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Friday February 12th, 2016 7:28AM

Fire, vandalism investigated at former Cleveland venue

By Dean Dyer and Rob Moore
CLEVELAND - White County sheriff's and fire investigators spent Wednesday night attempting to determine more about a vandalism and apparent arson case at a former Cleveland performance venue.

Fire department personnel from White County and Cleveland were paged to a fire at The Pickin' Barn behind Mitch Simpson Motors around 8:20 p.m.

The first arriving unit was able to extinguish the fire quickly at the point of origin, said White County Public Safety Director David Murphy at the scene.

"The fire investigator was called due to the criminal damage and apparent arson that had taken place," Murphy said.

White County Arson Investigator Robi Wilkins said at the scene the fire was intentionally set and his investigation will try to determine the origin of the fire.

In addition to the fire, the windows of five vehicles were smashed and graffiti was written on the cars and building.

An employee spotted the fire as he was checking the area prior to leaving for the evening.

"This is something that we gave the community," said owner Mitch Simpson of The Pickin' Barn. "We had tons of free music concerts back here, and thousands came to them."

Simpson said he gets asked every day about when they are going to start the concerts back.

"Now it's taken a real setback in doing it again," Simpson said. "It's really the community that suffers when you have a few people like that that cause problems."

Simpson said he was at The Pickin' Barn shortly after 5 p.m., just three hours before the incident was reported.
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