JOHNSON CITY, TN (WJHL) – Johnson City police say the old General Mills building is unsafe and could be a potential danger to the public. The historic mill in downtown Johnson City is now the center of a lengthy arson investigation after a fire ripped through the property in September.
The damage from that fire left the building badly burned and a potential danger due to extensive damage to the interior of the building.
The embers and smoke have since faded away but the damage left in the wake of the fire that ripped through the old General Mills building still remains and so do many questions.
In the meantime security around the property is being increased.
Joey Booth owns Mojo Skateboard shop just down the street from the old mill. He isn’t concerned about safety along the West Walnut Street corridor but welcomes police patrols.
“I think the only problem with the mill was, no one was there and it has been a place for people to go to and congregate that weren’t supposed to be there,” Joey Booth said.
Johnson City police are constantly patrolling the old General Mills building just to make sure no one goes inside.
“The police want to make sure that the community feels safe and that we are doing our job to provide whatever service that we can over there for the extra patrols and to keep people out,” Sargent Don Shepard said.
Shepard says while the Fire Marshall’s office is the lead on the investigation, authorities are also leaning on the public for help.
“A lot more people are going by there and taking a look and they are calling us and so that is important that the community gets involved as well” Sargent Shepard said.
The Johnson city chamber still owns the building. Officials with the Chamber say they are working on other ways to secure the property in addition to surveillance cameras already in place.
“I think it will be a good gateway between the ETSU area and the downtown area and I think it should spur more growth,” Booth said.
Meanwhile, joey booth is looking to the future. the old mill is still expected to be sold to Summers-Taylor construction company, giving way to a major revitalization of a once thriving community.
Johnson City police continue to urge the public, if you have any information on who may be responsible for the fire at the historic general mills building to please give them a call.
Tips can be made anonymously by calling 423-434-6158.
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