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One government's junk can be someone else's treasure

Franklin County officials were pleased with results of their first combined surplus auction.

Franklin County officials were pleased with results of their first combined surplus auction.

October 10, 2003|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

Having just bought 62 used computers for just $25 Thursday morning, Anthony Ogburn could see a downside to the deal.

"My mom's going to kill me," the Shippensburg (Pa.) University student said.

Ogburn lives at home and said his new purchase will take up a lot of room. Getting the computers home also could be a problem.

"My dad sold his pickup, so I may have to borrow someone else's," he said.

Ogburn was among 137 bidders Thursday at the Antrim Township Municipal Building, where the Franklin County Council of Governments was holding its first-ever joint surplus government property auction.

"I'm a geek," Ogburn said when asked why he purchased the lot of surplus computers.

"Most of them are probably junk, but I'll find something in them to make it worthwhile."

He said some would be cannibalized for parts to make others run. Some he would use for research and other he would sell, Ogburn said.

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Minutes after he bought the lot, a man came up and bought two of them for $5.

"This is treasure. This is what you call recycling tax dollars," Hamilton Township Supervisor Randy Negley said.

"We've got to get as much as we can for everything and doing this all together is more efficient," Greencastle Borough Councilman Harold Duffey said. Holding one sale instead of 14 saved time and advertising dollars and helped draw more bargain hunters to the sale, Duffey said.

"These people that go to these auctions are pretty savvy," he said.

There were bargains to be had, but some people got more than they bargained for.

"My son wanted a scanner. I don't know what I'm going to do with the rest of it," said Donna Brooks of Chambersburg, Pa., looking over a double row of broken printers and fax machines for which she had just paid 50 cents.

There was a scanner among the equipment, also marked as broken.

"I don't know how I'm going to get it all home," Brooks said.

Bidders have until the township office closes today to pick up their purchases.

Fritz Pogue of Chambersburg knew what he was going to do with the 20 antique pine ballot boxes he bought for $26.

"Redo them and resell them," he said.

Auctioneer John Kohler moved slowly down rows of old office machines, furniture, cabinets, desks, urinals, sinks, weightlifting equipment from Franklin County Prison and the other government leftovers, calling out the highest price offered from bidders who gave their ascent with a nod, wave or flash of their numbered cards.

Barely pausing in conversation, Allen Stine of Zullinger, Pa., bought another set of tire chains with a slight gesture of his hand. There were bidders from as far away as West Virginia and Steelton, Pa., according to Duffey and Hamilton Township Secretary-Treasurer Deb Hollenshead.

"This is work. You've got to listen," County Commissioner Bob Thomas said as he followed Kohler, writing down the numbers of the items, bidders and the sale prices.

"More than I should have," Andrea Finch of Chambersburg said when asked what she had bought. That included an old adding machine for her son to play with, two office chairs and a bicycle for a grand total of $29.

The bike was one of 30 that came from Greencastle. Borough Manager Ken Myers said they had been lost or stolen and recovered by police, but no one ever claimed them.

Not everything could fit in the back seat of a car or the bed of a pickup, unless it was one of the several pickups on the auction block. Waynesboro, Pa., had several vehicles up for bids, including some retired police cruisers and a 1967 GMC flatbed truck that went for $875.

Each piece was marked with the initials for the municipality that put it up for sale.

The item that attracted the biggest bid was a Peters Township, Pa., dump truck that went for $15,250, Thomas said.

The auction garnered $34,116.75.

"We were more than pleased with the number of bidders that turned out today," Thomas said after all the counting was done.

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