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Bidders find deals among old city items

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A North Vernon man plans to repair and use a garbage truck that the city of Columbus recently labeled as surplus.

Dave Frietzsche, who owns and runs Trash Haulers, took his chances on the truck, which cranked and roared to life just minutes before he bought it for a high bid of $3,400.

Frietzsche was among about 100 bidders Monday on hundreds of items the city no longer uses or has replaced, including more than 100 fire hoses, dozens of police lights and confiscated jewelry.

Although Frietzsche was optimistic about his find and was able to drive his new garbage truck off the lot, the hydraulic system to operate the trash service portion of the truck does not function and will require work before he can utilize the truck in his business.

Frietzsche estimated that he’ll have to spend about $4,000 to make repairs before being able to use the truck in his trash service business.

Overall, he said, he got a good deal. While it was more than he had hoped to spend, “that’s how it goes in an auction,” he said.

Mike Pope was pleased with the turnout.

Pope manages the city’s maintenance department, which collects surplus items from various other city departments and oversees the auction.

The city made $30,873.50, doubling the amount of money that it was hoping for, Pope said.

Pope said he was surprised by some of the high bids at the start of the auction.

Many of the items had seen better days, and buyers had no guarantee that some of them were more than scrap, he said.

But that’s the way auctions go, auctioneer Mike Mensendiek said.

The bidding is fast and often can get competitive, as it did on some of the city’s surplus items.

Bidders nodded their assent or grimaced as the price rose, reaching as high as $4,000 on valuable items and holding strong below $40 on others.

They hoped for the best while bidding on items such as confiscated digital cameras, used office phones and wood chippers.

Steve Brutus, an entrepreneur from Columbus, bought sets of police lights that he plans to use to show his new business concept.

Brutus and a partner are starting an auxiliary power unit for police departments. The unit would allow police to turn off their cars but keep the power — and the lights — running, he said. He bought the lights for upcoming demonstrations.

Frietzsche, Brutus and the other buyers were required to pay in full using cash, check or credit card before taking their items away from the city’s storage building, where the auction was conducted.

This auction went well, Pope said, especially since it was the first time the city had conducted the auction on a weekday.

In future years, Mensendiek said, the city might send surplus items directly to the auctioneer for him to sell.

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