated Child Abuse

A $35,000 bond has been set in the case of a Cookeville man, indicted on a charge of aggravated child abuse.  Authorities say 27-year-old Joseph Erwin Dowell will be arraigned in criminal court next month.  Dowell is accused of seriously injuring his then three-month old daughter in May of last year. He told police that she was having breathing problems when he woke her up that day, but doctors who later examined the child said her injuries were consistent with a condition known as "shaken baby syndrome."  The child was ultimately treated at Vanderbilt Hospital and is now in the custody of its mother.  Authorities say Dowell was located in Kentucky earlier this month where he was taken into custody and brought back to Cookeville for booking.

Cookeville Depot Now Under 24-Hour Surveillance

Cookeville city officials say recent acts of vandalism at the Cookeville Depot have led them to monitor the site 24 hours a day.  Meanwhile, officials say the historic caboose at the Depot has been repainted . Back in September, a rock was used to break out the window of the car. And in July, vandals busted the depot's steam engine cab door, knocked out windows on the locomotive and damaged the inside of the rail vehicle. Repairs are still being made there. Don Prince, board member with the Friends of the Depot, said the caboose is a top local tourist attraction. The depot was built in 1909 and the depot museum contains many artifacts of the old Tennessee Central railway.

Group To Help Disabled Domestic Violence Victims

A national group called Community Options has opened an office in Cookeville and says it will be using federal grant money to advocate for women with disabilities who are survivors of domestic violence and sexual abuse.  The organization says they plan to partner with Genesis House, the local domestic violence shelter, to reexamine policies and procedures that will benefit women with disabilities, provide appropriate services and referrals and collaborate and create risk-reduction training and educational outreach to women with disabilities. The grant will primarily be carried out in Cookeville, where officials say they will work closely with The Clover Bottom Developmental Center, an 87-year old facility that was originally established to house “feeble-minded persons.” As many as 83% of women with disabilities are survivors of domestic violence or sexual assault according to the National Crime Victimization Survey. For more information, you can call Robin Gray at 372-0095.

Cookeville Hospital Schedules Health Fair

Cookeville Regional Medical Center will be hosting a health and fitness fair on Saturday, October 16 from 7:00 am to 10:00 am. The health fair is open to the public and provides an opportunity for community members to participate in affordable health screenings to stay abreast of their health.

A number of screeings will be available including:

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

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

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Alleged Burglars Face Court Date Monday

Three area residents will be in court Monday on charges of burglary, which police say stem from two separate incidents.  27-year-old Matthew John Hammond of Shipley Church Road is charged with aggravated burglary for allegedly breaking into a home on South Pickard Avenue. The homeowner told police that someone had kicked in a door and made off with several guns.  Meanwhile, Lindsay Nicole Yates of Baxter and Kenneth Earl Hamilton II of Cookeville, who are both 24, are charged with removing a window from a home on Falling Water Road to gain access, where they went through the residence and made off with more that five thousand dollars worth of merchandise, including two guitars and amps.

Reminder: Drive Thru Flu Clinic Friday

Officials with the Putnam County Health Department are reminding the public that another drive thru flu clinic will be held at their office, off South Willow Avenue on Friday.  Flu shots will be available from 8 am to 4 pm as people drive through, roll down their windows, and get the vaccine.  Those who take part are asked to wear short sleeves and to have their insurance cards ready. Health department officials say the drive-thru clinics are offered for the convenience of the public, but they say vaccines are also available inside the health department on a daily basis.  A number of area pharmacies and doctor's offices also have them available.  Cookeville Regional Medical Center says they had their first confirmed case of the seasonal flu in late September.

South Carolina Man Caught Driving Naked

A South Carolina man may find himself out of some cash when he goes to court October 18th.  Police say 50-year-old David A. Youngblood of Greenville, South Carolina, has been charged with indecent exposure after being caught driving naked around the parking lot of Walmart on Monday.  According to police,  Youngblood had only his socks on when he was pulled over by an off-duty police officer, who had been alerted to the situation by security personnel at Walmart.  Youngblood reportedly told the officer that he was changing his clothes, but allegedly admitted that it was unusual for him to be doing so while driving through the parking lot.  In Tennessee, indecent exposure is  a Class B misdemeanor punishable by a fine of five hundred dollars.