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Catonsville and Arbutus restaurants team up to aid former Wilkens Station police officer

By Keith Meisel, kmeisel@tribune.com

10:03 AM EDT, October 10, 2011

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Jim Andrews doesn't need to go far to see the local competition for the Ships Café restaurant he and his wife, Sharon, opened at 828 Frederick Road in February of 2002.

Across the street is Catonsville Gourmet, with Regions and Chef Paolino's not too far away.

A short walk down the street is Jennings Café.

Duesenberg's is around the corner on the other side of Frederick Road.

Dimitri's is a short drive away going west, and G.L. Shack's is a shorter drive going east.

On Oct. 2, the seven Catonsville restaurants shared the same table, so to speak, at the Lodge at Nine Mile Circle for a special event to benefit a former member of the Wilkens Police Station.

"I think this is the first time it's ever happened in Catonsville, where we all have gotten together for a benefit for somebody," said Andrews, who once worked at the Wilkens Station and retired from the Baltimore County Police Department in 1995 after 25 years of service.

Police Sgt. Rick Bergin, a Catonsville native who worked with Andrews on two previous fundraisers at Ships Café for another former county police officer stricken with ALS, was also pleased at the show of support.

"I have never seen the (Catonsville) restaurant community come together like they came together." Bergin said. "It was fantastic. And the food was fantastic. I thought it went off very well."

The Sunday afternoon benefit for Sgt. John Schneider also featured food contributions from Mongaghan's in Woodlawn and generous donations to a basket of cheer from three Arbutus establishments, Leon's Triple L Restaurant, Mike's Pizza, Center Court bar and Little Abner's Liquors, Andrews said.

The Arbutus connections were easy, he said, since Schneider, who lives in a condo in Westminster, would often stop in while he was on patrol in the precinct.

"John lived in Arbutus. They all knew John," Andrews said.

Schneider, who was working out of the Franklin Precinct when he retired, suffered a major stroke in 2009, less than two years after his retirement.

Several months later, he developed transverse myelitis, a neurological disorder caused by inflammation acrose both sides of one segment of the spinal cord, according to a National Institutes of Health website.

"He's been in and out of rehabs and medical coverage only goes so far," Andrews said.

Andrews knew Schneider from when both men worked at the Wilkens Station.

After being contacted by his former lieutenant at the station, he got in touch with former county police officer Scott Miller, now with ReMax real estate in Howard County, and Bergin, to plan an event for Schneider.

Miller, like Schneider a Mount St. Joseph High School graduate, called on a former classmate to supply the musical entertainment for the event.

The Road Runners band's performance was donated, Andrews said, as were tickets printed by Head Graphics, a Catonsville business.

Brian Gaubatz, an employee at Best Buy in Columbia and a friend of Sharon Andrews' son, Brad, helped the group work with the store to offer a 70-inch flat screen television, as the grand prize for the raffle drawing at the event, Jim Andrews said.

The winner of the 50/50 wheel donated half the winnings back to Schneider's fund and there was large anonymous donation at the end of the event by a retired police officer, Andrews said.

"We got a lot of donations from people who didn't attend," he said.

Andrews estimated that $7,000 was raised by the event, which more than 130 people attended.