Saturday, April 30, 2011

Cutting Edge Workshops Offered For Teachers

Teachers throughout the Upper Cumberland and beyond are invited to experience the exciting professional development opportunities offered by Tennessee Tech University's Millard Oakley STEM Center in June and July.

The STEM Center provides PreK through 12th grade teachers access to cutting-edge resources, technologies, and strategies for engaging their students in the STEM-based subjects of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Registration is open and teacher can choose from more than 20 professional development workshops. Classes range from grant writing for educators, robotics, and physics boot camp to musical math for PreK, amateur radio, nanoscience, and many more.

The workshops happen in the center's state-of-the-art Learning Studios representing physics/engineering, chemistry/biology, mathematics, and early childhood education. Some workshops occur in other labs on the Tennessee Tech campus.

"All the PD workshops are Tennessee Learning Standards-aligned to best serve the needs of our teachers and their students," said Sally Pardue, director of the Millard Oakley STEM Center.

"It is essential for the teachers and children in our region and state to have access to the best opportunities and latest technologies to be prepared to participate in the futures of industry, manufacturing, the sciences and engineering."

The classes range in price from $35 to $605. Workshop class lengths vary from one three-hour session or six-hour session on a single day; while others may cover two to five days. Details about dates, times, prices and PD credit hours can be found on the STEM Center's website, (see Teachers PreK-12th section).

Interim Provost Named For Tennessee Tech

Mark A. Stephens will take on the responsibilities as Tennessee Tech University's chief academic officer when his appointment as interim provost and vice president of Academic Affairs takes effect June 22. TTU President Bob Bell says Stephens will serve in that role until the successful completion of a search to fill the position left open by the retirement of Jack Armistead this June.

"Mark Stephens has performed admirably in his current role as associate provost, and I am fully confident that he will serve in this new role with distinction," said Bell.

Stephens holds a doctorate and master's degree in economics from the University of Tennessee. He earned his bachelor's degree from Louisiana State University in international trade and finance. Stephens joined TTU as a College of Business faculty member in 1980. His primary teaching responsibilities focused on the principles of economics, economic development, international economics and environmental economics.

Gray Named TTU 2011 Outstanding Professional

"Mr. Tennessee Tech" or "The Face of the Place" are often the responses you get when someone mentions Tennessee Tech University's Jim Gray. Gray's 27 years of student recruiting and building relationships has earned him this year's Outstanding Professional Award presented by the university. As associate director of Admissions, he has represented Tennessee Tech to students in every county in the state and is known by most counselors, principals and teachers across the state as the primary contact for information about the university.

As the lead representative of TTU's Admissions Office, he is called upon to recruit high profile students and to handle special projects. But he exhibits an unwavering commitment to speak to all high school students about the advantages of higher education in general.

"Jim has become somewhat of a legend across the TTU campus for the way he helps prospective students and their parents by imparting his uncanny knowledge of university facts and figures," said Robert L. Hodum, TTU's executive director of enrollment management. "I can't tell you how many people have indicated that they chose TTU because of their interactions with Jim Gray."

Hodum says Gray pioneered the campus visit program and the telecounseling program. His duties include traveling the state and putting in many weekends of effort. He has been an integral part of the enrollment management team that set almost a decade of consecutive years of record undergraduate growth. He was instrumental in having the university designated as a National Merit Scholarship sponsoring institution.

Gray has served on the committee that coordinates college fairs throughout the state and is a member of the Tennessee Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers. He also has served as a liaison between the university and the Tennessee Counseling Association, the professional organization for many high school counselors.

With an unwavering positive attitude, Gray is often described in absolute terms—always energetic, always excited, always friendly and always helpful.

"He is always eager to personally 'make' a day, a job or a life better," said TTU Director of Bands Joe Hermann. "His positive demeanor is capable of changing worlds, and there are hundreds of families, students and faculty who could provide the testimony."

Gray has often said he represents Tennessee Tech 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

"No one ever tries to catch Jim 'on a good day,'" said Hodum. "All his days are good ones."

STEM Center Offering 'Tour Of The Universe'

Cookeville area residents are being invited to fly beyond the Earth at Tennessee Tech University's Millard Oakley STEM Center for the Teaching and Learning of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Visitors are invited to sample the state-of-the-art, planetarium-like experience in the Virtual Theater. These unique Virtual Theater experiences are perfect outings for school groups, families, and individuals interested in knowing more about our existing and changing universe. There are two showings of each tour on Fridays; admission is free.
For more information and reservations for school or other groups, please contact Christina Hatley, 931-372-6573.
12:20 p.m. and 1:25 p.m.
Experience a journey from Earth out to the farthest reaches of the stars. Learn about what we can find in the universe and some perspective on our place in it.
12:50 p.m. and 1:55 p.m.
Over the past three years, scientists have been searching for new planets around other stars using the Kepler Observatory spacecraft. Take a look at what they've found, how they found it, and what's next!
For more information about the STEM Center and its programs visit the center's website,
The Millard Oakley STEM Center is located in Ray Morris Hall on the campus of Tennessee Tech at 155 W. 7th Street, the corner of 7th and Stadium Drive in Cookeville, Tenn.

TTU To Hold Dual Commencement Ceremonies

U.S. Rep. Diane Black and state Rep. Ryan Williams will be the speakers for Tennessee Tech University's first dual spring commencement ceremonies on Saturday, May 7, in the Hooper Eblen Center on the TTU campus. Nearly 1,300 students will graduate in the ceremonies.
Black will speak at the morning ceremony at 9:30 a.m. Students of the colleges of Agricultural and Human Sciences, Arts and Sciences, Engineering, and Interdisciplinary Studies will graduate at this time. Williams will speak at the afternoon ceremony at 2 p.m. Students of the colleges of Business and Education will graduate at this time.
The addition of a second ceremony was needed because a single ceremony had reached the center's capacity with the growth in the number of graduates and their guests over the years.
As a small business owner, former educator and registered nurse for more than 40 years, Black brings a unique perspective to her work in Washington.
thumb_Diane-Black_webU.S. Rep. Diane BlackShe ran for office for the first time in 1998, when she was elected to the Tennessee House of Representatives. Elected to the state senate in 2004, Black built on her reputation as a champion for children and seniors, traditional family values, fiscal responsibility, and small business owners. In 2006, Black was elected by her peers to serve as chairperson of the Senate Republican Caucus – the first woman in Tennessee history to hold that title.
In 2010 Black was elected to represent Tennessee's 6th Congressional District, which encompasses areas north, east and south of Nashville. Upon coming to Congress, Black was chosen as one of only two freshmen to serve on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, serving on the Oversight and Human Resources Subcommittees on Ways and Means. Additionally, Black serves as a member of the House Budget Committee.
Born in Baltimore, Md., Black and her husband of 30 years, Dr. David Black, have three grown children and six grandchildren. They moved to Tennessee 25 years ago and currently live in Gallatin.
At an early age, Williams fell in love with team sports – in particular, the game of soccer. He later used that gift to earn a scholarship to play soccer at the collegiate level for Carson-Newman College in Jefferson City, Tenn. This was a significant accomplishment for Williams and his family because he became the first member of his working-class family to graduate from college.
thumb_Ryan-Williams_webRep. Ryan WilliamsAfter graduation, Williams immediately took a sales job for an area rug company. After working his way from the lowest-paid position to part-owner of the company, the couple decided to sell the business and move to Cookeville in spring 1999.
In 2010, he was elected to represent the 42nd District, which includes Cookeville, in the Tennessee House of Representatives. He currently also serves as director of business development for J&S Construction Co., having worked there since moving to Cookeville.
During his term as a Cookeville City councilman, Williams used his real estate and leadership skills to find a suitable land option for the new Prescott K-8 campus in South Cookeville. The location he found allowed for better distribution of school traffic around the city. Most importantly, it was within the city's future growth plan and the school board's land acquisition budget.
Williams also served as the council's representative to the Planning Commission and in that role has been an advocate for more stringent standards in landscape buffering between commercial and residential property. He also spearheaded the organization of an Architectural Review Board and developed a new architectural standard for all commercial and multi-family properties. Ryan's support of the Cookeville Regional Medical Center staff and board has facilitated the growth of one of our community's greatest employers and assets.
Williams and his wife, the former Abby Bates of Cookeville, have two children.
Following these ceremonies, TTU will have granted more than 70,000 degrees. Students graduating this spring hail from 32 states including Tennessee, 78 Tennessee counties and 14 foreign countries. They represent 41 undergraduate and 22 graduate programs.

Few Local Projects Included in TDOT Plans

Tennessee Transportation Commissioner John Schroer this week released the state's three-year transportation program, which prioritizes a number of important improvements to Tennessee's interstate system and continues funding for transit, rail, water and aviation programs. The three-year Multi-modal Work Program for 2011-2014 includes 182 transportation projects and programs, including 45 individual projects on interstates, 30 transit, water, rail & aviation initiatives, and 29 transportation programs. The local projects include construction of a bridge over the Caney Fork River in DeKalb County; right of way acquisition for State Route 52 from near Allons Road to Highway 111; and right of way acquisition for improvements to about two miles of South Jefferson Avenue in Cookeville from the I-40 interchange to Highway 111.

State Advises Caution When Helping Storm Victims

April brought tremendous storm damage to Tennessee and surrounding states. In the wake of this week’s tragedy, many Tennesseans may want to help by giving their time or money. Secretary of State Tre Hargett advises people to use caution when donating money to those claiming they will provide help to storm victims.

“Tennesseans are very generous people who want to help when disasters like this occur,” Secretary Hargett said. “Unfortunately, there are corrupt individuals and organizations who may try to take advantage of that generosity. Before making charitable contributions, would-be donors should try to learn as much as they can about individuals and organizations who claim to be raising money for relief efforts.”

Secretary Hargett recommends researching charities before making donations, paying by check instead of giving out credit card numbers and asking lots of questions.

“We urge everyone who suspects a charity of fraudulent activity to call the Division of Charitable Solicitations and Gaming,” said Todd Kelley, the head of the division. “We want to help ensure that donations made to charitable causes actually reach the people they are intended to help.”

The Division of Charitable Solicitations and Gaming, which is part of the Office of the Secretary of State, is authorized to investigate and impose civil penalties against individuals or groups who engage in fraudulent or misleading fundraising activities. Information on registered charities, including their annual financial reports, is available on the Secretary of State’s web site at: To obtain information about charities by telephone or to report suspicious activity, call the Division of Charitable Solicitations and Gaming at (615) 741-2555.

Health Department Advises Caution

In the wake of severe storms this week, and the efforts of local residents to clean up this weekend, The Tennessee Department of Health is reminding the public of the need to take protective measures to prevent injuries. Of concern is the risk of tetanus from deep puncture wounds or cuts.

“People involved in the tornado clean-up should wear appropriate shoes and clothing, as well as gloves and protective eyewear to lessen the chance of injury,” said State Epidemiologist Tim F. Jones, MD “Those who accidentally sustain serious cuts or deep puncture wounds should consult a health care provider immediately to determine if there is a need for a tetanus shot, particularly if you haven’t had one in 10 years or more.”

Individuals helping with clean-up activities should wear sturdy, preferably hard-bottom, shoes or boots. When high temperatures are not an issue, long sleeves and long pants are recommended. People are also strongly urged to wear gloves and protective glasses or goggles. Tetanus is a very rare but serious illness caused when C. tetani bacteria, which are found naturally in the soil, enter the body through puncture wounds or cuts. It is easily prevented through routine vaccination of children and adults.

Adults and children should receive a dose of tetanus vaccine every 10 years. If you experience a cut or puncture wound, you should clean it with soap and water right away, and consult your health care provider, who may recommend that you receive a tetanus booster if it has been more than five years since your last dose. Many health care providers, immunizing pharmacists and all local health departments routinely offer tetanus-containing vaccines for people who need them.

The most important tools to prevent illness during the clean-up process are soap and clean water. Wash your hands frequently and keep minor cuts and scrapes clean. If you have concerns about an injury or think a cut is getting infected, contact your health care provider.

Monterey Library Gets Grant From State

Secretary of State Tre Hargett was in Monterey this week  to present a check to the local library. It was one of  more than 70 communities across Tennessee that received money to upgrade technology at rural libraries. The grants, which total $1.2 million statewide, are the product of a partnership between the Secretary of State’s Office, the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development. The money will be used to pay for computers and related expenses at the libraries.

Happy Bard's Day Set For May First

The 4th annual Bard's Day Dinner Theater and Renaissance Feast celebrating William Shakespeare's birthday will be held at Thomas Andrews Restaurant May 1 at 5 pm. Bard's Day -- produced by Dave Johnson, Steve Gwilt, and Chef Scott Brown at Thomas Andrews -- is a fundraiser for The Stephens Center for the Prevention of Child Abuse. The Stephens Center has recently moved into new facilities, and proceeds from the event will benefit the capital campaign for the new location in Livingston.  The doors to Thomas Andrews located on West Broad Street will open at 4:00 p.m.  Organizers say this year's event will have some new features including:

* Approximately 20 actors performing scenes from a dozen Shakespeare plays

* Bryan Symphony Director Dan Alcott playing Renaissance pieces on cello

* Diane Glasgow's Cookeville Camarata recorder ensemble playing songs from Shakespeare plays

* Charles and Laurie Long performing an authentic madrigal

* Rennaissance feast menu including a whole roasted pig, Cornish hens, turkey legs; herb-roasted parsnips and potatoes, and a variety of English-style vegetables; bread pudding, and other period desserts.

Shakespeare's actual birthday is April 23, but the people putting on the event say they were looking at the schedule of events around Cookeville, and May Day turned out to be the best choice for the event.

This year's program includes scenes from comedies like Merry Wives of Windsor, Taming of the Shrew, As You Like It, A Midsummer Night's Dream; Also scenes from Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, Henry V, Henry IV Part 1, The Tempest, Othello, and several sonnets rendered by Mary Pashley.

Actors include WCTE General Manager Becky Magura; Tennessee Tech Drama Director Mark Creter; Wesley Foundation Director Charles Long;  Cookeville Cultural Arts Coordinator Steve Gwilt; Tennessee Tech French Professor Debbie Barnard; Actor/Director Dave Davidson; and actors Evan Montgomery, Eliot Cunningham, Simone O’Dell, Beth Thompson, Sandy Johnson, Travis Flatt, Phil Horn, Sean Dietz, Matt Wilson, Emily Smith, Josh Winscott, Lisa Shin, and Alex Mattingly. 

Tickets are $35 per person, and include dinner and entertainment, with dessert and coffee at intermission. Tickets are available at the Cookeville Performing Arts Center Box office, and Thomas Andrews on the day of the show. Advance tickets purchases are encouraged to aid the cooks in planning the feast. All net proceeds after food costs go to the Stephens Center. Seating is limited. A cash bar will be provided.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Committee Finds No Basis For Election Fraud

After a five-hour hearing, an ad hoc committee of the Tennessee State Senate on Thursday found no reason to overturn the election of State Senator Charlotte Burks of Monterey, and recommended seating her permanently as a member of the General Assembly.  Burks has been serving provisionally while her opponent last November, Gary Steakley, was pursuing a contest of the election.  Steakley had contended that the results of the election were 'incurably uncertain," partly because of some discrepancies in paperwork filled out by a handful of election workers in Putnam County.  But the members of the committee apparently agreed with Burks' lawyer, Craig Fickling, who said no election will be perfect as long as it is conducted by fallible human beings. Fickling admitted that some mistakes were made, but said that those mistakes did not affect the outcome of the race.  He also said the documents which were the focus of much of yesterday's hearing were not, in fact, the only ones used to reconcile election results. Committee members said that the burden was on Steakley to prove otherwise, and agreed unanimously that he had not.  They did not, however, agree with Fickling's request that Steakley be sanctioned and be ordered to pay the cost of defending the suit.  The committee will meet once again next week to adopt a formal report, which will then be presented to the full state Senate for a vote.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Putnam County Schools Closing At Noon

Those who have the automated notification service from the county school system already know, but the official announcement has just come in that Putnam County schools are closing at noon today (April 27). School officials say that parents may choose to check their children from school prior to 12 pm. All 21st Century and LEAPS programs are canceled for this afternoon.  S.A.C. services will be provided for students enrolled in the program at regular sites and times.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Tech Police Chief Opposes Guns On Campus Bill

Tennessee Tech University Police Chief Gay Shepherd has joined the Tennessee Association of Chiefs of Police and numerous presidents, faculty, staff and students of Tennessee's public higher education institutions in opposing the various bills currently pending in the state legislature that would allow guns on college campuses. The primary concern is the safety and security of the students, faculty and staff on the campuses.

"If I or one of my officers come upon a scene with an active shooter, we need to be able to immediately determine who is the aggressor," said Shepherd. "Responding quickly and decisively is key. If we have several members of the campus community armed and engaged in the situation, it would drastically impact how effective we could be."

Law enforcement officials nationwide have expressed concern that campuses will become less safe with more gun carriers by complicating law enforcement response to potential threats.

"Just because someone is permitted to carry a weapon, we cannot presume the individual's ability or skill set with that weapon during an alarming situation," wrote Chief David Beams, TACP president, and Chief August Washington, chairman of the TACP University Committee and chief of the Vanderbilt University Police Department, in a letter to the General Assembly.

Shepherd agrees. And she adds that the ability to use weapons correctly and effectively is a constant process, and that retaining a permit takes effort and planning.

"As officers we constantly train to maintain weapons accuracy and retention," she said. "We use Level 3 holsters for extra safety and have to train to release and use those weapons quickly and accurately. How can we know if that level of training is being carried out by individuals with weapons on campus?"

The University of Tennessee System and the Tennessee Board of Regents have both strongly opposed the bills for several reasons, with safety the primary concern. Both support the current law that prohibits anyone other than law enforcement officers to have weapons on campus. Recent campus crime reports indicate Tennessee college campuses are often safer than the communities that surround them. College officials are also concerned about the added liabilities and costs they could face if the laws are changed.

House Bill 2016 is scheduled to come up in the House Judiciary Committee. As amended, it will allow all full-time faculty and staff members of public postsecondary institutions with a concealed weapon permit to carry a concealed firearm on campus after completing a two-hour handgun safety training course. The bill does not pertain to students, part-time employees or adjunct faculty members. The bill provides that if an institution elects to opt out, it will have a duty to guarantee and warrant the health and safety of persons on the campus.

Free Event In Pall Mall Next Week

A free event on May 7th in Fentress County will celebrate Tennessee cultural arts and heritage. Art, music, food and history are all part of the Sgt. York Cultural Arts and Heritage Celebration, to be held at the Sgt. Alvin C. York State Historic Park in Pall Mall, Tenn. Sponsored by the non-profit Sergeant York Patriotic Foundation (SYPF) and funded in part by an Arts Build Communities grant from the Tennessee Arts Commission through the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee, the event features craftsmen and artisans demonstrating skills that would have been commonly engaged in throughout the Wolf River Valley and Cumberland Plateau during Sgt. Alvin C. York's lifetime.
"Many of these skills are now preserved as arts," said SYPF executive assistant Sarah Voiles, coordinator for the event. "Between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. on May 7 we are proud to showcase an impressive list of Tennessee artists and craftsman demonstrating and discussing their talents throughout the day as well as making their creations available for purchase."
Among the artists demonstrating are Mary Curren, who spins llama hair into wearable creations; Natali and Paul Devine, a husband and wife team who make colorful hand-dyed baskets using reeds and white oak; Julie Styer, whose talents include wood burning and painting; Patti Ognibene, creator of handmade colorful, wire wrapped jewelry and free form art; Lynne Looney, who creates large modern and abstract art; Maxine Osburn, who grows gourds and turns them into works of art; Chuck Becker, who paints landscapes in oil and acrylic; Robin Blaine, who weaves on a handmade, Native American loom and discusses the traditions of beading and the Native American way of life; and Chuck Blaine, who creates and plays dulcimers.
Other participating artists include Carol Ludgate, who does realistic paintings; Joan Swanson, specializing in portraits and landscapes; Doug Thompson, who fuses metal and wood to create artistic benches and boxes; Rachel LaPlant, who makes jewelry for women and girls; abstract artist Jack Holtz; Debra Genchi, who works with vintage fabric and materials; and members of the Fentress County Artist Guild.
In addition to the arts, the Celebration will offer World War I displays of artifacts, interpreters in period attire, a live, online genealogical research booth, book signings by local authors and tours of Sgt. York's home, farm, mill, Bible School, nature trail and burial site.
Sgt. York's three surviving children will be present throughout the day to meet visitors and answer questions about their father. World War I military artifacts and other period pieces will be presented and discussed by Alison Vick from her extensive collection of historic artifacts. Mark Thompson will demonstrate black powder shooting and display and explain the associated equipment and ammunition.
Presenting the genealogical information is Bruce E. York, creator of York's Fentress County, Tenn., genealogy database. He will demonstrate and share information collected during 55 years or research.

Court Rules County Must Pay Election Expenses

A special judge hearing a lawsuit over whether the state or the county should be responsible for the legal expenses of the Putnam County Election Commission has ruled that those expenses are, in fact, the county's responsibility. County Attorney Jeff Jones had argued that the county was not responsible for the expenses, in part because members of the county election commission are agents of the state of Tennessee. But Judge Donald Harris disagreed. He said that it was his opinion that "a suit against the county election commission or its members in their official capacity, involving the hiring or firing of the administrator of elections is part of the operations of the county election commission." And, he says, that while he does not disagree that election commissioners are, effectively, state employees, their status as such does not exempt the county from having responsibility for their legal representation. The judge directed that an order be prepared "requiring Kim Blaylock in her official capacity as County Executive of Putnam County and Putnam County to cover the court costs and legal expenses" of the Chancery Court action; and "to pay the legal expenses that have been incurred and will be incurred in representing members of the Putnam County Election Commission" in the still-pending federal lawsuit filed by former administrator Nancy Boman.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Putnam Habitat Looking For Volunteers

National Women Build week is approaching and officals wit the Putnam County Habitat say they are excited to participate in Habitat for Humanity's National Women Build Week, the first week in May.  Lowe's and Putnam County Habitat are looking for local women to volunteer on Thursday, May 5th,  from 10 am to 4 pm.  In honor of Mother's Day, the local chapter invites you to bring your mom or bring your daughter on Thursday, May 5th to Habitat's construction site, and together, you can both make a difference by helping build the home of a single mother in our community. You need no experience, Crew Leaders are available to teach you how to build. Plus, you need no tools, Habitat provides everything you need. For more information, or to sign up call Amy Jennings at 528-1711 x2 or email to

Chorus Hopes To Raise Money Thru Concerts

Members and supporters of the Monterey  (and Baxter) Chorus hope that two big county music concerts in one week will help push them over the top in raising funds for their trip to a competition in Italy this summer. On Monday, April 25, Billy Dean  will be in concert  at the new Prescott South  Middle School at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20 VIP passes are $50. The VIP passes include a meet and greet after the concert with Dean and photo opportunities.

A native of Quincy, Florida, Billy Dean was raised appreciating the value of music and has a diverse array of musical influences. After attending college on a basketball scholarship, Billy moved to Nashville in 1983 and by 1990 had recorded his first Top 5 Hit "Only Here For A Little While" After twelve albums and eleven Top 10 singles spanning over a period of eighteen years, Billy has founded the publishing company BDMG (Billy Dean Music Group). Billy continues to make contributions to the Country Music world by building brands with music and empowering children, by being a spokesperson for Averitt Cares For Kids, and Sunkist's Take A Stand Program. His latest album "Let Them Be Little" was inspired by those closest to him,his two children Hannah & Eli, and his wife Stephanie. Tickets for the Dean concert are available at Monterey High School, Upperman High School, Cornerstone Middle School and all branches of the Bank of Putnam County (including Crossville, Sparta and Livingston.)

On Thursday, April 28 at 7 p.m. at Monterey High School, the legendary Ed Bruce will be in concert  With a string of hits, both as an artist and a writer, Ed Bruce has maintained a successful career for more than four decades. "Mamas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys", "After All", "Girls, Women and Ladies", "When You Fall In Love Everything's A Waltz", "My First Taste of Texas", "Ever, Never Loving You", "The Last Cowboy Song", and the "Theme from Bret Maverick" are just a few of the self-penned hit songs. Then there's "Texas When I Die" and "The Man That Turned My Mama On" which were giant hits for Tanya Tucker.  Ed and Judith recently sold their "Home At Last" ranch and relocated to a log home with a wrap-around porch. There, on the back porch, overlooking a river and the mountain beyond, Ed loves to sit with friends and talk sports, horses and dogs, and he loves to talk about the change Jesus has made in his life.  Ed Bruce's career now spans both sides of the Atlantic and he has gained an enormous following in Europe. But Ed's heart is to lead people to the Cross of Calvary wherever he has the opportunity to sing.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Cookeville Minister To Lead Alabama Revival

Photo courtesy of
Perryn Rice, an associate minister of Cookeville Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Cookeville, will be going to Gadsden, Alabama, next month to lead a three-day revival at the Gadsden Cumberland Presbyterian Church. Rice is the first ordained minister of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in America to be employed in a Cumberland Presbyterian Church as an associate minister. He holds dual membership in both the CPC and the CPCA. According to a press release from the Gadsden church, Rice comes from a long line of Cumberland Presbyterians. His father, the Rev. Joel Rice, also made history by being the first African-American student to be accepted in an all-white Southern private college, Bethel College, in 1961. The Cumberland Presbyterian Church in America is a primarily African-American denomination which developed from the Cumberland Presbyterian Church back in 1874.

Most Local Jobless Rates Still In Double Digits

The latest report of unemployment from the Tennessee Department of Labor shows that most counties in the Cookeville area have jobless rates in the double digits.  The exception is Putnam County, where the unemployment rate is 8.6 percent -- down from the 9.2 percent rate the month before and the 9.9 percent rate last year.  More than 3,100 people out of a workforce of 36,000 were without a job.  Meanwhile, in Jackson County, the unemployment rate was 11.1 percent; it was 11.3 percent in Overton County; and 11.6 percent in White County.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Teenager Indicted On Burglary Charges

A teenager from Monterey has been indicted on charges of aggravated burglary after Monterey police officer Larry Bates presented evidence to a grand jury.  According to the indictment, 19-year-old Jacob Andrew Clark of Clarkrange Highway, is accused of breaking into a home on Woodcliff Road on Halloween night of last year and stealing more than a thousand dollars worth of merchandise, including a laptop computer, jewelry, guns and video games. He'll be arraigned in Criminal Court on May 17th. That's also the arraignment date for 29-year-old Stephen Richard Fletcher of Cookeville. He's charged, among other things, with fraudulent use of a debit card and burglary of a vehicle.  Police say Fletcher broke into a truck at Saxony Apartments and made off with the debit card, which he was able to use at least twice before the owner could contact his bank.

Traffic Stop Leads To Drug Charges

A Baxter man is facing charges of drug possession, tampering with evidence, and driving on a suspended license after a sheriff's deputy pulled him over.  Deputy Jason Phy alleges that 25-year-old Richard Arthur Dutra of Indian Creek Road was "trying to grind a green leafy substance believed to be marijuana into the carpeted floorboard of his vehicle in an attempt to destroy the evidence and avoid arrest." After removing Dutra from the vehicle, the deputy claims he found marijuana and ten Lorcet pills in the vehicle.  Meanwhile, in a separate case, 35-year-old Michael Jack Carlson of Poplar Street in Monterey, was arrested after his probation officer and a sheriff's deputy showed up at his home to conduct a drug screen.  Carlson is on probation from a previous drug offense, and authorities say they found him with several hypodermic syringes and a container of morphine pills.

Local Roadblocks Set For Easter Weekend

The Cookeville district of the Tennessee Highway Patrol has planned a series of roadblocks around the region this weekend. In anticipation of a busy travel weekend, the THP says it is ramping up its enforcement effort with increased patrols and sobriety checkpoints for the 2011 Easter Holiday period, beginning 12 a.m. Thursday, April 21 and concluding at 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, April 24. Sobriety checkpoints will be set up along Highway 70 in both Cumberland and Smith counties Friday night.  And troopers will also be checking driver license compliance at checkpoints throughout the Cookeville district.

“This weekend marks the unofficial start to the most active travel season in the United States,” said Department of Safety and Homeland Security Commissioner Bill Gibbons. “As the summer months approach, our Highway Patrol will be diligent in promoting safe driving campaigns and keeping Tennessee roads and its travelers safe.”

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that an estimated 32,788 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2010, a decline of about three percent from 2009 (33,808 fatalities). Tennessee fatalities increased to 1,033 in 2010, or 4.8 percent from 2009 (986 fatalities). As of April 20, 2011, there have been 216 motor vehicle traffic fatalities, compared to 296 at this time last year.

“Our troopers are committed to holiday enforcements and safe driving campaigns throughout the year,” said THP Colonel Tracy Trott. “While we never want to see any fatalities on Tennessee roadways, we are encouraged by the decline and hope to report a record low number of traffic deaths by the end of the year.”

Just four months into the year, preliminary statistics indicate that 17 motorcyclists have died on Tennessee roadways, a decrease of 14 deaths compared to 31 motorcycle fatalities at this same time a year ago. Also, rural traffic fatalities have decreased by 23.7 percent and unrestrained vehicle occupant fatalities have declined by 25.8 percent. Ten people were killed in eight crashes on Tennessee roads during the 2010 Easter Holiday weekend. Last year, alcohol was involved in two of the fatal crashes, and 75 percent of vehicle occupants killed were not wearing seat belts.

“We hope people make smart decisions this Easter weekend,” Colonel Trott added. “Don’t drink and drive, wear your seat belts, and pay attention to the road. Our goal is for everyone to reach their destination safely.”

Bernie Mattingly Retires As CRMC CEO

The press release below was issued this morning by Cookeville Regional Medical Center:

"After twelve dedicated years of service to Cookeville Regional Medical Center and the community, CEO Bernie Mattingly has advised the Board of his intent to retire effective May 1, 2011. The Board is grateful for the many dedicated years of service Mr. Mattingly has provided and all of the accomplishments that were achieved during his tenure.

Mr. Mattingly and the Board of Trustees anticipated that this day would come and began succession planning over a year ago. Menachem Langer, M.D. MBA was recruited as COO last summer and started working at CRMC in October of 2010. Dr. Langer has served as interim CEO during Mr. Mattingly's recent leave of absence. The Board has unanimously appointed Dr. Langer as the new CEO of Cookeville Regional Medical Center effective May 1, 2011."

The announcement of Mattingly's retirement comes just a couple of months after he requested and received a personal leave of absence to deal with some health issues.

More Info Released On Cookeville Pilot's Crash

The News-Journal newspaper in Daytona Beach, Florida is reporting today that a preliminary report has been released from the National Transportation Safety Board concerning the crash of a plane at a Florida Air Show which claimed the life of Cookeville resident William "Wild Bill" Walker.  The 58-year-old crashed during a show on March 26th at Flagler County Airport.  According to the report, another team member at the air show noticed something was wrong moments before the crash and radioed Walker, but got no reply. The report says another team member said "no, no, no" over the radio just before Walker crashed. It says Walker's right wing pilot was the top half of a maneuver called a "half Cuban eight" when he saw Walker and everything "appeared normal." But, as he finished the maneuver, he saw that Walker's plane was flying in an unexpected position. The wing pilot got on the radio and called Walker, but Walker did not respond.  Flight experts say his being out of position and his lack of response suggest that he was incapacitated, perhaps from losing consciousness during a maneuver.  The results of an autopsy will be reviewed by a doctor for the NTSB, and officials say the final report will include Walker's medical status as well as the plane's mechanical condition.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Grand Jury To Review Marijuana Case Evidence

It will apparently be up to a grand jury to decide whether a Putnam County woman will be charged with illegally growing marijuana in pots on her back deck.  The sheriff's department says they investigated a case on Shipley Road after receiving a tip that someone there was growing marijuana.  Authorities say they found a man at the home, who allegedly gave them permission to look around. That search turned up four containers with marijuana plants in them ranging in size from two inches up to approximately six inches in height.  The report says the woman allegedly admitted to growing the pot as "an experiment," and told officials that someone had been prowling around her property lately and that she believes that prowler is the one who reported her.  Authorities say they'll take the case to the grand jury after consulting with the District Attorney.

"Plant Food" Bill Passes in TN House

A bill sponsored by representative Ryan Williams of Cookeville to deal with the sale of items called "Mollys Plant Food" and "Bath Salts" has now passed in the Tennessee General Assembly and is awaiting the governor's signature. It cleared the House on a 96 to nothing vote this week. And Williams' bill was also substituted for a similar bill in the Senate, which was sponsored by Senator Charlotte Burks of Monterey, The Senate bill also passed unanimously. Representative Philip Johnson of Union City congratulated Williams on crafting a good piece of legislation on his first attempt -- but not before joking about Wiliams six-foot-five-inch height and the fact that he doesn't play basketball.  The issue concerning bath salts came up in Cookeville earlier this year when doctors at the local emergency room reported a number of overdose cases related to those products.

Court Date Set For Alleged Drug Dealers

A May 16th court date has been set for two men, accused of dealing drugs at a Cookeville trailer park.  Police say they noticed a car parked in a slot at 2400 Free Hill Road and allege that the men in the vehicle were selling drugs out of the vehicle. An officer who went to question the driver claims that he saw a bag of pills and what appeared to be a bag of cocaine in the vehicle.  A further search allegedly turned up two bags of crack cocaine and nearly three thousand dollars in cash. Charged in the case are 33-year-old Octavius Jackson of Lebanon, Tennessee and 35-year-old Jason Edward Hutchison of Cookeville.  Police also allegedly found more drugs in the trailer where they say Jackson occasionally stays, as well as cell phones with text messages and ongoing phone calls from would-be customers.

County Approves Several Re-Paving Projects

Several miles of road in Putnam County will be re-paved over the next year, using money from what's called the "State Aid" program.  The county commission this week agreed to commit to twenty percent of the cost of repaving several roads, with the state of Tennessee picking up the rest.  Among the roads on that list are just over two and a half miles of Cookeville Boat Dock Road, from the county line north; about a mile of Lovelady Road from Bunker Hill Road to the Cookeville city limits; and short sections of Rocky Point Road and Sand Springs Church Road, off Highway 70-North.  Road Supervisor Randy Jones says about $300,000 has been budgeted for the work.

Registration Underway For Local Fishing Tourney

The Jim Ragland Golden Eagle Bass Classic, hosted by the Tennessee Tech football program as a fund-raiser, is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year.  The event, will be held on Saturday, May 7, at Ragland Bottom on Center Hill Lake and will kick off at 6 am. Registration is underway for the tournament, with registration date determining starting positions. Organizers say there will be a variety of prizes awarded throughout the day, including more than $10,000 in prize money. The first place winner will take home $4,000 and second place is rewarded with $1,500 in prize money. There is an entry fee of $160 per two-person boat. Boats will be sent out in one of eight flights. The 2011 tournament is co-sponsored by The Country Giant and Celina-Overton County Cable.
The team of Chris and Josh Tramell of Smithville captured first place in last year's tournament, which featured a field of 90 boats on the lake. The winning team weighed in with 22.66 pounds, edging out the team of Tim and Delmer Wyatt of Crossville, which had 22.19 pounds in its five-fish haul. The big fish winners were Terry Steele of Sparta and Adam Wagner of Cookeville, with a top weight of 6.29 pounds.
"Everybody involved seemed to have a great time," said TTU football coach Watson Brown. "We had great participation and excellent support from our sponsors, which make this such a successful event."
For more information or to register for the tournament, please contact the Tennessee Tech Bass Tournament Hot Line at 931-372-3930.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Liquor Store Applicants Appeal Rejections

Two businesses, which want to sell package liquor in Cookeville, will appeal their rejected applications to the city council Thursday night.  Earlier this month, the city's Alcoholic Beverage Control Board refused to issue a Certificate of Compliance to Cookeville Liquor & Wine Company, which has plans to open a store at 1066 South Willow Avenue. They also rejected the request of Jefferson Wine & Liquor for a Certificate to open a store at 620 South Jefferson Avenue. City attorney Dan Rader said the certificates had to be rejected because the applicants had not properly completed all of the required paperwork.  But he says if the paperwork is in order by Thursday night, the city council can consider the issue of whether certificates should be issued.  Those certificates are just the first step in the process for those who want to sell package liquor in Cookeville.  They must also gain approval from the state to open their businesses.  Three pending applications have already received local certification -- meaning that they meet the requirements set out by city ordinances. They must still obtain a license from the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Control Board.

Election Suit Trial Date Set For 2012

Unless the two sides can come to an agreement, it will be more than a year before a lawsuit filed by former Putnam County Election Administrator Nancy Boman comes to trial in federal court. Attorney John Harris, who is representing the local election commission, says the date for trial on those parts of the lawsuit that have not been thrown out, is September of 2012.  Boman, along with former election administrators in several other Tennessee counties, are suing based on the claim that they were removed from their jobs in 2009 by Republican-controlled county election commissions, only because of their perceived political party affiliation. Back in December, a judge ruled that the Republican election commissioners named in the lawsuit were not subject to liability for monetary damages sought, in their official capacities as "state actors". And, although attorneys for the former administrators filed an appeal to the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, that appeal has now been dismissed as being premature, according to Harris. He says more proceedings must be held at the trial court level before an appeal can be considered at the appellate level, but also said that the dismissal of the appeal does not prohibit the parties from appealing any final judgment in the case. Harris says the trial court has now entered an order setting out various things that have to be done over the next year and a half, and the case is now set for trial in September, 2012. Harris says the only significant remaining issue to be decided at the trial is whether it is allowable under federal law to replace an administrator of elections -- based on party affiliation.

Putnam Trustee Issues Tax Penalty Reminder

Putnam County Trustee Freddie G. Nelson is reminding local residents that their 2010 property taxes are now considered delinquent and are accruing penalties and interest at the rate of one and a half percent per month.  On a tax bill of one thousand dollars, that's fifteen bucks a month.  Nelson says you can pay your property taxes at his office between the hours of 8 am and 4 pm Monday through Friday.  The Trustee's office has also now re-located and can be found on the bottom floor of the county courthouse. That's the entrance that comes off of Broad Street.  If you have any questions, you can call 526-8845.

Registration Open For Livingston Summer Classes

Summer classes start soon at Volunteer State Community College at Livingston and registration is open now. There are 25 summer classes in a number of subject areas to choose from and they come in a couple of different versions. Some classes run for the entire summer from May 31 to August 6. Other classes run for the first five weeks, from May 31 to July 1. There is also a second five-week session from July 5 to August 6. Some summer classes are also offered online and in hybrid formats, which combine online with traditional classroom meetings. Summer courses in Livingston include: Human Anatomy and Physiology I and II; English Composition; First Aid and Safety CPR; College Algebra; Music Appreciation; American Government and Politics. You can visit the website for the Livingston summer schedule and for information on how to apply and register. New students will need to fill out an application, which can be done online. Students can also visit in person at 113 Windle Community Road.

TTU Baja Team Brings Home First Place

Tennessee Tech University's BajaSAE team gave opponents mud in their eyes and brought home first place in last weekend's competition in Birmingham, defeating teams including Auburn, Alabama, University of Tennessee, Virginia Tech, Middle Tennessee State University and Lipscomb University. The team also took first place in the endurance race, second in water maneuverability and third in acceleration. Led by co-captains Amy Newton and Bob Matthews, along with lead designer Chris Reedy, TTU's team captured the  title on what is considered BajaSAE's toughest competition of the year because of the additional challenges the water element presents. Other team members include lead fabricator Jed Peterson, Alex Hall, John Till, Josh Cantrell, Justin Seyer, Kendall Hall, Logan Atkins, Michael Henson, Ryan DeClerk, Sam Keener, Thad Kasinger, Derek Harrington, David Tyrell Laxton, Josh Randles, Brooke Wilson, Amos Myers and Wes Lentz. Dale Wilson is the team adviser.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Regional Health Dept To Hold Open House

The public is invited to join Health Commissioner Susan R. Cooper, MSN, RN, General Services Commissioner Steven Cates and regional representatives of the Tennessee Department of Health on Tuesday at 1 pm for an open house and celebration of the state’s new Upper Cumberland Regional Health Office at 1100 England Drive in Cookeville.

The new 50,000+ square-foot facility, which provides space for the Upper Cumberland Regional Health Office staff, a regional training center and clinic, was designed and constructed to earn LEED platinum certification from the United States Green Building Council. LEED is a system for verifying that a building was designed and constructed using environmentally-friendly strategies to improve energy savings, water usage, indoor environmental quality and use of resources. The application for certification has been submitted and the state is awaiting approval.

Some of the energy-efficient building’s features include recycled and sustainable materials like countertops made from recycled windshield glass, floors made with fly ash, cork wall coverings, and furniture and decorative panels made from recycled plastic. The Upper Cumberland Regional Health Office is responsible for leadership and management of 14 county health departments: Cannon, Clay, Cumberland, DeKalb, Fentress, Jackson, Macon, Overton, Pickett, Putnam, Smith, Van Buren, Warren and White. Examples of services offered include immunizations, well child/EPSDT screenings, WIC and nutrition, children’s special services, breast and cervical cancer screening, family planning, HIV counseling and testing, sexually transmitted disease testing and treatment, tuberculosis testing and treatment and communicable disease control.

Police Investigating Drug Store Robbery

Cookeville police detectives investigating the robbery of a local drug store on Sunday say the robber did not want cash; he wanted medication.  According to authorities, someone walked into the Rite Aid pharmacy off South Willow Avenue just after noon on Sunday and handed the pharmacist a note, demanding hypodermic syringes and specific types of prescription pills.  Police say the suspect made off with some $3,000 worth of drugs.  He was described as a white male, about 5'7", and weighing about 170 pounds. At the time of the robbery, he was wearing a dark black ball cap and dark sunglasses, and may have left the area in an older model Ford vehicle. Anyone with information that may help is asked to call Crimestoppers at 520-7867.

Missing Cookeville Kayakers Found OK

Emergency management officials in Putnam and Overton counties say two kayakers -- who set out for a Sunday afternoon adventure -- found themselves "fortunate to be alive." Brandon Smith, the public information officer with the Putnam County EMS says that when Lane Ward and Keith Brown decided to take an afternoon adventure in the Flat Creek area of Overton County, they never imagined they would be the subjects of a search party looking to find them.

The two have a long-standing friendship, and work together at Cookeville High School. Ward, of Double Springs in Putnam County, is an assistant principal, and Brown, of the Algood area of Putnam County, is a history teacher. 

They put their kayaks into the water at the Flat Creek Bridge that crosses over State Highway 136 in Overton County at approximately 1:30 pm on Sunday. And, after moving down the river for a short time, they came upon an unfamiliar waterfall that caused Ward’s kayak to wreck. Ward was able to free himself from the damaged kayak and get to shore at the same location where Brown had made it to shore himself. Ward only sustained minor scrapes and scratches. As the two friends developed a plan to find their way back to their vehicles, nightfall came and they decided to seek shelter instead.

“We were planning for the worst, but hoping for the best.” said Overton County 911 Director Chris Massiongale. “These are two very lucky gentlemen who made a smart decision to stay put for the night."

Ward told rescuers that the two "came upon a little shack and decided to stay the night there, then try to find our way back after daybreak. We are just very blessed.”

Rescuers from Overton, Putnam, and Jackson County Rescue Squads met soon after daybreak on Monday morning to begin a detailed search, including swift-water rescue crews and rope rescue crews to search along the river and over the rugged terrain. The Tennessee Highway Patrol’s helicopter was also utilized in the search, and was able to find the two abandoned kayaks overnight. CHS Principal Wayne Shanks and School Resource Officer Bill Harris were also on scene Monday to join in the search for the missing men.

“We are just really glad that these guys were not hurt and they are able to rejoin their families and friends,” said Massiongale.

Baseball Team To Play Under The Lights

The Tennessee Tech baseball team returns from a 2-1 series victory over Eastern Illinois to host the Belmont Bruins Tuesday in the first night game of the season at Bush Stadium.  Having already hung a 9-7 victory on Belmont earlier this season, Tech will look to complete the season sweep Tuesday evening on their home turf. The Golden Eagles currently sit with a 15-19 record on the year and a 5-4 stand in conference play after notching a pair of back-to-back 3-2 wins over the Panthers of Eastern Illinois this past weekend.

The Golden Eagles are still led at the plate by sophomore Evan Frazier with his .348 mark in 89 at-bats. He's clocked 31 hits, including five homers so far this year, and is slugging a .562. Frazier is followed closely by junior Chad Hayes, who's upped his average to a .325, going 39-120 in the batter's box. Both have recorded 19 RBI for the team, while freshman Zach Stephens and senior Chad Oberacker lead in that category with 33 runs batted in apiece. Stephens went 2-for-4 with three RBI in his first outing against Belmont, while Hayes chipped in with a 2-for-4, solo RBI effort.

Belmont meanwhile has a 20-17 overall record and an even 9-9 stand in the Atlantic Sun. They are led by Craig Dylan at the plate, hitting at a .338 mark in a team-high 145 at-bats. He's brought home 24 runs for the Bruins and has eight extra-base hits on the season. Dylan is followed by Nate Woods, who leads the team with 32 RBI and six homers on the season, batting a .317 and slugging a team-high .548.

Legendary Jazz Drummer Coming To Cookeville

The Tennessee Tech University Jazz Band concert set for 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 19, will feature a very special guest.  Renowned jazz drummer Duffy Jackson will join the group for the show in the Wattenbarger Auditorium of TTU's Bryan Fine Arts Building.
"Duffy is a world-class drummer and a great showman," said Chris McCormick, professor of jazz studies in TTU's music department and a jazz and classical trumpet performer.

Jackson has been performing since he was four, when his father — legendary jazz bassist Chubby Jackson — gave him his first set of drums because he noticed that his son had a "fantastic feeling for rhythms," he said. By the time he was 18, Jackson was touring the country with Lena Horne, and had made national television appearances on shows like "The Mike Douglas Show" and "I've Got a Secret."  By the time he was 20, he was touring with Sammy Davis Jr. and appearing in the popular weekly TV show "Sammy & Company." Jackson has performed with such jazz legends as Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, Ella Fitzgerald, Billy Eckstine, Stan Getz, Buddy Rich and Harry (Sweets) Edison. Although critics have long hailed Jackson's brash and dynamic percussion skills, his talents extend beyond the realm of drums. He is also a prolific composer, keyboard player, bassist, vibraphonist and vocalist.

"Duffy Jackson is a consummate entertainer," McCormick said. "His ability to combine musicianship with high-energy showmanship is not unlike Dizzy Gillespie. These characteristics truly set him apart from other jazz musicians."

The show is free and open to the public.

TTU Environmental Talk Set For Wednesday

Tennessee Tech University will welcome Sally Rollins Palmer for an Environmental Sciences Colloquium at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, April 20. The presentation by Palmer, entitled "Averting a Water Supply Crisis While Protecting Endangered Species: Partnerships Pay Off for Tennessee's Duck River," will be held in Pennebaker Hall, room 128.  Palmer's presentation is sponsored by TTU's environmental sciences Ph.D. program and the Center for the Management, Utilization and Protection of Water Resources.

The Duck River in Middle Tennessee is one of the most biologically diverse rivers in North America. The Nature Conservancy launched its Duck River program in 1999, and over the last decade it has been involved with many federal, state and local partners who were beinning to tackle the water supply challenges facing several communities in the river's watershed. The Duck River program and its partners have contributed to the development of a broader process led by the state of Tennessee to direct completion of regional water supply plans in critical regions of the state.

Palmer has 13 years of professional experience in ecology and conservation biology, working primarily for the Tennessee chapter of The Nature Conservancy, the largest non-profit conservation organization in the world. She has developed expertise in conservation planning and monitors the progress of various conservation strategies. Currently, Palmer's work is focused on providing science and strategic planning support to the Conservancy's conservation projects statewide. She works with a variety of federal, state and local government agencies and other non-profit organizations on watershed management and aquatic species conservation issues in Tennessee and throughout the southeastern United States.

The presentation is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Dale Ensor, director of the TTU Environmental Science Ph.D. program, at (931) 372-3493.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Commissioners To Be Updated On Redistricting

The Putnam County Commission Monday night is scheduled to hear an update on the redistricting committee, which is being put together to re-draw district lines -- based on changes in the population of the county over the past ten years.  Earlier this year, the commission agreed to the general make-up of that committee, but officials have not yet announced who, specifically, will be serving.  The county has until the end of the year to get new lines drawn, but officials say they hope to have the work done well before that deadline, so all the voters in the county can be notified of potentially new precincts. Redistricting is also being done on the state and national levels, based on the census numbers, which means your representatives in the U.S. Congress or Tennessee General Assembly may be changing, as well as who represents you on the county commission.

Alleged Burglars Face May 23 Court Date

A May 23rd court date has been set for several people allegedly involved in the burglary of a home on Mine Lick Creek Road last week. Authorities say the homeowner called them while following the people who he says broke into his house and stole several guns, a flat screen television and other items. Police pulled over the suspect's vehicle and allegedly found several of the stolen items in that vehicle. They arrested the driver and three passengers on charges of theft.  Police identified the suspects as 20-year-old Wendy B. Dunn; 20-year-old Tiffany Nicole Cauthorne; and 23-year-old Tiffany Jean Julian, all of Cookeville, as well as 24-year-old Christopher Scott Mayberry of Gainesboro.  They were booked into the jail under ten thousand dollars bond apiece.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Monterey Police Release Info On Drug Round-Up

More details are coming out today on an undercover drug investigation, conducted over the past few months by police in Monterey. Pick-up indictments have now been served on thirteen people suspected of selling drugs to an undercover informant for the police department. Seven more have been charged in warrants taken which will send them first to General Sessions Court.  The suspects are identified as:

68-year-old Donnie Fritts of Mackie Road, Cookeville;

33-year-old Jayson Heady of Cates Road, Monterey;

40-year-old Vincent Cookeville of Woodcliff Road, Monterey;

24-year-old Dustin Graves of Mineral Avenue, Monterey;

31-year-old Jason Bilbrey of Romine Avenue, Monterey;

30-year-old David Stockus of East Lewis Avenue, Monterey;

39-year-old Jeremy Horn of Jackson Avenue, Monterey;

40-year-old Gary Hargis of Chestnut Street, Monterey;

40-year-old Heather Bilbrey of Romine Avenue, Monterey;

34-year-old Delana Stamps of Union B. Road, Monterey;

57-year-old Louis Swafford of Romine Avenue, Monterey;

and 64-year-old Willie Laycock of North Elm Street.

All are charged with either selling drugs or possessing drugs with intent to sell. Meanwhile, police say 56-year-old Billie Jean Hall of West New Avenue was charged with possession of a controlled substance after she agreed to sell morphine tablets for $25 apiece. Officer Larry Bates says he met Hall and her husband, Donald, at the Shell Station in Monterey last month to complete the transaction. Meanwhile, police say an undercover informant allegedly purchased suboxin at the home of 42-year-old Gina Gaye Phillips on Calfkiller Highway.  Others who allegedly sold drugs to the informant were identified as 40-year-old Roy Adam Henry of Spruce Street; 32-year-old Rosa H. Sparks of Effie Court; and 48-year-old Patricia Ann Phipps-Holloway of Hanging Limb Highway. 

Cookeville Man Arrested For Burglary, Conspiracy

A Cookeville man has been charged with aggravated burglary and conspiracy to commit burglary after an investigation by Monterey Police Detective Mike Phillips.  According to warrants in the case,  35-year-old Eddie Gean Cowan of Joe Rawlings Road was an accomplice with three other men who broke into a home on Phillips Drive in Monterey.  A black duffel bag and several items were taken in the burglary -- altogether worth nearly ten thousand dollars. According to state law, the offense of conspiracy is committed if two or more people each act for the purpose of committing a crime. Cowan will be arraigned in General Sessions Court next month.

Silver Point Man Cited For Tattooing Minor

If he didn't know it before, a Putnam County man now knows that giving a tattoo to a minor is against the law in Tennessee.  24-year-old Jimmy Eddi Hancock of Mill Pond Road in Silver Point was arrested after an investigation by Monterey police.  Officer Larry Bates says that the parent of a 13-year-old girl reported to police in January that Hancock had tattooed the word DREAM in the girl's lower abdominal area. According to Bates, during the investigation there were several witness statements collected -- including one from Hancock, who allegedly admitted to giving the girl the tattoo. Violation of the law against tattooing minors is a Class A misdemeanor. 

Thursday, April 14, 2011

CNN Features Tech Student 'Hero'

Kaylee Marie Radzyminski (far right)
is joined by TTU vice presidents Marc Burnett
and Susan Elkins (far left), along with fellow TTU students
  CNN was there to document the moment as volunteers from across the campus of Tennessee Tech University joined Kaylee Radzyminski to pack thousands of entertainment items — including the millionth one — bound for U.S. troops overseas. That milestone is documented in an episode of program CNN Heroes that premiered nationally online and on the television news network Thursday and will re-air periodically through Monday.

“Everyone loves entertainment, but we can just turn on a radio or TV. They can’t, especially the troops in the mountain areas; they barely have email access. I had to do it,” Radzyminski said.

Re-airings of the CNN Heroes episode featuring Radzyminski’s update are set for Friday sometime during the hours beginning at 7 and 10 a.m. and 1 and 10 p.m. Central Standard Time, with a late-night re-air set for sometime in the hour of 1 a.m. Saturday. Other Saturday re-airings are set for sometime during the hours of 9 a.m. and 2, 4 and 9 p.m.

When she originally got the idea for Tunes 4 the Troops, Radzyminski said she was at a summer training with the U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps and met some Marines just back from Iraq. When she asked them what was hardest about being gone, they told her missing family and missing entertainment. Although the idea was entirely hers, Radzyminski credits her success to the help of many.  More than 60 volunteers spent last Saturday in TTU’s Roaden University Center packing CDs and DVDs into boxes for shipping, and one volunteer — Jennifer Dyer, a senior accounting major at TTU and a University Academic Scholar — helped Radzyminski coordinate the entire event.

“She was there all day Saturday, supervised every station during the packing party as well as the unloading of boxes,” Radzyminski said. “She also spent five hours with me taking stuff to the post office today.”
Other volunteers included a journalism class, a service-learning class, TTU athletes, ROTC cadets, some Cookeville High School students, Chartwells Catering Service, a student business organization, Alpha Delta Pi sorority members and many others. Radzyminski said she also appreciated the service of postal workers Neta Crosswhite and Cher Daly.

Michelle Huddleston, coordinator of the TTU University Service Center, said, “We are certainly still raising funds for this final shipment. Individuals, companies, families, church groups and student organizations can sponsor a box.”

For $15, one box — containing 125 items — can be sent overseas, she said. Donations can be sent to TTU Box 5115: School of Interdisciplinary Studies Fund for Excellence (service project Tunes 4 the Troops in the memo line of checks).

Chamber Continues Focus On Existing Industry

Cookeville's ATC Automation has received a visit from the Cookeville-Putnam County Chamber of Commerce’s Existing Industry Committee, playing host to their first quarter meeting.  Members of the committee schedule site visits to existing industry throughout the year, and meet quarterly to review opportunities to help existing industries and address any issues. Officials say the committee's primary purpose is to maintain a comprehensive business expansion and retention program that provides information and resources necessary to enable existing industries to thrive.  ATC provides custom automated assembly and test systems for a variety of industries, including the medical device, energy storage, consumer product and automotive sectors. They employ more than 130 people with approximately 50 engineers, many who are Tennessee Tech graduates. 

ATC’s president Bill Curran and vice-president Gene Bressler welcomed the committee to the facility and provided a site tour after the quarterly meeting.

“We are extremely impressed with ATC Automation’s operation and appreciated the opportunity to see another excellent example of a high caliber organization producing highly engineered products for the manufacturing industry right here in Cookeville,” said Steve Copeland, Chair of the Existing Industry Committee. “ATC, like many other local, companies, has an incredible impact on the local economy, not only for hiring local talent but by selling product around the globe, bringing clients to Cookeville who stay in our hotels and eat in our restaurants.” 

ATC Automation is located at 101 Mill Drive in Cookeville. Visit for more information.

Judge Hears Debate On EC Legal Funding

A hearing was held in Putnam County Chancery Court on Thursday in a lawsuit over whether the state of Tennessee or county government should be responsible for the legal bills of the county's election commission.  A special judge spent about an hour and a half hearing from County Attorney Jeff Jones, Janet Kleinfelter with the Attorney General's office, and John Harris, the attorney representing the Election Commission.  Kleinfelter and Harris argued that state law clearly mandates that the county must pay for the operation of the local election commission -- in much the same way that the county is required to provide funding for the school system. Jones, on the other hand, says the issue is not that clear, especially given that there are at least three bills pending in the Tennessee General Assembly which speak to the issue, in an attempt to clarify the law.  The judge is expected to issue a ruling on the Putnam County case within the next couple of weeks.

New Mural Depicts CRMC Foundation Logo

The Foundation at Cookeville Regional is showing Cookeville what they're all about in a very visible way. With the help of David Roland of Roland Outdoor Advertising and artist Ron Sweeney, The Foundation has decorated an outside wall of its office building, located at 127 North Oak Avenue, with a giant mural of its logo, originally created by local advertising agency WDStone & Associates. With hands encircling a family and the 14-county Upper Cumberland service area that The Foundation serves, the logo depicts the organization's commitment to helping patients across the region. The Foundation was established in 2005 to further the mission of Cookeville Regional Medical Center by helping to support patient assistance programs, purchase needed equipment and furnishings that don't fall within the hospital's budget, and developing a permanent endowment program.

During the past four years of active fundraising, The Foundation has raised more than $2.5 million in cash and pledges from more than 1,500 donors. Initial support has come from the hospital "family," including employees through payroll deduction, physicians, medical groups, the hospital's volunteer auxiliary and The Foundation's advisory committee, along with the hospital board of trustees and Foundation board members, which have participated at 100 percent. Additional gifts have been received from community members, business partners, special events (golf tournament) and various foundation grants and memorials. The Foundation's greatest impact to date has been assisting nearly 2,000 patients and their families through various patient assistance programs, including the Cancer Care Fund and Caring Hands Fund, in the amount of $450,000, with much more assistance anticipated in the future. The Foundation plans to fund many efforts that the hospital is not able to finance on its own. Not only can The Foundation create a perpetual source of funding through the development of an endowment fund for future medical equipment purchases and facility expansion, but it can also greatly expand assistance to patients with expenses not covered by insurance and other payment sources.

"The Foundation as an organization has a mission that is critical to the future of all of individuals of the Upper Cumberland – quality healthcare," said Gary J. Curto, The Foundation's executive director. "It truly has become a Health Foundation of the Upper Cumberland."

For additional information on The Foundation, call 783-2003 or visit their website at

MADD Organizers Recognized For Their Work

The Tennessee Board of Probation and Parole today presented two Cookeville area victim rights advocates with a Voice for Victims Award -- in recognition of their commitment and dedication to helping crime victims. The award for the Upper Cumberland was presented to Aline and Norris Skelley of the group Mothers Against Drunk Driving. After suffering the loss of her brother in an alcohol-related traffic crash in 1993, Mrs. Skelley was motivated to become a victim advocate and help others as advocates had helped her family. Officials say that since then, both Mr. and Mrs. Skelley have provided assistance, understanding and compassion to other crime victims who are coping with tragic losses. One of the event they help coordinate each year is the Candlelight Vigil of Remembrance. The award was given to the Skelley's during a tree planting ceremony at Cane Creek Park. The ceremony was one of more than a dozen such events being held statewide this week in honor of Victims Rights Week.

Cookeville Group May Run Crossville Shelter

A non-profit group from Cookeville may soon be running the Animal Shelter in Cumberland County. Commissioners on Monday will decide whether or not to enter into an agreement with a group known as AARF. That's an acronym for All About Rescue and Fixin'. Cumberland County commissioners this week discuss partnering with the animal rescue organization to help run the county animal shelter and provide foster homes to several rescued animals. Cumberland County Mayor Kenneth Carey says that he has been talking with Linda Randall of AARF for several months and working together on a plan for Cumberland County. Randall is described as one of the co-counders of the organization, which operates mainly in the Cookeville area. According to a proposal being voted on next week, Cumberland County would work together with AARF to build a new 1,500 square-foot adoption center building on land that is currently owned by the county, and that is adjacent to the current animal shelter. AARF would toward securing donations and holding fundraisers to raise the money to build the facility. The county would then own the building, but would lease it to AARF.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Man Charged After Dropping Bag of Pills

A Cookeville man is facing drug charges today after a plastic bag full of oxycodone pills apparently fell out of his boxer shorts while he was in a local convenience store.  Police say the man did not notice that he had lost that bag until later on, but returned to the store's parking lot to look for it.  By that time, police had been notified and questioned 20-year-old Devin Lee McClellan. McClellan initially told officers that he was looking for his ID, but allegedly admitted to purchasing the pills.  He was then cited for simple possession.

Teenagers Allegedly Admit To Sign Theft

Two Putnam County teenagers, who have allegedly admitted to stealing more than a thousand dollars worth of street signs, are now facing charges of theft.  The sheriff's department says that signs were taken from nearly a dozen intersections in late March.  Authorities say it was a Baxter police officer who notified them that he had seen a sign for Mine Lick Creek Road in the back of a vehicle at the McDonald's off of Exit 280. Deputies later stopped that vehicle and questioned the driver, who reportedly admitted to the theft and implicated another teenager.  The two were identified as 19-year-old Jerry Lindell Beckham Jr. of Baxter and 18-year-old Collin Creed Jackson of Silver Point.  They'll be in court on April 25th.

Festival To Celebrate Student Writing

The composition program and department of English and communications at Tennessee Tech University present the ninth annual Festival of Student Writing from 11 to noon on Tuesday, April 19, in the Multipurpose Room on the second floor of the Roaden University Center.  The festival is free, and the public is invited.

"The event's primary goal is to celebrate, showcase, and teach others about students' writing and research projects from their English 1010 and 1020 courses," said Tony Baker, director of composition and coordinator of the festival.

The festival features the work of participating students, mostly first-year students, who are on hand to display their projects at various booths and tables. Rather than stacks of essays, this non-competitive event features several hundred students' alternative texts, including posters, exhibits, brochures, multimedia presentations, and performances. Many texts represent collaborative efforts.

"It's exciting to see what students have been working on and how theydesign their festival texts," Baker said. "We expect a wide range of interesting projects, lively interaction, and some entertaining surprises-a real carnival of ideas. This event is a rare chance for students just to talk to people on campus about their writing projects and ideas. It's great fun."

'Blue Ribbon' Event Set For Thursday

Those who have driven around the Putnam County courthouse in recent days may have noticed a number of blue ribbons tied to the trees around the square. Officials say they put ribbons on those trees as part of an event on Thursday called the Blue Ribbon Ceremony of Remembrance. It is scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m. Organizers say the ceremony is intended to bring public attention to the problems of child abuse and child neglect in the Cookeville area. Each blue ribbon, they say, signifies a victim of such abuse. According to some sources, the Blue Ribbon Campaign against child abuse originated in the spring of 1989 when Virginia resident Bonnie Finney tied a blue ribbon to her car.

Tech Basketball Signs Recruit From Georgia

Tennessee Tech's newest head coach, Steve Payne, and the rest of the Golden Eagle men's basketball staff will welcome Lanerryl Esters-Johnson to the Golden Eagle roster as the newest signee for the 2011-12 basketball season. A 6'0" guard out of Marietta, Ga., Esters-Johnson played under Joe Goydish at Walton High School, making a name for himself as a combo-guard, averaging 24 points per game during his senior season. He is also known for his work ethic day in and day out, both in and out of season, as well as for being successful in the classroom.

"Lanerryl is a scoring point guard," Goydish said. "He does a great job handling the basketball and getting the offense going. He has the ability to break down a defense and either find his teammates or attack the basket himself."

Over the course of his career at Walton, Lanerryl was named first team all-county, all-state and all-region en route to helping his taem to a regional title. He was also honored as the MVP of the Ranier Beach tournament and was a member of the all-tournament team at the Glaxo Smith Kline Invitational.

"The first thing you'll notice about Lanerryl is that he has tremendous speed and quickness to his game," Payne said. "He has a great work ethic and desire to be successful. He has a scorers' mentality, and as he grows as a player and learns the point guard position, he'll develop techniques that will allow him to score in
different ways."

Born November 30, 1992 to Wil and Teresa Johnson, Lanerryl intends to major in business management at TTU.

"I feel like I belong at Tech," Johnson said. "I'm very comfortable there. It seems like a very family-oriented team and school - I've never felt like that at anywhere else that I visited. It's like it was meant to be."

In addition to his enthusiasm about signing with Tech, Johnson also has a very intuitive grasp on how he can potentially be an impact player from the start.

"I know that there are guys coming back who can score, guys like Kevin Murphy," he said. "So my job will be to make his job easier and allow him to move off of the ball and get more scoring opportunities."

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Hearing Set For Election Commission Suit

Unless there's another delay, a hearing has been scheduled tomorrow in Putnam County Chancery Court to hear arguments over whether the county or the state should be responsible for paying the legal bills of the county election commission.  A special judge has been assigned to hear the case. The county, through its attorney Jeff Jones, says it's the state's responsibility to pay for legal bills because the local election commission is an entity of state government. The state, through the Attorney General's office, says the bill should be paid by the county, and says the requirement to do so is spelled out in the law creating authority for election commssions. Local election officials say that while the dispute has been pending for the past two years, more than a hundred thousand dollars in legal fees have been incurred.

Court Date Set In Several Local Cases

May 2nd is the court date set for a Cookeville man, charged with reckless endangerment. The Putnam County sheriff's department says 19-year-old Derrick Lee Caperton of Dodson's Branch Road was arrested after he allegedly fired an air pistol at a nine-year-old boy. A pellet from the pistol reportedly struck the victim just below the eye. Meanwhile, in a separate case, May 2nd is also the date when 22-year-old Patrick Brown of Villa Drive in Livingston will be in court. He's charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor for allegedly providing alcohol and drugs to some teenagers he was driving around with. And May 2nd will also be the arraignment date for two Tennessee Tech students charged with shoplifting from the Kohl's store.  18-year-old Jerry Stone of Nashville and 18-year-old Christopher Bowen of Memphis were allegedly caught with the stolen merchandise.

Chamber Ambassador Committee At All-Time High

The Cookeville-Putnam County Chamber of Commerce’s Ambassador Committee has grown to an all time high, reaching 30 active and involved members.  The Ambassador team is the goodwill arm of the Chamber, committed to attending ribbon cuttings, grand openings, ground breakings, new member orientations, as well as helping with events such as Business After Hours, Business Before Hours, the Annual Membership Campaign, Membership Meeting, Annual Golf Tournament, and the recruitment and retention of members.

“The Ambassador team is not only strong in numbers and activity level but they are strong because of the dedication and professionalism of each member,” said Phillip Baker, chair of organizational development for the Chamber. “This group really cares about the community and shows it through their countless hours of volunteer service.”

The Chamber Ambassadors will be instrumental in executing the goal of the Chamber’s Member Contact Plan in which, over the next 18 months, every member of the Chamber will be contacted. These visits are meant to build relationships with all members, show appreciation for their investment, and gain valuable feedback about their membership.

Bryan Symphony Season Finale Scheduled

The season finale of the Bryan Symphony Orchestra at Tennessee Tech University is dominated by a single composer, 20th century American master Leonard Bernstein. Organizers say the rare focus on one composer is a tribute to Bernstein, who has a wide-ranging body of work.

"The appeal of Bernstein is that his work encompasses so many styles," says BSO Music Director Dan Allcott. "He comes across as many different composers – as is the case with our April concert of some of his Broadway, operatic and choral masterpieces."

The concert begins at 3 p.m., Sunday, April 17, in TTU's Wattenbarger Auditorium. Tickets are $30 for adults, $26 for seniors 65 and up, and $8 for students. You can call 931-525-2633 for reservations. The performance is funded in part under an agreement with the Tennessee Arts Commission. The BSO's April 17 program begins with the overture to the Bernstein operetta "Candide" and dance episodes from his Broadway musical "On the Town." The performance also includes two choral works, the reverent "Chichester Psalms" and another "Candide" selection, "Make Our Garden Grow," both of which feature the Cookeville Mastersingers and Tech Chorale, directed by TTU faculty member Craig Zamer.

Women's Basketball Awards Dinner April 21

The Tennessee Tech women's basketball team will hold its annual Awards Dinner on Thursday, April 21, and fans are invited to join the team and coaching staff in celebrating a championship season. The Awards Dinner, scheduled for 6 p.m. in the Multipurpose Room of the Roaden University Center, will feature the presentation awards including the Most Valuable Player, John P. Hendrix Leadership and the Frank Porter Award. In addition, second-year head coach Sytia Messer will announce several other honors including Most Improved Player, Freshman of the Year and Miss Golden Eagle Award. Honors will also be presented for the team's academic success. Fans interested in attending should contact the women's basketball office at (931) 372-3921 before 4 p.m. on Monday, April 18, to reserve space at the Awards Dinner. The cost is $13 per person. Roger Ealey, the radio voice of Tennessee Tech Athletics, will serve as the host for the dinner.

Reward Offered In Burglary Case

The Cookeville-Putnam County Crimestoppers "Crime of the Week" is a burglary, which could lead to a reward for someone with information about it.  Officer Myke Green says that on April 8,2011 the Cookeville Police Department responded to a burglary at the Sunoco on West Broad St. During the course of this burglary, the thief or thieves threw a large piece of concrete through the west side window of the building. The person or persons then entered and took a large amount of cigarettes and cigars from the business. Crime Stoppers will pay up to $1000 for information that leads to an arrest in this burglary or any other crime in Putnam County. You can call Crime Stoppers at 520-STOP (7867) or 267-TIPS (8477).

CRMC To Offer 24/7 Neurology Services

Specialists On Call, Inc., which describes itself as the nation's leading provider of clinical telemedicine, announced today that it has extended its emergency on-call services to serve Cookeville Regional Medical Center. Under the partnership, Specialists On Call will deliver 24/7 365 days a year access to board certified, fellowship trained neurologists to patients suffering from stroke or any other neurological emergency. Cookeville Regional Medical Center is a 247-bed referral center. By partnering with Specialists On Call, hospital officials say they can add to their clinical strengths and give the community access to around-the-clock emergency neurology coverage.

"We have a long history of serving our community with the best healthcare available," said Dr. Menachem Langer, acting CEO of Cookeville Regional Medical Center. "With teleneurology, we continue that tradition and offer members of our community quick access to the best emergency neurologists any time of day or night."

Specialists On Call provides telestroke services to hospitals in twelve states and has conducted more than 25,000 consultations via  telemedicine since the company's inception.