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Helping lost treasures get home

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By Stephen Lega

Have you ever put on a jacket you haven't worn in a while, reached in the pocket and found a few bucks? I've never found more than $5, but still, it's a nice surprise. There's a chance there is another surprise waiting for you at the Kentucky State Treasury.

State Treasurer Todd Hollenbach was in Lebanon last week to announce that the treasury's Treasure Finders program would be coming to Lebanon tomorrow, May 6. Treasure Finders is a program of the Unclaimed Property Division of the State Treasury.

Every day, people forget about things - checking and savings accounts, uncashed checks, traveler's checks, jewelry, rare coins, watches, and many other items. Sometimes someone dies and his or her heirs aren't aware of things they left behind.

As it works, after a certain amount of time, this unclaimed property is turned over to the state treasury. Hollenbach said approximately $30 million in unclaimed property is turned over to the state annually, and only about $9-10 million is returned to its rightful owner. Hollenbach decided he wanted to increase the amount of unclaimed property that was returned to its rightful owners. As a result, the Treasure Finders program was started. From time to time, local volunteers team up with treasury officials in a community to try to track down people who have unclaimed property with the state.

The treasury department has 110 pages of unclaimed property belonging to individuals whose last known address was in Marion County. The list includes countless names, from Abell to Zepepa, and residents from Bradfordsville to Loretto and St. Joe to Gravel Switch are on the list.

Of course, the complete list goes statewide. So just for fun, I went on the treasurer's website (www.kytreasury.com). I followed the links to the unclaimed property search and typed in "Lega". It's not a common name anywhere, so I didn't think the list would be that long. Instead, I learned that Lega also pulls up "Legacy" and "Legal" entries as well as a few last names I can only assume are even less common than mine. On the second page, I found two names that looked familiar, my Uncle Jim and my mom.

I texted my mom about the find. She and my brother thought the text was some kind of scam, however, until I talked my mom through the search process.

If you want to search for yourself or someone you know, just do what I did (only with your name, not mine), or stop by Lebanon City Hall between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Thursday, May 6. If your name is on the list, you won't receive your property tomorrow, but you will find out how to get it.

If you want to help reunite people with their treasures, you can stop by city hall as well. Stay for an hour or all four. Who knows? Maybe the person you help will give you a finder's fee.

Right, mom?