COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho - Emotions ran high Thursday at the Coeur d'Alene Resort as Priest Lake cabin owners waited to find out if they'd be able to keep their properties as 59 waterfront properties were auctioned off to comply with the Idaho Constitution to dispose of state endowment trust land.
Walter Powers and his wife Myrtle were one of the 59 buyers hoping to keep their Priest Lake property.
"We were anxious that we might lose it because they might outbid us, but they didn't," he said. "So we walk away with our own property, it's wonderful. I feel good."
Many of the cabin owners are feeling good as many lots have been in their family for generations, like Elaine Widman, whose property has been in the family since 1946 and lives on Priest Lake year-round.
"We were kind of confident but I realized once the bidding started on our place, I just had this big lump in my throat," she said.
For many this was an opportunity to buy the land they've been living on instead of leasing it through the state.
"We've been dealing with the state for years and year and years and it's just been a struggle to say the least," Steven Swartley said.
Swartley and his wife Linda were very happy Thursday; their family has wanted the title of the property since first buying it 35 years ago.
"We have a fairly decent sized cabin, plus a guest cabin and a nice beach. We have one of the nicest lots in the lake," he said.
They were happy to throw down $650,000 to keep that lot on Priest Lake, and now are planning to meet up with their kids and grandkids to celebrate keeping the family property in the family.
The money from the property auction for buyers like Walter and Myrtle Powers, Elaine Widman and Steven and Linda Swartley all goes to Idaho public schools.
The Idaho Department of Lands says they will recommend at least one cycle of auctions for more state-owned Priest Lake lots next year.