RIVERSIDE, Calif. (2/22/10)--Riverside, Calif.-based Altura CU will close its Coachella branch on March 24, according to Altura President/CEO Mark Hawkins. The branch originally was scheduled to close May 7, 2009. At that time, the City Council of Coachella intervened and asked Altura to reconsider, said Hawkins' announcement. The council, concerned about losing one of only two financial institutions in town, requested Altura keep the branch open at least through Dec. 31, 2009. "We understood their concerns and decided to give the location more time," said Hawkins. "Unfortunately, difficult economic conditions continue to affect the Inland Empire, including Coachella." Hawkins noted the area's high unemployment and foreclosure rates "created challenges for all financial institutions, us included. It was a very difficult decision and one we hoped we wouldn't have to make in 2010." All positions at the branch are being eliminated. "Our Coachella employees have been offered severance packages, outplacement services and Altura's loan modification packages to assist them in this transition," Hawkins said. Altura has $890 million in assets.