Taking care of electrical, plumbing, heating and cooling issues, turning over apartments, watering flowers and removing snow are among John Henry’s responsibilities for Village Apartments of Brownstown.

But many times in the past two years, the maintenance technician has gone beyond his daily duties at the two 24-unit apartment complexes in town.

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That includes conducting cookouts for residents, expanding the playground area for kids and their families, buying fresh vegetables for those who aren’t able to get out, helping residents plant flowers and decorate patios and encouraging them to socialize.

Henry, 57, a North Vernon native, said he doesn’t do his job or those extra things to earn recognition. But his bosses and the residents felt differently.

Audrey Perry, property manager of Village Apartments of Brownstown, and Lori Martin, regional manager of Village Management Co., recently nominated him for the Indiana Rural Development Maintenance Person of the Year award, presented by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Henry earned that award, which put him in the running for the inaugural national Maintenance Person of the Year award. In mid-June, Perry received an email about Henry winning the national honor, too.

Perry and Henry then flew to Washington to accept the award during the Council for Affordable and Rural Housing Annual Meeting and Legislative Conference at The Ritz-Carlton Pentagon City in suburban Arlington, Virginia.

“I’m one man, we’re a little community, and I’ve got a good back (support) here. Audrey keeps me in line and helps me, and we work on things together,” Henry said. “I just figured that there’s somebody else out there better. I don’t look at myself as an award guy. Just the residents being happy and thanking me and talking to me, that makes me happy.”

Both honors were for his work at the Brownstown II apartment complex, which sits along U.S. 50 on the east edge of town. The other complex, Brownstown I, is on Bloomington Road. Both are tax-credit properties and governed by USDA Rural Development.

For the state honor, along with nominations from Perry and Martin, residents provided favorable comments about Henry.

“Ever since he has been here, he has taken an attitude of ownership and tried to make things better,” Perry said. “All of the residents, if they need help, even with car issues, he just goes out of his way. Even residents that are unable to get out or didn’t want to go outside, he tries to get them out to socialize.”

Martin said Henry is an overachiever, especially when it comes to the needs of residents and putting his heart into maintaining and improving the properties.

“John goes above and beyond for so many reasons that over the past two years they are almost countless. He takes great pride in the properties’ overall curb appeal,” Martin said.

“John being a family-oriented person, it shows with his extended family at the apartments,” she added. “He looks at the apartments as his home away from home and takes care of the property in that excellent manner. He loves spending time with the residents, and they also enjoy it.”

Receiving the state award was a thrill, Henry said.

“The residents had to give me good marks, I think some of our vendors had to give me good marks and some people around town. I was just happy,” he said.

Then earning the national award nearly left him speechless.

“I didn’t really get it all in until I got up there, and it’s like, ‘This is a big deal,’” he said. “I’m proud of it, don’t get me wrong. But I don’t really know how to explain it. I’m happy I won, and it shows that Audrey and I are a good team. But I just didn’t really expect to win.”

Three other awards were handed out to property managers, and students received scholarships from the CARH Foundation. Project developers also attended legislation meetings, and there was a convention.

“There were a lot of vendors that were there where you learned new things that are coming out and things that are out, which is helpful,” Henry said.

After graduating from Jennings County High School in 1977, Henry worked for an interstate landscaping company, which did a lot of seeding and sodding of grass along Interstate 64 in southern Indiana.

Then in the mid-1980s while working for the hospital in North Vernon, he earned electrical, heating and air conditioning certifications from Ivy Tech Community College in Columbus.

“I’m mechanically inclined,” he said. “It took me a while to figure it out, but once I figured it out, instead of thinking like everybody else does, I try to do things to where it’s not as hard on me or hard on the equipment I’m using.”

The hands-on experience he received while working for the hospital helped as he moved on to other jobs, including working for Regal Industries as a truck driver and later as the Crothersville company’s electrician.

A few years ago, he decided he wanted to find a job closer to home.

“I wanted to quit being gone all the time because I always worked construction and was gone or driving a truck,” Henry said. “With my daughter in high school, I wanted to be local to do things and enjoy her sports and get out of the industrial part of it. I wanted something where I could have a reasonable basis and have time off when I needed it.”

Working as a maintenance technician for Village Apartments wound up being the right fit.

“I had an uncle that was a plumber down in Florida, and I was doing all this stuff and I really hadn’t settled down, and he told me, ‘Find what you like and you won’t have a hard time going to work,’” Henry said. “This kind of fell into what I needed, and it has worked pretty good.”

Whether it’s his daily duties or special projects, Henry said he likes his job, and he hopes to remain in that position.

“I’ve got a daughter, and it depends on where she wants to go to school at,” he said. “I’ll probably still do this. I’m not saying I’m going to leave, but I’ll probably not get back out of apartment maintenance because I don’t like the hustle and bustle of industrial maintenance. I don’t like being out on the road like I used to. I just want to watch and help her all I can while I can.”

In November, Henry will be recognized for his state and national awards during an Affordable Housing Association of Indiana event in Indianapolis.

“I appreciate all of the help that Audrey and Lori give me because, without them and my residents, I couldn’t be doing what I’m doing,” he said.

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Name: John Henry

Age: 57

Hometown: North Vernon

Residence: North Vernon

Occupation: Maintenance technician for Village Apartments of Brownstown

Recent honors: Indiana Rural Development Maintenance Person of the Year and national Maintenance Person of the Year awards, both presented by the United States Department of Agriculture

Education: Jennings County High School (1977); Ivy Tech Community College for heating, air conditioning and electrical certifications

Family: Significant other, Cindy Crabtree; four children; three grandchildren

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To see a video of John Henry accepting his national award, visit

On the page, you also can see pictures of Henry’s work at the complex.


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