Knoxville’s Harry Boss receives Murphy Snoderly award

The Tennessee Chapter of American Public Works Association (TCAPWA) honored Knoxville’s Harry Boss with the 2021 Murphy Snoderly Award. 

Boss started with the city of Knoxville 30 years ago in the Public Service Department as a public service worker. Since then, he has held various equipment operator positions and is currently serving as the master equipment operator.

For the past six years, Boss has been responsible for training all employees on numerous pieces of equipment, passing on his knowledge of skills and safety techniques. With his help, many of his coworkers have been offered promotions and/or obtained their CDLs.  His teaching approach has successfully blended engaging classroom instruction with the hands-on operation of more than 20 different types of equipment, ensuring that every employee correctly implements vehicle walk-around inspections. 

His favorite part of working for the city is helping people. Whether the public, a public service employee, or a cooperating agency, Boss is passionate about assisting in any way he can. He has a great sense of humor and relates very well to others. Often, an employee he is working becomes stressed about his or her upcoming equipment test. Boss is not only skilled at imparting the necessary knowledge to prepare employees’ technical skills but is also great at helping them feel at ease in any situation. 

His bad jokes can crack a smile on any face, easing tension so that employees can focus. Harry has demonstrated patience, tact, and tenacity when working with all skill levels, overcoming various roadblocks that employees may experience.  Boss’ current position also relies on his ability to communicate with other departments within the city, including but not limited to Fleet, Civil Service, and Human Resources.

Boss’ approachable demeanor and his ability to read the needs of every situation have made him a tremendous asset in inner-departmental collaborations. He is considering retiring in the next two to three years, and finding a replacement who brings his knowledge, passion for teaching and helping others, and approachability will be a challenge.

The award’s namesake, Murphy Snoderly, was an engineering and public works consultant for the University of Tennessee Municipal Technical Advisory Service. He believed that the “working people,” who perform tasks like garbage pickup or pothole repair and without whom a city could not function properly, should be recognized for all that they do. Only operations level employees—working people—are eligible for the Murphy Snoderly Award.