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Cookeville is a city in Putnam County, Tennessee, United States. Its population at the 2010 census was 30,435. It is the county seat and largest city of Putnam County and home to Tennessee Technological University. It is recognized as one of the country's micropolitan areas, smaller cities which nevertheless function as significant economic hubs. Of the twenty micropolitan areas in Tennessee, Cookeville is the largest; the Cookeville micropolitan area's 2010 Census population was 106,042.
Cookeville is named for Richard Fielding Cooke, who came to Tennessee in 1810 and settled nearby. Cooke was twice elected to the state senate, and was influential in establishing Putnam County.
Cookeville was chosen as the county seat because it had a spring which provided water to the community.
In 1856, Cookeville's first courthouse was erected. It burned a few years later and was rebuilt. The rebuilt courthouse burned again in 1861 when Union Army soldiers who were camped there accidentally set it on fire. A third courthouse was completed in 1866, and burned in 1899. The present courthouse was completed in 1900.
The Isbell Hotel was completed prior to 1886, and was the first hotel in Cookevile.
In 1890, the Nashville and Knoxville Railroad was completed through Cookeville.
A basic charter for the city was adopted under a private act of the State of Tennessee in 1903.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 22.0 square miles (57 km2), of which 21.9 square miles (57 km2) is land and 0.2 square miles (0.52 km2) (0.77%) is water.
Located on the Highland Rim, Cookeville's elevation is a few hundred feet higher than either Nashville or Knoxville. As a result, temperatures and humidity levels are generally slightly lower in Cookeville than in either the Nashville Basin or in the Tennessee Valley.
Three man-made lakes maintained by the Corps of Engineers are located near Cookeville, created to help flood control in the narrow valleys of the Cumberland Plateau: Center Hill Lake, Cordell Hull Lake, and Dale Hollow Lake. Two smaller man-made lakes, City Lake and Burgess Falls Lake, lie along the Falling Water River, which flows through the southeastern part of the county. Cane Creek Lake, created by an earthen dam built by the Civilian Conservation Corps, lies in the western part of the city.
Cookeville has a humid subtropical climate (Köppen climate classification: Cfa) with relatively high temperatures and evenly distributed precipitation through the year. Summers are typically hot and humid and winters are mild and cool. The highest temperature recorded in Cookeville since 1896 is 105 °F (41 °C) on June 29, 2012, and the lowest temperature recorded is −22 °F (−30 °C) on January 21, 1985. Average annual precipitation is 56.1 in (1,420 mm), with the highest recorded precipitation at 6.06 in (154 mm) on September 29, 1964. Average annual snowfall is 8.0 in (200 mm) with the highest recorded snowfall at 15.2 in (39 cm) on November 3, 1966.
As of the census of 2010, there were 30,435 people, 12,471 households, and 6,669 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,094.5 people per square mile (422.5/km²). There were 13,706 housing units at an average density of 491.6 per square mile (189.8/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 87.9% White, 3.4% African American, 0.6% Native American, 2.0% Asian, 0.21% Pacific Islander, 4.0% from other races, and 2.1% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 7.0% of the population.
There were 12,471 households out of which 25.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 37% were married couples living together, 12% had a female householder with no husband present, and 46.5% were non-families. 33.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.19 and the average family size was 2.83.
In the city, the population was spread out with 18.6% under the age of 18, 25.2% from 18 to 24, 25.1% from 25 to 44, 18.0% from 45 to 64, and 13.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 29 years. For every 100 females, there were 101.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 100.8 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $29,789, and the median income for a family was $39,623. Males had a median income of $28,013 versus $21,710 for females. The per capita income for the city was $19,297. About 13.1% of families and 23.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 20.1% of those under age 18 and 18.7% of those age 65 or over.
Cookeville is the county seat and largest city in the Upper Cumberland region of Tennessee, and as such, is known as the "Hub of the Upper Cumberlands." Cookeville is located at the center of the labor market area consisting of Putnam, Cumberland, DeKalb, Jackson, Overton, Smith and White counties, with a civilian labor force in 2013 of 103,500 jobs (roughly one-third of which are in Putnam County itself). As of June 30, 2017, there were 16 commercial banks and one credit union operating in the city, with combined deposits totaling $1.91 billion. Total retail sales in Cookeville for 2013 were $1.39 billion. The unemployment rate as of May 2017 in Putnam County was 3.0%, down from April 2017's rate of 3.7%. The cost of living in Cookeville is low, and the city ranked 8th in the United States on the Center for Regional Economic Competitivess Cost of Living Index in 2016.
Manufacturing is the largest sector in Cookeville's economy with over 100 plants and 8,000 employees. With 13% of the workforce, retail trade employs about 4,200 people and is the second largest sector in the Cookeville economy. Health care workers comprise about 12% of the work force with 3,840 employees. Education is another major sector with nearly 2,000 employees at Tennessee Technological University and the public school system.
There are a number of companies based in Cookeville. In 2006 Oreck manufacturing moved their Long Beach, Mississippi plant to Cookeville after Hurricane Katrina. Oreck employs about 500 people and is a prominent business in the region. The trucking company Averitt Express is based in Cookeville, as is J&S Construction. The manufacturing company ATC Automation is also based in Cookeville, and in 2016 announced a $10.4 million investment plan intended to add 110 engineering jobs to the city.
Interstate Drive, located parallel to Interstate 40 at the south end of town, is the site of many popular restaurant and hotel chains. A 228,000 square foot retail park is currently under development using the name of the Shoppes at Eagle Point just off of Interstate Drive at the intersection of South Walnut Ave. and E. Veterans Dr. and scheduled to open in the Spring of 2018. Downtown's West Side is the site of several locally owned retail stores and restaurants, including the Cream City ice cream and coffee shop, Ralph's Doughnut Shop, Crawdaddy's West Side Grill, The Backroom Bistro, World Foods, The Blue Pig, Father Tom's Pub, Seven Senses Food & Cheer, and others. This area is also home to two of the city's microbreweries, the Red Silo Brewing Company and Hix Farm Brewery. A third microbrewery, Jig Head Brewing Company, opened in 2017.
The city of Cookeville operates under the council-manager form of municipal government. There is an elected five-member city council, including a mayor, vice mayor, and three city council members. The city council establishes policy that is administered by a full-time city manager. All city council members serve four year terms, and the city manager and city clerk are appointed by the city council. The current mayor is Ricky Shelton, and the four other city council members are Dr. Charles Womack, Larry Epps, Dwight Henry and Jim Woodford. The current city manager is Mike Davidson and the current city clerk is Cathy McClain.
Cookeville is also the county seat of Putnam County, Tennessee. Putnam County includes the cities of Cookeville, Algood, Baxter and Monterey. The current county executive is Randy Porter. As of July 2014, the total population of Putnam County is 74,165.
Cookeville is predominantly a college town, home to Tennessee Technological University since 1915. Tennessee Tech is a public university with programs concentrating in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) studies and is ranked by US News & World Report as #35 on the list of the Top Regional Universities in the South, as well as the most under-rated university in the state of Tennessee. The university is rated under, "Doctoral Universities - Moderate Research Activity (R3)" by the Carnegie classification system among schools with at least twenty (20) doctoral graduates per year. In addition to its outstanding science and engineering programs, the university is also home to the Mastersingers and the Tennessee Tech Tuba Ensemble, led by renowned professor, R. Winston Morris.
In addition to Tennessee Tech, Cookeville is also home to a satellite campus of Volunteer State Community College as well as the Tennessee Bible College, a Christian college affiliated with the Churches of Christ.
Public schools in the city of Cookeville are run by Putnam County Schools, which consists of a total of eighteen (18) elementary, middle and high schools located throughout Putnam County. The schools located in the city of Cookeville include Cookeville High School, Jere Whitson Elementary, Prescott Middle School, Northeast Elementary, Capshaw Elementary, Dry Valley School, Parkview Elementary, Sycamore Elementary, Cane Creek Elementary, Avery Trace Middle, and the Adult High School. Cookeville High School is one of the six largest public high schools in the state of Tennessee. Cookeville High School and Avery Trace Middle School are among the twenty (20) schools in the state of Tennessee to offer the International Baccalaureate program.
The major daily newspaper in Cookeville is the Herald-Citizen, which publishes in print and online formats six days per week (except Saturdays). Cookeville is also the headquarters of the Upper Cumberland Business Journal, a quarterly business newspaper serving the 14-county Upper Cumberland region. Cookeville is also home one broadcast television station, WCTE TV 22 (PBS). Charter Communications provides cable television service, and Dish Network provides satellite television. Using cable or satellite, television stations and network affiliates from the Nashville media market can be received. Local Internet service providers include Charter Communications, Frontier Communications, and Twin Lakes Telephone Cooperative which has introduced gigabit broadband internet service in Cookeville.
Cookeville is also served by thirteen FM and three AM radio stations. Tennessee Tech University's campus radio indie station operates at WTTU 88.5 FM, and National Public Radio (NPR) broadcasts at WHRS 91.7 FM (simulcast with WPLN, Nashville). Rock and roll and Top 40 stations include WKSW 98.5 Kiss FM & WBXE Rock 93.7 FM, and country music can be found at WGSQ 94.7 FM Country Giant & WKXD-FM 106.9 Kicks FM. There is also one light rock station at WLQK 95.9 FM & two Christian music stations: WAYM 90.5 FM Christian Hit Radio and WWOG 90.9 FM King of Kings Radio as well as Catholic Radio station WRIM 89.9 Risen Radio. There are three talk radio stations broadcasting on both the FM and the AM dials: WPTN The Eagle 106.1 FM and AM 780 (sports), WHUB The Hub 107.7 FM and AM 1400 (news) and WUCT News Talk 94.1 FM and 1600 AM (news).
Cookeville is located approximately 80 miles (130 km) east of Nashville and 100 miles (160 km) west of Knoxville along Interstate 40 (I-40). Chattanooga is approximately 90 miles (140 km) to the south via Tennessee State Route 111 (SR-111). U.S. Route 70N (US-70N, Spring Street in central and eastern Cookeville, W. Broad Street on the western side) runs east–west through the central business district of the city, which is approximately 1.5 mi (2.4 km) northwest of the interchange of I-40 with SR-111. The major city streets running through the city are North Washington Ave. and South Jefferson Ave., which run north–south through the central business district, and Willow Ave., running north–south and immediately adjacent to Tennessee Tech University. In addition to Spring Street (US 70N), 10th Street runs east–west and connects North Washington Ave. with the neighboring town of Algood, and 12th Street runs east–west and connects North Washington with Willow, and leads out of town to the west, connecting with Tennessee State Route 56 (SR-56, Gainesboro Highway), via SR-290. Running east–west adjacent to I-40 in the southern section of the city is Interstate Drive, which is populated by several national restaurant chains, hotels, and other businesses.
There are no commercial passenger airports in the area. Located in White County approximately 8.5 nautical miles (15.7 km) south of the central business district of the city is the Upper Cumberland Regional Airport (ICAO: KSRB, FAA LID: SRB), which is a small, general aviation airport serving primarily single-engine aircraft. Commercial flights are available to residents at Nashville International Airport (IATA: BNA, ICAO: KBNA, FAA LID: BNA), which is located along I-40 72 mi (116 km) to the west. Airport shuttles are available for transportation to Nashville International, and the Upper Cumberland Human Resource Agency (UCHRA) operates a daily express bus to the Nashville Greyhound bus station with stops at the airport three times per day. The UCHRA also operates the Cookeville Area Transit System (CATS) local bus service.
Since Cookville's founding, rail transport was a major part of the economy, and the Tennessee Central Railway connecting Nashville and Knoxville had a major rail depot in the central business district. This railway was used primarily to transport the coal and minerals of East Tennessee to the markets of the midstate region. The coal industry declined during the 1960s, and the Tennessee Central Railway was discontinued in 1968. Construction of a bicycle trail adjacent to the railway's path began in August 2013, with the reconstruction of the rail depot in Monterey. Plans are to connect this depot and the rail depot in Cookeville's central business district (now a museum) with a 19 mi (31 km) bicycle trail.
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