Austins Receive City’s 10th Spirit of Union Award

LaVon Austin loves to work in her yard. “It’s so relaxing for me,” Mrs. Austin said. “For me, my yard is a spiritual retreat where I spend time with God’s creation.”

LaVon and James Austin of 432 Applegate Road in the Union Ridge neighborhood are the 10th recipients of the City’s Spirit of Union Award, which recognizes Union residents and business owners who beautifully maintain their properties.

The Austins’ property features a gorgeous array of perennials - day lilies, purple cone flowers, roses, coral bells - and annuals for color, Mrs. Austin said.

They had been looking for a home to buy in the summer of 2000 and kept coming back to look at Union. “When we walked in this house, we knew this was it,” Mrs. Austin said.

A lot of the landscaping had been done when they bought the house: “The basics were there - trees, bushes. But we changed the flower scheme. I liked different flowers, such as Johnson’s blue geraniums, red pokers, and Stella day lilies.”

There’s a rose arbor on the side of the house and a climbing clematis too.

“We planted a Japanese maple - my favorite - and dogwoods because of the blooms,” Mrs. Austin said.

The family also installed a 75-gallon fish pond in their backyard and “sprinkled” it with water lilies.

The Spirit of Union award recognizes property owners whose yards exemplify extra-special care. Business owners also are eligible for the Spirit award. The award was established and winners are selected by the City’s Park Board. To make nominations, please contact the City at 836-8624, or email your nomination by visiting the City’s Website at

The first recipients of the Spirit of Union Award were Jerry and Shirley Hissong in 1997. The second recipients of the award were James and Marilyn Goodman in 1998. In 1999, there were two recipients: the Kessler Family (Debi and Ken), who received the third Spirit award; and the Harper Family (Darla and Scott), who received the fourth award. In 2000, there also were two recipients: Chris and Tim Van Atta received the fifth Spirit award, and Greg McFadden and Rosemary Broderick received the sixth award. Dave and Joy Aran of 106 Deubner Drive received the City of Union’s seventh Spirit of Union Award in 2001. Sarah and Michael Pace of 101 South Old Mill Road received the eighth Spirit award in 2002. Norma and Bob “Tuck” Lodge were the ninth recipients of the City of Union’s Spirit award in 2003.