By Michelle Price
UCBJ Managing Editor
COOKEVILLE – Social media was abuzz with Cookeville and Upper Cumberland stories throughout 2019.
The top topics ranged from musical success to tiny houses, hospitals and one of our favorite restaurateurs retiring. 2019 was definitely a year with a lot of buzz about the business-related news across the Upper Cumberland.
1. Jake Hoot
Need we say any more? UCBJ followed local musician Jake Hoot as he went from stepping on a stage staring at the backs of four red chairs to being announced as the winner of the internationally telecast music competition. From battle rounds to knockouts and finally to the live shows, Hoot’s following rapidly grew, with area fans gathering in watch parties as he steadily moved from the Top 10 to the Top 8 and then to the final four before being announced the winner on Dec. 17.
After 34 years serving his loyal customers, Vichit “Vic” Keeradarome, decided to retire and leave the restaurant in the capable hands of his nephew, Dan Herren.
3. Jamie Dailey honored by the state of Tennessee
Gainesboro native, Jamie Dailey was honored with a “Tennessee Music Pathways” marker, placed on the courthouse square in Gainesboro. Dailey took the occasion to perform two concerts raising money for the Dailey & Vincent Helping Hands Fund, which provides financial assistance to meet nutritional, educational and medical needs to disadvantaged children of Jackson and DeKalb counties.
4. Opiates and healthcare fraud
Healthcare-related issues were a leading topic of the buzz in 2019 with stories detailing doctors on the run, doctors and pharmacies illegally doling out opiates, and health practitioners defrauding insurance companies and Medicare.
5. Celina bans tiny houses
The city of Celina drew the attention of the entire region when they voted to ban “tiny houses” under 960 square feet from being built in the corporate limits of Celina. To date, the ban is still in force in the small, rural town.
6. The struggles of the Celina Hospital
Since the sudden announcement that the Cumberland River Hospital (CRH) was closing on March 1, Clay County residents have been concerned about the state of healthcare in the small town. As the CRMC board decided to sell the hospital and its assets, anticipation continued to grow. Multiple proposals were made but ultimately fell through until Johnny Presley committed to purchase the hospital and its assets. The reopening of the hospital and its clinic are currently on hold while Presley awaits the CMS number required to operate.
7. The Bull is back!
Bull & Thistle co-owner Diana Mandli gave stirred up quite the buzz when she granted an exclusive to the UCBJ talking about the restaurant reopening and changes that were planned. The restaurant reopened in November and features live music on weekends.
8. Broast changes ownership
The Broast, a Cookeville coffee shop famous for roasting its own coffee in a variety of blends, changed ownership recently with Zach Buckner turning over the reins to Justin and Hannah Davis.
9. Fitzgerald’s woes continue
EPA’s tightening limitations on glider kits has had a continued serious impact on Fitzgerald Glider Kits, based in Byrdstown. Between the EPA regulations and a federal excise tax that was suddenly imposed on the rebuilder, the company has had to closemultiple facilities and lay off the majority of its workforce.
10. Congressman Rose taps Foster as district director
Rep. John Rose created a buzz when he named Rebecca Foster, former chief nursing officer of Cumberland Medical Center (CMC) in Crossville, as district director.
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