Winston-Salem Journal (North Carolina)
BYLINE: Scott Hollifield, The McDowell News
Wayne County, NC
The state sold a giant chicken and, unfortunately, I didn't buy it.
This wasn't a living, breathing giant chicken, the product of some clandestine agriculture-department experiment to produce Buffalo wings the size of a two-person canoe, which, in my opinion, would be a wise use of research dollars. It was a 6 1/2-foot-tall replica chicken, part of what was described as a "menagerie of fiberglass animals" declared surplus by the N.C. State Fair and sold by the Surplus Property Agency.
"We had quite a bit of bidding for these pieces, so it was fun to finally get to open the bids and see who bought them," Robert Riddle, the surplus-property officer, said in a news release that, after the fact, only poured salt - perhaps even surplus DOT salt - in the wounds of those of us who would love to have a giant chicken and had absolutely no idea the state was selling one.
I'm a solid citizen. I pay my taxes sometimes. I vote when it's not raining. So it seems that when a giant surplus chicken is hauled into a warehouse in Raleigh to be auctioned off to the highest bidder, someone on the state payroll would say, "Who would really like a giant chicken? I bet that guy up toward the mountains who writes way too much about monkeys, early-to mid-'70s Burt Reynolds movies, Cousin Junior and dog snot would put that sucker in his front yard. Let's give him a holler."
But no. The Wayne County Livestock Development Association, a nefarious organization that must have the inside track on surplus fiberglass poultry sales (I am formally requesting a grand-jury investigation) bought the giant chicken for $259. Had I known about the auction, I would have bid $259.50, thereby contributing more money to the state's coffers and perhaps saving a teacher's job in these uncertain economic times.
Wondering what other treasures the state was willing to part with, I clicked on over to the Surplus Property Agency Web site to view its current listing of items classified as "surplus property, seized & unclaimed." I couldn't exactly figure out what was surplus, what was seized and what was unclaimed. That would take some real reporting and, as a columnist, I try to leave the real reporting to the guy who was laid off last week. But I figured the Honda Rebel motorcycle was seized while the lot of miscellaneous mid-'80s Ford bus parts was surplus. Nearly all of it could have been unclaimed.
There was a selection of jewelry - a petite Figaro necklace; heart-shaped post earrings; a gold-colored pendant with a heart design; a silver-colored bracelet with a gold-colored horse-heart decoration - that was either seized or found under a bed in the Governor's Mansion after the last election.
There were plenty of vehicles and proof that state workers would make unsuccessful used-car salesmen if this actual description is any indication of their persuasive techniques: "1992 Ford Truck...MUST BE TOWED, A/C, seats damaged, windshield chipped, no spare tire, trim on door damaged, has tool box on back, dash damaged, minor rust, paint scratched, peeling, faded."
But I bet with an adjustment or two she'll run like a scalded dog.
Country music bands may want to check out the 2002 Thomas Bus, perfect for a cross-country tour: "Needs two new batteries, will not start, w/toilet, security screen, A/C not working, windshield damaged, electrical problems, gauges not working properly ... no spare tire, no antenna, minor rust, paint scratched, peeling, faded, (and to make sure we understood) batteries dead."
It's a dang shame Buck Owens isn't still around.
There were file cabinets, telephones, cafeteria benches, copiers, printers, hospital beds, exercise equipment and a 43-year-old Baldwin concert piano encased in a chestnut frame.
There was not another giant chicken.
Treat her well, Wayne County Livestock Development Association, treat her well.
Scott Hollifield is editor and general manager of The McDowell News. Contact him at P.O. Box 610, Marion, N.C. 28752 or e-mail
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