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Wescom CU pulls out of wholesale mortgage lending

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PASADENA, Calif. (1/8/08)--Wescom CU has elected to exit the wholesale lending business for residential real estate loans, effective immediately. The $3.853 billion credit union made that statement in a letter to its mortgage brokers on Dec. 12, noting that it made the decision "after careful consideration." Wescom told brokers that rate locks would no longer be accepted but that the credit union "will honor existing loans in our pipeline. Loans that have been locked will continue to be processed and underwritten according to our normal procedures. Approved loans will be funded as usual." The letter was posted on The Mortgage Lender Implode-O-Meter website. Several credit unions have said that losses related to the subprime mortgage lending crisis have affected traditional loan portfolios. Some credit union members who took out subprime loans elsewhere are now going delinquent on their other loans. According to Credit Union National Association statistics based on National Credit Union Administration Call Report data, the credit union had more than $1.175 billion in mortgage loans and more than $1.928 billion in other loans, with a delinquency ratio of 0.8. News Now contacted the credit union with questions about trade press reports regarding a number of layoffs, including the wholesale mortgage department. The credit union did not reply.

Texas foundation awards in 2007 top 360423

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FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (1/8/08)--The Texas Credit Union Foundation (TCUF) announced that it has given $360,423 in grants for 2007. The grants included programs to benefit all Texans, and core programs like credit union grants, disaster relief and Southwest CUNA Management School (SCMS) scholarships (LoneStar Leaguer Jan. 7). “The foundation’s mission includes enabling credit unions to better serve their members, as well as financial education outreach across Texas and our other partners, as well as disaster relief for credit union communities,” said Jill Pharr, TCUF executive director. “We accomplished these things, and much more, with the financial support of our many contributors.” Fifty-eight general grants, totaling $243,423, included:
* $27,000 for the Texas Credit Union League’s (TCUL) REAL Solutions initiative; * $25,000 for BizKid$ Financial Education Series on PBS; * $28,000 for six Junior Achievement partnerships with credit unions in Abilene, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, Longview and Tyler; * $25,000 to the El Paso Affordable Housing CUSO; * $17,500 in disaster grants for the Solomon Islands tsunami, Jamaica hurricane, Peru earthquake and California wildfire disasters; * $17,000 for eight chapter grants; * Twenty-nine training and conference scholarships for credit union staff and volunteers; and * Sponsorship of the Texas Council on Economic Education Teacher of the Year Awards.
Nine financial literacy grants, totaling $60,000, included:
* Newspapers in Education programs on financial education in El Paso, Fort Worth and Harlingen; * Sponsorship of the Statewide 4-H Consumer Education Contest for high school students; *Nineteen scholarships for credit union member teachers to attend a national economics conference; and * Printing of the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE) materials in Spanish, for use in Texas as needed.
The foundation also gave $57,000 to credit union professionals to attend SCMS.

A number of CUs announce dividends

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MADISON, Wis. (1/8/08)--Credit union members nationwide are starting the new year with dividends and bonus earnings from their credit unions. “Remember that credit unions are not for profit, and member-owned financial institutions,” said Charles Emerick, HealthNet FCU board chairman. “We are glad to be in a position to return excess revenues to our members.” HealthNet FCU, based in Memphis, Tenn., voted to return 15% of interest paid on certain loans and a bonus dividend of 15% on selected savings accounts to members (NetEffect January 2008). Other credit unions reporting dividends include:
* Mazuma CU, which issued more than $720,000 to its members Dec. 21. They received 3% of the interest earned on deposits and 3% interest paid on loans during 2007. Missouri Corporate CU in St. Louis also gave a $100,000 dividend to its members on Dec. 31 (CourierNet Jan. 4); * Blue Chip FCU in Harrisburg, Pa., which gave members a 2% bonus. Borrowers received 0.75% refund on interest paid during the year. Postmark CU, Harrisburg, voted to give its members 5% of the total dividends earned on deposit accounts and 5% of loan interest paid in 2007 (Life is a Highway Jan. 3); * Postmark CU, Harrisburg, Pa., which gave 5% of dividends earned on deposit accounts and 5% of loan interest paid in 2007 to members. The payout exceeded $65,000; * Fort Campbell CU, Clarksville, Tenn., which approved a $2 million dividend for its members. The money was posted to their accounts Dec. 13 (Leaf Chronicle Jan. 3); * MECU, Baltimore, which gave a dividend of $4.25 million to members. Loan interest rebates were deposited into members’ share accounts Dec. 3, and extraordinary dividends were deposited into their accounts Dec. 31. The amount that members received depended on the amount of interest they paid on loans in 2007; * Houston Police FCU, which reported a dividend of $2.9 million. The bonus dividend and interest refund was 15% of the dividends members earned on their credit union deposit accounts or 15% of the interest members paid on their loans and credit cards (LoneStar Leaguer Jan. 4); and * New Mexico Educators FCU, Albuquerque, N.M., which estimated its 2007 dividends, or “Member Rewards,” at $1.4 million. Members earned bonus dividends on the dividends they earned last year, based on interest paid on loans during the select time period.

Hanson named CEO of Mass. CU Share Insurance Group

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WESTBOROUGH, Mass. (1/8/08)--Michael Hanson, the Massachusetts Credit Union Share Insurance Group’s (MSIC) corporate counsel, will become its president/CEO. Hanson will replace John Buddle, who will retire March 1 after serving 14 years as CEO. Hanson has practiced as a banking attorney for the past 22 years, and has served as MSIC’s counsel for 12 years. From 1991 to 1992, he served as Massachusetts Commissioner of Banks. From 1976 to 1981, Hanson was a member of the New Hampshire House of Representatives, where he served as chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.

CU System briefs (01/07/2008)

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* WATERLOO, Iowa (1/8/08)--Veridian CU has made $35,000 available for Inclusive Community Grant programs, which work to integrate and serve traditional excluded groups or cultures in the community. Here, Brittney Diercks, left, branch supervisor at Veridian, presents a $7,200 grant check to Barbara Sanders, Julie Pitzen and Chantelle Sanders, all of Family & Children's Council of Black Hawk County, for the council's healthy babies program. The credit union also awarded $7,000 to Advisory for a Better Future Fund for its ABF-Bus Shelter project, led by Waterloo East High School Students. Lesser grants went to NAMI Black Hawk County, North Star Community Services, Seeds of Hope, Young Parents Network of Cedar Rapids, Children & Families, Citizens for Community Improvement of Des Moines, and Iowa Legal Aid (Photo provided by Veridian CU) … * BURNSVILLE, Minn.(1/8/08)--US FCU volunteered its time to support local youth in the Shakopee, Minn., area through the non-partisan, grassroots organization 'Kids Voting Minnesota." On election day in November more than 60 children in grades 3-12 visited Precinct 7, where they voted for candidates and current issues. Previous to voting day, they studied the candidates and were informed how to make an educated decision when voting. In the photo, Maranda Knutson of Shakopee takes her son Reed Knutson to the voting booth to fill out his ballot. (Photo provided by US FCU) … * LATHAM, N.Y. (1/8/08)--Sen. Catherine M. Young, left, (R-Jamestown/Rochester) visited Olean Area FCU during the holidays to tour the credit union and meet with staff and CEO Dan Rourke, right. They were accompanied by senior staffers Brian Snyder, vice president/lending; Lee Ann Dineen, vice president/human resources and operations; and Mary Palumbo, vice president, finance and information technology. The credit union told Young about its history and people helping people philosophy, its services to members of modest means, and issues important to the credit union industry (Photo provided by the New York State Credit Union League) … * BALTIMORE, Md. (1/8/08)--Aaron Glaser has been appointed director of legislative affairs at the Maryland and District of Columbia Credit Union Association (MDDCCUA). Glaser has political experience with the campaigns of Gov. Martin O'Malley and the 2004 Kerry-Edwards presidential campaign. He most recently served as legislative director to Baltimore City Councilman Robert W. Curran and was instrumental in gaining passage of Baltimore's smoking ban (FOCUS Newsletter Jan. 7) … * NORTHVILLE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (1/8/08)--Former Michigan Credit Union League regulatory specialist Cylenthia La Toye Miller has been appointed judge of the 36th Judicial District Court by Gov. Jennifer Granholm. She will preside over cases from all of the court's dockets, including real estate, traffic and ordinance, general civil claims under $25,000, criminal misdemeanor and felony examinations (Michigan Monitor Jan. 7) … * NEW YORK (1/8/08)--Marcel Bristol of Elmont, N.Y., was arrested Friday on multiple charges of grand larceny and forgery related to using stolen IDs and personal data to obtain bank loans totaling $86,000. Bristol, who was arrested Friday, allegedly opened accounts and lines of credit at Bethpage (N.Y.) FCU, Nassau Financial FCU in Garden City, and Nassau Educators FCU in Valley Stream between June 12 and Sept. 1, 2007 (Newsday Jan. 6) … * PENSACOLA, Fla. (1/8/08)--A man with a hood covering his face and wielding a crowbar Friday robbed a branch of the West Florida Medical CU, located inside West Florida Hospital (Pensacola News Journal Jan. 5). He walked behind the teller counter, stole an unidentified amount of money and ran out. Four employees were at the credit union during the robbery …

Filene seeks CUs input on the mortgage crisis

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MADISON, Wis. (1/8/08)--Credit unions can share their thoughts on a possible solution to the mortgage crisis on the Filene Research Institute’s website. Filene has posted a Dec. 26 New York Times op-ed piece regarding a “one-size-fits-all” mortgage solution and a forum for users to comment and discuss. The article was written by Michael S. Barr, a professor of law at the University of Michigan; Sendhil Mullainathan, a professor of economics at Harvard; and Eldar Shafir, a professor of psychology at Princeton. Under the Times’ solution, lenders would be encouraged to provide better disclosures to borrowers who choose to opt out. “If default occurs when a borrower opts out, the borrower could raise the lack of reasonable disclosure as a defense to the bankruptcy or foreclosure,” the article stated. The approach would still permit lenders to create new types of mortgages, but would make it harder for lenders to place borrowers in situations where they are vulnerable, according to the Times. For more information, use the link.

43 states airing CU-sponsored TV show

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FEDERAL WAY, Wash. (1/8/08)--Starting this month, 279 PBS television stations in 43 states have committed to broadcast the Biz Kids$ TV series, exclusively underwritten by America’s Credit Unions to teach kids about money. “As Biz Kid$ began airing this past weekend, it will be seen on 81% of all PBS stations,” said Steve Bosack, deputy director of the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF). “This is more than twice as many stations than we had committed in mid-December, and nearly seven times as many stations than the producers had lined up to air the debut of Bill Nye the Science Guy.” The 26-episode series will be aired in the nation’s top three public television markets: Los Angeles, New York City and Chicago. Broadcast commitments now cover 43 states, including the entire states of Alabama, Indiana, Kentucky, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota and Vermont. Credit unions can download and customize Biz Kid$ brochures, flyers, postcards, posters and statement stuffers to encourage their members to watch. Promotional materials are available on the websites of the NCUF and the Washington Credit Union Foundation (WCUF). Use the resource links. Biz Kid$ also will air on all high definition (HD) Channel PBS stations--about 100--on Sundays at 5 p.m., beginning Jan. 27. PBS stations with HD channels will air Biz Kid$ at the same designated daytime slot nationwide. Biz Kid$ already is airing in the United Kingdom and Ireland on a national business channel. The NCUF is the largest funder of the America’s Credit Unions underwriting group. NCUF committed $2 million over three years from a special sub-fund of its Community Investment Fund. “The NCUF is proud to be Biz Kid$ largest sponsor,” said NCUF Executive Director Steve Delfin. “This TV series, together with the teaching curriculum being produced in partnership with Junior Achievement, will fulfill a key part of our mission to bring financial education and literacy to our nation’s youth. BizKid$ has the potential to be the most visible youth financial literacy program that our nation has ever seen.” The first 13 episodes of Biz Kid$ are produced and paid for. “National underwriting dollars are needed now for the second 13 episodes in production,” said RoxAnne Kruger, Biz Kid$ project manager at the WCUF. To keep Biz Kid$ on the air with credit unions’ funding, supporters can contact their state credit union league.

IAmerican ExecutiveI magazine features MCT FCU

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ROCKVILLE, Md. (1/8/08)--American Executive magazine recently featured Rockville-based MCT FCU as a credit union undergoing growth and organizational improvement. The article highlights the $400 million asset MCT’s improved service delivery, streamlined processes, and strong community ties, said the Maryland and District of Columbia Credit Union Association (FOCUS Newsletter Jan. 7). MCT and its CEO Thomas Beck both have a clear strategic vision for the organization, and have analyzed and improved most MCT processes since Beck’s arrival in June 2006, the article said. As an organization with ties to the Montgomery County Public School System, MCT can serve its community through an in-school branch program (ISB), the article said. “It is one way of educating the kids, by bringing some financial literacy to high schools,” Beck said of the ISB program. “A lot of these kids and teachers are members of ours, so we’re actually taking branches right to them.”

Former CUNA chairman Ken Marin dies

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CHELSEA, Mich. (1/8/08)--Educator and credit union leader Kenneth J. Marin, a former Credit Union National Association (CUNA) chairman, has died, the Michigan Credit Union League (MCUL) has learned. Marin, who served as league chairman from 1960 to 1963 and CUNA chairman during 1964 to 1966, died at his home in Chelsea, Mich., Sept. 1. A memorial service was held Nov. 19. He was a member of the Michigan Credit Union Hall of Fame (Michigan Monitor Jan 7). His service to the credit union movement also included terms as Grand Rapids Chapter chairman and MCUL director. In 1966, he was part of a U.S. State Department evaluation team designed to review operations in six South American countries. In 1968, he moved with his family to East Africa where he served as an advisor to the United Republic of Tanzania on capital mobilization and utilization. Marin also was appointed by President Lyndon B. Johnson as a member of the White House Consumer Advisory Council.