Nixa — Auctioneer Roger Melton said the elbow-to-elbow auction he conducted Saturday of property of a former Nixa employee convicted of stealing from the city was unlike any he’d ever done before.
The standing-room-only crowd at Westside Plaza — part of the Christian County town’s attempt to regain as much as possible of the $757,000 stolen by former street department supervisor Larry Covington, his wife Paula and utility worker David Griggs — was estimated at 1,200 and growing at mid-morning.
“About 700 were registered,” said Nixa Police Chief James Bacon. “At one point the line to get numbers was all the way down to the cleaners (at the west end of the strip mall). We’re pleased … the more people here the better chance we have of recouping the money.”
The Covingtons and Griggs are in federal prisons for their crimes, and it was the Covingtons’ personal property, seized through a civil lawsuit, that was for sale on Saturday.
Auction items included guns, ammunition, four-wheelers, commercial kitchen equipment, mowers, tanning bed, flat screen television sets, a saddle, tools and furniture.
“Many items seized were brand new … still sealed in plastic,” Bacon said.
Expressions on the faces of people in the crowd as they entered the auction ranged from amazement to curiosity.
“How could anyone ever need … or even want … this much stuff,” said one woman as she looked at two six-foot Father Christmas Santa Claus figures.
Carla Adams of Nixa said she had a hard time finding a place out of the way to park her wheelchair.
“I’ve never seen this many people at an auction … except one other time,” said Adams.
Nixa city employee Dale Batson of Ozark said he knew the turnout would be big but it was unbelievable.
“I don’t know if it was because it was so well advertised or what … or notoriety,” he said.
“I’d say that when you have an endless supply of money to buy with and it’s just handy when you don’t have to pay for it, you don’t necessarily need it. Some of the stuff has never been used,” he said.