Carnell Sprinkles

Carnell Sprinkles

A local icon passed away Sunday evening.

Local contractor, business owner and former Knox County Judge-Executive Carnell Sprinkles died Sunday, January 24 at Baptist Health Corbin after battling COVID-19 since December.

Although he wasn’t involved in politics in recent years, Sprinkles was a fixture at Four Seasons, the farm and home supply business, and a construction business he ran with his son, Charles. His son Kelly Sprinkles is the superintendent for Knox County Public Schools.

Most days, Sprinkles was ready and waiting to talk to customers and friends that would happen in to see him.

Sprinkles became Judge-Executive after running for the office in 1985.

Local community leaders offered up memories and condolences. 

“As a teenager, I grew up with Kelly and Charles, both of Carnell’s sons. Kelly went into education and Charles went with his father working in construction. I graduated with both of his sons. I’ve known of Carnell when he was Judge-Executive through my dad worked for the bank and his time on council and as mayor,” said Mayor David Thompson. “I also had several friends to work for Carnell in his construction business on the roads just out of high school. His passing is a great loss to the county, community and his family. I’ll miss going into his farm store and seeing him there.”

Knox County Judge-Executive Mike Mitchell recalled Sprinkles as “a longtime friend of mine and my family’s. Carnell has been an active member of the community… I would like to offer my condolences to the family.”

State Representative for the 86th District, representing Knox County, Tom O’Dell Smith said, “I’ve known Carnell for over 30 years and respected his work ethic and his desire to help the area in growth and business. I never knew him to back down from a challenge and would always treat me the same, whether we agreed or disagreed. I’ve enjoyed fellowship with him and his family for several years now at Locust Grove Baptist Church and will miss seeing him at church.”

A long-time employee of Sprinkles, Debbie Martin, reflected on Sprinkles’ generosity and compassion. “He’s a type of fellow you only meet once in a lifetime. He was a true friend to my late husband and a guiding hand to myself and my children. You may know the circumstances how we came to not have jobs or our home and he came to Larry and said ‘Son I’ll make sure you and your family are taken care of.’ He gave us a new start and we in turn gave him a full day’s work and he could always trust we were doing things the way he wanted. Our children always knew that our lives could be so different if he hadn’t reached out to help us and we will always thank this family for being our family. With that being said, everyone should remember Carnell as a man that had his opinions and wasn’t afraid to voice them. He also was a guy that loved to fish and played games on his phone, and he loved to watch sports and loved church and great gospel music.” Martin went on to add, “We appreciate (everyones) prayers and love during this sorrowful time.”

Sprinkles leaves behind his wife, Joan, and sons Charles and Kelly, grandchildren and a host of other family and friends. 

A private funeral will be conducted on Saturday, January 30 at Knox Funeral Home. The full obituary can be found at

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Charles is a native of Barbourville, Kentucky. He has worked with The Mountain Advocate in various capacities since 2003.

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