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Changes nearly complete on renovated F.O.P. building

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Michael Bennett, left, explains a few changes to renovations of the Shelby County F.O.P. Lodge #84 facility to Sean Jones, right, the Shelbyville City police officer currently serving as president of the lodge. Michael Bennett Construction is the general contractor for the project.
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Details for the interior of the F.O.P. facility on North Knightstown Road are the focus now since the exterior is nearly completed.

By LUANN MASON - For The Shelbyville News

“A match made in heaven” has breathed new life into the Shelby County Fraternal Order of Police (F.O.P.) Lodge #84 facility on North Knightstown Road.

Changes are nearly complete with the renovations and construction started earlier this spring with a $100,000 donation from the Landwerlen family.

“Shelby County has been real good to the Landwerlen family,” said Joe Landwerlen, a native of Shelby County and the founder of J&L Tool and Machine, Inc., known initially as Landwerlen Welding when it was established in 1962. “No matter how big or how small, the entire family has a part in this.”

The F.O.P project is the family’s memorial to Joe’s wife, Linda, and his daughter Kathy (Callahan) Marcum, both of whom died within a week of each other in 2014. Kathy, diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2013, fought for 18 months, according to Joe, and died on Christmas Day 2014 at the age of 53. Linda suffered a stroke shortly after that and died at the age of 73 on New Year’s Eve.

“They were the leaders of the family, both in the family and in the community,” said 80-year-old Joe. “The Landwerlen immediate family members have always been doing stuff for others, in the anonymous group.”

It was well known in the community, though that Kathy had been president of J&L Tool, and was a drive chairman and president of Shelby County United Fund For You (SCUFFY), he said, among many other ventures. Linda had a passion for working with flowers and made table arrangements of multiple kinds for countless community events throughout the county.

“Kathy was an organizer at getting people together and getting things done,” he said. “They both loved getting the family together. We celebrated every birthday and holiday. Were they any different from a lot of women, a lot of mothers? No. They weren’t uniquely different, but they were our set.”

In conversation one day with his son, Bob Landwerlen, who is now owner of J&L Tool with his wife, Sandi, the two discussed how they wanted to do something “for the girls” in their memory.

“We went through several community groups,” said Joe Landwerlen, but the ideas considered were not quite what they wanted. They looked for a project for years, according to Sandi Landwerlen. “What will the money we give, give back to us, to reflect the impact Linda and Kathy had on this community, and to allow their devotion to it continue indefinitely?”

The Landwerlens sought a project that they could have some control over and have the naming rights to, she said.

The F.O.P. came into the picture through a connection Joe Landwerlen’s nephew, Brad Landwerlen, who serves as Shelby County Prosecutor, had with the F.O.P. from a fundraiser hosted by the Friends of the NRA (National Rifle Association) to bring the F.O.P. firing range into NRA compliance.

“It was a match made in heaven,” said Brad Landwerlen.

The F.O.P. building was getting rough, according to Joe Landwerlen. It was in a state of deterioration. The building that stands today, which is undergoing total renovation, was reportedly built in 1971. Due to the lodge’s nonprofit status, it could not afford renovations that would have been costly, said Brad Landwerlen.

State law governs nonprofit organizations to work to provide benefits to their communities by distributing its profits to purposes stated in the mission of the organization. The local F.O.P. has historically giving to community endeavors.

“Not only do we want to give away our money, we are legally bound to give away our money,” said Sean Jones, current president and former treasurer of Lodge #84. Therefore, bank accounts held by nonprofit organizations have minimal balances.

When verbal details were ironed out for the Landwerlen donation, an agreement was written and it took about two-and-a-half years to get everything in order to start renovations on what is expected to be about a $500,000 project, according to Sandi Landwerlen. She and her husband, Bob, guaranteed the loan that was secured.

Tony Nicholson of Space & Sites LLC, Building Design & Planning, located across from the Shelby County Courthouse, drew the plans for construction and renovation. A five-member committee developed the ideas after considering needs and goals.

Bids were sought and received in November of 2017, securing all local contractors, subcontractors, businesses and supplies, said Sandi Landwerlen. Michael Bennett of Michael Bennett Construction is the general contractor for the project. The company bid was $385,000.

Of course, there was some hesitation about the project by members of the governing board and officers of the F.O.P., according to Jones. “No matter what, people typically don’t like change,” he said. “We have a legacy we want to keep, and the Landwerlen’s have a legacy they’re going to start.”

The renovation process has included total replacement of the building on the west end with a two-story, larger addition. The upper story will include office space for the F.O.P., a large conference room for community groups to rent for meetings and two smaller rooms designed for the same purpose, a kitchenette, and bathroom. The lower level will include a catering kitchen, industrial refrigerators, sinks, stoves, cook tops, microwave, an island, counter tops, cabinets, an ice machine, and multiple outlets to allow for buffet lines, according to Sandi Landwerlen.

In addition, there will be dressing rooms, restrooms, a conference room and a small meeting room behind the kitchen, she said. “It will all be ADA accessible,” she said.

Renovations to the existing building include new windows, new flooring, a porch, an airlock vestibule for maintaining the indoor temperature, according to Bob Landwerlen, LED lighting, new hot water tanks, air conditioning and heating, new sheet metal exterior in blue and gray, blue metal roofing, new gutters, a new drainage system and more.

Knauf donated the insulation for the projects, said Bob Landwerlen, and J&L Tool and Machine, Inc. has donated funding.

As completion approaches, the finished lodge will be named Landwerlen Memorial Hall, according to Bob and Sandi Landwerlen, and there will be a Linda’s Kitchen, and Kathy’s Patio. The lettering will be made of stainless steel by J&L Tool and donated, said Joe Landwerlen.

“This is a means to an end,” said Jones. “We’re making this investment so the F.O.P. can continue giving to the community.”

Each year, the F.O.P. provides a Fallen Officer Scholarship to a graduating senior from each of the five Shelby County high schools. It holds a fishing day for youth in the pond on its property, and educates public groups, private groups, 4-H Shooting Sports, and NRA Shooting Sports in the responsible ownership and use of firearms for personal safety.

The lodge also conducts a memorial service for fallen officers to remember those who have given the ultimate sacrifice while serving and protecting their communities, and hosts an annual Fallen Officer Memorial Ride.

Its facility provides a banquet hall and meeting areas that the public may rent for occasions like weddings, graduation parties, and family gatherings. Rates are provided on its website, www.shelbyfop84.com. Inquiries may be sent to shelbyfop84@gmail.com.

Sandi Landwerlen said July 1 is the projected date to start accepting bookings through the F.O.P.

“We wanted a place in town that is affordable where you can bring in your own food and alcohol and not be required to use designated vendors of the facility,” said Bob Landwerlen.

The goal of the F.O.P., according to Jones, is to make the buildings self-sustainable.

“I want to make it clear to the community,” he said. “We are not in the business of running a rental here. It takes a lot of time and a lot of work. Hopefully it will be successful enough that I can hire someone to handle the day-to-day business of running this place.”

“I want this place to be a staple of the community as a public place for them to hold events and for us to hold events to benefit the community,” said Jones, an officer with the Shelbyville Police Department. “It will change the (citizens’) perceptions of law enforcement. Most, unfortunately, come in contact with (law enforcement officers) for something bad. I want them to meet in good times.

“I want this to be a safe meeting place for public safety officials, for it to be their (both retired and active) social club. They need to come out here and feel comfortable. I want the facility to be used for law enforcement training, civilian training and corporate training.”

Not to be overlooked, it will be a community place. A misconception by many is that the F.O.P. is only for police officers and their families. In reality, anyone can be a member, said Jones. The lodge offers Associate memberships for $50 a year to the public, pending the individual’s background check, or an annual membership at $75 that includes the privilege of using the range and fishing in the pond, according to Jones. 

Fundraising effort

The Landwerlen family is planning a fundraising effort this month with the goal to raise enough money to pay off the loan secured for the construction and renovation of the 1237 N. Knightstown Road facility that is home to Shelby County’s Fraternal Order of Police (F.O.P.) Lodge #84.

“We need to raise $400,000-$500,000,” said Sandi Landwerlen. “The goal is to raise enough money to pay (the loan) off so the F.O.P. has no mortgage.”

She and her husband, Bob, the owners of J&L Tool and Machine, Inc., guaranteed the loan secured for construction of a new building and renovation of the existing lodge. A $100,000 donation by the Landwerlen family launched the project.

When everything is wrapped up, the leftover funding will establish an endowment to fund future needs of the buildings, according to Sandi Landwerlen. “That way the F.O.P. can put its focus on doing for the community and not on maintaining a building,” she said.

“We plan to do an every door direct mail campaign and will seek sponsors,” she said.

A committee that includes Mayor Tom DeBaun has been established to secure details for this capital campaign, according to Sandi Landwerlen. She said they are also working with Amy Haacker, executive director of the Blue River Community Foundation.

An F.O.P. Golf Outing is planned for Sept. 28, and donations are being accepted through the Blue River Foundation for the F.O.P. Lodge #84 Revitalization Fund.

“People can give any amount at any time,” Sandi Landwerlen said, adding donations are tax-deductible.

Other funding options, she said, include a lead reclamation on the targets at the F.O.P. to recycle the lead (ammunition), and there will be a membership drive.

A dedication date for the completed facility will be set at a later date.