Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

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January 22, 2013

Was Lon Morris sale of city property a mistake?

(Continued)

JACKSONVILLE —

After a similar request for comment were submitted to Chief Restructuring Officer Dawn Ragan of Bridgepoint Consulting, Ragan emailed higher auction bidders, warning them that they were, by virtue of contract, not allowed to speak or send press releases to the media unless she cleared them first.

Ragan did not return comment, nor did Houston attorney Hugh Ray III from the Texas offices of McKool Smith.

As far as the auction in general is concerned, the Jacksonville Independent School District, office supply company 11 x 17 Inc. and local businessman William Adcock Jr., took the high bids for a auction total of nearly $2.2 million. The individual amounts bid during the auction were not immediately available Tuesday.

Jacksonville-based office supplier 11 x 17, which accumulated most of the property, will be buying the bulk of the school’s academic buildings, its student residences and its Memorial Chapel. The Jacksonville ISD has agreed to buy the athletic fields, swimming pool, the Wilson Administration Building, and the Lon Morris College gymnasium. William Adcock Jr. and Stephen Allman together purchased rental property and various student housing.

Webb declined to comment on the Ameribid mistake or the results of the auction, citing the same contractual constraints Ragan mentioned. His company manufactures and distributes ring binders and filing supplies for 11"x17" drawings, used in engineering, drafting and construction and sells directly through its website, www.11x17.com. His company is a product of a collaboration with the Jacksonville Economic Development Corporation.

JISD superintendent Dr. Joe Wardell said JISD will benefit from this acquisition. JISD submitted bids on the Lon Morris College Gymnasium and surrounding 10-acres, the administration building and parking lot, and an approximately 40-acre tract of land to be used for educational purposes in the future.

"We all realize how important the college was to the community," he said. "We would have loved for Lon Morris to continue or another college to come in and take over that opportunity. But that opportunity didn't present itself so we feel we had a good opportunity for our taxpayers. We are in a good, sound financial position, not having to borrow money or issue bonds and this takes care of several needs we have."

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