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A longtime Roane County Highway Department mechanic has decided this is his last winter to brave the cold weather.
Joe Britton is retiring after nearly 39 years of working at the department, under at least six different road superintendents — Bob Collier, Charlie Norman, Grady Lassiter, interim Judy Bensey, Tom Hamby and current superintendent Dennis Ferguson.
“I really didn’t like it that much, but the money was good enough to keep me here,” quipped Britton.
His quick wit and sarcastic remarks are one of the reasons he’s well loved at the garage.
“All you can do is laugh at him,” said employee Brian Matthews. “He’s a great guy. I don’t think there is anyone here that doesn’t have a great story about him.”
Ferguson had nothing but praise for his outgoing mechanic.
“Joe Britton has set the standard for hard work at the Roane County Highway Department,” he said. “His work ethic and dedication are things that most people only talk about, but Joe has walked the walk and proved himself for 39 years.
“Myself and the other employees at the Roane County Highway Department will miss seeing Joe every morning, but we know that he will dedicate himself to enjoying his retirement in the same manner he dedicated himself to hard work,” he added.
Ferguson said he appreciated that Britton stayed during his transition to the office.
“All of us at the Road Department want to wish Joe a happy retirement and him to know that we will always welcome him back anytime he wants to stop in and see us,” Ferguson said.
Britton’s gotten to know many friends while working there.
“A lot of friends have come and gone since almost 39 years,” Britton said.
Britton started working in 1974.
“My dad was working here. He got me on,” he explained. Before that he was an Army helicopter mechanic in Vietnam.
Britton said he’ll miss the folks he worked with, but the one thing he won’t miss are the cold nights he’s worked because of winter weather.
“I can go home now and say I enjoy snow,” he teased.
Britton said he’s got a lot of work to do when he goes home for his wife Geraldine, who he’s been married to 42 years.
“Honey has a list already longer then that page there — house painting, living room renovation. I may have to go back to work to get away from working,” he joked.
He’ll also sneak away for turkey hunting and crappie fishing.