Brand Family Receives 11th Spirit of Union Award

Home improvement is all in the family at the Brand residence. Parents Steven and Beth and children Cody, 11, Lacey, 6, and Cory, 4, all pitch in to make their property at 103 Ewing Court in the Union Ridge neighborhood look great.

“Everyone helps out—our younger two pick up things outside; our 11-year-old is learning how to mow the lawn,” Beth said.

The Brands are the 11th recipients of the Spirit of Union Award, launched in 1997 to recognize people in Union who make that extra effort to improve their residential or business property.

Beth said she was at first surprised to receive the award. “I wasn’t able to get out and plant my usual 15 to 20 flats of annuals this year,” she said.

The Brand property has a profusion of perennial flowers and shrubs, set against a “green” background. “Our house has the overall look of ‘green.’ Green shutters, green roof,” Beth explained.

When the Brands moved to Union seven years ago after a job transfer from Toledo, they bought the home already built and brand-new. “There were three bushes in the front yard and two coming up the front side walk—that was it in terms of landscaping,” Beth said.

The Brands have spent the last seven years making all kinds of improvements, including adding a deck, a storage shed, a hand-cut picket fence, and walks along the property line. The landscaping includes a lot of lava rock scallop borders, decorative flags, and Longaberger baskets (handmade in Dresden, Ohio).

Beth said she loves the blue spruces that have grown tall out front and decorates the trees as well as the whole front yard each Christmas season, a process that takes about two weeks. For these efforts, the family has received many letters of recognition from the City of Union. The family also puts up lots of decorations for other holidays.
“My husband and I and our kids take pride in our property. We don’t hire out the landscaping; we do it ourselves. We try to keep it well-groomed not just for ourselves but also for our neighbors,” Beth said. “We’re proud of our efforts and welcome people to drive by and take a look!”

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. LaVon and James Austin of 432 Applegate Road were the 10th recipients.

The Spirit of Union award was established 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