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By Sharon Graves

Three pieces of property that, together, once were the Todd Nelson Chrysler dealership, were sold at auction Monday, Jan. 12, on the front steps of the Carroll County Courthouse downtown.

The properties, located on State Hwy. 227, were bought by Ford dealership owner Earl Floyd for $550,000.

The property was ordered to be sold at auction by Circuit Court Judge Stephen Bates.

About 20 prospective buyers attended the sale, presided over by Master Commissioner Mark Cobb of Owen County. Only two bids came from the crowd – Floyd's and a $525,000 bid from First State Bank of Tennessee, which held the mortgage to the property. Many of those assembled said they came just to see who would submit the winning bid.

The bank, which operates several locations in Tennessee, was hoping to recoup the $813,930 owed on the property after Chrysler stripped Nelson of the dealership. Nelson was forced to close the business in the fall, when he defaulted on loans from Chrysler and was found to have breached contracts totaling $2 million. Carroll County Circuit Court was able to obtain nearly $100,000 in restitution for 63 victims. Because he worked closely with the court on the restitution, Nelson won't face criminal charges in Carroll County.

Despite the bank's hopes, some in the crowd were optimistic. “It might be a good day for a bargain,” said one person prior to the auction.

It seemed to be a bargain for Floyd, who, prior to the auction, said he thought the property would go for $750,000. "Let's see how close I come," he said.

Roy Weeks, president of United Citizens Bank Loan Production office on Highland Avenue, said afterward he, too, thought Floyd gott a bargain. "I thought it would go for $650,000 or $700,000.”

Local businessman Duper Craig quipped that it was indeed a bargain – if you had a need for the building.

Floyd, who said he has no immediate plans for the property, admitted he didn't attend the auction with the intention of buying. “I didn’t even have a check on me," Floyd said. "I didn’t see a reason for the bank to have it.”

Floyd was required to pay 10 percent of the winning bid price immediately; the remainder is to be paid within 30 days. He also is required to insure the property immediately, and pay 2009 taxes. The terms are customary for any property sold at auction on the Courthouse steps.