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County hopes junk could be treasure — Lincoln County supervisors seek to sell inherited equipment

It is massive, and heavy, its main components built into a perfect, round depression in the thick concrete floor. Its main tank stands tall, at least 9 or 10 feet high, and held hundreds of gallons of diesel fuel before the county pumped it out. Hundreds of feet of welded pipe reach out in all directions from the steel center, like the arms of a mechanical kraken, bending away and doubling back and running through drive motors and pumps and braided mesh connectors, feeding into dozens of valves and gauges.

It is an impressive machine. It is clean. It is well-maintained.

And its new owners have no idea what it really is, or how to get rid of it.

“It’s some kind of oilfield testing equipment, for testing valves and gauges,” said Lincoln County Emergency Management Director Clifford Galey. “We just inherited it, and we have no use for it. There’s nothing the county could in any way use here.”

Lincoln County took possession of the apparatus — and hundreds of pounds of related equipment scattered around the property — when it purchased the former Production Technicians Inc. property at 1069 Old Hwy. 51 Northeast earlier this year. Protech opened in 1998 and had testing contracts with Denbury Resources, but dissolved in 2013.

The county shelled out around $250,000 for the property, which includes a spacious main building, storage and secondary buildings and seven acres.

The big testing equipment is located inside one of the storage buildings. County supervisors have been trying to figure out a way to unload the machine for months now — state law requires all property be labeled, inventoried and declared surplus before it can be sold off, but no one knows exactly how to label or fairly value the equipment, and inventorying its thousands of pieces is a tall task. The board is working with the state auditor’s office to see if the county will be allowed to inventory the equipment as the sum of all its parts, instead of all its parts.

“We’re not exactly sure how to catalogue or inventory everything here. It’s going to be hard to list all these individual little things,” Galey said.

Supervisors hope the equipment, once inventoried, will bring in a good price.

District 3 Supervisor Nolan Earl Williamson has years of experience in the oilfield industry, and he believes there’s a new home for supervisors’ unneeded machine in the oilfields in West Texas or Louisiana.

“That’s expensive stuff, there,” Williamson said. “All that stainless steel — a 2-inch piece of stainless steel is, what, $300 or $400? I couldn’t really tell you as far as dollars and cents, but depending on the oil company and what they need, it’s worth a lot.”

At Monday’s board meeting, Williamson suggested supervisors advertise the machine in oilfield industry journals. Before that can happen, the board will wait on the state auditor’s instructions — then have to tear the walls off the building to get the machine out.

In the meantime, renovations to the property’s 5,000 square-foot main building are ongoing. The facility will be the new home of the county’s emergency management agency, which is currently crammed into a small, rundown office near the courthouse.

The facility will feature offices, classroom space, communications, a kitchen, bunks, showers and a garage, all the features needed to keep the office running as a command center in the event of an emergency or natural disaster. The sheds and storage buildings on the property are fenced in and will be used by the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department for storage.

Galey hopes renovations will be complete by the end of summer.