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Arizona league backs two state CU modernization bills

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PHOENIX (1/28/10)--Two bills introduced in state legislature earlier this week and backed by the Arizona Credit Union League would modernize and streamline current systems and relieve ongoing potential setbacks for credit unions and their members, said the league. Rep. Nancy McLain (R-Lake Havasu) introduced H.B. 2616, titled "credit unions; branches; ATMs," Tuesday. If passed, the bill would amend the state credit union act by removing a requirement for state-chartered credit unions to have ATMs approved by the Arizona Department of Financial Institutions (DFI). Instead, a credit union would be required to send a notification letter and any required fees 30 days before opening an ATM. The bill also would repeal an unnecessary statute that requires all state and federal financial institutions to submit credit card interest rates to the DFI. Austin De Bey, league vice president of governmental affairs, noted that McLain is chair of the House Banking and Insurance Committee and said, "we are thankful for Rep. McLain's support of our issues, and are both appreciative and excited for the opportunity to work with her." The introduction of H.B. 2616 came one day after a bipartisan bill backed by the league was introduced. That bill, H.B. 2607 "Auto Loans; Late Payments," would modernize late charges on indirect auto loans and make them more consistent with statutes that regulate direct auto lending, said the league.

Pro athletes join Texas CUs in Haiti fundraising

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WASHINGTON and MADISON, Wis. (1/28/10)--Professional athletes will join credit unions Friday in Fort Worth, Texas, to raise funds to donate to the credit union movement's Haiti Earthquake Disaster Relief Fund, according to the Texas Credit Union League. Meanwhile nationwide credit union efforts are nearing the half-million dollar mark. Proceeds from the Texas event, sponsored by CO-OP Member Center and CUNA Mutual in Fort Worth, will go to the fund, through the U.S. credit union movement's CUAid Disaster Relief System sponsored by the National Credit Union Foundation. Signing autographs will be:
* Dallas Cowboys: Larry Brown, Billy Joe Dupree, Eugene Lockhart, Tony Casillas, Reginald Barns and Michael Kiselak; * New England Patriots: Jun Anderson; * Texas Rangers: Jose Guzman; and * Phoenix Suns: Ira Terrell.
The athletes will autograph personal items for $15 or attendees can get a collage photo autographed by all players for $25, said the league (LoneStar Leaguer Jan. 27). Also, two autographed footballs with signatures from representatives of Super Bowl teams will be raffled off. That's one example of the activities credit unions are engaging in to lend a hand to the massive relief effort, which will assist Haiti's credit unions, staff and members affected by the 7.0 magnitude Jan. 12 earthquake. Haiti has 175 credit unions and 404,090 credit union members. Meanwhile, funds raised as of Wednesday afternoon by credit unions nationwide totaled $480,584, said Valerie Breunig, executive director of the Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions, the charitable arm of the World Council of Credit Unions. That includes $203,589 raised through NCUF's So far, NCUF has received $17,725 in checks, $93,324 in online donations via, and $92,540 in wire transfers, said Jill Stevenson, NCUF marketing and communications coordinator. Breunig predicted that the fundraising would break the half million dollar mark today. The foundation is slowly adding a list of donors to the website at the bottom of the page, Breunig told News Now. To support Haiti's credit unions and members through the international credit union disaster fund, make payments, via check, credit card or wire to: Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions Inc., 5710 Mineral Point Road, Madison, WI 53705, USA. Donations also can be made online with a credit card at For wire transfer information, contact Valerie Breunig, Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions at 608-395-2055 or via e-mail Please indicate the donation is designated for the Haiti Disaster Relief Fund. U.S. credit unions also can support WOCCU's relief efforts by donating through the NCUF at

Former ViewPoint CU goes to stock offering

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PLANO, Texas (1/28/10)--ViewPoint Financial Group--parent company of ViewPoint Bank, a former credit union in Plano, Texas--announced Tuesday it will reorganize from a two-tier mutual holding company to a full stock holding company and will undertake a "second-step" offering of additional shares of common stock. It expects the conversion and offering, subject to regulatory, shareholder and depositor approval, to be completed this summer (PRNewswire Jan. 26). ViewPoint Bank was formerly the $1.4 billion asset Community CU, which converted to a mutual savings bank on Jan. 1, 2006. It was the largest credit union ever to convert to a bank. On July 13, 2006, it filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission to become a mutual holding company so it could trade stock on the NASDAQ market (News Now Oct. 4, 2006). However, it did not get enough ballots to approve the reorganization and extended its voting deadline. It eventually had five million votes cast, with 83% favoring the conversion. As part of the new reorganization, ViewPoint Bank will become a wholly owned subsidiary of a still-to-be-formed stock corporation--ViewPoint Financial Group Inc. ViewPoint Bank President/CEO Gary Base noted that "while we're already well-capitalized and have grown tremendously since we first became a public company in 2006, the additional capital we can raise from this offering will allow us greater flexibility and increase our opportunities for future strategic growth."

Report CUs well ahead of banks in consumer trust

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WASHINGTON (1/28/10)--Credit unions have a higher approval rating on trust than banks, according to the latest Chicago Booth/Kellogg School Financial Trust Index (The Wall Street Journal Jan. 28). Credit unions had a 58% approval rating, compared with a 31% approval rating of national banks and 53% of local banks. Banks in which the government has a stake were trusted the least, with a 21% approval rating, the report said. The study was based on phone surveys to consumers in the U.S. Data was collected in late December by the University of Chicago and Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. “The Trust Index reveals that what has made credit unions successful--service to members, transparency in operation, a real feeling of ‘ownership’ in the institution--are values that are honored by the American public,” said Credit Union National Association President/CEO Dan Mica. “The fact is, credit unions did not start the fire leading to the financial meltdown--but they can play a significant role in helping Americans recover from it.” Paola Sapienza, one of the study’s authors, noted that trust in credit unions and community banks is much higher than in national banks, “consistent with academic evidence that local [institutions] have more transparency, fewer hidden fees and better customer service compared to national banks.” Other findings from the study:
* About 61% of respondents support regulating financial institutions, compared to 65% of those surveyed in June; * Roughly 58% support executive pay caps, down from 65% in June; * Nearly 66% of respondents want to see homeowners get help, compared with 68% saying so in June; and * About 51% of respondents said they were angry at the current economic situation, compared with 60% in December 2008.

Wounded robbery suspect IDd teller hailed as hero

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CENTRALIA, Wash. (1/28/10)--A wounded suspect in an attempted credit union robbery of TwinStar CU Monday has been identified and arrested, according to media reports. A police officer and credit union employee who were involved in the incident also have been hailed as heroes. Michael Anthony Lar was arrested Monday night and taken to an Olympia, Wash. hospital for two gunshot wounds after a motel worker in Olympia reported to police that a suspicious man with an injured arm had entered into a cab. Lar refused to give police or medical staff his name. Police identified Lar by his fingerprints when he was transferred to another medical center for surgery ( Jan. 27). Police suspect that Lar was shot twice by a police officer who confronted him at TwinStar CU’s Centralia, Wash., branch Monday. The shooting occurred after police responded to a call that a gunman had taken a credit union employee hostage. The gunman held a gun to her head and a knife to her throat. An officer approached the credit union near an employee entrance and saw the woman being held hostage. She mouthed to the officer: “He has a gun.” The officer responded by pulling the employee out of the credit union and firing two shots. The gunman fled the scene. No money was taken. The employee and the officer are heroes, Centralia Police Chief Bob Berg told The News Tribune (Jan. 27). If the employee had not alerted the officer about the gun, the suspect may have taken a different action, Berg told the newspaper. Lar will be booked into Lewis County Jail upon his release from the hospital.

CU System briefs (01/27/2010)

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* BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (1/28/10)--A Knoxville, Ala. woman has been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges she allegedly stole $39,000 from Alabama CU. Christa Anne Boler, 29, who worked at the credit union in Tuscaloosa, was charged with one count of bank fraud (Targeted News Service Jan. 25). She is accused of submitting false deposit and withdrawal slips to hide thefts from the teller drawer. The incidents allegedly occurred between July 2008 and January 2009. The maximum sentence for the bank fraud charge is 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine. The indictment also seeks forfeiture of the $39,000 to the government as proceeds of illegal activity ... * WYOMING, Pa. (1/28/10)--The Wyoming (Pa.) Area School Board Tuesday night approved establishing an in-school branch of UFCW FCU in a local school. The vote was 5 to 4. Credit union President/CEO John Hayduk told the board UFCW will invest about $50,000, including $12,700 a year for the working students, and will promote financial literacy. Another credit union, Wyoming Area FCU, attended and said that credit union had not been given an opportunity to provide a similar service ( Jan. 27) ... * VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (1/28/10)--The board of Beach Municipal FCU has named Geri Metzger as CEO, effective Dec. 21. She had been interim CEO since the beginning of December. With more than 25 years of experience, Metzger had served as chief operations officer since 2000. Prior to that, she was a consultant for the Virginia Credit Union League, a senior systems representative and auditor for the Maine Credit Union League and other key positions at several credit unions in Maine, Texas and Florida. Beach Municipal FCU is located in Virginia Beach. It has more than $100 million in assets ... * ST. LOUIS (1/28/10)--The official ribbon cutting ceremony for Vantage CU's two
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newest locations in Des Peres and Eureka, Mo., was Jan. 20 at the Eureka location. Vantage and Spirit of St. Louis CU merged on Dec. 1. The credit union donated $500 to the Wyman Center in Eureka, a camp serving teens from the St. Louis region. The merger was a "mutually beneficial endeavor for both credit unions said CEO Hubert Hoosman. Vantage expanded its reach to serve members in West County, and Spirit members obtained more locations, mortgage and investment services, and free money-management and educational services. From left are: Weldon Tieken, former Spirit board member; Rhonda Huddleston, Eureka branch manager; Hoosman,; Dr. Jerry Eichholz, board president; Shelly Hulser, Eureka Chamber; Alesia Hanners, Wyman Center; Nancy Jaeger and Tracie Bibb, Eureka Chamber members; and Debbie Jewell-Harmon, Eureka branch. Photo provided by Vantage CU) ...

Irelands Treasury committee backs expanded CU services

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BELFAST, Northern Ireland (1/28/10)--Ireland’s House of Commons Treasury select committee has supported calls for Northern Ireland credit union regulations to be managed in the same manner as other credit unions in the United Kingdom. John McFall, committee chairman, wrote to the Treasury, urging it to treat credit unions in Northern Ireland as the British government treats those in Great Britain. British credit unions are backed by financial guarantees for the Financial Services Compensation Scheme and regulated by the Financial Services Authority (Belfast Telegraph Jan. 26). Currently, credit unions in Northern Ireland operate under their own compensation arrangements, which are not backed by the government, the newspaper said. The Assembly’s enterprise committee also has supported an amendment to a financial services bill, which would extend the services that Northern Ireland credit unions could offer. “It is essential in tackling financial exclusion that credit unions are allowed to offer all the services that their members need,” Mark Durkan, a government official, told the paper. “We have an exceptionally strong credit union movement here in [Northern Ireland] with over 400,000 members,” he added. “This is a much stronger base than in Britain, but perversely, credit unions here are much more restricted in the services they can offer.”

Mid-Atlantic Corporate outlines capital plan

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MIDDLETOWN, Pa. (1/28/10)--Jay Murray, CEO of Mid-Atlantic Corporate FCU in Middletown, Pa., outlined the corporate’s capital plan and strategy for its member credit unions during a town hall meeting and webcast Tuesday. The power of the cooperative movement still stands through economies of scale, Murray said. Although corporate rules are not finalized, Mid-Atlantic is moving forward and is confident of its future and ability to serve credit unions through liquidity, investment services, and payments services, according to the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (Life is a Highway Jan. 27). Murray emphasized that Mid-Atlantic has $151 million in membership capital and is not seeking new money from credit unions, the association said. Rodney May, Mid-Atlantic senior vice president of member service, explained new membership materials sent recently to Mid-Atlantic Corporate members. Credit unions must determine whether to convert their membership capital accounts or correspondent membership accounts to perpetual contributed capital or nonperpetual contributed accounts, and select a membership level by June 30, he said. Murray concluded that he believes in the cooperative model, and working together, credit unions will preserve and restore capital for the future. He encouraged credit unions to provide comments to the National Credit Union Administration regarding the new corporate credit union rules by March 9. For Mid-Atlantic Corporate's comments, use the link.