COVID-19 hampers JoeComputer rebuilding plans after fire; firm moves into JoeGym in meantime

SPENCERVILLE — Joe Moulton is ready and willing to construct a new JoeComputer building on the same footprint in downtown Spencerville… but he may not be able to do so any time soon because of constrictions caused by COVID-19.

Moulton’s Centre Street building and headquarters was destroyed by a blaze last Friday which was battled by 35 firefighters and 12 rigs from four area departments. While the structure containing two businesses and two three-bedroom apartments was gutted, there were no injuries to tenants or their pets.

Moulton, who helped rescue dogs and cats from the building, said the priority this week has been to help relocate and equip nine displaced tenants- five are children – in an era of hardly any available or affordable housing in the area.

GoFundMe pages, fundraisers, and local residents have come together to help those affected by the fire, including Melissa Rainville who had recently opened Trinkets Boutique in Moulton’s building. Her husband Pete Rainville, owner of nearby Flying Canoe Hard Cider, is a volunteer firefighter who helped battle the blaze.

Moulton’s insurance company is trying to locate a crew for cleanup operations. While the owner thinks that step will happen soon enough, it’s a different story when trying to hire a contractor and purchase materials for the rebuild.

Largely because of C-19, contractors are extremely busy and the cost of lumber and other materials has skyrocketed. He has no idea at this time when the project might be launched.

Without interruption, JoeComputer, an internet service provider, has moved to nearby JoeGym closed due to the provincial Covid stay at home order. The computer company’s 10 employees have continued maintaining 41 towers and thousands of customers.

Both businesses are owned by Moulton as is Joe’s Spencer City Bar & Grill which became a drop-off point for food, clothing and other donations after the fire. There’s also JoeShirt custom apparel, Moulton’s theory being if customers are happy doing business at one Joe’s, they may try the others.

Moulton said he’s been overwhelmed by the “wonderful support” shown by the community to those in need. People from all over the region have been asking how they can help.

As to the cause of the fire, Moulton feels strongly there’s nothing suspicious about it. Eye-witnesses saw it erupt in the garage portion of the building where a 1962 Cadillac hearse was stored. There’s little in the way of electrical service in the garage, the owner stated; however, a boiler is being examined as the possible source.

He estimated clean up, rebuilding and reequipping costs at up to $1 million.

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