State Treasurer John Perdue presented a check of more than $20,000 Sept. 8 to the Hedgesville Public Library, a windfall that may help with current construction projects at the facility. The exact amount is $20,933.97.
The check is particularly timely, considering the library is amid constructing the second floor of a state-of-the-art facility. The downstairs is complete, but the lower-level project still carries debt stemming from a USDA loan secured by Berkeley County commissioners. The check amount will not pay off the loan entirely.
“Our library board is aware and excited,” said Library Manager Dana Phelps. “We’re in a transitional state. Any monies are welcome to paying off the mortgage for the first floor or to get us upstairs to open the second.”
Treasurer Perdue said he loves finding unclaimed property for such projects. “What indicates the intellectual health and closeness to research resources better than a quality library?” he asked. “No one can argue with reuniting a community treasure such as this with lost financial assets – at least I hope they wouldn’t.”
The Hedgesville library was formerly known as the Naylor Memorial Library. In the late-1968 transition from Naylor to the broader Martinsburg-Berkeley system, the Naylor steering committee neglected to outline the existence of certain funds to the other system. As if often the case in the world of unclaimed property, organizational leadership changes often lead to funds dropping through cracks.
“These scenarios are exceedingly common,” the Treasurer said. “Churches also often have this happen. Leadership changes and sometimes assets get lost. We have a church here in Charleston for which we’ve found several pots of money. We returned $73,000 to a Huntington church in January.”
Phelps says her library is a true community hub. Because Internet service is spotty in the area between Hedgesville and Berkeley Springs, folks often pull into the library parking lot to take advantage of its Wi-Fi signal before hitting the road.
The library has its roots in a Dec. 31, 1955 letter, in which the Naylor family gave a church building to Berkeley County, with the stipulation that it be used as either a community center or library. The library won out.
“We can’t wait to see all our friends in the Eastern Panhandle,” the Treasurer said. “I understand that people there may feel disconnected from the rest of the state but this office doesn’t see it that way.”
The Martinsburg-Berkeley County Library system serves more than 100,000 residents.
Unclaimed property is any asset from which an individual has become unintentionally separated. Examples include forgotten utility deposits, left-behind final paychecks and abandoned safe deposit box contents.
Treasurer Perdue presented an unclaimed property check of just more than $20,000 to the Hedgesville Public Library Sept. 8, accompanied by Martinsburg-Berkeley Library System Director Gretchen Fry (left) and Hedgesville Mayor Carey Gano.