By Hank Wiesner | Southern Sentinel
RIPLEY – Ripley city flags will fly at half-mast in honor of Ripley Mayor Kerry W. Hill, 75, who was found dead at his residence on Market Street Extended early Tuesday afternoon.
Police Chief Scott White said early Tuesday evening, “There were no signs of foul play whatsoever.” The chief said Hill’s son, Brad, had been unable to reach Hill by phone, went by his father’s apartment and found his body.
Aldermen will set a special election date at their January meeting next Tuesday. There are no plans to meet before that time, according to Alderman-at-Large Bonnie Caviness. Caviness, who is also Mayor Pro Tem, will serve as acting mayor until a new mayor is elected.
After consulting with Ripley Board Attorney Price Elliott, Caviness said there is no way the special election could be combined with the Tuesday, Jan. 17 election to choose a replacement for former Ripley alderman Lonnie Smith. Smith resigned his office and is now in prison after pleading guilty to manslaughter.
Caviness said the city will fly flags at half-staff in Hill’s honor, and asked that area residents do likewise.
McBride Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements, which were incomplete Tuesday night. City Hall is expected to close the day of Hill’s funeral.
Hill served as mayor a number of years ago, but then was out of the public eye for some years. He was elected mayor again in the most recent municipal elections, defeating incumbent mayor Mike Harrison.
Recalled Caviness: “I think he’ll be remembered as one of the best mayors Ripley ever had. He really enjoyed being mayor, and he had endeared himself to all the people at City Hall. He was one of the most brilliant men I ever knew. He was efficient, quick-witted, always had a lot of facts on his mind, and could tell you those facts right out of the air.”
Added Chief White: “I considered him a good person and a friend. The entire department will miss him.”
Check back with Tippah 360 for more information on this developing story.