COLUMBIA CITY — A local company with a history of philanthropy is helping Whitley County fight drug crime.
Members of the Whitley County Sheriff’s Department arrived at Steel Dynamics, Inc.’s Columbia City plant on Thursday to take possession of custom-made trailer for use by the county’s drug task force.
According to Sgt. Bill Brice with the Whitley County Drug Task Force, Steel Dynamics donated the trailer to the county for use on the scenes of methamphetamine labs.
The project involved a team of SDI employees, including Vice President and General Manager John Nolan, Doug Rees-Evans, Lisa Bennett and Jason McQueen.
The contingent solicited the help of master craftsman Mike Davis, a retired guitar professor with a knack for custom building just about anything.
“I just went to town,” Davis said.
The Huntington resident spent about 80 hours custom building the enclosed trailer, outfitting it with everything a law enforcement officer would need at the scene of a toxic meth lab.
Davis unveiled his finished product Thursday morning.
“I decided I was going to surprise everybody and bring it today,” said Davis Thursday afternoon.
“I’m tickled, I’m pleased with it.”
Davis said his wife accused him of “over-engineering the trailer but he said every time he neared completion, he thought of another feature he could add.
He also said he left room for expansion, so task force personnel could add features as demand dictates.
SDI had sought Davis’s help on projects in the past.
Nolan touted not only the efforts of Davis, but everyone involved.
“Bill (Brice) came in looking for support,” Nolan said.
“What we decided is that we consider this a community-necessary project.”
The trailer cost between $5,000 and $6,000 to build and SDI is absorbing the cost, with a little inside help.
Nolan said the company would hold inside fundraisiers such as a raffle to raise part of the money. The company will match the employees’ efforts.
McQueen spoke up and shined the spotlight on the company’s leader.
“John’s making a personal donation that could be $500 to $1,000,” said McQueen.
“I’ve got to put my money where my mouth is,” said Nolan, who promised to match the fundraiser amount.
“I’m sure I’ll be on the hook for a thousand, but that’s OK,” he said.
According to Nolan, fundraising is something SDI employees know more than a little about.
He said workers recently raised funds to help family members of employees who had serious medical expenses.
“We’ve got a remarkable group of people who step up,” he said.
Making the leap to helping the community, particularly law enforcement, was effortless for the steel manufacturer.
“These guys (police) put themselves at risk every day for the sake of the community,” said Nolan.