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Bicycle Rider Injured in Accident with Car

July 16, 2018
By: Dwayne Page

A man was injured after his bike was hit by a motorist this morning (Monday) on Highway 70 at the foot of Snow Hill.

30 year old Matthew Geekie of Smithville was taken by DeKalb EMS to St. Thomas DeKalb Hospital where he was treated for minor injuries. The accident occurred around 4:30 a.m.

According to Trooper Bob Melching of the Tennessee Highway Patrol, Geekie was on his bicycle as 39 year old Amon Billings, III of Smithville was in a Nissan Versa. Both were traveling west near the white line of the highway. Trooper Melching said the passenger side mirror of Billings’ car struck the handlebar of the bicycle which caused Geekie to be thrown from the bike. Billings was not injured.

A Sheriff’s Department Deputy was also on the scene to assist.

James Cantrell Celebrates 90th Birthday with Family and Friends (VIEW VIDEO HERE)

July 15, 2018
By: Dwayne Page

Family and friends of James Cantrell joined the celebration of his 90th birthday Saturday afternoon at the Whorton Springs Baptist Church Family Life Center.

“This is great. I am thankful for the turnout from the church community and the community as a whole,” said Cantrell.

A DeKalb County native, veteran, educator, nurseryman, and former school board member, Cantrell was born on July 8, 1928 to the late Nonnie and Lonnie Cantrell. James was the first of four children. He has a sister who survives but his two brothers are now deceased.

James and his wife Geraldean, who reside on South College Street in Smithville, have been married for 63 years. They have two sons and daughters-in-law, four grandchildren, and one great grandchild

As a child, Cantrell attended elementary school at Oak Grove for eight years and then went to DeKalb County High School. After graduation Cantrell did his college studies at Middle Tennessee State, George Peabody, and Tennessee Tech earning a Masters Degree.

In the fall of 1950 after graduating from college that summer, Cantrell became principal of a two teacher school at Mahaffey Hill before Uncle Sam came calling.

“During that fall session, they put me on the draft list. I went to Nashville the day after I was put on that list and volunteered after which I immediately went into the U.S. Air Force. I served in the Air Force 38-39 months until the end of the Korean War. For six months I was in officer candidate school. Over time I went from the rank of Private to First Lieutenant,” said Cantrell.

“While in the Air Force I helped run Chemical warfare tests mostly at Army Chemical bases all over the United States. Most of the work was done at Dugway Proving Ground in Utah. Some of the lab tests were done at the Army Chemicals Center in Maryland. Before I came out of the Air Force they finally assigned me to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio for the last three months I was in service. That was about the only time I spent in an Air Force Base. Before that I spent all my time in Army bases helping run those chemical warfare tests,” said Cantrell.

After returning home, Cantrell again landed a job with the school system and started a teaching career at DeKalb County High School which spanned 31 years until his retirement. During that time, Cantrell taught General Science, Biology, Chemistry, and Physics.

In addition to his passion for teaching, Cantrell became a successful businessman in the wholesale nursery industry.

“I grew up in nursery work. My father grew peach trees on the wholesale level. Each year I was in college I used to come home and bud trees. After I got out of college I started selling trees with my grandfather. I then worked for other companies for three or four years until I started my own nursery company. I grew and sold nursery stock all over North Carolina for many years. Since my retirement from the business I have peddled a few trees from the back of my pickup truck but that is just to occupy my time,” said Cantrell.

After his teaching career ended, Cantrell joined the Board of Education and served two terms from the seventh district. “The county court (commission) appointed me to replace Clarence Phillips, Jr. on the school board. He had died unexpectedly. I filled out his term and ran for the position for two terms. I enjoyed those years and am very thankful that I had the opportunity to work with the county court and the school board,” Cantrell continued.

Since his childhood, Cantrell has called Whorton Springs Baptist his church home. “I have gone to church here since I was six years old. I joined the church about the time I went into College around 1946. Over the years I have served the church in various ways from janitor to Sunday School teacher and even Sunday School Superintendent. I am thankful that I have had that opportunity to serve my church,” Cantrell said.

While he remains active on the family farm, Cantrell said he leaves most of the heavy lifting these days to his son Jeff.

“He is really the farmer. I still have a few cows that I maintain on my farm but he (Jeff) does all the difficult work. I help him rake hay but that is about the maximum task that I do on the farm anymore,” he said.

Cantrell said he was touched to see so many of his friends and former students come out to wish him a happy birthday Saturday but the biggest reward is knowing that maybe he has touched their lives.

“I have taught a lot of children in the county and hopefully touched a lot of lives directly or indirectly. I believe you make your mark with students by simply being fair and treating them all alike,” said Cantrell.

As for advice on living a long happy life, Cantrell said “Keep busy. Give God the thanks and stay humble”.

Bob Clement Addresses Party Faithful at DeKalb Democratic Rally (VIEW VIDEO HERE)

July 14, 2018
By: Dwayne Page

Former Nashville Congressman Bob Clement was the keynote speaker at Saturday’s DeKalb County Democratic Party Get Out the Vote Rally and Pot Luck Lunch held at the county complex.

Prior to his speech, Clement spoke with WJLE and talked about the 2018 elections and the Democrats chances at the state level.

“I think we have a real good chance. Phil Bredesen, who is running for the U.S. Senate and Karl Dean, who is in the race for Governor, are exceptionally good candidates. They are very qualified and have a lot of experience,” he said.

Many Democratic candidates, Clement said have had a hard time getting their message across in previous campaigns and that needs to change this year.

“It’s not easy these days for a Democrat. A Democrat often starts out behind and you’re an underdog the first day. You really have to fight hard to overcome the deficit to get ahead. I don’t think the Democrats have done a very good job getting their message across. That needs to change. We do have a big umbrella with conservative, moderate, and liberal Democrats and we need to unite after the primary and make some good things happen. I really believe the candidates need to spend some time and attention on rural needs and rural concerns. If we do that I think we will have a winning year in 2018,” Clement continued.

The former Congressman said he enjoyed his years in public life and felt like he helped make a difference.

“I miss being in the political arena. I always felt like I had a special gift when it comes to working with people to solve problems and break through the bureaucracy to get things done. Even as a Congressman I always attacked the issue. I never attacked my fellow colleagues, Democrat or Republican. I always tried to build bridges,” he said.

Clement said while he has considered getting back into politics, he is currently involved with a group working toward campaign spending reform.

“I have been tempted several times to get back into politics but they have about priced me out of the market. It has gotten so expensive. A lot of these characters try to buy the election rather than earn it. I am part of a group in Washington D.C. called “Issue One” and what we are trying to do is place a limit on campaign spending. I consider it to be a threat to our democracy. A lot of good qualified people are not running for public office anymore because they don’t have the money and feel like they can’t compete. It used to be if you had a good message and could articulate that message, organize, shake enough hands, and make enough speeches, you won elections. Now it’s how big your check book is. We’ve got our priorities out of order,” he said.

Clement represented Cheatham, Dickson and Davidson Counties in Washington as Congressman from 1987 to 2002. He served in the National Guard from 1969 to 1971, and remained in the reserves until 2001. In 1978 he ran unsuccessfully for Governor in the Democratic Primary but later served on the TVA Board of Directors and was elected to the Tennessee Public Service Commission. He came on as President of Cumberland University in 1983. Clement lost his first bid for a Congressional seat in 1982 but was elected to the U.S House of Representatives in 1988. He ran unsuccessfully for the United States Senate in 2002 and ended his career in politics after a narrow loss to Karl Dean for the office Mayor of Nashville in 2007. He is now a business consultant. His father is the late Tennessee Governor Frank Clement.

Clement co-authored a book, “Presidents, Kings and Convicts: My Journey from the Tennessee Governor’s Residence to the Halls of Congress,” which was published in October 2016. The book chronicles Clement’s years of being in Congress, serving in the military, and being President of Cumberland University.

“The book is about my life and career and growing up in the Governor’s residence but then I get heavy into US policy, the US Congress, and politics. I wanted to tell a story about my life and career and what I accomplished and the challenges ahead for this country and world,” Clement concluded.

While Democrats were conducting their rally at the county complex Saturday, the DeKalb County Republican Party held their own Get-Out the Vote rally with a picnic at Greenbrook Park featuring remarks from local and state candidates.

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