Auctions help district clear space

An Ohio man packed up his tools, hopped on a Greyhound bus and traveled all the way to Augusta to repair an old car no longer running and no longer needed by the Richmond County school system.

"I had to ask, 'Are there no used cars in Ohio?' " said Benton Starks, the director of maintenance and facilities.

The man purchased the car through GovDeals, an online auction site in which government agencies sell surplus items.

"People will bid on things, I guarantee, if you set out in front of your driveway no one would look twice at," Mr. Starks said. "It's a mystery."

He hopes people continue bidding because the school system needs to sell the surplus items that have collected in its vacant properties so the land can be sold. The school board is in the process of selling the properties to balance this year's budget.

On Friday, Joshua Dillard, a client services representative from GovDeals, came to Augusta to assist with the items. Normally, the school system posts the items online for auction, but Crystal Lynch, the assistant director of purchasing and inventory control, requested help because of the sheer volume of items that need to be unloaded.

"It's probably 10 or 15 classrooms full of stuff," Mr. Starks said. "Some of it's stuff from the '60s and '70s."

Most of it is filing cabinets and old student desks, he said. If no one buys the items, they might be stripped for scrap metal.

Mr. Starks said old computers have been sold by the pound. The buyer shipped them to China for spare parts and to make low-end television sets.

Someone from North Carolina bought restaurant equipment, and people from California have been buying old school buses.

Mr. Dillard said old buses, ambulances and fire trucks are often shipped to places such as Guatemala and the Bahamas. In this country alone, the Web site has 146,000 registered bidders, but it also has many international bidders.

Reach Greg Gelpi at (706) 828-3851 or greg.gelpi@augustachronicle.com.

ONLINE AUCTION

To purchase surplus items from the school system, go to www.GovDeals.com.