MILO, Maine — The barren site of the former Milo True Value Hardware Store, one of five buildings destroyed in September by an arson fire, should be coming up pink next spring.
Former storeowners Barbara and John Crossman wanted to brighten up their small corner of the blighted area, so they and a former employee, Bobby Hogan, planted 200 pink tulips for breast cancer awareness in a semicircle on the property Wednesday.
“We just thought it would be a wonderful thing,” Barbara Crossman said Wednesday. So many people are fighting breast cancer that it seemed natural to plant pink tulips to raise more awareness of the disease, she said. The potting soil for the plantings was donated by Three Rivers Redemption and Feed Store, she noted.
Also on Wednesday, the trio erected a sign made by Milo Selectman Joe Beres, which reads, “Welcome to Milo, a Friendly Town.” For years, a sign that proclaimed “Milo, A Friendly Town” was displayed over the hardware store, welcoming visitors to the community.
“People really missed that sign,” Barbara Crossman said, which prompted Beres to make the replacement.
Like five other property owners, the Crossmans lost their building and most of its contents in a fire that was ruled an arson. The fire also destroyed the Milo Flower Shop, a former movie theater, the Spot Game Room, and the Hobnobbers Pub, as well as the living quarters above them. The fire also heavily damaged the Milo House of Pizza.
Authorities said the fire started in the back of the pub and was connected to a break-in the same night as the fire, but no one has yet been arrested in connection to either the break-in or the fire.
The debris of the buildings that were insured — the hardware store, the flower shop and the pub — has been removed, but the debris from the former theater and game room, neither of which was insured, remains in place. A contractor has been hired by the town to remove the debris once the necessary permits have been obtained. The work is being funded through a $30,000 Community Development Block Grant.
For George Saviolis, whose Milo House of Pizza was extensively damaged, it has been hard work to make the necessary repairs. On Wednesday, Saviolis was on a ladder painting the new siding that replaced the fire damaged siding. His brother Emanuel Saviolis held the ladder as he did the work.
Saviolis, who estimated the damage to his building at $120,000, looked over his shoulder as the Crossmans and Hogan prepared the ground for the planting.
“You’re going to have a pretty view next spring,” Barbara Crossman yelled at Saviolis, who smiled back at his former neighbor.
BANGOR DAILY NEWS PHOTO BY BRIDGET BROWN
A group of nearly a dozen volunteers, including Terry Bouchard (right), plant close to 200 tulip bulbs Wednesday where the Milo True Value Hardware Store once stood before a devastating fire leveled much of the downtown area in September. A sign (left), made by town selectman chair Joe Beres, waits to be erected in the empty space where it will be surrounded by pink tulip bulbs. It will replace a similar one that had been there as long as anyone could remember, and burned with the store.