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Boulder bid goes over like a sack of rocks

Despite a fair amount of media coverage, Nevada County’s effort to auction 1,500 tons of boulders on eBay.com failed this weekend because of a lack of interest.

The auction was featured on the front page of The Union on Wednesday, and Sacramento’s Channel 3 picked up the story soon after.

“If the (Channel 3 airing) won’t bring someone out of the woodwork, I don’t know what will,” said Michael Hill-Weld, the county’s director of Transportation and Sanitation.



One person, using the name “LomaRica95924,” placed a $5,000 bid at the last minute, said Dave Browning, a purchaser for the county. That figure was just the minimum needed to start bidding; to actually acquire the boulders, a buyer needed to offer $15,000.

The bidder wasn’t affiliated with Loma Rica Ranch developer Phil Carville, said Jessica Donaldson of Carville Sierra Inc.




The county isn’t eager to negotiate with the mystery bidder, Hill-Weld said, because it will need more than $5,000 to profit from the deal.

So for now, the boulders at the McCourtney Road Transfer Station will remain on their carved-out hillside with a view, waiting for an upturn in the boulder market. Hill-Weld said he plans to return before the Nevada County Board of Supervisors in September for their guidance.

Boulders are the largest but not the strangest items Browning has tried to sell recently. Browning manages a warehouse and storage yard where the flotsam of Nevada County lands.

Inside, a mound of computer monitors sprawls across the floor. Most items are usual office discards – desks, chairs, shelves and copiers.

Then there are the more bizarre items, such as a box of Christmas decorations, a pool table without balls, a 40-ounce beer bottle, a medical exam table, and a folding Army-green wheeled contraption that Browning admitted he cannot identify.

“A lot (of the stuff) is very specialized things that the average person has no use for,” Browning said.

Browning said he first tries to distribute the items to one of the county’s departments. If that doesn’t work, he tries selling them at an auction held every May that usually manages to dispose of about $50,000 worth of stuff, he said.

Items are given two auctions, and maybe even a day out by Loma Rica Road with a “Free” sign, before they are disposed, Browning said.

“A lot of the stuff we have to just take to the landfill, but it’s the last thing we want to do,” Browning said.

Hence, eBay. Browning and other county officials have high hopes the online auctioneer may be the answer to their disposal dilemma.

Browning is particularly desirous to sell a vintage microfilm camera online. If you want to beat the eBay rush, give him a call at 273-2238.


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