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Montana CU Network trains candidates on getting elected

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GREAT FALLS, Mont. (1/10/08)--The Montana Credit Union Network (MCUN) has partnered with two other organizations to hold day-long classes to help potential political candidates run for office.
Credit Union National Association Political Director Trey Hawkins addresses the issue of campaign fundraising during the 2006 Campaign Academy held in Billings, Mont.
The Campaign Academy is based on a national curriculum, covering a range of issues from demographics to campaign finance rules. The nonpartisan event is held every other year (Great Falls Tribune Jan. 8). “The Montana Credit Union Network's participation goes far beyond simple sponsorship,” Beth Satre, MCUN director of communications and public relations, told News Now. “We do put in some money, but we also work closely with our other two partner organizations--the Montana Rural Electric Cooperative Association and the Montana Chamber of Commerce to plan, organize, and help publicize the campaign academies.” While the bulk of the training is provided by people from the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association and the Credit Union National Association, MCUN works to balance that focus by recruiting local experts in communications, Get Out The Vote, state election and reporting laws, as well as elected officials to give participants information from a Montana-based perspective, Satre said.
Kathy Holte (left) and Alice Kranzler, both of Plentywood, Mont., compare notes at the 2006 Campaign Academy in Billings. Holte subsequently ran a successful campaign and was elected County Treasurer in Montana's Sheridan County in November 2006. (Photos provided by the Montana Credit Union Network)
Spreading the word about the campaign academies is another area that MCUN works on--it can offer sound training, but it also needs to get people there, she added. “We help organize these one-day, nonpartisan campaign academies because we believe they're a great value for Montana as well as the people who attend,” Satre said. “They provide a good forum for participants to gain nuts-and-bolts information, explore their options, and get a realistic idea of what it means to run effective campaigns. We need to encourage Montanans who are interested in public service to run for public office, whether it be for a local, county, or state office. “And, as one academy graduate who went on to be elected to the Montana Supreme Court said, ‘The program opens the door to the political process for the average Montanan,’” Satre concluded.

Record giving marks Washington foundations year

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FEDERAL WAY, Wash. (1/10/08)--The Washington Credit Union Foundation (WCUF) disbursed a record amount of nearly $230,000 in grants and scholarships to credit unions and their community partners during 2007. Grant dollars from the 501(c) 3 organization supported national and state-level financial literacy projects, small credit union development needs, broad community outreach efforts, professional development needs and disaster relief. In addition to contributing $75,000 in national underwriting toward the financial literacy television series Biz Kid$, WCUF has dedicated in-kind resources to provide long-term national management to the project. Biz Kid$ began airing this month on PBS stations nationwide. “A key goal of our foundation is to help Washington’s credit unions better consumers’ lives through innovative community outreach and consumer financial education programs, along with operational grants for small credit unions,” said Roxanne Kruger, WCUF executive director. “Projects related to these areas received $127,515 in grant funds.” Nearly 100 credit union employees, volunteers and management staff were awarded a combined $91,500 by WCUF for professional enrichment, including $31,000 for credit union professionals to attend CUNA Management schools. Also, $10,000 in disaster relief grants that were awarded by WCUF supported recovery efforts after the Peruvian earthquake and the Southern California wildfires last year.

CU System briefs (01/09/2008)

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* WASHINGTON (1/10/08)--Counterfeit checks bearing the name of Paducah, Ky.-based C-Plant FCU are reported in circulation, says the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) in a special alert Tuesday. The counterfeit items display the credit union's routing number, 283980031 and the words "CASHIER'S CHECK" in the top center area. They have a light blue background and bright royal blue borders, with the credit union's name printed in royal blue. Authentic cashier's checks have a light gray-blue background with dull dark blue borders, with the name printed in black ink. Anyone receiving the counterfeit items should contact C-Plant FCU Compliance Officer Carrie Childers at 270-450-7055 or … * SALINAS, Calif. (1/10/08)--Monterey County Employees CU Monday warned members not to fall for the latest e-mail phish attempts targeting the credit union. The e-mails, claiming to be from the credit union and telling county residents they would receive a tax refund, began on Saturday. A second wave, warning recipients their accounts had been compromised, followed. An earlier scam in June offered consumers $20 for participating in a survey. The credit union took measures to shut down the June scam's link and has contacted a website that tracks scams to shut down the links on the new scams. It's online alert to members says it never asks them to provide information such as passwords or personal identification numbers through e-mail (The Salinas Californian Jan. 8 and The Jan. 7) … * NORCROSS, Ga. (1/10/08)--Associated CU has promoted C. Lin Hodges to president/CEO, announced Timothy F. Kercheval, board chairman, Tuesday. Hodges succeeds George M. Clarke, who retired Dec. 31 after 29 years with the credit union. Hodges joined the $875.4 million asset credit union in 1979 and served as executive vice president and chief financial officer (CFO). He formally was with Exchange Bank in Milledgeville. In accepting the position, Hodges announced that Timothy G. Bridges has joined the credit union as senior vice president/CFO. Bridges previously served as senior vice president and CFO of Georgia Credit Union Affiliates … *
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WALNUT CREEK, Calif. (1/10/08)--Pacific Service CU has provided PCs, printers, software and supplies to THE BREAD PROJECT, a nonprofit organization that trains low-income and unemployed people in skills needed for entry-level commercial baking and cooking positions. Students of the project, shown here, will use the equipment to create resumes and conduct employment searches in the food industry. Steve Punch, president of the more-than-$1-billion asset credit union, noted the project helps "educate individuals so they have the ability to earn a living wage." (Photo provided by Pacific Service CU) …

Gateway Metro switches to fed charter

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ST. LOUIS (1/10/08)--Gateway Metro CU, a state-chartered credit union since 1935, received approval for a federal charter from the National Credit Union Administration, the credit union announced. David Barton, president/CEO of Gateway Metro, attributed the switch to a new 2007 state law that restricts state-chartered credit unions from expanding beyond the counties contiguous to their main office. Prior to the passage last April of that field-of-membership law--SB 591--credit unions were unable to expand at all--due to a stream of lawsuits against FOM expansions filed by banks and a 2006 Circuit Court decision that ruled geographic-based state-chartered credit unions could not expand. When the law was passed, the Missouri Credit Union Association (MCUA) said the measure was the result of six months of negotiations between credit unions and the banking industry. Its purpose was to stop the field-of-membership lawsuits bankers had filed against credit union expansions since 2001 and to clarify "geographic area" in regards to field of membership. At the time, MCUA President/CEO Rosie Holub noted that the legislation will help credit unions move forward. "Although this compromise piece of legislation does not contain all the provisions we would have wished, it clearly provides an opportunity for credit unions to grow and provides a more stringent legal threshold to thwart lawsuits going forward." Barton considers the law as "pretty restrictive." "We have St. Louis County on one side and the Mississippi River on the other. We're already in St. Louis County, and not too many Mississippi River inhabitants are interested in joining our financial cooperative," Barton said. A federal charter, he says, would allow more flexibility to grow. Gateway Metro was Missouri's fastest-growing credit union from 1999 through 2004, says the credit union. It is the eighth-largest credit union in the state, with $180 million in assets and 24,000 members. Gateway's new name will be Gateway Metro FCU. Out of the 152 credit unions in the state, only 15 have federal charters.

100000 earmarked to support CUs Indiana foundation

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INDIANAPOLIS (1/10/08)--Representatives from 19 Indiana credit unions can attend the Credit Union National Association’s (CUNA) Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC) in Washington, D.C., this year through assistance from the Indiana Credit Union League’s Servicecorp. “This is the third consecutive year we have been in a position to help underwrite the cost of attendance for some of our credit unions,” said league President John McKenzie. More than $100,000 will be put toward political involvement and supporting the Indiana Credit Union Foundation as a result of league and Servicecorp efforts. Through Servicecorp, the league granted $52,900 to assist affiliates in attending the conference. The foundation presented its Millie Cox Scholarship to Robert Stowers, board member at Allegius FCU in Burns Harbor, to attend the GAC, but Stowers redirected the funds to Herb Singleton, president/CEO of Union Baptist Church FCU in Fort Wayne. Union Baptist, the state’s newest credit union, began operations last year. Other conference attendees were selected, based on political involvement, representation of small and medium-sized credit unions, and whether they are Servicecorp clients. The foundation also received $50,000 in 2007 for financial literacy programs, scholarships, a Habitat House and the Biz Kid$ television series.

20 named to Indiana ignite working groups

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INDIANAPOLIS (1/10/08)--Twenty credit union professionals from 17 Indiana credit unions were selected to participate in ignite working groups. The first meeting is scheduled for Jan. 30. The ignite initiative is a joint venture with the Indiana Credit Union League and three Indiana credit union representatives associated with Filene Research Institute’s i3 program. The individuals are: Doug True, senior vice president of Technovation, FORUM CU, Indianapolis; Bob Falk, president/COO, Purdue EFCU, Lafayette; and Nan Morrow, vice president of corporate development, Centra CU, Columbus. The groups will create new ideas and implement existing ideas presented by the i3 group. The league will host education sessions open to all affiliates on topics such as innovation and creative thinking. Members of the working groups include:
* Kevin Sparks, vice president/chief financial officer, Crane FCU, Odon; * Jan Chronic, senior vice president of marketing, Eli Lilly FCU, Indianapolis; * Joe Hasto, chief financial officer, Eli Lilly FCU; * Tony Meier, associate vice president/business development officer, Evansville Teachers FCU, Evansville; * Michael Hostetler, marketing coordinator, Finance Center FCU, Indianapolis; * Blake Dearing, mortgage sales manager, FORUM CU, Indianapolis; * Debby Blake, manager, Contact Center, FORUM CU; * Tim Lukomski, chief financial officer, vice president of support services, Heritage FCU, Lafayette; * Charles King, corporate attorney, Hoosier Hills CU, Bedford; * Marie "Sam" Shanks, executive vice president, Indiana State University FCU, Terre Haute; * Brian Wilkerson, vice president/chief operating officer, KEMBA CU, Indianapolis; * Michelle Peterson, marketing manager, Marion School ECU, Marion; * Carolyn Probasco, manager/CEO, Members United FCU, La Porte; * Lora Davison, chief financial officer, Northern Indiana FCU, Merrillville; * Gary Icenogle, vice president of marketing and business development, NorthPark Community CU, Indianapolis; * Evelyn Royer, vice president of risk management/support services, Purdue EFCU; * Kevin Kosek, director, business development, Regional FCU, Hammond; * Becky Summers, vice president, Teachers CU, South Bend; * Chad Gramling, product manager, Three Rivers FCU, Fort Wayne; and * Jim Johnson, vice president, member services, Three Rivers FCU.

North Island CUs interactive brand displays create buzz

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SAN DIEGO (1/10/08)--North Island CU recently unveiled a new interactive advertising strategy targeting members of all ages. Known as “Island Paradise,” the original and interactive artwork can be seen throughout San Diego at numerous venues (Business Wire Jan. 8). Produced by Reactrix, Island Paradise involves branding displays in malls, theatres and other spaces that respond to the physical movements of the audience. The design reportedly has produced the highest advertising effectiveness score across all types of media, and is popular with major brands such as Coca-Cola. The original artwork, known as “Polymorphous Paradise,” was created in 1992 and has been used in the $1.5 billion asset, Chula Vista, Calif.-based credit union’s advertising and marketing programs. Earlier this year, North Island updated its signature mural artwork to include 20 new landmarks and sites from San Diego to Riverside, Calif. The interactive mural is featured on the credit union’s website under the Island Extras Sections. Use the link.

Article Missouri CUs a solution for small businesses

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ST. LOUIS (1/10/08)--An article in the January issue of the St. Louis Small Business Monthly touts the financial solutions that credit unions offer small businesses. The article is authored by Kelley Tyson, marketing coordinator at 1st Financial FCU, a $164 million asset, St. Charles, Mo.-based credit union. Many small businesses are unaware that they have another choice besides banks for financial services, the article points out. To keep up with members’ needs, 1st Financial began offering business banking accounts. “Many of our business accounts came directly from members conducting their business through personal accounts,” Joe Elder, director business service at 1st Financial, told the journal. “They were happy with the level of service they received from us, and they didn’t want to add another financial institution to their busy lives.” Many of the St. Louis area credit unions that offer business banking cater to small businesses, startups and home offices, while many local banks continue to accommodate medium-sized businesses. The result is that some small business owners are left with few financing options, the article said. “As more banks merge, the small-business owner has been getting lost in the shuffle,” said Andrew Dodge, associate vice president of business development at the $112 million asset Arsenal CU in Arnold, Mo., in the article. “We’re here, we listen, we’re rooted in the community, and the success of the local businesses is of paramount importance to us. Without a healthy, thriving business community, our neighborhoods suffer, and we suffer. We live here, we work here; this is our life.” Kathryn Chillson-Strinic, branch manager of Electro Savings CU’s Wildwood, Mo., branch, added: “We’re not limited in our decision-making. We don’t turn down small-business requests simply because they don’t meet a list of predetermined criteria.”

Florida league President Guy Hood to retire

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (1/10/08)--Florida Credit Union League (FCUL) President/CEO Guy M. Hood has announced plans to retire from the league in January 2009 after serving more than 20 years in that position. Hood began his tenure as president/CEO in 1988. During his career, he has seen significant transitions in the credit union movement, including the passage of the Credit Union Membership Access Act (H.R. 1151). Under his leadership the league has received many awards and recognitions from national organizations for leadership and accomplishments in advocacy, grassroots organization and communications. Most recently Hood received the National Credit Union Foundation "Anchor Award" for responsive actions in disaster response. Hood began his credit union career on April 1, 1970 as a field representative for the Alabama Credit Union League. He moved up the ranks to senior vice president of technical services before joining the Florida league. John Hirabayashi, FCUL board chairman, termed Hood "an outstanding leader" who is "at the top of his game." Under Hood's direction, the league "has become one of the premier leagues in the country. I know he will do an outstanding job his final year leading the league and setting the stage for a smooth transition." Although he will miss being part of the league daily, Hood said he was excited about the possibilities ahead for the league. "I am very confident my successor will have an equally rewarding experience as FCUL continues its mission to be the top resource for Florida credit unions." The FCUL Board of Directors has retained Credit Union Employment Resources (CUER) to perform the search for a successor. CUER is a service of Credit Union Resources Inc., an affiliated company of the Texas Credit Union League.

WOCCU calls for DSA WYCUP nominations

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MADISON, Wis. (1/10/08)--The World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) is seeking nominations for two awards programs--the Distinguished Service Award (DSA) and the WOCCU Young Credit Union People (WYCUP) Scholarship Program. The DSA is presented to individuals and institutions that have offered exemplary service to the credit union movement and its practices. Nominations must be made by a WOCCU member organization and are due May 1. The DSA award will be presented at the World Credit Union Conference in Hong Kong July 13-16. The WYCUP scholarship seeks individuals who have made significant contributions to the development of their own credit unions, regional or national credit union systems, and who have demonstrated the potential to employ their talents at the international level. WOCCU is encouraging its credit unions and credit union organizations to nominate credit union leaders. To be eligible for the scholarship, nominees must be sponsored by their credit union or credit union organization to attend WOCCU’s 2008 World Credit Union Conference; be 35 years of age or younger as of Jan. 1; and submit a completed nomination form to WOCCU by June 2. The scholarship consists of an all-expenses-paid trip to the 2009 World Credit Union Conference. It will be awarded to five recipients at the 2008 conference. The top two winners also will be able to visit a WOCCU project as part of a Cooperative Learning Tour development program. For more information, use the links.

Minnesota CUs learn importance of caucusing

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (1/10/08)--About 45 attendees learned the basis of precinct caucusing during a Minnesota Credit Union Network (MnCUN) political caucus training seminar Tuesday.
James Patrick Barone, chair of Minnesota’s 4th Congressional District DFL, leads caucus training during a Minnesota Credit Union Network political caucus training seminar Tuesday. (Photo provided by the Minnesota Credit Union Network)
James Patrick Barone, chair of Minnesota’s 4th Congressional District DFL Party, led the training. He provided an overview of what happens at Minnesota caucuses and how people can get involved. Topics included: when and where caucuses are held; what is on a caucus agenda; and how credit unions can caucus to push their issues forward. “Caucuses are a powerful tool for credit unions because they center around a group of people coming together and pushing their ideals forward,” said Mara Humphrey, MnCUN’s vice president of governmental affairs. “We held this training to teach credit unions about the importance of caucusing and to provide them with the understanding they need to effectively caucus in February.” MnCUN President/CEO Mark Cummins encouraged attendees to be more involved politically. Minnesota credit unions can join MnCUN’s GrassRoots Education and Action Team (GREAT), take part in political fundraising, run Project Zip Code at their credit union, or participate in the Political and Grassroots Network. “Credit union professionals and volunteers have a wide variety of channels through which they can become more involved on a grassroots level, and I challenge them to do so,” Cummins said.

Coosa Pines FCU supporting unit in Iraq

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CHILDERSBURG, Ala. (1/10/08)--Four branches of Coosa Pines FCU have joined in Operation Troop Support to support the National Guard 621st Troop Support Command Unit, stationed in Taji, Iraq. The branches at Sylacauga, Childersburg, Pell City and Chelsea, Ala., have been sending care packages full of snacks, candy, personal hygiene products, phone cards, games, puzzles, movies and other items to troops since November (The Daily Home Jan. 9). "We really want to do more than business in our community," said Aimee Morris, Pell City branch manager, told the newspaper. "We want to be of service to our community, seeking out and filling needs wherever we can." A soldier in the unit, Sgt. 1st Class John McDaniel of Childersburg, said the unit is thankful to get the donations. "The care packages have a great impact. A lot of times the care packages are the only way we can get these types of items," he said. The credit union staff and members of the community have donated enough to send a care package to the soldiers twice a month. Morris said the program will continue until the 30-member unit returns home. The $150.1 million asset credit union hopes to have a community-wide welcome home party when they return.