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Yellow “fire line” tape hngs from the entrance Clarksville City Hall, 115 W. Superior St., Sunday after a fire damaged the building.

CLARKSVILLE — A Clarksville man on Monday pleaded to setting fire to City Hall over the summer.

Nicolas James Wessels, 24, pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree arson in Butler County District Court in Allison.

Wessels also pleaded guilty to a count of second-degree criminal mischief for damaging a city-owned concession stand before setting the City Hall fire.

Second-degree arson carries up to 10 years in prison, and second-degree criminal mischief carries up to five years. Sentencing will be at a later date.

Under a plea deal with prosecutors, the arson and criminal mischief sentences would run concurrent to each other but consecutive to an unrelated misdemeanor marijuana charge from October 2016.

During his plea, Wessels said he had been diagnosed with schizophreniform disorder, which is similar to schizophrenia, and had been prescribed medication for the condition. Defense attorney Mark Milder told the court Wessels has been taking his medications.

Authorities said Wessels kicked open the door to a city-owned concession stand at 102 S. Main St. around 3:09 p.m. July 22 and destroyed the contents inside, causing more than $1,000 worth of damage.

He then kicked open the southeast door to City Hall, 115 W. Superior St., which was closed at the time, and set a fire, authorities said. Witnesses saw Wessels leaving the building, and a sheriff’s deputy who responded saw him at the north entrance trying to enhance airflow to cause the fire to expand. He was detained that day.

The fire caused extensive damage to the 100-year-old building. The city offices have been moved to a mobile trailer, and city officials plan to build a new City Hall, although a location hasn’t been chosen.


Police and Courts Reporter

Cops and courts reporter for the Courier

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