Sparkplug 2016

United Neighborhoods of Evansville hosted our 21st Annual Sparkplug Banquet October 27, 2016. Over 200 people from 30+ neighborhoods gathered together to honor and celebrate their “sparkplugs,” those who are standouts in their efforts to improve and protect the places they call home.

From police officers, librarians and ministers to neighbors who turn into Batman when the circumstances call for it, there’s no specific type of person or way to be a Sparkplug.  You just have to have a heart for service.

Let’s meet them now!



Darla Farris of Akin Park had this to say about CPO Chad Diedrich. “He is a great officer. He comes to all our meetings,  listens to our concerns and tries to solve them. He also talks to kids and gives stuff to them while he is at our meetings. Great man!”


Culver Neighborhood Association appreciates Carol McClintock because “She has been a member of Culver Association for several years and has always been willing to get involved and help out the association. This year she was instrumental in getting an information outreach program off the ground and going at full speed. It is our pleasure to have Carol be the Culver Neighborhood Association Sparkplug Award Recipient.”


Richard Eich, of Arcadian Acres Civic Association, says, “Officer Anna Gray, has served as our Crime Prevention Officer over the past few years, not only in name, but through her display of leadership and daily involvement in our neighborhood. Officer Gray consistently goes above and beyond in support of our Neighborhood Association, making herself available when we have needs or just have questions. She brings a contagious energy to our leaders and neighbors, making her a true SPARKPLUG of Arcadian Acres Neighborhood Association. Without her leadership and hard work, we would not be the healthy association we are today. ”


Jim Grace of Eastview Neighborhood Association says ” As Pastor of Fairlawn United Methodist Church, Rev. Randy Owens hosts our monthly meetings and volunteers when needed, as well as acting as our secretary. He puts action behind his heart for service offering free dinners and family fun days.  Our neighborhood association is so blessed to have Randy.”


Jenny Triggs, president of Helfrich Neighborhood Association, says that “Lindsey Schenk has been a wonderful asset to our community. She never hesitates to report unusual activity and has done wonders in reporting open drug activity when she sees it. She always has fresh ideas on attracting new members and helping build our neighborhood association.”


Jane McManus of Greater Lincolnshire Neighborhood Association says “Chris Mills is our neighborhood hero. When we were experiencing a rash of vandalism and vehicle break-ins, Chris installed cameras on his property. Additionally, he hired, at his own expense, the private security firm Lawman to patrol late at night, and he accompanied the patrols. One night, Chris’s camera alerted his phone to the presence of an intruder. Chris captured the suspect while in his bathrobe, armed with a cell phone and a gun. Chris Mills is our Bathrobe Batman!”


Lorie Van Hook of Mount Auburn Neighborhood Association describes Chris Borries as  “a wonderful neighbor who keeps the neighborhood connected with the “goings on” and “happenings” on our street. She is caring and thoughtful, always sharing in her gardening bounty, especially tomatoes and peppers and is often the go-to person for pet-sitting. Chris is a true friend to our neighborhood families, both human and animal. Her generous and attentive heart exemplifies what a true neighbor is.”


Pam Grewe of South Dexter Neighborhood Association had this to say about Sparkplug  Mikki Spencer: “Mikki volunteered to letter and paint yard signs inform neighbors of our monthly meetings. These signs immediately sparked interest among our neighbors. Many have asked “What is it?” or “What do you do?”  Thanks to Mikki’s signs attendance at our meetings has increased. Members willingly take responsibility for putting the signs in their yards each month. Mikki’s idea and willingness to share her talent has been the Spark behind South Dexter this year!”


Tom Littlepage of Southeastside Neighborhood Association says that Officer Andy Carlile ” is more than a crime prevention officer. He is part of our community. He goes above and beyond the duties of a police officer. He protects our neighborhood every single day. He is never more than an email or a phone call away. He works long hours away from his family and makes sacrifices to ensure our neighborhood association is informed.


Vogel-Spring Park Neighborhood Association‘s J.D. Strouth says that “Ruth Hall consistently serves our neighborhood year in and year out as treasurer and a block captain.  But this year, Ruth undertook a major project when she led our Neighborhood association to collect plastic lids and bottle caps, which we had recycled into a park bench for Wesselman’s Park playground.”


Pam Buchenberger of Bellemeade-Bayard Park Neighborhood Association applauds Beth Heil. “She has been with the East Branch Library for eighteen years and has been Customer Service Supervisor for thirteen of those years. Beth is dedicated to providing outstanding library resources and services to everyone who walks through the doors at the East Branch Library. She attends all of our meetings and is instrumental in keeping us informed of the activities offered to children and adults as well!”


Rene McCormick of South Lincoln Park Drive Area Neighborhood Association explains why Officer Jason Pagett is their Sparkplug. “Although our meetings were reduced this year, Jay kept contact with Block Leaders and was instrumental in helping us express neighborhood concerns to those capable of assisting and alleviating the problems. Thank you for your interest and participation, Jason!”


Greg Stilwell of Business 41 Neighborhood Association gives his thanks to Officer Eric Krogmen. “He attends all of our meetings and does an excellent job. He gives us detailed crime reports and helps us with our neighborhood problems. Many thanks, Eric!”


Donna Montgomery of CHAIN says that  Francis Easterly is a new member of the CHAIN Neighborhood but “he is well known in our area. He cleans up the trash on Cedar Street, Cody Street, the alleys, the greenway and now Cedar Hall’s playground nearly every day. He also mows some of the neighbor’s yards and part of the Greenway. We like to claim him as mayor of Cedar Street, who looks after his neighbors.”


Deanna Outlaw, president of the Westside Improvement Association, relays how Charlie Stocker, Steve Craig and Gordon Dingman turned a simple “Adopt a Spot” into the Helfrich Gateway Project. “They plotted, planned and brought their vision to the Board. We never imagined the corner would come to fruition with so much creative thought, artistic vision, and just plain tenacious get ‘r done attitude.  Phase I and II are now complete with Phase III planned for next year. These guys worked night and day for a project that will benefit not only the west side but Evansville as a whole.”


Leonard Collins, president of Goosetown Neighbhorhood, has “nothing but praise” for Sparkplug Lauren Legate. “Lauren is always making sure the meetings are good to go and helping keep order. She has been a great asset with her help with the administrative work of managing a neighborhood association. Lauren’s work with the Potter’s Wheel has been a great help to our organization and the neighborhood at large. Not only does she help prepare and serve meals to the community every Tuesday and Saturday, but through her contacts she has even been able to assist those struggling with homelessness. She organized 4 annual neighborhood clean-ups with Keep Evansville Beautiful and brought in the neighborhood youth to help.”


Judy Wargel of the Riverside Neighborhood Association says “Pam Guthrie has lived in the Historic District since 1972. She has served on the Preservation Commission for many years and was president for several years. Since 2011 Pam has organized the Historic Homes House Tour. Monies raised were used for Historic District signage and has helped fund the replacement of cobra head lights with safer and more historically appropriate lighting.”


Lucy Williams of Glenwood Neighborhood Association  on Andrew and Breanna (not pictured)  Bondurant: “The Bondurants took residence in a Community One renovated house in Glenwood a year ago last August and  wasted no time getting involved in the GNA. They immediately expressed an interest in engaging Glenwood youth by chairing a block party at Caldwell Park which was a huge success. When the RNNC was announced, they eagerly wanted to attend, which they did, driving themselves to Champaign. The Bondurant’s bring a fresh prospective and new outlook are just the spark the neighborhood needs to make Glenwood, and thereby the city of Evansville, the best that it can be


Melanie Stagg of Western Terrace Neighborhood Association on why Gus and Dorthy Hunter are 2016 Sparkplugs! “Gus and Dorothy have lived in our neighborhood for over 50 years. They have been involved in many activities and events throughout this time. Currently they have been block captains and passed out newsletters for ten years. They decorate their yard for every holiday, and were awarded best decorated yard for Christmas 2015. They also maintain our corner at Helfrich and Mount Vernon Avenue, planting flowers and decorating for each season.”


Community One, a ministry of Crossroads Christian Church, was awarded a Sparkplug Award by Tepe Park Neighborhood Association for their devotion to rehabilitation of the neighborhood.


Oak Hill Neighborhood Association’s Jonah Hust on Dr. Dan Adams, “Councilman Adams has proven himself to be a true community leader, not just by good ideas and thoughtful suggestions, but by his actions. Over the course of the last year we have approached Councilman Adams on multiple occasions for a variety of different issues. Each time he has been receptive to our concerns and has even taken a personal approach to the resolution of some of our issues. He is a true asset to the city of Evansville and the Oak Hill Neighborhood Association.”

We’d also like to thank all of our sponsors! We couldn’t do it without you!