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‘It’s the last thing I have of him’: Iowa woman loses tribute to husband due to clerical error

By Pepper Purpura

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    ANKENY, Iowa (KCCI) — A clerical error at the Polk County Treasurer’s Office is causing an Ankeny woman to lose a tribute to her late husband.

RaNae Ellett lost her husband, Harry Earl Ellett Jr., also known as Mouse, in 2017. He had a custom license plate with his nickname for decades. So when he passed, Ellett had the plate re-registered to her.

But last week, Ellet found out the license plate belongs to someone else now, and she’s been driving around for years with a plate that isn’t registered to her vehicle.

“They never notified me, so technically, for the last two years or more, two of us have been driving around Iowa with this plate,” Ellett said.

She said the issue stems back to 2020 when she was in a traumatic car crash that put her in the hospital. Ellett had to buy a new car and get new registration but said she was told she could keep her “Mouse” plates.

Now, she thinks that switch was never actually made due to a clerical error. But since someone else has purchased the customization, she can’t get it back.

“It’s kind of like the last thing I have of him, and it just kind of felt like they took it away from me,” Ellett said. “When I found out it was a clerical error that did it, somehow it just doesn’t seem like I should pay the price.”

Now, Ellett is searching for the person who bought it, hoping they’ll let her have the customization back.

“I don’t want to interfere in somebody else’s life, but I don’t think one phone call would be out of line,” Ellett said.

Ellett said it still troubles her the situation is possible. After the experience, she is warning others.

“Really read your registration and look at that sticker before you put it on your car because it might not be right,” Ellett said.

The Polk County Treasurer’s Office told KCCI they’re now investigating the situation.

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