Jessamine County

Lightning sends a jolt through Jessamine County courthouse

The clock atop the Jessamine County Courthouse in Nicholasville in May 2014.
The clock atop the Jessamine County Courthouse in Nicholasville in May 2014.

Computers were knocked out Wednesday morning at the Jessamine county clerk’s office after lightning struck the courthouse clock tower.

No one was hurt, but a window was broken in the 19th-century clock tower, Judge-Executive David West said. The lightning struck about 10:45 a.m. Wednesday, West said.

“There was a group of us standing at the front door. I was letting an attorney in the front door, and, boy, it was just an explosion,” West said.

“It apparently arced across the street and the radio station (WNJK-FM) had one of their main boards blow out,” West said. “It arced to our occupational tax office in a separate building (on courthouse row). A Nicholasville police officer said he saw it hit, and it looked like it just spread in all directions.”

Jessamine County Clerk Johnny Collier said all the computers were down in his office, so no work could be done on car registrations, title transfers and other work.

“When our computers don’t work, we’re basically shut down,” Collier said at noon. “At this point we have no computer service, no Internet service.”

Collier said that when the lighting struck, “It was just a big flash. It just got really bright in the whole hallway. We could hear metal shaking, and I said, ‘That has hit the courthouse.’”

An alarm inside the courthouse started sounding, so Collier had about 20 employees and courthouse patrons go into a vault “until we could determine exactly what was going on.”

West said shortly before county offices closed at 4 p.m. Wednesday that the courthouse computers were still down. Information technology workers hoped to have computers working again on Thursday, he said.

The clock tower was completed a year after the courthouse opened in 1878.