IVERSIDE, Calif. (11/4/10)--Riverside, Calif.-based Altura CU will close a branch office in Hemet, Calif., on Jan. 12 and merge it with a second Hemet branch, said Mark Hawkins, the credit union's president/CEO. After Jan. 12, Altura will have 13 branch locations throughout Riverside County: four in the city of Riverside, two in Moreno Valley, two--including one that is all electronic--in Corona, and one each in Hemet, Indio, Murrieta, Rancho Mirage and Temecula. "The 'great recession' continues to linger in the Inland Empire, and although we are beginning to see signs of improvement, some challenges remain," said Hawkins. "We continue to look for ways to reduce our costs of operation, while causing the least amount of disruption to our members." Building leases will expire on three branch office locations in the next 90 days.. "An expiring lease is an easier way to reduce our expenses compared to some other options," he said. Hemet was chosen for closure because two branches were within three miles of each other. "This was a painful choice, but merging the Hemet branches is the least objectionable option for cutting our operating costs," he said. Staff from the two branches will be merged. However, five employees have been offered severance packages, outplacement services and Altura loan modification packages to assist them in the transition.