Thursday, December 30, 2010

Police Making Preparations For New School

The Cookeville police department has already begun making preparations to ensure traffic safety at the new Prescott South elementary and middle schools, which open next Tuesday.  Officials say a new road has been constructed for access to the new school. It is an extension of West Cemetery Road which was extended from Bunker Hill Road to South Jefferson Avenue running in front of the Elementary side of Prescott South. This is a three lane roadway that will help accommodate the traffic flow to and from the school. The normal speed limit on this stretch of West Cemetery Road will be 25 mph. However, a 15 mph school zone will be in effect in the school area during the times of 7:15 a.m. to 8:15 a.m. and 2:45 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. which will be designated by signage on West Cemetery Road. A traffic signal has been installed at the intersection of West Cemetery Road and South Jefferson to facilitate traffic flow.  Meanwhile, South Jefferson Avenue has also been widened to three lanes giving a middle turn lane for motorists to utilize when making left turns. A right turn lane has been constructed for south bound traffic to turn right into the entrance for the Middle School from South Jefferson Avenue. The normal speed limit on South Jefferson is now 35 mph in the area of the school. New speed limit signs have been erected to reflect the new speed limit. However, within this area, there will be a 15 mph school zone in effect during the times of 7:15 a.m. to 8:15 a.m. and 2:45 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. which will be designated by temporary signage. New flashing yellow signs have been ordered for South Jefferson Avenue but are not here yet. There will be temporary signage indicating the 15 mph zone on South Jefferson until the new flashing yellow lights are installed. They are expected to be in and installed sometime during the first week that school is back in session. Cookeville Police Officers will be monitoring the school zones and the traffic flow to and from the school as well as in the area of the school. They say traffic will probably be congested at first until everyone gets use to the layout of the school and traffic patterns and routes to be taken, so they are asking drivers to observe the posted speed limits and watch for children walking, or riding bicycles to and from school.

Tech Baseball Player Named All-American -- Again

Tennessee Tech center fielder Chad Oberacker has been named to his third pre-season All America team by an organization called College Baseball Lineup. Already this year, Oberacker has made his way onto Louisville Slugger's second team and was named third team by the National Collegiate Baseball Writer's Association. Of the 11 men named to the Lineup's first team, Oberacker maintained the highest batting average after last season with his .452, a statistic that ranked third in the nation at the end of the 2010 season. A member of four post-season All America teams following his 2010 season Oberacker, out of Erie, PA., batted in the clean-up position, consistently hiting over .400 for the entire season. He finished fourth in the nation in total hits with 108 – a statistic that ranked first in the OVC - 40 of which were for extra bases. His career batting average of .395 takes top honors in Tech history.

New Year May Bring Cash To City Employees

The New Year may bring some new cash to Cookeville city employees -- if they can improve their health habits.  The city has agreed to pay up to $150 a year to those employees who start an exercise program and document the things they are doing to improve their overall health.  But to qualify for any money, city employees must exercise -- at a minimum -- 30 minutes a day, three times a week for six months. City officials say they hope the exercise program, which a majority of city employees say they would try, will help them keep down the ever increasing cost of health insurance premiums and the claims being filed.

Law Enforcement Plans Roadblocks For Holiday

The Cookeville District of the Tennessee Highway Patrol says they'll be conducting sobriety checkpoints in Putnam and surrounding counties tonight as they look for drunk and dangerous drivers.  Among other places, they'll be set up on Hilham Road near the Bangham Community Center tonight and on Highway 56, just north of the crossroads with Highway 70.  They also plan a late evening sobriety checkpoint on Highway 111 in Overton County.  Law enforcement officials say that if you drive drunk, you WILL be arrested and you WILL go to jail. And they say there's no need to take the risk. The better option they say is to either have a designated driver or to call the local "safe ride" program, which provides free transportation from local restaurants and nightspots to a home or motel room within a five mile radius of Cookeville. It will begin at 9:30 Friday night and run through 4 am. The number to call is 372-8000.

Lots Of New Year's Eve Activities Planned

What are you doing on New Year's Eve? The Upper Cumberland Tourism Association says there are lots of things for Cookeville area residents to consider as they make their plans. There will be a New Year's Mardi Gras Ball at Lakeside Resort on Center Hill Lake; a New Year's Eve party at the Veterans Building in Spring Street in Cookeville. a party will also be held at the Overton County Fairgrounds in the Rotary Club Agriculture Building. Historic Rugby will ring in the New Year with a New Year's Eve dinner at the Harrow Road Café. And The Inn at Evins Mill in Smithville is accepting reservations for a New Year's Eve Feast that includes heavy hors d'oeuvres and a five-course meal, accompanied by live piano music and wood burning fireplaces. For further information on the events, you can call Ruth Dyal at 537-6347.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Court Date Set For Serial Shoplifter

A Putnam County man will be back in court on January 24th after being accused four times in less than a month of shoplifting from various stores in Cookeville. Police say the most recent allegation against 44-year-old James Glenn Whittenburg of Thomas Road involves an attempt to steal two shirts from the Kohl's store.  The shirts were valued at $74. Police say Whittenburg was also cited for stealing $77 worth of tools from K-Mart, an incident which they say was captured on a security video.  According to police, as of last week, Whittenburg had been arrested for shoplifting on four occasions since the beginning of the month.

Putnam YMCA Announces New Initiative

The Putnam County Family YMCA is joining other "Y's" across middle Tennessee in kicking off a new initiative next week. Ted McWilliams is the director of the local Y, and says the goals include renewed efforts at volunteerism and outreach programs.

"The Putnam County Y is a member of the middle Tennessee YMCA Association," he said, "and they develop long term goals to improve quality of life. And this decade -- from 2011 to 2020 -- is called 'Hope For Life.'

McWilliams says for many years the YMCA has been looked at as just a "gym and swim" facility, but says they are "so much more than that."

"We want to be closer to the heart of Cookeville and the community and one way we can make those connections with folks is (to promote) volunteerism among both members and non-members. It's one way that the community can give back to itself."

For more information on the campaign, you can call the Y at 528-1133.

Tech Team To Play Final Game Of The Decade

The Tennessee Tech men's basketball team resumes play after the winter break with a non-conference game against Crowley's Ridge College on Thursday at 7 p.m in Eblen Center. It will be the final game that the Golden Eagles will play in this decade.  Their next game is on Sunday ... in the year 2011.  Meanwhile, the three-game winning streak of the Tennessee Tech womens' basketball team came to an end as the University of Central Florida defended its home court taking the 79-69 decision Wednesday evening. Three Golden Eagles reached double figures in scoring with Brittany Darling leading the way with 15.

Cruise To Serve As Hospital Foundation Fundraiser

Ships ‘n Trips Travel Agency is coordinating the 4th Cruise for a Cause – a 7 night/8 day Eastern Caribbean Cruise to benefit The Foundation at Cookeville Regional Medical Center. The cruise is set to sail Easter Week of next year – April 23rd through the 30th. The Cruise will sail aboard the Norwegian Epic out of Miami, FL with ports of call at St. Maarten, St. Thomas and Nassau.

“This cruise is for everyone – especially friends of the hospital to join hospital staff, auxiliary members, physicians and board members for a fun filled week,” stated Gary Curto, Executive of Hospital Foundation. “This is a great way to have fun, meet new people and support the various hospital patient care programs such as the Cancer Care Fund and Caring Hands Fund”, continued Curto.

The various cruises offered by Ships n’ Trip have raised more than $6,000 with the Foundation receiving a rebate of every fare plus a full fare rebate for every 15 people sailing. If they fill the 40 cabins that they have reserved, the Foundation could receive more than $7,500. Cost of the Cruise ranges from $1,136 per person for an inside cabin up to $1,416 for a balcony cabin. Prices are based on double occupancy and include cruise, port charges, taxes and fuel surcharges. Not included are airfare, transfers and insurance. A $350 deposit is due to hold the space with the balance due by March 15, 2011. For additional information, call 528-7245.

Cookeville Billboards Get Internet Attention

The website for a group called the National Organization For Marriage says a grassroots effort to promote the biblical view of "Marriage God's Way" has materialized into the form of two billboards in Putnam County. The billboards, produced by Roland Advertising, depict a young man and woman along with the words: "Man + Woman = Marriage God's Way" in reference to Genesis 2:24 from the Bible. The first, located on Highway 111 south of Interstate 40, went up in September. A second billboard went up on I-40, westbound before Exit 290, in October.  Writer Amy Davis says that though the message is controversial, supporters of the sign, who have no official name for their group, say it is needed around their region and beyond. They hope news of the billboard will spread and become a nationwide effort among fellow advocates of marriage between one man and one woman. One sign supporter, Kerry Duke, who also serves as dean at Tennessee Bible College in Cookeville, said the group purposely avoided a reference to "traditional marriage" in the billboard. He said, "The will of God -- not tradition -- is the basis for saying that marriage should be between people of the opposite sex,"

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Local Jobless Rate Goes Up Again

The ending of 2010 is not bringing any positive news on the jobs front. The latest figures from the Tennessee Department of Labor show Putnam County's unemployment rate up two-tenths of a point. It now stands at 8.7 percent. Out of a labor force of 36,080 people, officials say that more than 3,100 of them were out of work in November. Meanwhile, the jobless rate was 9.9 percent in Overton County; 10.3 percent in Jackson County and a full twelve percent in White County. Officials say that while the latest numbers are somewhat discouraging, they are still better than the unemployment rate from one year ago.

Drug Charges Brought In Several Cases

Cookeville police have been busy over the past several days bringing drug charges against several individuals in a number of cases -- including one in which a man was accused of trying to sell pills to someone pumping gas at a local convenience store. The suspect also allegedly tried to sell the pills to the store clerk.  23-year-old Tyson Craig Biddle of Livingston will be in court January 24th. Meanwhile, police say 40-year-old Rachel Ann Isbell of Smithville was charged after they investigated a complaint about drug sales in a local parking lot;  and, in separate cases, two people arrested on drug possession charges were also cited for trying to bring drugs into the jail. They were identified as 20-year-old Corey Ashton Bailey of Baxter and 41-year-old Tammy Denson of Cookeville.

TSSAA Calls Cookeville Event A Success

TSSAA Executive Director Bernard Childress says Cookeville has been well received as site for the annual football championship games. According to the Cookeville Herald-Citizen, Childress said he's had no negative comments from those at the games Dec. 2-4 at Tucker Stadium at Tennessee Tech. The paper reported that 22,981 tickets were sold, up 6.6 percent over last year when the games also were in Cookeville. The TSSAA Board of Control has granted a two-year extension to Cookeville to host the games through 2012. Next year's games are Dec. 1-3. Childress said he was impressed by the amount of volunteer support for the games in the Cookeville area.

Special Promotions At Several Upcoming Games

Special promotions are in store during the next two months for Tennessee Tech basketball fans as the Athletics Department hosts three more “county” nights, as well as Basketball Alumni Night, Pack The House Night and a handful of other events surrounding Golden Eagle games in Eblen Center. Tech has already hosted White County Night, and will also entertain fans from Jackson, Putnam and Overton Counties. There are special dates planned for youth who participate in Vision and Upward Basketball leagues, as well as Military Appreciation Night and Think Pink for breast cancer awareness. The first event comes this Sunday afternoon (Jan. 2), when Tech hosts the second “Church Bulletin Day” at Eblen Center. Fans can purchase tickets to the doubleheader for just one dollar each just by presenting a church bulletin (limit four per bulletin). The women’s team hosts St. Louis University at 2 p.m., followed the men’s game against Bluefield College at 4 p.m.

New Franchise Restaurant Opens In Cookeville

What is described as "the hottest little burrito shop in Nashville" is now officially open in Cookeville, after a ribbon cutting Tuesday by the Cookeville Putnam County Chamber of Commerce and Blue Coast Burrito Franchisee, Tony Oliphant. The restaurant occupies the old Pizza Hut location on South Jefferson Avenue in a new building that provides seating for 120 customers including a covered patio. Tony Oliphant and his partners say they were drawn to the concept because "there is nothing like it in the area.”  He says the community has fully embraced Blue Coast Burrito since it first opened on November 18th -- with many patrons frequenting the restaurant several times per week. Blue Coast Burrito offers burritos, tacos, fish tacos, freshly-made salads, and signature fruit tea. In addition to dining in, this location will also feature curbside service.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Flu Season Brings New Hospital Policy

The holiday season has brought a new policy to Cookeville Regional Medical Center. The hospital is now restricting anyone under the age of 16 from being a visitor. They say people in that age group are more likely to spread the flu virus. The exception will be the brothers and sisters of newborns who are visiting the nursery area of the hospital.  Hospital officials say they recorded their first flu case back in September, but have now decided to follow a recommendation from the Centers For Disease Control and prohibit children and teenagers from visiting the hospital.  Even adults, they say, who exhibit flu-like symptoms -- including a cough, sore throat and fever -- will be asked to wear a mask upon entering the hospital. And patients who are admitted to the hospital with flu-like symptoms will be placed in isolation, with staff and visitors to their rooms being required to wear a mask. The restrictions are expected to stay in place until at least March or April of next year.

Burglar Pillages Family Christmas Gifts

Most of us won't open our Christmas presents until Saturday, but Cookeville police say at least one burglar this week got an early start -- breaking into a home and unwrapping several presents that the family had purchased, taking some, but leaving others.  It happened at a home on Whitson Avenue sometime between 7 am and noon.  Police say that while the thief apparently did not want all of the presents, he did proceed to a child's bedroom and steal fifty dollars from a piggy bank.  Detective Tim Terry is investigating.

Probation Violator Given Jail Sentence

He'll get to spend Christmas at home, but a Cookeville man will have to report to jail next month to begin serving a six-month sentence for violating his probation on a drug charge.  Authorities say 20-year-old Ryan S. Loftis pleaded guilty to the charges against him this week.  He had been captured after authorities were called to a report of a domestic disturbance at an apartment complex on Gainesboro Grade.  And while they were not there specifically to arrest him, Loftis apparently thought they were and reportedly jumped out of a third floor window in an attempt to get away.  He broke his arm in the process, and was arrested anyway. In addition to the jail time, he was given a suspended sentence for evading arrest and possession of marijuana.

Veterans Hall Scheduled To Be Open On Christmas

Officials with the Putnam County Veterans Hall say they plan to be open on Christmas Day between the hours of noon and three pm.  The point is to give people a chance to bring their out-of-town guests and visiting family members to the hall, so they can view exhibits. The Veterans Hall is now located in the basement of the Putnam County Clerk's office at 121 South Dixie Avenue. It contains what are described as "authentic uniforms and memorabilia from the Civil War, World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan." Admission is free. For more information, you can call 520-0042.

Shoplifters Continue To Be Caught In Cookeville

Police say they don't expect a recent increase in the reports of shoplifting to settle back down any time before the hoildays are over -- if then. But they say local stores are serious when it comes to prosecuting people who try to steal from them.  A Jackson County teenager was cited after he allegedly went into a dressing room at the Kohl's store -- put on several items of clothing -- and then put his own clothes back on over the top of the stolen merchandise.  Store employees noticed the unusual bulges and stopped the 16-year-old, who had been trying to get away with some $500 worth of merchandise.  Meanwhile, in separate incidents, a 32-year-old Gainesboro man was cited for shoplifting a camera from the K-Mart store, a 21-year-old Cookeville woman was caught trying to steal DVDs from Kroger; and a 22-year-old Byrdstown man was stopped for trying to steal a jacket from JC Penney.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Dream of "White Christmas" Could Come True

There's more detail today on the possibility of a white Christmas in the Cookeville area.  Forecasters at the National Weather Service office in Nashville are keeping a close eye on a storm system that is moving this way. Bobby Boyd, a meteorologist with the weather service, says parts of middle Tennessee could get one to two inches of snow from that system, but he says areas around Cookeville, especially those on the Cumberland Plateau could see up to four inches of snow from the storm, which is expected to begin as rainfall on Friday and turn over to snow showers on Christmas Day with what forecasters are calling "significant accumulation."

Thief Steals "Free" Continental Breakfast

A reminder today from local hotel owners that the "free" continental breakfast they provide is intended for people staying in the hotel -- not for just anyone who drops by.  Employees of the Country Inn and Suites motel told Cookeville police this week that a man came into the motel and went to the free breakfast bar they provide for their guests, loaded up on food, and then left.  He even waved to the motel staff as he was leaving, but they say a check of their records indicated that he was not a guest of the motel.  The suspect was described as a white male, with a heavy build, in his mid 40s. He drove away from the scene in a Buick Century with Cumberland County tags.

T-DOT Trying To Help Holiday Travellers

Cookeville area residents who are planning a holiday trip this year should enjoy a smooth drive through Tennessee. The state Department of Transportation is once again halting all lane closure activity on interstates and state highways in anticipation of higher traffic volumes across the state.  No temporary lane closures will be allowed for construction on Tennessee roadways from 8:00 a.m. on Friday, December 24 through 8:00 a.m. on Monday, January 3.

"This is one of the busiest travel periods of the entire year and we know many Tennesseans will be hitting the roads to visit family and friends during the holidays," said TDOT Commissioner Gerald Nicely. "We want to ensure that motorists traveling in Tennessee arrive at their destinations safely and with as little disruption as possible."

Except for a few long-term closures which must remain in place for safety, all construction related closures will be suspended. Workers will also be on site in some construction zones. Drivers should obey all posted speed limits, particularly in construction areas. Slower speeds are necessary in work zones due to the temporary layout of the roadway and will be enforced. Drivers convicted of speeding through work zones where workers are present face a fine of $250 to $500, plus court fees and possible increased insurance premiums.

"Drivers can expect to see increased law enforcement on the roads throughout the holiday with a particular focus on stopping drivers who are impaired," said Governor's Highway Safety Office Director Kendell Poole. "We want everyone to have a safe holiday so remember to buckle up, drive the speed limit and don't get behind the wheel of a vehicle if you've had anything to drink."

AAA predicts holiday travel will increase nearly 4% in Tennessee this year, with more than 2 million expected to travel by automobile in the volunteer state between the Christmas and New Year's holidays. For up-to-date travel information, motorists may call 511 from any land line or cellular phone or visit http://www.tn511.com/. TDOT is also on Twitter. For statewide travel tweets follow www.twitter.com/TN511. Motorists are reminded to use all motorist information tools responsibly. Drivers should refrain from texting, tweeting or using a mobile phone while operating a vehicle. Drivers should "Know before you go!" and check traffic conditions before leaving for your destination.

Creek Clean-up Could Begin By Spring

They haven't yet decided where the money will come from, but the Putnam County commission this week did agree to have the county contribute 25 percent of the cost of cleaning debris out of two local streams that were polluted during flooding this year. And officials say that clean-up of wood piles, automobiles and other debris could begin next spring. The cost of the clean-up is estimated to be about $160,000, and county executive Kim Blaylock says the county's portion will probably come in the form of borrowed money -- a capital outlay note.  She said that Road Supervisor Randy Jones has agreed to pull $10,000 out of his department's budget to help cover the cost, but said the road department does not have the ability to pay for it all. On an 18-to-6 vote, the commissioners voted to OK the county's participation in a program whereby federal dollars would pay for 75 percent of the stream clean-up. But the motion also included a provision that the final decision on which fund the county money should come from would be determined at a later date.

Tech Athlete Nominated For National Award

Tennessee Tech Junior Zac Swansey is one of 66 NCAA basketball players in contention for the 2011 Bob Cousy award. The annual award, named for Hall of Famer and former Boston Celtic Bob Cousy, recognizes college basketball’s top point guard. Nominations were solicited from all schools across the country.

“When you look at a prestigious award like this, you take into consideration that it’s a guard award for guys that helps create opportunities for teammates,” head coach Mike Sutton said. “We’re certainly excited for Zac because that’s exactly what he does, and he’s leading the OVC in assists. I think he’s still a little rusty from the year off, but we’re excited for him because this is what we recruited him to do - be a playmaker and leader on the floor.”

Swansey leads the Golden Eagles in minutes played so far this season, having logged 277 minutes of PT on the hardwood. He has 69 points and 54 assists on the season for an average of 6.9 points per game and 5.4 assists per game. He’s also averaging 2.9 rebounds per game and is sitting with a free throw percentage of 72.7 percent.

This original list of candidates will be narrowed down to a final 20 by January 3rd, final 10 by February 3rd, and final five by March 3rd. A Hall of Fame appointed screening committee will be narrowing down the candidates from 20 to 10 to 5 prior to a Blue Ribbon Selection Committee evaluating the final five candidates and ultimately choosing the winner. Both of the Hall of Fame committee’s are made up of top college basketball personnel including media members, head coaches, Sports Information Directors and Hall of Famers. The winner of the 2011 Bob Cousy Award will be presented at the Hall of Fame’s Class Announcement on Monday April 4th in Houston as part of NCAA Final Four weekend.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Local Clergy Invited To Tax Seminar

Tennessee Tech University’s College of Business accounting department will present a no-charge seminar entitled “Financial/Tax Issues Facing Churches and clergy” from one to three pm on January 10th in the Tennessee Tech Mulitpurpose room, located in the Roaden University Center. Clergy, religious personnel, and their advisors are urged to attend.  This two-hour seminar will focus on best practices for handling ministry-related expenses, determining and documenting housing allowances, and new reporting requirements due to recent health care reform. Seating is limited at this free, public-service seminar, so you should make your reservations by calling T-T-U’s accounting department at 372-3358.

DUI Arrests Piling Up As Holidays Approach

The majority of the sobriety checkpoints won't take place until the New Year's holiday, but local law enforcement officials say they are still catching lots of allegedly drunk drivers. Authorities say eight people have been arrested in the past week, many on third or fourth offense DUI. In one case, both the driver and passenger of a car that wrecked were charged with DUI -- because the drunk passenger allegedly drove away from the scene of the accident after the first driver crashed.  Police say the third offense DUI charge was lodged against 43-year-old Clint Hester of Cookeville; while the fourth offense charge was taken out against 43-year-old Cecilia Martin Farley of Crossville.

Murder Charges Brought In Rickman Slaying

The Overton County Sheriff’s Department has now charged a 22-year-old man and his 16-year-old girlfried with first degree murder in the death of the man's grandmother.  Benjamin Junior Bowers and his teenage girlfriend were charged locally after being arrested in Gas City, Indiana, where they were initially charged with stealing the victim's car.  The juvenile female, whose name is not being released, is being held at the Putnam County Juvenile Detention Center. And Bowers is being held at the Overton County jail. According to authorities, the two are suspects in the death of 72-year-old Hassie Pearl Breeding, who was found strangled at her home on Moore Road near Rickman earlier this month. Bowers is her grandson. In addition to the murder charge, the couple is also being charged with robbery, theft, conspiracy to commit first degree murder, and felony murder. 

Men's Team Drops Conference Game To SEMO

Southeast Missouri forced Tennessee Tech to play catch-up the entire game, and the Golden Eagles never quite got over the hump. The Redhawks (3-10/2-2 OVC) won their third straight game and second Ohio Valley Conference road contest in a row, edging Tech 77-75 Tuesday night in Eblen Center. Tech's two-game win streak ended as the Golden Eagles (4-6/2-1 OVC) suffered their first conference loss of the season. Their next game will be December 30th against Crowley's Ridge College out of Arkansas. Tech will be the first NCAA Division One opponent that Crowley's Ridge will play in the history of their basketball program.

Tech Women Off To Their Best Start In 20 Years

Krystal Stirrup was 15 days old the last time the Tennessee Tech women’s basketball team roared out to an 8-2 start. Nobody else on this year’s Golden Eagle roster was even born yet. That puts into perspective just what the current squad has accomplished in the first month of the season, following a 62-48 victory over Southeast Missouri Tuesday night in Eblen Center. Tech’s win, coupled with a three-point loss by Morehead State at Austin Peay Tuesday night, puts the Golden Eagles alone in first place in the Ohio Valley Conference with a 3-0 mark. This time it was a balanced attack and tenacious work on the boards that led to the win. Tech held a 48-31 margin in rebounds, including 22 on the offensive glass. SEMO was held to just five offensive rebounds. It led to a 21-1 difference for Tech in second-chance points. Tech’s fourth win in a row upped its record to 8-2 overall and 3-0 in Ohio Valley Conference play. The last time Tech opened with that record was in the 1989-90 season.  Southeast Missouri, suffering its eighth consecutive road loss, slipped to 4-8 overall and 1-3 within the league.

For the second consecutive game, juniors Tacarra Hayes and Brittany Darling led the way, each coming within one rebound of notching double-doubles. Hayes had 13 points and nine rebounds, and also dished out four assists. Darling added 13 points and nine rebounds, and blocked two shots. Freshman Molly Heady (photo above) and junior Rachel Glidden also scored in double figures for Tech to provide a balanced attack. Heady finished with 13 points on 6-for-9 shooting while Glidden had 10 points. Point guard Briana Jordan had four points and four steals. It was a satisfying victory for Tech, which had dropped six of the last seven to the Redhawks including two of the last three in Eblen Center. Next on the agenda for the team is a brief holiday break, followed by two non-conference games. Tech visits Central Florida on Wednesday, Dec. 29, for a 3:30 (CT) p.m. contest against the Knights. The Golden Eagles are back in Eblen Center on Sunday, Jan. 2, to host St. Louis at 2 p.m. in the first game of an afternoon doubleheader.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Teens Accused Of Tossing Rocks From Overpass

Several local teenagers have made Santa's naughty list this holiday season. Cookeville police say two girls and two boys have been accused of tossing items off a railroad overpass, aiming at vehicles on the street below. And, in a separate case, two teenagers are accused of spray painting graffiti at Avery Trace School. Police say they arrested the 14- and 15-year-old juveniles on Friday night after an investigation which began when a motorist reported that something hit his windshield and broke it as he drove on West Spring Street, near Carr Avenue. The man told authorities that he saw someone near the railroad overpass toss something at his vehicle. Two similar incidents were reported on Willow Avenue, where the railroad bridge comes across that road, including one in which a man reported that a large rock had been tossed off the bridge and almost hit his car.  Police found three teenage girls walking in the area and they allegedly confessed when questioned about the incident. Authorities say they also implicated two teenage boys who had been with them.  And they say one of those boys is also a suspect in the graffiti incident at the Middle School.

White Christmas Possible In Cookeville

It's not as common as you might think in the Cookeville area, but forecasters say there's about a 50-50 chance of a White Christmas this year. They say rain showers are likely on Friday and then -- after midnight that night-- when the temperatures drop into 20s, that rain could turn into snowfall with snow showers are predicted as "likely" on Christmas Day. They put the chance of snow right now at 60 percent. Based on historical data, Tennessee generally has less than a twenty percent chance of a White Christmas in any given year.

Holiday Schedule Means Trash May Pile Up

Putnam County residents may want to make a note of the fact that any trash from their holiday gift-giving will have to stay at the house until Monday.  Officials with the Putnam County solid waste department have announced that the collection centers located around the county will be closed on Friday, Christmas Eve, as well as Saturday, which is Christmas Day.  They will remain closed, as usual, on Sunday, the day after Christmas, and will re-open to begin collecting all of the holiday debris on Monday, December 27th.  Officials say they are encouraging local residents to separate their holiday trash as much as possible, keeping cardboard, plastic, paper and other recyclables out of the everyday non-recyclable material that gets hauled to a landfill.

Hayes, Darling Garner OVC Weekly Honors

Tennessee Tech junior guard Tacarra Hayes has been voted the Ohio Valley Conference Player of the Week and her teammate, junior center Brittany Darling, has been voted the Newcomer of the Week, for their roles in keeping Tennessee Tech undefeated in OVC play. The honor was announced Monday by the OVC office. A guard out of Lebanon, Ky., this is the fourth time Hayes has been named the OVC Player of the Week and second time this season. Against Eastern Illinois, Hayes recorded her fourth career double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Hayes also dished out six helpers and added two steals. She shot 40 percent from the field connecting on 6-of-15 shots and 70 percent from the line in going 7-of-10. A transfer student out of Owens (Ohio) Community College, this is the second consecutive week Darling has won the OVC Newcomer of the Week award.  Against EIU, Darling posted her second straight double-double with 14 points and 14 rebounds, both of which were career-highs. She went 6-of-14 from the field for a 42.9 shooting percentage, as well.

Tech Basketball Teams Back In Action

Having moved into the No. 2 spot in conference standings after their one-point victory over Eastern Illinois Sunday, the Tennessee Tech Golden Eagle men's basketball team will be looking for its third straight OVC victory when it hosts the Redhawks of Southeast Missouri Tuesday night. The opening tip is schedule for 7:30 p.m. Tech is currently riding a two-game win streak, having hung a 71-point margin of victory on Hiwassee College last Thursday. The team owns a 4-5 overall record. Meanwhile, the Tennessee Tech women's cagers will look to improve to 3-0 in OVC play Tuesday night as they host the Southeast Missouri Redhawks, in Eblen Center. Tech (7-2) is currently 2-0 in conference play with wins against Jacksonville State (79-64) and Eastern Illinois (65-58). The last time Tech started its conference schedule 3-0 was in the 2005-06 season when Tech defeated Austin Peay, Eastern Illinois and Southeast Missouri. Opening tip for the women's game is set for 5:30 p.m. Tickets are available for Tuesday's game either online or at the TTU Athletics Ticket Office in Eblen Center, or by calling (931) 372-3940.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

County Commission To Consider Stream Cleanup

The Putnam County commission meets Monday night to decide whether or not the county should allocate $37,500 as part of an effort to remove debris that was left in local streams this year as a result of flooding. Officials say that debris includes things like automobiles, trailers and piles of wood. Some commissioners say the cost of the clean-up should be paid for by the state of Tennessee, at least in part because the streams affected are considered part of "waterways of Tennessee." A two-mile long section of a stream that runs from the Gainesboro Grade to Plunk Whitson Road is part of the work. County executive Kim Blaylock told commissioners last week that the clean-up work needs to be done, regardless of who pays for the work because if the debris remains, the potential for serious flooding remains. If they approve their local match, the county would receive federal funds for the project from the Emergency Watershed Protection or EWP program. Officials say that all of the property owners along the streams would also have to agree to the work, since they are mostly located on private property.

Drive Provides Books To Area Children

During their holiday break from school, almost 400 local children will have a new book to read thanks to a Make a Difference Day project coordinated through Tennessee Tech University's Service Center and carried out by TTU students, faculty and staff. The almost-semester-long drive gathered books for children at Jere Whitson Elementary School, Prescott Middle School and Cookeville High School.

"As more and more classes, departments, local churches and businesses got involved, the book drive grew and grew until we decided to extend it through the end of the semester, hoping to collect enough that each child could take home a book," said Michelle Huddleston, TTU service coordinator.

The center met that goal and the first Pre-K tour to deliver books to Jere Whitson featured famous readers, including TTU President Bob Bell.

"We took Bob the Builder and Bob the TTU President, as we put it to the kids," said Huddleston. "Dr. Bell really enjoyed getting to read to the kids and they loved it. They actually wanted him to keep reading more books to them. We took six volunteers that day including TTU administrators, students and one AmeriCorps VISTA member."

Local Coach Nominated For "Peace" Award

Tennessee Tech basketball coach Mike Sutton was one of six coaches nominated this year for the 2010 United Nations NGO Positive Peace Awards. Officials say this award, viewed as a 21st century peace prize, honors and recognizes individuals, businesses, athletes, coaches, sports teams, entertainers and schools around the world for their positive contributions. Nominations were made by non-profit organizations that have benefitted from the unselfish financial and endorsement involvement of coaches around the world. Will Partin of G.O. Ministries nominated Sutton following Tech's participation in a pre-season foreign goodwill tour in the Dominican Republic.

Christmas Cheer Spread By Student Athletes

The Tennessee Tech women's basketball team took some time off the court last week to spread some Christmas cheer with the kids at the Mustard Seed Ranch Christmas party. The Mustard Seed Ranch is described as "an interdenominational ministry providing a permanent, loving home environment for children who need a chance." The women's team played games with the kids including a pick up basketball game. The team also ate a Christmas dinner and ended the night by giving presents to all the kids. This event was part of Tennessee Tech's ongoing mission to include Tech athletes through CHAMPS in community service projects throughout the area.

December Ambassador Named At Tech

Judy Maynard, a custodian at Tennessee Tech University, has been named the school's Ambassador of the Month for December. Sonya Haney, who nominated Maynard for the award, says that Manyard is always willing to help with a smile. Maynard has been with the university since November 2008. Ambassador nomination forms are available from TTU's Human Resource Services or by visiting the Tech website at www.tntech.edu/hr.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Rail Trail Ready To Move Forward

The Tennessee Central Heritage Rail Trail Authority will not have to make as many upgrades as first thought. According to the Cookeville Herald-Citizen, authority officials say they will not be responsible for making $1.5 million in crossing upgrades because of a change in state guidelines. They said they will still need to upgrade the 49 road crossings with "passive" railroad devices, such as pavement markers, stop signs and yield signs. The Nashville and Eastern Railroad Authority has also now signed off on their agreements for the trail.

Court Date Set For Alleged Shoplifter

A January 10th court date has been set for an Overton County woman, accused of shoplifting nearly $300 worth of clothing from the Kohl's store in Cookeville. Authorities say when they caught up to 39-year-old Cynthia Denise White of Livingston, they found her in possession of five shirts, two baby outfits and three pair of underwear.  Police also allege that she had about $450 in cash on her person and they claim they found four Xanax pills on her.  White was cited for simple possession of drugs and for shoplifting. 

Tech Resumes OVC Play At Home On Sunday

Fresh off their fourth road win of the season, the Tennessee Tech women's cagers return to conference action Sunday, as they host the Eastern Illinois Panthers.  Tech (6-2) is currently 1-0 in conference play with its lone game coming at Jacksonville State in which TTU took the 79-64 decision. EIU enters the weekend owner of a 5-5 record and is 2-0 in OVC play with wins over Tennessee State and Austin Peay. The Panthers were the top ranked team in the OVC pre-season poll and Golden Eagles are looking forward to the task ahead them.

"I think our team is ready for the challenge," head coach Sytia Messer said. "This game will tell us where we stand in the conference."

Since the 1996-97 season, Tennessee Tech has compiled a 20-12 record against Eastern Illinois, but is looking for its first win against the Panthers since the 2005-06 season. Opening tip between the Golden Eagles and the Panthers is set for 1:00 p.m.

Tech Prof Advocates For Live Christmas Tree

A Tennessee Tech professor says Cookeville area residents should consider selecting a Christmas tree from a nursery this year with its root ball intact. Dr. Douglas Airhart, a professor of horticulture, says you can then replant the tree in your yard after the holidays. According to Airhart, there are many beautiful choices for live Christmas trees. He says that selecting a live tree makes economical sense, too, because you can add your tree choice to your landscape to enhance the value of your property. Pines, spruces and firs are traditionally selected as cut Christmas trees for shape, color and ability to hold ornaments. But firs cannot survive our summer heat and are not good landscaping choices. Some non-traditional choices might work for you, especially if you want to enhance your landscape. Airhart suggests these trees might be workable choices: arborvitae, false cypress, Japanese black pine, deodar cedar, blue atlas cedar, Arizona cypress, Leyland cypress, Fat Albert or Hoops Colorado spruce.  Learn more about the care of live Christmas trees and other trees at the website TLC for Trees.

Putnam Teacher Earns National Board Certification

The state Department of Education says a Putnam County teacher is among 70 in Tennessee this year to have earned National Board Certification. Officials say that, to date, 483 Tennessee teachers have undergone a stringent, voluntary process to meet National Board Certification requirements. Allison Dudney earned the certification for Early Childhood Education. She is now one of eight nationally certified teachers in the Putnam County school system.  Candidates undergo a 10-part evaluation process, which can take between one and three years to complete. Evaluations are specific to each teacher’s discipline and include performance assessments of teaching strategies and written exercises to assess subject knowledge. To be eligible, a teacher must be a college graduate with a professional teaching license and have at least three years experience in the classroom.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

School Officials Re-Schedule Exams

The weather situation this week is playing havoc with the originally scheduled testing of students in the county school system. Officials say that adjustments have had to be made to the end of the semester review and exam schedules for high school courses. What that means is that the semester review exam for all high school classes will now be held on Tuesday, January 4th. Additional exams for morning and afternoon classes will be held on Wednesday and Thursday of the fi rst week back in January, with the official start of "spring" semester and the third nine weeks grading period beginning on Friday, January 7th. School officials say Fall Early Graduates will still need to take semester exams as scheduled, although special circumstances will be considered by request on an individual basis by school administrators. Officials say Friday will remain a day with a 10 am dismissal -- if schools are open at all. And they say further adjustments will be made and announced in the event school closures occur during the week of January 4, 2011. Reports Cards for the 2nd Nine Weeks grading period and the Fall 2010 Semester will be distributed on Tuesday, January 11, 2011, but again, that date is subject to change in the event school closures are necessary during the week of January 4th.

Judge Dismisses Part Of Election Lawsuit

A federal judge says monetary damages will not be a part of the resolution to a lawsuit, which claims that the Republican members of the Putnam County Election Commission -- and other election commissions statewide -- unfairly dismissed their administrators because of party affiliation.  Judge Thomas Wiseman says that election commission members are state officials, and -- as such -- are not allowed to be sued for monetary damages in their official capacities.  He also ruled that the commissioners could not be sued as individuals because they are covered by what's called "qualified immunity."  However, the judge said other issues must still be decided in the lawsuit -- including whether those administrators who were let go should get their jobs back. Meanwhile, a second lawsuit which seeks to determine whether the state or the county will be paying for the defense of the federal suit is scheduled to be heard in Putnam County Chancery Court next month.

Council To Consider Hospital Deal

The Cookeville city council Thursday will consider approval of an agreement, whereby Cookeville Regional Medical Center would pay for the widening of Seventh Street from Willow Avenue to Peachtree.  City officials say that the hospital administration agreed to pay for that road project in return for an agreement that its annual in-lieu of taxes payment for the current fiscal year not be increased. The road project is expected to cost about $650,000, and will include new sidewalks and decorative street lighting.  Hospital officials are also asking the council to OK a $30 million dollar bond issue.  Part of that money will be used to add six additional operating rooms.

Former Monterey Police Chief Sentenced

A former police chief in Monterey has been given a four-year prison sentence and has been ordered to repay nearly $30,000 that he stole from the town.  Tim Murphy had asked for pre-trial diversion after pleading guilty to charges of theft and official misconduct back in September.  District Attorney Randy York said he opposed diversion for Murphy, believing that jail time was necessary to restore trust in the system. Murphy will reportedly serve his jail time in Cumberland County. Murphy allegedly used the money he stole from the town to "pay bills."

Police Cite Five People For Shoplifting

Shoplifting citations have been issued against five Cookeville area residents involved in allegedly trying to steal from several local stores. According to police reports, 25-year-old Danny Buck of Bloomington Springs tried to take a pair of work boots from the Walmart store; 40-year-old Kristi Gail Clinton tried to steal a pair of boots from JC Penney; and 23-year-old Janna Nichols of Cookeville tried to steal shirts and other clothing from JC Penney.  Meanwhile, in a separate case, police charged 23-year-old Roger Lynn Bumbalough of Kacie Avenue and 34-year-old Coreene Fitzsimmons of Spurlock Hollow Road after the two allegedly went through Walmart and picked out identical products to the ones purchased by an apparent accomplice.  Store officials say the accomplice paid for her items and then gave the receipt to the couple, who then attempted to leave the store by claiming to have already paid for their stuff.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

TennCare Fraud Charge For White County Man

A White County man and a couple from Macon County are charged in separate cases involving TennCare fraud. The Office of Inspector General today announced the arrests. In Macon County, David Bowles, 41, and his wife Ethel, 40 both of Lafayette, are each charged with one count of TennCare fraud. Both are accused of using TennCare to obtain a prescription for the painkiller Hydrocodone, while planning to sell a portion of the pills. In Warren County, Daniel Christopher Burgess, 21, of Sparta, is charged in an indictment with one count of TennCare fraud for obtaining medical benefits through TennCare by fraudulent means.

"People who are committing TennCare fraud are taking something they're not entitled to, and they're taking it from all the taxpayers of Tennessee," said Inspector General Deborah Y. Faulkner. General Faulkner added, "If you commit fraud against the TennCare program, we will arrest and prosecute you for it."

The TennCare fraud charges against all three could result in a two year sentence, if convicted. District Attorney General Tom P. Thompson, Jr. will prosecute the Macon County Cases. District Attorney General Lisa S. Zavogiannis will prosecute the Warren County Case. The OIG, which is separate from TennCare, began full operation in February 2005 and has investigated cases leading to over $2.5 million paid in restitution and recoupment to TennCare, with a total estimated cost avoidance of over $171 million for the TennCare program, according to latest figures. To date, over 1,300 people have been charged with TennCare fraud.  Through the OIG Cash for Tips Program established by the Legislature, Tennesseans can get cash rewards for TennCare fraud tips that lead to convictions. Anyone can report suspected TennCare fraud by calling 1-800-433-3982 toll-free from anywhere in Tennessee, or log on to www.tn.gov/tnoig and follow the prompts that read "Report TennCare Fraud."

Substitute Teacher Dismissed For Slapping

The Putnam County school system will no longer be using a substitute teacher, accused of slapping a sixth grade student last week. Officials say the incident occurred at Prescott Central Middle School when the substitute allegedly hit the student in the neck and shoulder area "to make him stop humming in class."  The student told another teacher about the incident and his parents later asked for a police investigation.  When questioned, the substitute reportedly denied "slapping" the student, saying he had "just sort of patted him on the shoulder."  But schools director Dr. Kathleen Airhart says that such physical contact is not allowed and the substitute, who is a retired teacher from another county,  will no longer be used by the school system.  Authorities say, in spite of the police report, any criminal charges would have to be taken out by the alleged victim.

Suspects In Overton County Murder Arrested

A 22-year-old man and his 16-year-old girlfriend, both from Overton County, are being questioned by the TBI after they were arrested in Indiana this week for the theft of an automobile said to have been owned by a murder victim in the Rickman community. State and local police in Indiana were informed by Tennessee authorities that 22-year-old Benjamin Junior Bowers and his teenager girlfriend might be found with the girlfriend's relatives living in Gas City, Indiana.  According to officials, 73-year-old Hassie Pearl Breeding, of Moore Road in the Rickman community, was strangled to death with some type of heavy cord. The crime apparently occurred on Saturday night, and Ms. Breeding was found dead by her daughter. Officials say Bowers is the grandson of the victim and had been living in the home, but they are saying little else about their investigation at this point.

Hospital History Available

How the people of Cookeville helped their public hospital navigate the often-stormy political and financial waters of change in health care is a story as full of intrigue, suspense, heartache and joy as any other major event in local history.


And now there’s a book chronicling that sometimes turbulent history. The People’s Hospital: A History of Cookeville Regional Medical Center, 1950-2010 traces the origins of the city-owned hospital, which began as a 15-bed private clinic near the town square in 1921, to its status today as a regional referral center.

“The transformation in health care in this country since World War II is mind-boggling,” said local author Laura Clemons, who was commissioned by The Foundation at CRMC to research and write a history of the hospital to be released in time for its 60th anniversary this December. “It’s really nothing short of a revolution, and it played out in every large city and many rural areas like ours throughout the country, changing our lives in numerous ways.”

Telling the story of a hospital is a rare form of local history, and yet hospitals play a huge role in the life of any community. That’s especially true when the hospital is public, said Clemons, because its origins and fate are inextricably linked to the community that owns it.

“I took on this project in part because it’s an inherently interesting topic – it’s about life and death,” Clemons said. “But it was also a way to learn more about Cookeville’s history. To understand how we came to have a hospital in the first place meant understanding what the city was like in the mid-1900s, when the radical shift in health care began.

“When the people of Cookeville decided to build and operate their own hospital in the late 1940s, knowingly or not, they laid the groundwork for huge change in this city,” she said. “I believe the case can be made that that decision rivals only the one that resulted in Tennessee Tech University. Those two sectors of society – health care and higher education – have since become industries, and they’ve helped make Cookeville the city it is today.”

Cookeville bought its first hospital from the surgeon who built it, William Howard, in 1927, because the hospital was on the verge of bankrupting its founder. From then until 1950, the city contracted with nurses to run the hospital. It wasn’t until construction began on its replacement, Cookeville General on the west side of town, that the city hired a professional trained in hospital administration. Since then, 17 men and women have served as administrators.

“I came to this story objectively; I didn’t know much about hospitals or health care before beginning the research,” said Clemons. “So a lot of things surprised me. The fact that the first hospital in Cookeville was located on Broad Street -- and was used from 1921 to 1950 – surprised me. The fact that it wasn’t the first hospital in Putnam County, given Cookeville’s population and its position as the county seat -- surprised me. The first hospital here was a private facility, St. Raphael Mission in Monterey, which served patients from 1914 to 1943.

“But I think what surprised me most was the fact that history really does repeat itself,” she said. “The fate of the hospital has been subject to two major public discussions that culminated in multiple referendums. In the 1940s, it took two referendums for the residents to decide whether to build Cookeville General in the first place. And in the 1990s, it took three referendums for residents to decide whether to maintain ownership of the hospital or sell or lease it. The debate over the hospital has often been contentious, but when it’s viewed over a continuum – over the events of the past 60-plus years – it’s easier to understand why there were differing opinions. A lot was at stake.”

From 2008 to mid-2010, Clemons conducted well over 100 interviews with 45 Cookevillians associated with the hospital and combed through more than 50 written sources, including 64 years’ worth of newspaper coverage of the hospital by the Putnam County Herald and its successor, the Herald-Citizen. From the beginning, the project was meant not only to illuminate an important portion of Cookeville’s history, but to do it quickly, while there were members of the original Cookeville General staff still living.

"Our Foundation Board of Directors realized how easy it is to ‘lose’ the history of an institution,” said Gary Curto, executive director of the Foundation. “When the last of the original seven physicians, Dr. J.T. DeBerry, passed away in 2007, the board members agreed that the time had come to start gathering our history, before more of it was lost.”

The resulting book, a hardcover 128-page edition, chronicles the growth of the hospital since the 1920s and contains more than 250 photographs. The People’s Hospital is on sale at the CRMC Auxiliary Gift Shop, located in the lobby of the North Patient Tower. Cost is $25. Gift Shop hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday, and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Fridays. For more information, call The Foundation at CRMC at 931-783-2037.

Cookeville Police To Conduct Sobriety Checkpoint

The Cookeville Police Department Traffic Division will be conducting a Sobriety Checkpoint on East Spring Street on Friday, December 17, 2010. Sgt. James Harris of the division says that the Cookeville Police Department encourages everyone to drive responsibly, and do not operate a vehicle if alcohol has been consumed. If alcohol will be consumed, plan ahead of time to have a designated driver. And Harris says, especially with the weather this week, to "drive safely and buckle your seatbelt."

Cookeville Man Named To Financial Literacy Board

The Tennessee Financial Literacy Commission has elected Cookeville resident Garry McNabb to serve as its secretary. Mr. McNabb will handle duties delegated by the commission’s board of directors and will serve on the commission’s executive committee.

“I am very pleased to be serving on the Tennessee Financial Literacy Commission with Garry McNabb,” said state Treasurer David H. Lillard Jr., the commission’s chairman. “Mr. McNabb has a strong track record of supporting and developing financial literacy programs in his community. I know he will provide a lot of ideas and energy as we develop new statewide initiatives to raise awareness about financial literacy in Tennessee.”

McNabb is the chief executive officer of Cash Express and First Cash Express and he is also a partner in the accounting firm of Hugh E. Bailey and Associates. Cash Express provides free instructional literature to schools to teach children about money, including a popular series of coloring books. McNabb also sponsored and helped develop a curriculum used by Tennessee Tech to train middle and high school teachers in the Upper Cumberland region on how to teach students about financial literacy. McNabb holds a bachelors degree from Tennessee Tech. The Tennessee Financial Literacy Commission was established by the General Assembly this year to raise financial literacy among the state’s residents. Mr. McNabb was elected secretary during the commission’s first organizational meeting, which was held last week.

Texting Soon Available For Local Emergencies

Cookeville area residents may soon have a faster way to learn about potential emergency situations in the area. The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, or TEMA as its called, has adopted an online messaging service to enhance its ability to provide public warnings in a timely fashion. Officials say they will be using the free online secure messaging service Nixle. They say alerts can be targeted to recipients in specific geographic areas. Nixle, a community information service, will allow TEMA to create and publish messages to be delivered to subscribed residents instantly via cell phone with text messages and/or e-mail on a hand-held device. Officials say the service is reliable and free for TEMA to use. Nixle is similar, they say, to other web-based public-to-public communications tools, but offers a level of security needed for public warnings and emergency information messages.Residents can begin receiving pertinent TEMA information via text message, e-mail or the website by registering at http://www.nixle.com/. There is no spam and no hidden cost to subscribers, although standard text messaging rates do apply.

Cookeville Residents Asked To Buy Local Trees

The Tennessee Department of Agriculture -- as part of its Pick Tennessee Products campaign -- is urging Cookeville area residents to purchase their live Christmas trees from a local grower. The Ag Department says there are at least four locations in Putnam County where you can get a tree, including Fasco Service, Inc. at 4113 Hwy 70 East; Four D Farms at 617 Peach Orchard Road, the Mark 4 Christmas Tree Farm at 535 Kinniard Rd, and Thousand Pines Christmas Tree Farm, located at 6985 Thomas Twin Oaks Road. The local growers offer varieties of spruce, fir and pine trees, which you can choose and cut yourself .. or purchase balled in burlap. You may want to call in advance to check on availability and exact directions to the farms.

Putnam County Habitat Chapter Celebrates

Clay Brooks looks out from the door of his new home.
The Putnam County chapter Habitat for Humanity was part of a celebration yesterday to recognize a milestone for the Habitat organization. Officials say they have repaired or built 400,000 homes since 1976. Putnam County's Habitat chapter has been a part of the global effort. Since 1996, Putnam County Habitat has built 56 houses and is now building EarthCraft certified homes to provide even more affordable homes for families in need in the community. Habitat's local executive director Pam Ealey said, “Our Habitat Affiliate is continuing its efforts to help families in need of decent, affordable housing. With continued support of our sponsors and volunteers, we’ll continue to address affordable housing needs in Putnam County.” She says the Brooks family, the most recent recipient of a Habitat home, is expected to move in to their new house by Christmas.

Road Conditions Continue To Be Hazardous

It may not seem possible, but Cookeville-area road crews say that in some places, the road conditions today are worse than they were yesterday. The culprit is the temperature, which hasn't been above freezing since the snow began on Sunday. While crews with the city, county and state have spent much of the past two days scraping and salting the roads, especially the major thoroughfares, subfreezing temperatures cause the melting snow to re-freeze as ice, which can be much more dangerous to drive on. Most of the wrecks reported to local law enforcement agencies have been fender benders because most people are using caution and slowing down. But officials say their best advice today continues to be for people to stay off the roads if they don't have to be out. Officials are hoping a warm-up predicted for tomorrow will improve conditions substantially.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Snow Causes Wrecks, Cancellations

The final week of school in Putnam County before the Christmas break will be shorter than usual -- if students are able to attend classes at all. School officials made the decision early Sunday afternoon to call off classes for Monday, and while they make the decisions on a day-to-day basis, the forecast is such that it's unlikely that the back roads which some county school buses travel on will be clear before midweek.  Today, the Cookeville District of the Tennessee Highway Patrol and other local law enforcement agencies are advising against unnecessary travel. The THP says they worked dozens of accidents across the region during the worst of the snowfall on Sunday.

Sparta Couple Charged With Initiion Of Meth

Two White County residents are facing charges of inititating the manufacture of methamphetamine after a Cookeville police officer allegedly found items used for making meth during a search which followed a traffic stop on Highway 111.  Officer Josh Ward claims he found digital scales and a substance he believed to be marijuana when he searched a passenger's purse. And he claims that a further search of the vehicle turned up iodine, phosphorous and other items common to the manufacture of meth.  The two suspects in the case were identified as 30-year-old Rachael Nichole Whittenburg and 46-year-old Bobby Wayne Centers of Sparta. They'll be in court on the charges January 3rd.

Mississippi Man Accused Of Soliciting "Minor"

January 24th is the scheduled court date for a Mississippi man, indicted by the Putnam County grand jury on four counts of exploitation of a minor by electronic means.  Authorities say 32-year-old Jason Mattox is also charged with three counts of solicitation of a minor. Police claim that Mattox sent sexually explict images over the Internet to a person he believed to be a local teenager, but who was, in fact, a Cookeville police officer working undercover. He is one of several individuals who have been under investigation by local uathorities for the past several months.  Mattox was arrested in Mississippi, and authorities had him extradited here to face the charges.  His bond was set at $10,000 pending his court date next month.

Tech BKB Team Schedules Game At Livingston

Tennessee Tech has added a game to the men’s basketball schedule, replacing a contest that was postponed a couple of weeks back. The Golden Eagles are scheduled to host Hiwassee College on Thursday in a game to be played at Livingston Academy. The game will begin at 7 pm. Officials say the game will not only will it give Tech fans in the Upper Cumberland region an additional opportunity to see the Golden Eagles play, redshirt freshman Chase Dunn will return to the high school gym where he set the Livingston Academy career scoring record.

“This is going to be an exciting night for Chase, and a great opportunity for our team and our fans in the region,” coach Mike Sutton said. “Chase gets to go home and play in front of the fans who followed his tremendous high school career. Our players are excited about an opportunity to play another game close to home and possibly attract some fans who may have never seen a Golden Eagle basketball game.”

Tech’s home game against Appalachian State was postponed on Wednesday, Nov. 23, and will not be rescheduled during the 2010-2011 season. The game against Hiwassee could not be played in Tech’s home venue, Eblen Center, since the facility will be set up all week for hosting Fall Commencement ceremonies on Saturday. All of Tennessee Tech’s basketball season tickets will be honored at the game in Livingston, and Tech students will be admitted free with a valid TTU ID. All seating will be general admission, with tickets priced at $5 per person. Tickets will be available in advance at the Athletics Ticket Office in Eblen Center or online at TTUsports.com. Tickets are also on sale in advance at Livingston Academy, and Thursday night at the game. Doors will open at 6 p.m. Fans holding tickets to the Appalachian State game may trade those tickets in and receive two tickets to the Hiwassee game in Livingston. A 2009 graduate of Livingston Academy, Dunn was an all-state selection and Tennessee Mr. Basketball finalist following his senior season for the Wildcats. He was a redshirt on the Golden Eagle roster in 2009-10 in his first season at Tech, and this year has played in all six of Tech’s games, averaging 5.7 points and 12.7 minutes per contest. He ranks second on the team in 3-pointers made and steals, and third in free throw percentage.

Student Athletes Assist At Library

Contractors are set to begin work later this week on some renovations to the library at Tennessee Tech.  As part of the school's effort to prepare for that work, officials have been moving thousands of books and other documents -- sometimes with the help of volunteers. Several members of the Tech baseball and soccer teams paid a late visit to the Librarylast week to assist the head of circulation, Ms. Charlene McClain, and her staff with moving mountains of books. Tech officials say the help from the students helped them save at least a day in the work they needed to do to get ready for the contractors to begin their work later this week.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Outstanding Teaching Awards Given At Tech

Tennessee Tech University adjunct instructor Kristin Hauser and faculty member Paula K. Hinton are recipients of the newly created 2010-11 General Education Award for Outstanding Teaching. The award recognizes outstanding teaching in general education courses, the 1000- and 2000-level courses that fulfill general education requirements in communication, history, humanities/fine arts, math, natural sciences and social/behavioral sciences. The selection committee included faculty from each of these areas. All full-time and part-time faculty members, instructors and graduate teaching assistants who have taught general education courses at TTU for at least the past two full semesters are eligible for the awards. Each recipient receives a $1,000 cash prize.

"This award showcases the valuable and innovative work being done in courses that our students usually take in their first semesters at Tech," said Kurt Eisen, interim associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and chairperson of the General Education Committee. "These are the courses and faculty who lay the foundation of a successful college experience, and, we hope, create a lasting interest in learning."

Hauser, a part-time adjunct instructor of music appreciation at TTU, holds a master of music in woodwind performance from the University of Georgia and a bachelor of music education from Ohio State University. Hinton, associate professor of history at TTU, holds a doctorate from Miami University. She has taught history courses at TTU since 2001 and already holds a number of university awards, including the 2008 Outstanding Honors Faculty Member Award and the 2007 Outstanding Faculty Award for Professional Service. She currently serves as faculty head of The Service Station, one of TTU's new learning villages launched in the Fall semester.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Sheriff's Dept. Follows Up On Aminal Cruelty Case

A Putnam County man, accused of leaving two dogs out in the freezing cold weather, has now been cited for animal cruelty by the sheriff's office. Animal control officer Bill Hunter first investigated the case on County Farm Road last week, alleging that he found the animals in a pen outside of a home and with no access to fresh food, water or shelter. He says no one was home at the time, so he left a note for the owner and took the dogs to the shelter. Hunter claims that it took six days for the owner -- identified as 24-year-old Joshua Shane Barber -- to inquire about the animals.  Barber was issued citations for two counts of animal cruelty and is scheduled to be in court January 3rd.

Court Date Set For Man Charged With Assault

A January 3rd court date has been set for a Cookeville man, charged with aggravated assault, resisting arrest, public intoxication and criminal trespassing.  Police say 55-year-old Donald Keith Baumann of South Washington Avenue, allegedly spit on officers and kicked at them as they were attempting to arrest him last week. Authorities say Baumann had shown up at the Kroger store, in spite of being told that he was not welcome there.  Store officials claim Baumann was intoxicated and refused to leave, so they called police. According to the report, he kicked two officers and also cursed and threatened them as they took him to jail.

Tech Group To Be Featured At The Ryman

The Tennessee Tech Guitar Ensemble will perform at the world-famous Ryman Auditorium in Nashville on Sunday, Dec. 19.  The ensemble will be part of the show "Future Stars at The Ryman." There is no admission charge for the show. The doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the show starts at 7 p.m. The TTU Guitar Ensemble is instructed by K. Doc Stone. Members include Holly Anthony, TTU associate professor of mathematics education, and her husband, Tim, as well as players A.J. Carter, Adam Overstreet, Derrek Apple and Andrew Pollard. For more information on the show or the ensemble, you can contact Stone at 615-618-7917.

STEM Center To Host Educators Institute

The Millard Oakley STEM Center at Tennessee Tech University will host an event called the Sally Ride Science Educator's Institute: Explore Our Moon. It's being held on Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. This national-level professional development institute is geared for 5th through 10th grade teachers. Officials say that Sally Ride Science Educator Institutes offer an innovative approach to professional development with hands-on workshops, activities, and information that teachers can take back to the classroom. Dr. Sally Ride, best known as America's first woman in space, founded Sally Ride Science in 2001.

"It is a great honor to be selected as a host site for a Sally Ride Institute," said Sally Pardue, director of the Millard Oakley STEM Center. "We are thrilled to offer this extraordinary professional development opportunity to the teachers of our region. Hosting this Institute is a wonderful example of Tennessee Tech's commitment to ensuring exceptional educational experiences are available to teachers."

The all-day workshop provides up to six hours of professional development credit. The fee is $25 and includes breakfast, lunch, and teacher materials. Teachers are invited to contact Christina Hatley at 372-6573 for more information.

Putnam County Man Reports New Scam

The Putnam County sheriff's department says local residents may want to be aware of a new scam that could find a con man gaining access to their credit card information.  A resident of Amber Meadows Road told authorities that he had gotten a call from someone who claimed that the man was being given a "reward" for being a loyal customer.  The scammer told the man that he was eligible to receive a $200 gas card. And all he had to do was pay a two dollar fee, which could be charged to his credit card.  The scammer then asked for the man's credit card information, but the would-be victim did not give out that information over the phone.  He says that while he didn't lose any money, he wanted to make a report to the sheriff's department so others would be aware.

TBI Serves Indictment On Putnam Jail Inmate

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has served a murder warrant on a current inmate in the Putnam County Jail after he was indicted by the Smith County Grand Jury earlier this week for killing a 19-year-old woman in May of this year. Michael Lynn Horn, 47, of Dickson, Tenn., was indicted on one count of second degree murder for the death of Cynthia Dawn Crabtree. Her decomposed body was discovered on May 28, 2010 off Grant Highway in Smith County after she had been missing for nearly two weeks. Horn is currently being incarcerated in the Putnam County Jail in Cookeville for the attempted murder of a TBI Special Agent that occurred in June while agents were trying to serve him with a warrant on Thomas Road in Cookeville, Tenn. Horn’s bond was set at $100,000.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

County To Consider Renovation Project

Putnam County commissioners are once again being asked to consider allocating funds for a project that was not included in this year's budget.  The fiscal review committee next week will be asked to consider approving $4,500 as the county's share of a renovation project to the restrooms and concession area at the Baxter T-Ball fields.  The money would come from the county's hotel motel tax revenue, but would require an amendment to the already approved budget.  Also this month, the county is being asked to consider matching dollars from a federal grant that would provide for removal of debris from local streams.  The money is coming from a project of the U.S. Department of Agriculture called the Emergency Watershed Protection or EWP program.  The local money, officials say, would probably come from a capital outlay note.

Highway Patrol Plans Holiday Roadblocks

The Cookeville district of the Tennessee Highway Patrol has announced the first in a series of sobriety and other roadside checkpoints that they plan to conduct around the area over the holidays.  The THP says they will be setting up what's called a Roadside Safety Checkpoint next Friday, December 17th, on South Jefferson Avenue in Cookeville. And, more specificially, that same night, they'll be conducting a Sobriety Checkpoint Roadblock on State Route 290 in Putnam County.  That's the road otherwise known as the Gainesboro Grade.  Officials say the roadblocks have proven effective in getting dangerous drivers off the roads, but say troopers are also looking for drunk or dangerous drivers every time they patrol.

TTU Students At Head Of Class In TBR Report

A report from the Tennessee Board of Regents shows Tennessee Tech University's 2010 entering fall freshman class has the system's highest average ACT scores and best overall high school grade point averages.  TTU also experienced the largest enrollment increase this fall of all TBR four-year universities, up 6.3 percent from last fall to 11,526 students. The TBR oversees of six four-year universities and 13 community colleges statewide with a total fall enrollment of nearly 193,000 students.

"This is a positive indication that Tennessee's best and brightest students consider TTU their university of choice for helping them achieve their educational goals," said TTU President Bob Bell.

TTU's incoming freshmen class posted average ACT scores of 23.1 and average GPAs of 3.37. TBR's average ACT score of incoming first-time freshmen is 21.6 for universities and 18.4 for community colleges. The average high school GPA of incoming first-time freshmen is 3.21 for universities and 2.75 for community colleges.  Every university and community college in the system saw enrollment increases from Fall 2009 to Fall 2010. Overall, TBR university headcount is up 4.5 percent and community college headcount is up 6.2 percent.

Scholarship Deadline Approaching For Students

Prospective students at Tennessee Tech, as well as those who are currently enrolled, are being reminded that December 15th is the deadline for them to apply for 2011-2012 scholarships.  Students can complete the application process online at www.tntech.edu/scholarships . Officials say one application makes you eligible for all scholarships for which you meet the criteria. You do not have to apply for each scholarship individually, but some departments may require additional forms such as letters of recommendation. Currently enrolled students should use their T-Number to apply for scholarships online. Prospective students can use their T-Number or the admissions username they created when they applied online for admission. For additional information, you can call 372-6159.

TTU To Work On Student-Athlete Academics

After earning both her bachelor's and master's degrees at Tennessee Tech and spending two years as a graduate assistant in the Athletics Marketing Department, Leveda Birdwell has returned to work on the Athletics Academic Advising Staff. In her new role, the 24-year-old Birdwell will work in the management of Tennessee Tech's student-athlete records, help to develop and maintain an Athletics Academic web page to improve communications with student-athletes, assist in monitoring eligibility with NCAA standards, and provide support and resources that will move Tech's student-athletes toward graduation. She had previously worked in Tech's Athletics Marketing Department, where her responsibilities included sales, organizing the official football tailgate events, booking halftime entertainment at basketball games, and a variety of other duties. She received her MBA in Businessl Management in May of this year.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Police Hope Receipt Will Lead To Arrest

Cookeville police detectives say a fast-food drive thru receipt left at the scene of a church burglary may help them identify the burglar.  Authorities say someone broke into the Cookeville Christian Fellowship church on Broad Street over the weekend by smashing out a glass door and reaching through to unlock a deadbolt.  And authorities say the thief may have used the paper from the receipt in an attempt to avoid leaving fingerprints at the scene.  But they are hoping that the restaurant may have some surveillance video from the time and date stamped on the receipt, which may lead them to a suspect.  The burglar took $400 from the church and did more than a thousand dollars in damage to the door.

Monterey Board Votes To Settle Lawsuit

The Monterey Board of Mayor and Alderman voted this week to allocate $50,000 to settle a lawsuit by a former police officer, who claimed that he was owed thousands of dollars in overtime pay.  City attorney Mike O'Mara advised the board to accept the settlement, saying that he felt certain they would lose the lawsuit if it went to trial because -- under the Fair Labor Standards Act -- an employee working two jobs for the same employer -- is entitled to overtime.  Former Monterey police officer Jackie McQuiston, who voluntarily left the force earlier this year, had also worked several hours a week as the city's animal control officer for a period of about three years.

Internet Sex Sting Garners Another Arrest

For the fifth time in two months, Cookeville police have arrested someone for soliciting sex from a minor over the Internet.  In each case, authorities say the adult males were actually communicating with an officer posing online as a 15-year-old.  Authorities claim 58-year-old Kenneth Bruce Cuthbert of Hendersonville drove to Cookeville this week with the intention of having sex with someone he believed to be a teenage girl.  He's been charged with solicitation of a minor and will be in court on that charge next month.  Police say the charge stems from a law that makes it illegal to engage in contact with someone under eighteen which could lead to the crime of statutory rape.

Tech Women Lose To Kentucky

Hoping to pull off a little holiday-season surprise, the Tennessee Tech women's basketball team proved to be its own worst enemy Tuesday night in Memorial Coliseum. Tech lost 29 turnovers and No. 9 Kentucky turned those miscues into 29 points, more than enough to account for a 24-point Wildcat victory, 77-53. The Golden Eagles were within six points just seconds before halftime after rallying with a 12-0 run late in the period. In the second half, the Golden Eagles overcame some early mistakes to power back to within nine, 46-37, before a flurry of turnovers turned the tight game into a double-figure UK lead. The Golden Eagles (5-2 overall) stay on the road this weekend with a game at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, Saturday afternoon.

Former Tech Golfer Now On PGA Tour

Scott Stallings, who reigned as one of the top golfers in the Ohio Valley Conference during his four-year playing career at Tennessee Tech, has capped his efforts by qualifying for the 2011 PGA Tour. A 2007 TTU graduate from Oak Ridge, Tenn., Stallings will become only the fourth player in Tech history to compete on the prestigious PGA Tour. He earned the chance Monday by finishing tied for 11th in the six-round PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament at the Orange County National Golf Center and Lodge. Stallings joins Bobby Nichols, Bobby Greenwood and Jeff Sluman as former Golden Eagles to reach the PGA Tour. Nichols played his entire career at Tech, then returned to coach at his alma mater and was inducted into the TTU Sports Hall of Fame in 1990. Greenwood and Sluman each played their freshman season at Tech, Greenwood in 1958 before finishing up at West Texas State and Sluman in 1978 before playing his final three seasons at Florida State.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Woman Kidnapped And Beaten In Monterey

Monterey's Hilltop Express newspaper is reporting that a man from Livingston and a woman from Celina have been arrested after allegedly luring a local woman from her workplace, kidnapping and robbing her, and brutally attacking her. Gentry Linder and Kareissa Sevier face aggravated kidnapping, and aggravated robbery charges. Monterey police said the pair lured a woman from her job at the Perdue plant, by saying her family member had a medical emergency. Once she was in the parking lot, police said Linder and Sevier beat her, then drove her to a bank, and forced her to withdraw money. Investigators say they took her to a secluded area, tied her to a tree and Linder threatened to kill her. That's when a passerby spooked them, so they took her to a Clay County home, and held her there overnight. The victim escaped and called police. Authorities arrested Sevier quickly, and Linder turned himself in after a three-day manhunt.Linder was held in the Overton County Jail on $100,000 bond. Sevier was held on $25,000 bond.

Felony Fugitive Found Hiding In Apartment

Cookeville police say they have arrested a man wanted on felony theft charges out of Jackson County -- after allegedly finding him hiding under a sink at a local apartment complex.  Officers went to Cherry Creek Apartments on West 8th Street after receiving information that 27-year-old Jared Alvin Hix of Gainesboro might be found there.  They say they heard conversation as they approached the apartment, but received no response when they knocked on the door.  Officers then got the manager of the apartment complex to let them in and reportedly searched the residence, finding Hix hiding in a cabinet underneath a sink in the kitchen area. He was taken into custody to be returned to Jackson County.

Shoplifters Offer Excuses To Police

A Cookeville man has been charged with theft of property after allegedly shoplifting three packs of steaks from the Kroger store.  But police say 31-year-old Peter Wesley Convery of West Broad Street, had an excuse for the theft.  He allegedly told officers that he was going to sell the steaks to another man, who would give him cash to pay his bills.  The meat was valued at more than a hundred dollars, and officials say Convery had concealed the packages underneath his clothing as he left the store.  Meanwhile, in a separate case, police say a Jamestown man was cited for theft after he allegedly took off the jacket he was wearing and put on a new one which came off the rack at the Sears store.  The Carhart jacket was worth $100, and police say they arrested 39-year-old Billy Joe Turner the Second in a nearby parking lot.

Deadline Approaching For Girls' Engineering Fair

Officials at Tennessee Tech say it's time for 5th and 6th grade girls to register for the annual "Engineering A Future" event that has attracted hundreds of area participants interested in becoming problem solvers and creative thinkers. This year's event will be held on Saturday, Feb. 26, from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Tech.


"Participants don't have to be sure they love or even understand engineering; just a glimmer of interest and curiosity is all that is needed to enjoy the workshop and learn a lot," said Patty Cowan, EAF co-chairperson and president of the Upper Cumberland Section of the Society of Women Engineers. "This year we're inviting high school girls who've previously been involved with Engineering A Future to join the day. These young ladies will lead activities alongside engineers."

TTU engineering faculty members as well as professional engineers will lead team activities. Dozens of engineering and education student volunteers will guide small groups of girls in the hands-on learning workshop designed to foster interest in science and engineering education and careers. A free adult workshop will also be offered from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. to introduce parents, teachers and counselors to the possibilities an engineering profession provides. The $12 fee per student includes all activities, lunch and commemorative T-shirt. Payment and registration must be received no later than Dec. 17. Officials say the deadline, earlier than previous years, will help parents and organizers avoid registration issues caused by school snow days and holiday schedules. Attendance is limited to 160 participants, and registration will be processed on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Tech Women's Basketball Player Honored By OVC

Tennessee Tech junior guard Tacarra Hayes has been voted the Ohio Valley Conference women’s basketball Player of the Week for her efforts against Middle Tennessee and Jacksonville State. The honor was announced Monday, by the OVC office.  This is first time this season Hayes has won the OVC Player of the Week award and third time during her tenure at Tech. Her previous two Player of the Week awards came in November and January of last season.During the week, Hayes averaged 25 points and nine rebounds while shooting 55 percent from the field and 81 percent from the charity stripe. Hayes also notched her third career double-double, and first of the season, against JSU. Tech (5-1, 1-0 OVC) continues its 2010-11 campaign Tuesday as it takes on the Kentucky Wildcats in Lexington. Opening tip is set for 5 p.m. CT.

Cold Weather Prompts Warnings

As the coldest weather of the season so far settles in on the Cookeville area, the state fire marshal's office and several local fire departments have issued warnings to residents trying to keep warm -- like making sure you turn off heating devices when not in use and having working smoke detectors. Officials say that during the winter holidays, many things like fireplaces, space heaters, even Christmas lights can create fire hazards. Fire marshal Leslie Newman says that following a few safety tips can greatly reduce the risk of fires:
  • Make it a "house rule" to test your home’s smoke alarms, before using a space heater or fireplace. All smoke alarms should additionally be tested once a month. Doing so could save your life.
  • Space heaters need space. Never put a space heater within three feet of anything combustible, including furniture, bedding or aerosol cans. Make sure your space heater bears the mark of an independent testing lab such as UL or FM. Look for models with automatic shutoff features, when purchasing space heaters. Never use extension cords with space heaters.
  • Before you use your fireplace, make sure the chimney has been professionally cleaned to remove the buildup of combustible materials that accumulate inside the flue.
  • Be sure any kerosene-fueled heating device is installed with proper ventilation. A portable kerosene heater must be filled only in a well-ventilated area, free of flame and other heat sources, and only when the device has cooled completely. Use only the type of kerosene specified by the manufacturer, and never use gasoline in place of kerosene.
  • And never leave a fire, space heater or flame unattended.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Animal Cruelty Investigated By Sheriff's Office

Animal cruelty charges are pending against the owner of two dogs who were allegedly left out in the cold and freezing rain last week. Sheriff's deputy Bill Hunter says that he found the two dogs -- a mixed breed Labrador puppy and a mixed breed dachshund -- outside of a home on County Farm Road.  Hunter claims that the animals were penned up with no access to fresh food or water and no shelter from the cold and rain.  He took the animals to the shelter and left a note on the door of the residence for the owners to contact him.  He alleges that "the owners were being negligent by allowing the dogs to remain in these conditions."

TTU Commencement Speaker Announced

Allen Atkins, a Tennessee Tech University alumnus and retired vice president of technology for Boeing's Phantom Works, will be the featured speaker at this fall's commencement ceremonies at Tech. Commencement will be held for 771 graduates at 10 am on Saturday, Dec. 18, at the Hooper Eblen Center. Tech officials say that Atkins is considered a pioneer of stealth technology and the driving force behind the development of low observable technology and weapons systems. His contributions made possible such aircraft as the F-22 Raptor and the F/A18 Hornet fighter jets. He was among the first people to earn a doctorate in engineering from TTU.  Following this commencement, TTU will have granted more than 68,000 degrees. Students graduating from TTU this fall hail from 30 states including Tennessee, 74 Tennessee counties and 13 countries. They represent 39 undergraduate fields of study and 22 graduate fields.

Services Held For Man Killed In Fall From Ladder

Funeral services were held Sunday for a Putnam County man, who died while he was cleaning the gutters of his home on Cookeville Boat Dock Road.  Authorities say 50-year-old Jeffrey William Davis sustained a major head injury in the fall, which occurred just after 3 pm last Thursday.  According to a report from the sheriff's department, Davis was already dead when they arrived on the scene. Officials say it's not clear if he fell from the ladder or from the roof of the home and onto the pavement of his driveway. They say it appears that the feet of the ladder kicked back out from under him. Friends say Davis will be remembered for his compassionate heart and his willingness to always help others.

Newest County Schools To Open Next Month

The newest schools in Putnam County will be OK'd for occupancy later this month, but officials say students won't start attending classes there until January.  The school board has been told that the Prescott South Elementary and Middle schools will be ready by December 17th, which happens to be the final day of the fall semester.  Officials say that teachers and administrators will begin moving things into the building during Christmas break for the school system, and the school will open to students on January 4th, the first day of the next semester.  Parents are invited to stop in for an open house on Monday, January 3rd, from 4 to 6 pm.

Ex-Putnam Schools Director Arrested

A man who was once employed as Director of Schools in Putnam County has now been arrested in Campbell County, where he had taken a job after being let go by the school board here.  62-year-old Michael Martin has been charged with falsifying records. Martin was relieved as director of schools in Putnam County four years ago after a majority of the new school board voted to replace him.  He was initially assigned to a teaching position, but the board later agreed to a negotiated settlement of his contract.  Martin then became director of schools in Campbell County, but resigned from that job a couple of months ago as authorities opened an investigation into his handling of a co-worker's credentials and pay.  The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation says both Martin and 52-year-old Karen Bundren, who was the Campbell County Schools director of Federal Projects until recently, were arrested on Friday.  They are charged with theft of property over $1,000, two counts of official misconduct, two counts of forgery, two counts of tampering with governmental records and two counts of falsifying education and academic records. Meanwhile, the current director of schools in Putnam County -- Dr. Kathleen Airhart -- has just received a one year extension of her contract after a positive evaluation by the current school board.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Council Passes "2030" Future Growth Plan

The Cookeville city council has passed the Cookeville 2030 plan, while addressing the concerns of the group known as the Cookeville Area Residents Association.  That group had contacted council members with their concern about some of the roads proposed in the plan. Wayne Pegram spoke to the issue, saying that it was "insulting to the public" to keep bringing up roads that local residents have said they don't want. But council member Jim Woodford said the roads are needed to address the expected population growth in the area.  And council member Alma Anderson says having a plan of some sort is vital.  City officials also stressed that just having a road identified in a future plan does not mandate that the road will ever be constructed. Meanwhile, the council did approve a bid of some $13 million dollars to Highways, Incorporated, for the construction of the Highlands Business Park Road. They were the lowest of four bidders on that project.

"Death Of A Salesman" Auditions To Be Held

Open auditions for "Death of a Salesman" by Arthur Miller directed by Dave Davidson will be held Saturday, Dec. 4, and Sunday, Dec. 5, from noon to 4 p.m. both days in the Tennessee Tech University Backdoor Playhouse.  The Backdoor Playhouse is located in the Jere Whitson Building on campus. Davidson is looking to cast 13 actors in this production. There are eight male roles and five female roles. The character's ages range from 20 to 60. The role of Willy Loman has been cast. Rehearsals begin in January. No preparation is necessary for the auditions, as they will consist of cold-readings and a short interview. Interested actors are encouraged to read the script in advance. For more information, contact Mark Creter at 931-372-3478

Court Date Set For Alleged Student Burglar

A January 3rd court date has been set for a Tennessee Tech student, charged by campus police this week with burglary and possession of marijuana. Authorities say 18-year-old Jonathan Lee Graham of Gallatin was arrested after a police officer found him inside of a car had been broken into. Police say Graham had a satellite radio unit in his possession, which they say had been stolen from the vehicle. And they also found other items in Graham's vehicle that had been taken from the one he broke into.  Police say Graham lives in a dormitory at Tech and that the car he broke into was parked in a dorm parking lot.

Two Local Names Added To Sex Offender Registry

Two new names from the Cookeville area have now been added to the state's sex offender registry.  26-year-old Kristine Ann Kidder was placed on the list after pleading guilty to aggravated statutory rape of a 15-year-old boy.  She was given a two-year prison sentence.  Authorities say she and the 15-year-old were engaged in sexual contact between March and May of this year and that Kidder knew the teenager to have limited mental capacity.  Meanwhile, as our blog readers have already noted, 41-year-old John R. Travers was put on the list after pleading guilty to sexual battery of a teenage girl, who was the daughter of an acquaintance.  Travers had also initially been charged with solicitation of a minor for sending sex-related text messages, but those charges were dropped with his agreement to plead guilty. He was also given a sentence of two years, but that sentence was suspended and he will be allowed to remain on probation if he stays out of trouble.

Kiwanis Club Ensures Future Of Children's Museum

The Kiwanis Club has stepped in to support the local children's museum in Cookeville, saving it from closing. The Cookeville Children's Museum will now be known as the Kiwanis Cookeville Children's Museum. According to the Herald-Citizen newspaper, Kiwanis has agreed to back the museum financially for the next four years. Susan Capron, the museum's  executive director, said the museum almost had to close this fall because of funding issues. It's been open for about three years and has had 21,000 visitors. She said the new partnership is appropriate because Kiwanis International strives to help children.