Thursday, December 5th, 2013
By William Kincaid
City receives bids on two tracts of land
  CELINA - The city plans to sell land to Mercer Landmark and a civic organization called Lots for Soldiers.
Sealed bids were recently opened for the former utility building at 426 W. Market St. and the residential lot at 501 W. Warren St.
The board of control this week determined the bids - Mercer Landmark's offer of $160,000 for the building and Lots for Soldiers' offer of $13,500 for the lot - met all requirements.
The city is preparing to transfer the deeds, Celina Mayor Jeff Hazel said this morning.
Proceeds from the sale of the building will, at the recommendation of city councilman Myron Buxton, fund a new building maintenance account for the city's administrative headquarters on Main Street; the $13,500 likely will flow back to the general fund.
Vern Schroyer, operations manager of Mercer Landmark's Celina branch, located across the street from the former utility office, deferred comment when he was asked what the business intends to do with the property.
Hazel said Mercer Landmark is in the process of expanding and adding more employees, noting he's pleased the business will take over the site.
"We think it makes sense for them to have (it)," he said.
Mercer Landmark submitted the only bid. City council members had set the minimum acceptable bid at $160,000.
The building was purchased by the city in 1962 for $108,000 and was recently assessed at $260,000. It will be transferred as a consolidated parcel to Mercer Landmark.
Lots for Soldiers, comprised of Homer, Carol and Teresa Burnett, submitted the winning bid of $13,500 for the 134-foot-by-137-foot lot on Warren Street; other bids received were $13,000, Chris Weitzel; $12,000, Robert Schott Jr.; and $10,100, Jerry Lacy.
Carol Burnett said she was thrilled the group's bid was accepted. The organization has been collecting donations for the last two months to purchase the property and build two or three homes for local veterans, depending on how many can be put on the lot.
"We need to thank them, and this is a good way," she told the newspaper.
A commitee will be formed to solicit names of local veterans and their families as potential candidates for the new homes, the first of which likely will be constructed next spring by St. John Builders, Burnett said.
Anyone wishing to help with the project can make donations to the Celina First Church of God in care of Lots for Soldiers. The organization will release additional information about the candidate selection process and volunteer opportunities related to the construction of the homes, Burnett said.
The families selected will be asked to contribute whatever they can and may have a small mortgage, Burnett said, explaining people feel more pride and ownership when they give to something.
The VFW in Celina and several individuals donated toward the purchase, Burnett stressed.
"This is a truly community thing," she said.
People need to be thankful for service men and women, Burnett said, noting she hopes Lots for Soldiers persists in the future after the first few homes are built.
"It would be nice to be able to do this," she said. "We're always going to have our military serving and our young people sacrificing."
Hazel said the city was not legally permitted to give the property away.
In May 2010, the city paid owner Ron "Butch" Piper $54,369 to demolish any structures on the blighted property and clean it.
The property has an assessed market value of $37,790, according to city officials.
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