Public Works Departments Rack Up 11 Awards

Communications Director

Kristin Farley
(865) 215-2589

400 Main St., Room 691
Knoxville, TN 37902

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Public Works Departments Rack Up 11 State, Local Awards

Posted: 12/23/2016
From sustainability innovation, to individual skill competitions, to historic building restoration, to a socially relevant art community project, three departments within City of Knoxville Public Works have taken home 11 state and local awards as 2016 winds to a close.

“These awards are a result of employee dedication and City investment in new projects to substantially improve quality services for Knoxville residents,” said David Brace, Senior Director of Public Works. “I’m proud to be on a successful team of such hard-working people.”

Public Service Department

The City of Knoxville Public Service Department was well-represented at the Tennessee Chapter American Public Works Association (TCAPWA) Conference in Memphis, Tenn. held in November. 

The team finished Third Place Overall in the State Equipment Rodeo that was hosted at the conference. The City of Knoxville team members include Josh Duncan, Caleb Melton, Scott Jenkins, Wayne Miley, Scott Proctor, Elie Muncey, Billy Baker, Danny Hickey, Terry Prater, Jeremy Alexander and James Edwards. 

“This highlighted our employees’ impressive capacity for the precise, technical skill levels required to provide quality services for the citizens of Knoxville,” said Chad Weth, Public Service Director.

The State Equipment Rodeo is comprised of individual events related to various municipal services. The Public Works Department took First and Second Place in the Knuckleboom competition, and Second Place in the High Lift competition. 

The City also won the TCAPWA “Project of the Year Award” for its new Public Works Service Center, which was opened on Morris Avenue in September 2016. The LEED-certified building runs on a geothermal heating and cooling system alongside other sustainable features that are expected to reduce energy costs for City operations by 30 percent. The new three-story building now houses staff from the Public Service and Engineering departments and also includes the City’s Employee Health Center.

The Tennessee Recycling Coalition (TRC) acknowledged John Homa, the City’s former Solid Waste Manger this year with the Tom Haddle Memorial “Recycler of the Year” Award. Though he retired in 2016, Homa served the City as Solid Waste Manager for 17 years, initiating recycling programs in Knoxville such as the Medication Collection Program and the Curbside Single Stream Recycling Program.

Parks and Recreation

The Tennessee Recreation and Parks Association (TRPA) recently announced the City of Knoxville Parks and Recreation Department as recipient for three of its state awards. 

The Four Star New Facility Award ($250K-$1 million budget) was awarded for the Baker Creek Preserve. A partnership project between the City of Knoxville and the Legacy Parks Foundation opened in stages over the course of 2016, the Preserve helped connect more pedestrian and bike paths in South Knoxville’s Urban Wilderness. The 100-acre park space includes 7.1 new miles of trails, a professional downhill gravity trail expected to draw nationwide visitors, and a Kids’ Adventure Play Area, complete with giant hanging bamboo chimes, miniature climbing walls, in-ground slides, and a mini bicycle pump track.

The Four Star Arts Award was given for the Zaevion Dobson Memorial Mosaic. As a part of the City of Knoxville’s “Summer in the City” internship program, staff from the City’s Civil Service Department, Parks and Recreation Department, Knoxville Arts and Fine Crafts Center staff worked with the interns to create a nine-piece mosaic that honored the life and heroic efforts of fifteen year old Zaevion Dobson, who was killed in December 2015 when shielding two classmates from gun shots. 

Knoxville received TRPA’s Four Star Renovated Facility (over $1 million budget) for the historic restoration of the Lakeshore Park Administrative Building. Built in 1884 for the Lakeshore Mental Health Institute, the building now extends office space to the Parks and Recreation Department with sustainable upgrades. The local non-profit, Knox Heritage, also recognized the historic restoration project with its Fantastic Fifteen Knox Heritage Preservation Award.

“I think that few realize just how broad the spectrum the parks and recreation field actually is,” said Joe Walsh, Director of Knoxville Parks and Recreation. “The fact that Knoxville received awards in such diverse categories this year tells me our passionate recreation staff members have a very well-rounded approach while serving the Knoxville community.” 

Engineering Department

Earlier this year, the Tennessee Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) announced the 2016 recipient of its Young Engineer Award is Karen McKeehan, a Civil Engineer for the City of Knoxville. 

Since 2013, McKeehan has overseen Knoxville’s pavement program, one of Knoxville’s largest capital improvement projects, as well as other road, sidewalk and greenway projects. McKeehan provides supervision to professional and technical staff for completion of plans and specifications.

For more information on the City’s Public Works Department, visit