When Terry Countermine moved to Jonesborough more than 25 years ago, he had no idea that he would one day play such a role in guiding this small, Northeast Tennessee town.
Now, as Jonesborough’s longest standing alderman currently on the board, he can’t quite imagine doing anything else.
“I got elected in 2000, so this is my 16th year,” Countermine said with a smile after October’s meeting of the town’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen. “We moved here in 1990, so I’d been here for 10 years.”
He and his wife, Sandy, quickly grew to love the town, so when several people approached him about running, he decided to give it a try.
“I ran thinking, there is no way,” Countermine said. “And then all the sudden, boom there I was. I thought, ‘Oh, what do I do now?”
What he did, he said, was to start learning all he could about the town and the process, and to focus on the good of this community he now treasures.
“What I didn’t realize (when I was first elected) – and I wish more people did realize this – is the decisions made by this group often have much more effect on your daily life than state and national politics. It’s your quality of life. It’s the things about the town that makes living here either good or not good.”
Countermine’s commitment was to make sure the results were as good as they could be. And on the whole, he said, he’s proud of the BMA’s accomplishments over the years he has served on the board.
“Since I moved here, we’ve doubled the population,” Countermine said proudly. “How many small towns are like that? I grew up in small town, and it is still the same size.”
Jonesborough, on the other hand, he believes, has been thriving.
“Certainly, we’ve had some challenges with infrastructure – with water and sewer,” Countermine said. “And I think we’ve addressed those and we’ve addressed them without raising taxes very much.”
Yet infrastructure is one of those areas where they never relax their guard, according to Countermine.
“I think we’ll continue to have challenges with infrastructure and water because just like our bodies, things wear out,” he said. “But I think we’re to the point now that – as long as we pay attention to it – we won’t have the huge expenditure because things were neglected for so long.”
Countermine is also proud of the new walking trails, the Senior Center, the McKinney Center and the upcoming plans for the Jackson Theatre.
“One of the reasons I am running again is we have some projects going on, such as the Jackson Theatre project, that I think that has the potential to really help economically by really bringing more people into town.”
And that, he said, means more revenue for the town to utilize for its needs.
For Countermine, however, it’s still all about the community and the people who live here.
“I really do try to pay attention and think of the whole community,” he said. “All members from kids to seniors. And we want to make decisions so they feel a part of Jonesborough and feel that they are being paid attention to. Not favoring one group over the other.”
In the end, Countermine said, “I guess my big thing is fairness and treating people the same.”