Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

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January 22, 2013

Was Lon Morris sale of city property a mistake?

JACKSONVILLE —

The auction company that represents the Lon Morris College estate in its bankruptcy proceedings has apparently sold off what is essentially city- owned property to a local businessman without the legally-required permission of Jacksonville officials.

News of this mistake, which an AmeriBid official strongly denied, came the same day LMC announced the conclusion of its bankruptcy auction, which began Jan. 14. The results of the auction will not be finalized or the sales completed until Federal Bankruptcy Judge Bill Parker formally approves them in court on Feb. 4.

Jacksonville City Manager Mo Raissi and City Attorney Joe Angle are looking into what happened and why the city's claim to the land was not recognized in the auction, even after formal paperwork in the form of an objection to LMC's liquidation plan was filed to prevent just this kind of situation from happening.

"We're trying to figure out what the deal is right now, but we think this may be an oversight," Raissi explain Tuesday. "We don't know what is happening. The city must agree before any sale of this property can go through and we have definitely not done so. Hopefully we can get this resolved."

Stephen Karbelk of Oklahoma-based AmeriBid, the auction company retained to market the properties and conduct the auction, could not immediately be reached by email to comment on the situation Tuesday. An email to his attorney, Michael J. Quilling of Dallas, went unanswered.

However, C. Brent Wellings, a regional director and auctioneer for AmeriBid, did respond by email and was adamant no mistake had been made. He could not be reached by office or cell phone for further discussion.

"I'm responding on behalf of the company,” Wellings wrote. “The notice filed with the bankruptcy court this morning identifies all the winning bidders, although all auction bids must be approved by the court before any conveyance of title can occur, including the property described in your email. There is no 'mistake' on the part of AmeriBid or any other party that worked to complete the recent auction, which included representatives from the City of Jacksonville.”

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