PLAINS TWP. – Hesitate, and you missed it.
David Yoder of McClure, Snyder County, listens to the auctioneer after purchasing a wooden stool at the former nursing home.
BILL TARUTIS/For The Times Leader
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Luzerne County is liquidating more than 10,000 pieces of unneeded property at Valley Crest, the county-owned former nursing facility. In the first of several planned auctions, office and nursing equipment and furniture went up for sale Saturday, and it didn’t last long.
Auction master Leo A. Glodzik, of L.A.G. Auction Services, peddled items in a breakneck and hypnotizing auctioneer’s cadence, as his assistant Pete Burnham jolted bidders back to life with earsplitting cries of “yes” and “you’ll never see prices like these again!”
“I’ll be a frog by the end of the day,” Burnham joked, “and then some days later I’ll feel better.”
County Purchasing Director Frank Pugliese said more than 10,000 items were slated for sale. He said he and three staff members have been preparing for the auction since August, and that he anticipates holding at least two more auctions before everything at the facility is sold.
Proceeds from the auction will go to the county’s general fund.
The scene Friday was a far cry from effete auction houses like Sotheby’s or Christie’s. With more than 10,000 items to liquidate, speed was key at the auction Friday. Property was sold in lots, typically a room at a time.
“It’s a monumental task; it really is,” said Luzerne County Controller Walter Griffith, who monitored the auction on the county’s behalf. “It’s a good way to raise revenue for the county, and a good way to give people the opportunity to buy something they could use.”
Scrappers, used car salesmen, specialty equipment dealers and people simply looking for a deal packed the halls of the nursing home for the auction. Many came seeking a quick buck, looking to flip the property they picked up on online auction sites.
Leo Pribula, of West Pittston, bought nearly 30 wheelchairs for between $5 and $10 each. He can sell them online for several hundred dollars apiece, he said.
“The hardest part is getting it all out of here,” he joked.
Nelson Brubaker, owner of Brubaker’s Restaurant Equipment in Berks County, paid $350 for an ice machine, one of five the county had to auction off.
“You can get the good stuff at these kind of sales, because it was made good back in those days,” he said.
Others said they came for the fun of the auction, and maybe to make a purchase if something caught their eye.
Christian Castillo, of Forty Fort, said he has been buying and selling antiques and other property as a hobby for years. Though most of the property at the auction wasn’t his cup of tea, he still had a good time.
“A lot of people want to be specialists, so when they look at something they know what it’s worth,” Castillo said. “I like to use my instincts to say when I think something is worth something, and when I’m right, that’s the thrill to me.”
Still others came just to take one more stroll through the halls of the nursing home.
Stanly Logosky said his mother, Agnes Logosky, spent eight years at Valley Crest before her death in 2002. Clutching a bundle of photos of his mother and her room at Valley Crest, Logosky said he came to the former nursing home “to reminisce,” and found watching its property auctioned off Saturday “very sad.”
“It’s sentimental,” he said. “I used to come to see her every day.”
Twenty-seven decommissioned county vehicles were also auctioned off, including a 1958 Walter fire truck, 1993 International dump truck and 10 passenger vans. Mike Milewski, owner of Milewski Towing in Scranton, bought the dump truck and two vans.
Information about how much money the county made from the auction was unavailable