The Evangelical Methodist Church of Dublin is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the arsonist who set fire to a truck filled with newspapers to be recycled.
The June 8 fire destroyed the truck, its load and the church recycling program, which has raised thousands of dollars for its school, Harford Christian, during the last decade, church officials said.
The recycling program provides the church with about $3,000 a year to operate the school's buses, said the Rev. Donald McKnight, pastor of the church and president of the school.
Unless the arsonist is caught and restitution paid, the church will not be able to afford a new truck and restart the recycling program, McKnight said.
"(The recycling project) was a very successful program," McKnight said. "But with the price of paper down, it would take such a long time to replace the truck."
Al Ward, a state deputy chief fire marshal, said the church's truck is the second vehicle storing newspapers for recycling to be set on fire in northern Harford County this year.
A Boy Scouts trailer parked near the Graceton Store in Whiteford was destroyed by an arsonist in January, Ward said.
"Trucks parked along the road with nobody near them make an easy target for someone with amalicious state of mind," Ward said. "But I wouldn't say (the two arson cases) are connected."
McKnight said the church will most likely increase the fee charged to parents of school students who use buses to get to the school, in the 1700 block of Whiteford Road, to makeup revenue needed for bus maintenance.
Parents now pay $45 a yearfor bus service, McKnight said. About 300 of the school's 550 students ride the buses.
For the last 10 years, the church has kept a truck parked on school grounds for members of the congregation and the community to drop off old newspapers,McKnight said.
The church hastaken nearly 10 tons of newspapers to the Chesapeake Paperboard Co. in Baltimore about every two weeks, McKnight said. The church was paid about $120 per load.
The church's 1980 GMC truck was full and ready to make another trip to the recycling plant at the time of the arson, McKnight said. The fire, which was started at 11:30 p.m., causedabout $5,000 in damage.
Ward said a report on the arson does not indicate how the fire was started. He added that investigators have no leads, but the reward might help.
"It depends on the person: Howmuch information they have and how much they want to give up," Ward said.
Church officials decided to offer the $1,000 reward to generate tips for the investigation, McKnight said.
To provide information on the arson, people are asked to call the church at 457-5101 or the fire marshal at 836-4844 or (800) 492-7529.