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Tampa police thank donors for office makeover

Published Oct. 24, 2012

TAMPA — Everyone assumed she would put drywall over the outdated wood paneling and cloudy brass at the Tampa Police Department's headquarters.

Built in 1938, the tall, blue-tinted building on Franklin Street looked shabby, and thanks to about 35 community partners donating time and money, it was scheduled to get a facelift before the Republican National Convention.

But when interior designer Michelle Jennings Weibe, president of StudioM, toured the building earlier this year, she thought: Mad Men.

"Apparently we were so far out of style, that we had come back in style," police Chief Jane Castor said Tuesday.

Surrounded by new carpet, polished brass, resurfaced paneling and chic 1960s-style decor, Castor thanked the donors for the approximately $120,000 given in cash and labor.

The project was spearheaded by Jack Glasure of Ignition Branding. He had helped renovate an old firehouse last year, which is now home to Tampa police's bomb squad.

"I thought: 'Well, if it's that easy to make some phone calls, let's do something else,' " Glasure said.

Castor said she's thankful because 83 percent of the department's $148-million-a-year budget goes toward employees' salaries. In times of budget cuts especially, the agency doesn't have the resources for renovations.

But with the RNC coming to town, Tampa leaders wanted to present a nice-looking interior, especially in the media room, where news briefings were scheduled twice a day.

The renovations included the media room, a conference room, an interview room and a "community room," where officers can interview witnesses and victims of crime in a homey setting.

Previously, officers conducted some of those interviews in the lobby, Castor said.

Those thanked Tuesday included the Yob Family Foundation, which donated $20,000; AT&T, which donated several flat-screen televisions; and Stan Wolney, who spent eight weekends personally refinishing all the wood panels.

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn told the group that he was impressed everyone so willingly helped.

"Next week," he said with a smile, "I want you to start at the mayor's office."

Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at jvandervelde@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3433.

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