History of Lodge 13
In 1970 several members of the Cobb County Sheriff’s Department, Cobb County Police Department and Smyrna Police Department got together and made a decision to apply to the Grand Lodge Fraternal Order of Police for a local charter for a lodge in Cobb County to include law enforcement officers for county and municipal agencies.
The decision to name our lodge was left up to the charter members. The name they came up with was Kermit C. Sanders Lodge. The newly chartered lodge was given the identifier of #13. As a note, Kermit C. Sanders was Sheriff of Cobb County for more than 20 years and followed his father, Tom Sanders who was Sheriff for many years.
The early years of the lodge saw a majority of the membership coming from the Cobb County Sheriff’s Department, Cobb County Police Department and the Smyrna Police Department. Meeting locations varied because the lodge had no significant funds to rent or buy a meeting location. We met in locations such as: Pizza Restaurants, Rio Vista Catfish Restaurant, as well as several other locations. Dues were originally set at $12 per year or $1 per month.
We averaged about 75 members per year. We also hosted some country music shows featuring Wally Fowler from Nashville, Tennessee which were held at the Cobb County Civic Center. The Lodge was very frugal during the early years and eventually we decided to purchase a piece of property to hold our monthly meetings. We found a tract of land on Concord Road near the Covered Bridge. It had a mobile home and a permanent structure on it. This was the former residence of Less Charles, a longtime City of Smyrna City Clerk.
Once the property was purchased, we began renovations to meet our needs. Members Troy Balenger, Bill Slaton, Jim Stymus, Mike Brice, Bill Mull, Ronnie Thomas, Randy Kelly and a host of others worked many weekends to renovate this structure. Meeting dates were changed from weekday evening hours to Saturday daytime hours. We even started hosting refreshments and food to draw members to the meetings.
The Lodge then began to grow in recognition and membership. The lodge really took off with its membership in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. Membership swelled as did our presence in the law enforcement community during this period.
Soon, Lodge #13 became active in local labor related issues. We even took Cobb County to Federal Court over a salary issue and won judgment. Also during this period we sold the lodge property on Concord Road and purchased a new tract of land located on Austell Road at Wanda Circle (present location). We held ground breaking ceremonies for the new lodge with Congressman Buddy Dardin taking part in the festivities. We built our present lodge building on this site.
As the lodge continues to grow, we continue to host social events and fundraisers each year for members and the communities we serve. Each year in May our lodge sends a contingency to Washington D.C. to honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice We also continue to be a watchdog over issues that adversely affect our member’s daily lives. We give back to the community through several programs each year. Most notably the “Cops & Kids” holiday program held annually with the assistance of our local businesses who graciously provide their time and reduced prices as we shop with disadvantaged children in need of holiday gifts.
Lodge #13 is the largest lodge in the State of Georgia. Its current leadership continues the tradition of watching out for the member’s interests and in giving back to the community we serve. Lodge #13 provides our members with the opportunity to join the National Legal Defense to defend themselves when involved in critical incidents and in today’s litigious society. That assistance is also available for administrative procedures a member may face. The Lodge is active in supporting local youth athletic programs through donations via members requests. Our biggest program continues to be the “Cops n Kids” shopping event each December in which kids from mostly Title 1 Elementary Schools are selected by their counselors to go shopping with officers, deputies or other public safety members. During the 2019 Christmas season, Lodge #13 treated 200 local school children to a shopping spree and 32 children from the Calvary Children’s Home. Lodge #13 continues to be in the forefront of growth and activity and is a proud member of the greatest law enforcement organization in America, the Fraternal Order of Police.