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CU System briefs (02/12/2010)

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* RALEIGH, N.C. (2/15/10)--Businessman Walter L. Rogers Sr. has been appointed to the North Carolina Credit Union Commission by Gov. Beverly Perdue, reports the North Carolina Credit Union League (Weekly Update Feb. 12). He will serve a four-year term on the commission, which meets at least twice a year to review, approve or modify any action by the Administrator of Credit Unions. Rogers is chairman of the North Carolina Black Leadership Caucus and chairs the Voter Education and Voter Registration Committee for the state Prince Hall Grand Lodge. He is owner and operator of Rogers Real Estate and Rogers Beauty and Barber Supplies in Laurinburg ... * GREENSBORO, N.C. (2/15/10)--The North Carolina Credit Union League's website will undergo two planned outages this week while its Web host, MaximumASP, moves into a new facility. The site may be down for a few hours between 11 p.m. Tuesday and l 7 a.m. Wednesday and again from 11 p.m. Saturday to 7 a.m. Sunday (Weekly Update Feb. 12) ... * MAPLE GROVE, Minn. (2/15/10)--Twenty employees at TopLine FCU are serving as one-on-one e-mail mentors to 20 students from Osseo (Minn.) Senior High School as part of the credit union's partnership with Minnesota nonprofit BestPrep. BestPrep's program, eMentors, joins business professionals with high school students to offer career advice and a glimpse into post-secondary and real-world experiences. Students correspond weekly with their mentors based on questions on financial literacy and career-related skills. "This has been a great opportunity for our employees to carry on our goal of giving back to our communities," said Harry Carter, president/CEO of TopLine FCU, which is based in the Twin Cities. TopLine has more than $260 million in assets ... * COLONIE, N.Y. (2/15/10)--Jean L. Myers of Colonie, N.Y., died Thursday at the age of 83. Myers served as treasurer and manager of Poughkeepsie, N.Y.-based DOT FCU from 1967 to 1973 and was secretary and treasurer of State Employees FCU from 1979 to 1997. Myers retired in 1986 after 35 years with the Department of Transportation and the Department of Motor Vehicles. Funeral services are today at 10 a.m. at Bowen & Parker Bros., Latham (Times Union Feb.12) ... * GREENSBORO, N.C. (2/15/10)--Kimberly Basler, former employee from 1988 to 1992 of the North Carolina Credit Union League, died Feb. 2 in Chelmsford, Mass., after a battle with breast cancer. She was 48. Basler had worked in the league's Credit Union Service Corp. in business development. She helped launch the Shared Branching credit union service organization, which today includes 58 Shared Branching locations across the state. She is survived by a husband and two children (Weekly Update Feb. 12) ...

CUs efforts continue to shine in media limelight

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MADISON, Wis. (2/15/10)--Credit unions have been basking in the media limelight the past couple of weeks, not only nationally, but at the local level, too. Among the articles:
* "Credit unions grow stronger" in University of South Carolina's DailyGamecock.com reports that banks have been the center of attention "but what hasn't been in the news is an organization that might be a better alternative to a bank: a credit union." The article quotes a student who said, "I didn't even know there was an alternative to banks," and proceeds to outline the differences, with help from Karen Keisler, member service representative with 1st Cooperative FCU, Cayce, S.C. * "This Valentine's Day: Break Up with Wall Street," a column in the Huffington Post (Feb. 11) by Chuck Collins, co-founder of Wealth for the Common Good, notes people are taking their deposits to community banks and credit unions. He quotes Stacy Mitchell from Institute for Local Self-Reliance, who says most community banks and just over half of credit unions offer credit cards. "Unlike big banks, these smaller institutions do not view their credit cards as major profit centers, but rather as a service for customers." * "Would you break up with your bank?" in the Dollar & Sense column of the San Francisco Chronicle's blog offers advice from a grassroots group. A New Way Forward, which provides advice for breaking up with the big bank. The advice "is useful for anyone who's disgruntled by their bank and wants out." It advises moving money into a new account at a local bank or local credit union. "There are some compelling reasons to leave a bank--they've messed up your autopayment for your mortgage and nobody will admit to making a mistake, you're getting charged for the privilege of keeping your money in the bank, you just like the basic philosophy behind credit unions," the article says. * The New York Times article "The Least-Trusted Banks in America," which also notes credit unions' highest ranking among financial institutions, was picked up and featured prominently on Yahoo! It reported on the worst-trusted banks. In it the article noted that "Credit unions ranked much higher than the big banks, as they have in previous years, with 70% of credit union customers saying their financial institution puts their interests first. [Forrester Vice President Bill] Doyle said this is because of credit unions' different operating model-- they are owned by customers -- and because they tend to emphasize customer service." * Chicago Daily Herald ("Do credit unions offer better deals?") was the latest to pick up an Associated Press report on switching to a credit union credit card, which quotes Credit Union National Association statistics and a study by The Pew Charitable Trusts that said interest rates on credit union credit cards are lower than those issued at banks.

ICNNI CUs acknowledged for trust credit cards

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WASHINGTON (2/15/10)--Credit unions were mentioned favorably in two segments Thursday of CNN Newsroom anchored by Tony Harris. The segments were about the most-trusted institutions and about credit cards. Gerri Willis, CNN personal finance editor, reported on the best and worst financial institutions from the consumer's point of view, citing a new study from Forrester Research in which 70% of consumer surveyed said credit unions were most trusted. Willis named the "bottom seven"--the least-trusted institutions, all big banks: Bank of America, Chase, Capital One, TD Bank/Commerce, Fifth Third, Citibank and HSBC. After noting that an insurance company was in the top spot as the most-trusted institution, she said, second on the list were credit unions: "Any credit union. Amazing, the credit union scores, number two." The findings indicate that "people are really winnowing down to smaller institutions, smaller banks," Willis added. She outlined that if consumers want to break up with their bank and switch to a new one, they should look at fees, take care of automatic transfers and bill pay, and ask for help--some institutions have kits to help consumers switch. In the second segment, Willis asked the question, "What's the best card for a first-timer" trying to build a credit history? Greg McBride, Bankrate.com senior financial analyst, answered the question: Stay away from a card with high front-end fees and exorbitant interest rates, look for a secured card, and "remember to check with your credit union to see what they may offer." Willis agreed. "Yes, because they'll give you great terms. It's always a great way to build credit too, to get a credit card." For the transcript, use the link.

Vermont lawmakers receive Valentine treats from CUs

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SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. (2/15/10)--Vermont legislators had a sweet Valentine's Day, thanks to the Association of Vermont Credit Unions (AVCU). For the eighth consecutive year, AVCU delivered chocolates to be given to every senator and representative at the Statehouse. On Thursday, AVCU President Joe Bergeron delivered nearly 200 Lake Champlain Milk Chocolate Heart Pops so staff from the Office of the Sergeant at Arms could place one in each Vermont legislator's mailbox early Friday morning. Each pop is wrapped inside a flyer that lists every Vermont credit union and encourages legislators to visit the association's display in the Statehouse during AVCU's "Hike the Hill" event on March 25. The flyer, designed and prepared by AVCU's Jen Pearson, also explains the credit union difference and points out that today, when other sources of consumer credit have tightened, Vermont credit unions continue to make responsible loans to 280,000 members just as they've done for 71 years. "It's good to remind Vermont's lawmakers that credit unions are a sweet deal for consumers," Bergeron said, "and what better way to do it than with chocolate on Valentine's Day."

IHuntsville TimesI More small businesses look to CUs

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (2/15/10)--More small businesses nationwide are looking to credit unions to obtain business loans, The Huntsville Times said Friday. “Nationwide, credit unions’ small-business loans are up from less than $10 billion at the end of 2003 to more than $35 billion last September, according to the Credit Union National Association’s chief economist in a recent Washington Post story,” wrote author Marian Accardi in the Times. The article noted the efforts of Redstone FCU in Huntsville, Ala., in working with a young local company to secure a loan backed by the Small Business Administration. The business development support company needed a loan to set up a proposal center in its office and to build software applications to support government contractors, the paper said. The average small-business loan for credit unions is $159,000, Patrick La Pine, president/CEO of the League of Southeastern Credit Unions, which represents 322 credit unions in Alabama and Florida, told the paper. “We're not building strip malls or large development,” he said. Tighter credit has left small businesses “starving for capital,” he added. To read the article, use the link.

Oregon CUs public funds bill moves to House floor

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BEAVERTON, Ore. (2/15/10)--Oregon credit unions received a positive legislative nod when their public funds bill (HB 3700) passed the House Rules Committee Wednesday. The bill would remove the current $250,000 limitation on the amount of public fund deposits a credit union can receive. The bill is expected to be on the house floor as early as today. State and local governmental officials are custodians of funds that public entities have received, and are required to use, for the benefit of their constituents. As custodians of “the people’s money,” public officials are obligated to safeguard it, use it pursuant to lawful requirements, and seek a fair and competitive rate of return on it, said the Credit Union Association of Oregon (CUAO). This obligation is in itself compelling support of credit unions, themselves owned by members of the community, having the authority to accept deposits of public monies, and state officials having the correlating authority to place deposits with credit unions, said CUAO. A choice of depositories and competition for deposits of public funds are in the people’s interest, CUAO added. “Credit unions throughout Oregon regularly receive service requests from public officials in their communities,” said Ron Barrick, CEO of Advantis CU, Milwaukie, Ore., during his testimony at a Feb. 8 hearing to the House Rules Committee. “Among the groups that have approached Oregon credit unions are local public utility districts, rural fire districts, city fire and police departments, school districts and city and county governments.” Also testifying in support of the bill were Pamela Leavitt, CUAO senior vice president, public relations and governmental affairs; Hal Scoggins, attorney at Farleigh Wada Witt; and Hasina Squires, government affairs director at the Special Districts Association of Oregon (SDAO). SDAO has 35 different types of member districts that represent roughly 950 local governments of varying sizes and functions statewide.

Illinois league hosts Project ZIP Code webinar

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NAPERVILLE, Ill. (2/15/10)--The Illinois Credit Union League offered a free webinar about Project ZIP Code (PZC) to its member credit unions. The session, facilitated by Kristen Prather, grassroots manager for the Credit Union National Association (CUNA), incorporated two demonstrations, how to install and upload data, and how the program’s website, www.pzconline, can be used by credit unions and leagues. Membership information is secure with the program and PZC numbers can help the league in candidate interviews. PZC was developed by CUNA to use ZIP code data to count the number of credit union members that live in each local, state and federal legislative district. Using ZIP code data, PZC identifies which district a member lives in. The data can be used as a lobbying tool. Only the number of members in a district is transmitted to the website. For more information, use the link.

Missouri CUs raise 313922 for hospitals

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ST. LOUIS (2/15/10)--Missouri credit unions raised $313,992 for the Children’s Miracle Network in 2009 by taking part in Credit Unions for Kids and sponsoring fundraising activities statewide for children's hospitals. The total is $32,000 more than the credit unions’ 2008 contribution total (The Missouri difference Feb. 12).
Maria Langston, left, of Children’s Miracle Network, accepts a donation from Nina Pilger and Frank Nelson of 1st Financial FCU, Wentzville, Mo. (Photo provided by the Missouri Credit Union Association)
Missouri credit unions and chapters sponsored golf tournaments, dress-down days, bake sales, auctions and more to help raise funds for children in need of medical attention. Donation totals by region are:
* Columbia--$11,263; * Joplin--$18,622; * Kansas City--$125,282; * Springfield--$58,425; and * St. Louis--$100,400.
“The Children’s Miracle Network is the credit union’s charity of choice,” said Lisa Autry, branch manager of Mazuma CU, Kansas City. “We are passionate about being able help those children and their families within our communities. Regardless of how large or small the donation, the ultimate reward is making a difference in their lives.” 1st Financial FCU, Wentzville, presented a contribution to Children’s Miracle Network Feb 11. 1st Financial FCU was the top St. Louis-area contributor, donating $13,800. The credit union’s main fundraising event is an annual baseball game.

CU Service Network appoints three to board

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LAKEWOOD, Colo. (2/15/10)--CU Service Network appointed three leaders to its Board of Managers at a Feb. 5 meeting. The new
managers are Dan Kester, Rhett Bartley Rowe and Gerry Agnes. They were appointed to fill vacancies created by the resignations of Branda Abbott, president/CEO of Colorado United CU, which merged Dec. 31 with Premier Members FCU, Boulder, Colo., and C. Michael Litzau, executive vice president of corporate for Sooper CU, Denver. The board also voted to add one manager seat, bringing the total of seats to nine. Kester is the president/CEO of Sooper CU, and has served in that capacity for 14 years. He is a manager for CUILA Inc. and is on the Credit Union Association of Colorado (CUAC) Governmental Affairs Committee. Rowe is president/CEO of Premier Members FCU. He serves on the same CUAC committee. Agnes is president/CEO of Elevations CU in Boulder. Previously he was president and chief operating officer of Altura CU in Riverside, Calif. The network, based in Lakewood, Colo., provides products and services that connects members to their credit unions.