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Clarksburg man gets big check from state treasurer

By Megan Workman

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Bill Ramsey thought his visit to Charleston would kill two birds with one stone.

He just didn't expect to leave with so much money.

The Clarksburg resident is in the state capital to attend the annual Silver-Haired Legislature convention, a group composed of West Virginians 60 years and older who advise state lawmakers about senior citizens and other issues.

He also stopped by state Treasurer John Perdue's office at the Capitol on Friday to pick up what he thought was going to be an unclaimed property check worth "a couple hundred dollars," Ramsey said.

When Perdue handed Ramsey a check worth almost $25,000, the 70-year-old said he was "shocked" and "surprised."

"I had no idea it'd be this much," Ramsey said, flashing a wide smile. "My [three] grandkids will be real happy. My grandkids are going to have a nice Christmas. I'm excited."

The $24,803.80 unclaimed property check is a collection of paychecks he received when he worked for the state Division of Highways. He retired from that job in 2007.

While Ramsey was going through a divorce, he moved a few times, which might have been why some of his paychecks got lost over time.

Perdue joked that Dianne Singleton -- Ramsey's significant other of six years -- should hold onto the check "so that it doesn't get lost again."

Although Ramsey never asks Singleton for Christmas presents, she keeps a list, she said with a laugh.

Ramsey also plans to pay Singleton back the money she loaned him in the spring so that he could finally buy the lakehouse he's always wanted.

The home, at Tygart Lake State Park in Grafton, has "wonderful neighbors," Singleton said.

"I always wanted a lakehouse, and I got that in the spring, so this will help," Ramsey said. "[The money] is already gone."

Ramsey encourages every West Virginian to check his or her name to see if they have any unclaimed fortune.

When Singleton checked her name for any unclaimed property, she found out that she, too, had some.

"I thought, well this is just great," she said, "and it was for $3.81."

Xavier Imperiale of Bluefield holds the record for the highest amount claimed in the state. In 2003, he was given more than $655,000. His brother, Frank Imperiale of Bramwell, received a check last year for $169,491 -- the third-biggest unclaimed property amount awarded in West Virginia.

In February, Robin Klapproth, executor of the estate for South Charleston resident J.D. Mier, accepted an unclaimed property check for more than $480,000. The check presentation aired live on ABC'S "Good Morning America."

That was the third time West Virginia had been featured on GMA's "Show Me the Money" series, which showcases unclaimed property programs around the country.

Klapproth became executor of the estate after Mier, her elderly neighbor, passed away in 2006 without leaving a will, and apparently with no known relatives. She found a wedding invitation tucked away inside multiple envelopes that included the last name of Mier's niece in Ohio. The niece ended up with the money.

The West Virginia Unclaimed Property Act was passed in the 1960s and was reformed in the 1990s. Its aim is to hold onto unclaimed money in the state's general revenue account until the original owner or heirs can be found.

The Unclaimed Property Division currently holds about 860,000 accounts worth $162 million.

West Virginia leads the nation in returning money to people, Perdue said.

He said he has made it a priority to return unclaimed property. Since the beginning of his administration, West Virginians have received $115 million in unclaimed property checks, he said.

The money's owner has to file a claim to be processed and approved by the Treasurer's Office. A list of unclaimed property is published yearly in local newspapers and is online at the Treasurer's Office website, www.wvtreasury.com.

Reach Megan Workman at megan.workman@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5113.


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