June 21, 2018
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Bangor bike auction raises money for public safety

Contributed | BDN
Contributed | BDN
By Meg Haskell, BDN Staff

BANGOR, Maine — There were bikes to please just about anyone at the annual Bangor Police Department bicycle auction on Saturday morning.

Herb Manza of Brewer, who makes patchwork trousers to sell at Phish concerts, picked up a green Huffy with a built-in computer and a compass for $35.

“It’s gonna need a little tinkering, but it’ll get me around,” Manza said, fiddling with the derailleur.

Brent Hall of Bangor, who daylights as the director of the Food and Medicine Cooperative in Brewer, picked up several classic road bikes to fix up and sell.

“I’ve got a little repair business on the side,” Hall said, after placing the winning bid on a nice old Raleigh. “I try to stick with the quality road bikes.”

All 65 of the bikes sold Saturday were either donated or abandoned, said auctioneer Ron Gastia, who daylights as Bangor’s chief of police.

“We store them for a year and try to return them to their owners,” he said. Each spring, the police department clears out the unclaimed bicycles to make way for new ones, he said.

This year, a Brewer resident was reunited with his stolen bicycle, which was spotted at the auction by a friend.

“He was pretty happy about that,” Gastia said.

Taylor Helsley of Bangor was at the auction celebrating her 7th birthday with her family and friends. She had her eye on a vivid purple mountain bike, perhaps just a tad too big — but not so big she couldn’t handle it, she said.

Along with her 8-year-old sister Kristen and their friends Kennedi and Meaghan Goodine of Naples, Taylor sat patiently in the crowd as bike after bike — beaters and beauties alike — got auctioned off to happy new owners.

When the purple “Free Spirit” was sold for $20 to someone else in the crowd, Taylor was philosophical.

“My mom said we can go to the bike store afterward,” she said.

At one point, a woman stood up in front of the crowd and identified herself as homeless.

“I really need a bike for exercise and so I can get around,” she said. “I need a benefactor.” Someone in the crowd bought her a bicycle that appeared to be in good working order.

Bill Hoffman of Milo, who buys, refurbishes and resells bicycles, picked up dozens at the auction, most for under $10 and several for under $5.

This year’s bike auction raised $1,164, which will be used for community safety programs, Gastia said.

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