June 20, 2018
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‘No more court appointments’ for boy charged with arson at historic mill

Tammy Wells | Journal Tribune
Tammy Wells | Journal Tribune
The Stenton Trust Mill in Sanford was largely destroyed by a late June fire that investigators say was started by three boys.
By Tammy Wells, Journal Tribune

SANFORD, Maine — A second boy will continue with probation in connection with his earlier admission to a misdemeanor regarding the Stenton Trust mill fire in June, but it appears an arson charge has been dismissed.

The boy was scheduled to appear at Biddeford District Court on Thursday regarding the felony arson charge. A court clerk on Friday said she was instructed to say only that there are no more court appointments scheduled for him.

A felony arson charge against one of the boys was dismissed earlier this month.

All three, one who was 12 and the others 13 years old when the fire broke out, admitted to one count of misdemeanor criminal mischief in separate hearings late last year, and each was sentenced to serve one year of probation.

The June 23 fire raged for hours, and was fought by firefighters from 26 departments who applied seven million gallons of water to the blaze. At one point, city officials had feared two homeless men were inside, but they were located safe in Portland.

City officials are still awaiting word whether the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will take part in the removal of the rear tower. The current thinking, Sanford City Manager Steve Buck told councilors at a recent meeting, is that the EPA would separate out waste material, leaving the city to deal with the rubble, consisting of the concrete and steel from the burned-out rear tower.

The city has applied for three grants for clean up under the EPA’s Brownfields program. Buck said, a developer is “waiting in the wings” for the front tower.

The third boy is scheduled to appear in court regarding the arson charge on March 1.

Prosecutors and defense counsel for the boys have said that the purpose of juvenile court is rehabilitation  and accountability. The boys have and will continue to undergo counseling and abide by a host of other conditions as part of their probation.

The Stenton Trust mill building, at 13 River St., consists of two 5-story parallel concrete buildings joined by a walkway. It was built in 1922 as part of the Goodall textile empire. After the mills closed, various smaller industries located there. It has been vacant and abandoned for about a decade.

City records list the owner as Gateway Properties, LLC, a corporation listed as dissolved by the state Bureau of Corporations. Jonathan Morse, who had owned Gateway Properties, LLC, is listed as living in Reno, Nevada. Property taxes have not been paid on the 6.8 acre parcel for numerous years.

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