Barre tries to bounce back from Memorial Day blaze - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Barre tries to bounce back from Memorial Day blaze

Barre, Vermont - June 17, 2010

"The process has been slow, painfully slow," Barre Mayor Thom Lauzon said.

Piece by piece, workers are clearing out what's left of the historic old Key Bank. Lauzon bought the building and was just about to renovate the space into offices and apartments when it was torched. He still plans to rebuild, but clean up is slow.

"What we've done is made a chute inside the building, so we cut a hole in the interior of the building-- the first floor is seven and a half inches of concrete-- so we're pushing all the debris down into the hole into the first floor," Lauzon said.

Rehabbing the building will cost $1.5 million. It was insured for $700,000. Lauzon says making up the $800,000 gap is good for his business and also good for morale-- there are several empty downtown store fronts.

"If I can take a positive approach to it-- and I always try to-- we'll end up with a much better product," he said. "The buildings are so damaged that areas we were going to renovate we're going to be replacing. So when we're done I'm hopeful it will be one of the best buildings in Barre."

But the charred remains are a daily reminder that someone set the fire on Memorial Day. To help with leads, Lauzon is personally doubling the $5,000 reward.

"They are investigating several leads. Those leads don't look too promising at this point," Lauzon. "So maybe if we up the reward and get a little publicity about that people will make even more phone calls."

Lauzon says he hopes to have the building all fixed up by February 1.

If you have any information on the fire, call the arson tip line at 1-800-32-ARSON.

Kristin Carlson - WCAX News

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