By Conrad Dudderar
A 30-year Yukon Main Street property and business owner has been honored with the Yukon Chamber of Commerce’s highest annual distinction.
Judy Austin was named H.B. Frank Citizen of the Year during Friday night’s Yukon Chamber Gala & Awards Banquet at the Palace Event Center, 2310 N Banner Road. About 375 people attended the festivities, which featured celebrity impersonators, a silent auction and dinner provided by Spanish Cove Catering.
The gala, which was themed “A Night Among the Stars” and included an actual red carpet to walk along, is the Yukon Chamber’s largest annual fundraiser.
A video presentation served as the official announcement of the Yukon Chamber’s annual award recipients:
H.B. Frank Citizen of the Year: Judy Austin
T.J. Lowery Humanitarian of the Year: Dr. Heather Barnes
Volunteer of the Year: Ben Martin
Large Business of the Year: Yukon Public Schools
Small Business of the Year: Ingram, Smith & Turner Mortuary
Ambassador of the Year: Otis Davenport
The announcement of Austin as Yukon’s Citizen of the Year was made in video interviews provided by Gary Miller, Lynn Soriano and Rex VanMeter.
Miller, Canadian County’s retired district judge and now Yukon city attorney, cited Austin for her contributions to an annual Christmas party for local foster children.
VanMeter recalled the volunteer leadership Austin provided to help run the Yukon Chamber office after an executive director had passed away.
Meanwhile, Soriano described the tireless service and love for the Yukon community that Austin has – sharing this Bible passage from Peter 4:10: “As each has received a gift, use it to serve others.”
SERVING HER COMMUNITY
Austin has been a longtime Yukon Chamber of Commerce, Main Street and Yukon Public Schools’ supporter.
For many years, Austin has volunteered for Yukon’s historic downtown redevelopment efforts.
“I want to continue to support revitalizing our Main Street, and watch Yukon grow,” she said.
Austin is a board member of the Yukon 66 Main Street Association and past Yukon Chamber of Commerce board member – serving about 1-1/2 years as president.
A classic vehicle and Jeep enthusiast, Austin was instrumental in the success of last September’s inaugural “Cruise-In for a Cause” downtown car cruise to support four Yukon non-profits.
During the many years she owned a Main Street flower shop, Austin enjoyed seeing out-of-town visitors – often in busses and motorcycles – stop in her parking lot to get out and take pictures of Route 66 and the iconic Yukon’s Best Flour Mill.
She also is known for her support of various Yukon school/community events, like the New Teacher Luncheon and Back-To-School Breakfast.
As this year’s Yukon Citizen of the Year honoree, Austin follows in the footsteps of the late Howard Boone “H.B.” Frank, for whom the Citizen of the Year award was named.
H.B. Frank was a Yukon civic, community, church, and business leader for more than 58 years.
Like Austin, Frank owned a Yukon Main Street business – Frank’s Variety Discount store.
The H.B. Frank Citizen of the Year award is given to a person who represents the very best that Yukon has to offer, has extensive history of service within the community and whose tireless dedication has helped make Yukon a better place to live, work and raise a family.
Past winners have included Larry Taylor, Jim Crosby, John Knuppel, Tony Kouba, Terry Martin, Cherie Logan, Darryl Andrews, and (last year) Sherry Poage.
Winners of the Yukon Chamber of Commerce’s annual awards will be featured in upcoming editions of The Yukon Progress.