Cottageville VFD receives check from state unclaimed property

Suzette Lowe
State Treasurer Riley Moore presents an unclaimed property check to Cottageville VFD Chief Michael Morrison, Assistant Chief Cindy Morrison and Deputy Chief Gregory Jewell.

Firefighters, friends and family were on hand at the Cottageville Volunteer Fire Department to witness a little bit of Christmas in July.

West Virginia’s state treasurer, Riley Moore, presented the department with a check for $4,160.66 from unclaimed property funds which included an insurance refund and several stale-dated checks that had not been cashed.

Treasurer Moore said it was particularly satisfying to return the money to first responders.

“Volunteer fire departments are the backbone of the communities they serve in West Virginia,” he said. “To be able to return the money back where it belongs is one of the best parts of my job.”

For Cottageville VFD Chief Michael Morrison, the money means his firefighters can be safer.

“We’ll use these funds to outfit a couple of our people with the protective gear they need to be safe when going on calls,” he said.

Morrison said that most people don’t realize how costly it is to outfit a firefighter.

“With boots, helmets and other protective gear, it comes to around $2,500 per person,” he said. “These unexpected funds can literally be a lifesaver.”

State Senator Eric Tarr, who represents Jackson, Putnam, Mason and Roane counties, attended the presentation as well.

The senator had been in the area speaking to Chief Morrison about another issue regarding stream access and had nothing but praise for the job volunteer firefighters do.

“All of these people are volunteers and we sometimes forget that,” he said. “To see a thriving department is very encouraging but their needs are great. It’s a good day when they can receive unexpected funds.”

Morrison said that Jackson is one of the best served counties with its volunteer departments.

“We have a mutual aid agreement with each department in the county,” he said. “We work together very well and back each other up.”

Cottageville Volunteer Fire Department

The treasurer also gave Morrison a list of current Cottageville residents who have unclaimed property and encouraged everyone to go to the state treasurer’s website to access information regarding possible assets.

“This money belongs to you and we want to return it to you as quickly as possible,” he said. “You just need to claim it.”

Unclaimed property can include financial accounts or items of value in which the owner has not initiated any activity for one year or longer. The most common examples include unpaid life insurance benefits, forgotten bank accounts or unused rebate cards.

Morrison said he was not fully aware of the program prior to receiving the funds.

“We want to thank the treasurer’s office for finding this money and assisting us with recovering it,” he said. “I hope seeing us get this money will encourage others to see if they’re owed anything.” To search for unclaimed property, go to www.wvtreasury.com. The large Unclaimed Property search button is under the heading “Are We Holding Your Money?” In addition to finding property, the website will help track a claim.

Treasurer Moore shared one other program with those attending the check presentation.

The Jump Start Savings Plan, which functions similar to the current College Savings Plan, allows those who are attending trade or technical schools, community colleges or apprenticeships in trade unions to put money aside for the future.

These funds, which can receive deposits for as long as needed, can be used for assistance after graduation with licenses, tools and start-up costs to establish a business.

“We need to move from the ‘Why are you going to a trade school?’ to 'How can we help?’” Treasurer Moore said. “This program is a way to offer that assistance. While it isn’t available to pay for tuition, it is there to get a career going after graduation.”

The treasurer stated that this is the only program of its kind in the United States.

“Other states are interested in seeing how this works,” he said. “I’m proud that West Virginia is leading the way.”