Meet the stars of the 2013 Unclaimed Property Report being distributed in Nebraska newspapers in March and April. The report includes the names of 30,000 Nebraskans and former Nebraskans who were added to the State Treasurer's unclaimed property database in 2012. In all, the Treasurer's Office is holding more than $125 million for more than 350,000 Nebraskans and former Nebraskans.
You can check for your name in the published report or on our Unclaimed Property home page here:
The paperwork required to claim $485 didn't intimidate Judy Irons of Lincoln. "I've done a lot of paperwork; it's part of my life," said Judy who, together with her late husband, founded LeRoy Irons Trucking Co. in 1977 and ran the office for 28 years. "We started with nothing, absolutely nothing," said the mother of four.
In its prime, Irons Trucking had 18 employees and 15 trucks running with two on standby, putting on an average of 500 miles a day. The company was sold in 2004. Judy remembers bringing her children—and even a grandchild—to the office. She remembers working late and keeping her husband company, riding with him until almost midnight, hauling rock from Weeping Water to Lincoln. "I couldn't talk to my truck," her husband once told her.
Accustomed to having to collect overdue bills from customers, Judy said, she was pleased to find money actually awaiting her. She used the money to pay bills.
Bob and Janice Yanke are big baseball fans. Yankee fans. And so are their shar-peis, Matsui, age 9, and Melky, age 5, both named for former Yankees. "Every time Bob gets mad at the Yankees, the girls go hide," Janice said.
But in the winter, Bob and Janice cheer for their beloved Creighton University Bluejays. As it turns out, they spent part of the money from the Unclaimed Property Division for their 2012-13 season basketball tickets. The rest of the almost $2,000 went to pay for a new sewer line at their Fremont home.
After hearing an Unclaimed Property ad on the radio, Janice found money under her previous married name from a pension fund established where she worked in the 1970s. The sum came as a shock to Janice, who had long moved on, working for 28 years at Physicians Mutual Insurance Co. and competing as an amateur bowler. She was inducted to the Fremont Bowling Hall of Fame in 1987.
Celebrating their academic success at Gering Junior High School are some of the 81 recipients of the BUG (Bringing Up Grades) awards. The awards are given once a year by the Gering Junior High Booster Club to students who improve their grades. This latest group of 81 was a record, said Melody Abel, math teacher, parent, and club spokesperson.
The $500 the Booster Club received from the Unclaimed Property Division was a welcome surprise, school administrators said. "Any money is welcome especially in this day and age," said Tim Meisner, Gering Public Schools business manager.
The Booster Club provides extras like Honor Roll recognition, bowling trips for PE class, and the BUG awards. "With budget cuts, the regular school budget can't provide some of those extras," Abel said. "We provide anything we can to help promote student success." The club plans to put its unclaimed property money toward a new electronic sign outside the school. The Student Council is spearheading the project.
The Farmers Coop in Clarks was like most every other small-town cooperative. "We bought and sold grain and fertilizer and fuel, most anything a farmer needed," said David Miller, former secretary-treasurer. The coop thrived until the late 1980s when it was sold. What remained was $5,000 in a margins account with a Fortune 500 brokerage firm.
When Edgar Hicks, former coop manager, went to work for the brokerage firm, he discovered the account and set out to return the money to the community that had warmly embraced him and his family years earlier. "How many black families live in small towns?" Hicks asked. "We were involved in the church, school, and grain elevator, all intricate parts of a community. I would have felt a great sense of failure if the state hadn't been able to get this money back to Clarks."
The money was turned over to the Merrick Foundation to be used for the betterment of Clarks. "If it hadn't been for Edgar Hicks, we never would have known about this money," said Miller.
Chuck Griffith, executive director of the Merrick Foundation, says he is optimistic about the future of small towns like Clarks. A survey of high school seniors in the county found that more than half of them are positive about returning to rural Nebraska after college. "The opportunities for employment with the Internet have enhanced the ability to work where you want," Griffith said. "Our high school seniors summarize it well. They want to be close to friends and family, near the outdoors, and enjoy the small-town lifestyle."