More than a week after someone set fire to the City Hall construction in the east metro community of Lakeland, authorities said they are no closer to making an arrest. On Monday, investigators announced a $5,000 reward in hopes of getting the tip they need to catch those responsible.
"We've been doing a bunch of interviews and talking to as many people as we can, but so far nothing," said Cmdr. Cheri Dexter with the Washington County Sheriff's Office. With the reward put up by the Minnesota Chapter of the International Association of Arson Investigators, Dexter said she hopes someone will come forward.
The Minnesota State Fire Marshal's Office "was testing stuff for an accelerant" and has determined that the fire on the night of Nov. 13 was arson, Dexter said.
Construction on the 2,400-square-foot building started in October after more than a year of debate, hearings and resident input. It was at the center of the contentious mayoral race this fall in which Mayor Amy Williams, who was in favor of the new building, was defeated by Richard Glasgow, who opposed it.
Glasgow said during the campaign that he would stop construction on the new $512,000 building at 1190 S. St. Croix Trail.
The new building's frame was up and work on installing the roof utilities was to have started the day after the fire. Authorities at the time called the fire "suspicious."
The City Council voted last week to abandon plans to continue with construction. "Resumption of construction is not imminent or likely at this time," said city attorney David Snyder.
Anybody with information can call the Minnesota Arson Hotline at 1-800-723-2020. Callers can remain anonymous. Information can also be sent to a tip online at www.mniaai.org.