Local News Articles
Almost two months after the August 3rd election, it appears there is now a winner in the race for Criminal Court Judge Part II in the 13th Judicial District.
Retired Nashville Judge Ben Cantrell, appointed to hear the election contest lawsuit filed by Lillie Ann Sells, dismissed the case Wednesday night after hearing two days of testimony in the Putnam County Chancery Court hearing.
Judge Sells, who lost her re-election bid to challenger David Patterson by 10 votes, asked that the election be voided
Sells filed her \"contest of election\" suit on August 17, alleging that various irregularities occurred in the voting on election day and asking the Chancery Court to review her allegations and either declare her the winner or order a new election.
Among her allegations are claims that convicted felons voted in one county, that voters applying for absentee ballots were not required to furnish their Social Security numbers, that voters spent too much time in the voting booths in some instances, and that a non-resident of the district was allowed to vote in one county.
Judge Cantrell ruled that he could find only one or two votes that shouldn't count. One of those ballots was cast by a convicted felon in White County. The other was an absentee ballot signed by someone who assisted the voter, with no witness signature present.
The other contested ballots had missing information, such as a Social Security number, reason for voting absentee or dates of the voter's absence.
Many of the requests or applications for absentee ballots were elderly voters, who are allowed by law to vote absentee if they are over 65 years old. However Stephen Zralek of Nashville, Sells' attorney, said that those votes should not be counted when the voter's age is not specifically listed as the reason for voting absentee, even though the voter's birth date is clearly on the application.
Zralek claimed that those missing items were necessary in order to process applications for absentee voting, according to the law governing absentee ballots. Zralek contended that the strict rules of absentee voting should be followed, saying, \"The violations of the statute affect the freedom and purity of the ballot. Either the law is strictly complied or it's not.\"
Defense attorneys argued that Sells' complaint over the election alleges no fraud or purposeful wrongdoing on the part of administrators or voters in that election.
Judge Cantrell sided with the defense saying there was no proof of any fraud, no allegations of any fraud and no proof of conspiracy. The judge said he didn't believe that the statute requires applications for absentee ballots to list Social Security numbers.
Sells has 30 days to appeal Judge Cantrell's decision.
John M. Roberts of Livingston has been serving as an appointed interim judge, pending the outcome of this case.
During the weekend September 22-24, seven DeKalb County firefighters completed the Live Firefighting Course at the Tennessee Fire Service and Codes Enforcement Academy in Bell Buckle, Tennessee. The 22 hour course applies hands-on skills firefighters learned in the Basic Firefighting course.
Assistant Chief and Training Program Coordinator Roy Merriman says that Travis Johnson, Bobby Koger, Andy Pack, Jason Rice, Jonathan Scurlock, C.J. Tramel, and Calvin Tramel successfully completed the weekend training that involved rigorous hands-on drills that tested the firefighter?s skills. ?Our department is extremely proud of these men?s commitment to develop and improve their firefighting skills. Because of this commitment, our department is better prepared to handle the various emergency situations that we are faced with,? says Asst. Chief Merriman.
Chief Donny Green also commends these seven dedicated firefighters. ?In the end, it means that we are providing a higher level of service to the citizens we protect. It also means that we are doing everything we can to make sure our firefighters are trained to the fullest extent to allow them to do their jobs safely. Our goal is that everyone goes home at the end of the day. Training is a great place to start to make sure this happens,? added Chief Green.
DeKalb County Fire Department currently has 68 volunteer firefighters and officers that are 100% volunteer. The department works out of 10 stations that are strategically located throughout DeKalb County.