CLARKSVILLE – City officials are exploring their options after a weekend fire gutted City Hall.

The blaze, apparently set around 3 p.m. Saturday, left city workers, the police department and the maintenance office without quarters.

The fire came as the brick building on West Superior Street turns 100 years old this year.

“The main floor is pretty much well had,” Council Member Ken Smith said Sunday.

Mayor Val Swinton said the city’s electronic data is backed up to the cloud, but most of the paper files and even some historical items — like passbooks that were more than a century old — are likely gone.

“I can’t see much that can be salvaged,” Swinton said.

The fire was apparently started in the city offices, which took the brunt of the damage from the flames. It wasn’t clear how much damage the police office suffered, but the department will have to relocate until repairs are complete, Swinton said.

The building also houses a food pantry, run by a charity, in the basement. Swinton said the intruder apparently dealt a lot of damage to the pantry before setting the fire, and smoke and water damage finished off anything left over.

In the short run, the city clerks will set up in a mobile facility in the parking lot behind City Hall, and the City Council planned to meet at 7 p.m. Monday — a regularly scheduled meeting — in the library basement to figure out the next step. Swinton said the city is considering mobile buildings to house the police department and the maintenance office.

One person was arrested in connection with the blaze. Butler County sheriff’s deputies charged 23-year-old Nicolas James Wessels of Clarksville with second-degree arson and second-degree criminal mischief.

The motive remains unclear. Swinton said the town’s police and city workers said they haven’t had any prior run-ins with Wessels, whose only prior offense is a misdemeanor marijuana possession charge from October, court records show.


Police and Courts Reporter

Cops and courts reporter for the Courier

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