Mayor serves a healthy lifestyle

Hamblen County Mayor Bill Brittain enjoys staying active by playing tennis and basketball with his grandkids

Hamblen County Mayor Bill Brittain has enjoyed physical activity his whole life and is encouraging Hamblen County to stay active.

County Mayor Bill Brittain has tried to stay at least somewhat active his whole life.

His love of physical activity started at an early age.

“I played sports most of my life,” he said. “It started in elementary school.”

Brittain has been county mayor since 2010. Before that he served as county trustee, starting in 1994. He’s had almost 25 years’ experience in public service. He’s not about to say if he’s stepping down anytime soon from his job as top executive of the county, but he does know the value of trying to stay active.

“It helps me unwind,” he said.

When he has a chance, he plays tennis or kayaks in Cherokee Lake for leisure activities. He likes to also play basketball with the grandkids.

As county mayor, he has also been heavily involved in the “Walk Across Hamblen” campaign, an effort to get people out moving countywide. He also practices what he preaches and he and his wife, Gale, walk around the neighborhood to help center himself from the day-to-day pressures of a stressful job.

When he attended Morristown-Hamblen High School East in the ‘70s, he played tennis and football.

“Where there was a ball, I played it,” he said.

This led him to playing on the tennis team at Walters State Community College.

He left Walters State and headed to UT where he got a bachelor’s degree in communications. He found a job working in radio and television in Johnson City. After a few years, he came back home to Morristown where he worked radio once more doing newscasts.

In the late ‘80s, life took him to Walters State Community College as a public information officer. Later, he worked in sports information and coached tennis.

Then he got talked into being appointed County Trustee in 1994. After his appointment, he ran four more times, serving four full terms. As former County Mayor David Purkey chose to leave the office, Brittain decided to step up.

He said for years Purkey had allowed him to work closely with the mayor’s office, helping draft together annual budgets and other duties. He said some people probably thought he was crazy for running for the mayorship.

“It seemed to be the next step,” he said.

Now he finds himself faced with challenges such as trying to help build a new jail for the county while the old jail finds itself overcrowded and trying to finance that project along with much needed improvements to West High School.

He said he’s not ready yet to announce whether he’ll run for mayor for a fourth term. He’s only a year into his third term and he said he will make that decision the year before.

But, he has an idea of what he wants to do after public service. He loves history, so he wants to travel. One place he wants to visit is Gettysburg, he said. He’s more interested in seeing America then going overseas.

Brittain also has another sport he is eyeing for the future: pickleball, which is a paddleboard sport that combines elements of ping pong and tennis. He said he has played it twice and it’s a fun game. He said he’s heard it’s the no. 1 fastest growing sport for retirees.

He knows one thing he has to do the rest of his life, though.

“I have to stay active,” Brittain said.