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S.C. CUs elect new director six incumbents to board

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COLUMBIA, S.C. (4/23/09)--South Carolina credit unions have elected one new director and six incumbents to the South Carolina Credit Union League (SCCUL) Board of Directors. Election results were announced at the April 18 business session of the SCCUL & Affiliates 2009 Annual Meeting in Myrtle Beach, S.C. New to the board is Jim McDaniel, president/CEO of Heritage Trust FCU, Summerville. Re-elected incumbents are:
* Faye Crocker, CEO, Greater Abbeville FCU, Abbeville; * Isaac Dickson, board chairman, Carolina Foothills FCU, Spartanburg; * Paul Hughes, president, Greenville FCU, Greenville; * Jerry Miller, president/CEO, Carolina Trust FCU, Myrtle Beach; * Brad Rustin, president/CEO, Charleston Area FCU, Charleston; and * Ed Templeton, president/CEO of SRP FCU, North Augusta.
The new board also selected for its executive committee:
* President Scott Woods, president/CEO, S.C. FCU, North Charleston; * Templeton, first vice chairman; * Rustin, second vice chairman; * Treasurer Linda Weatherford, vice president, SPC Cooperative CU, Hartsville; and * Secretary Patti Seymore, vice president, SC Telco FCU, Greenville.
As former chairman, Love will serve as an ex officio member of the executive committee.

Alabama league holds membership meeting bestows awards

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (4/23/09)--The Alabama Credit Union League (ACUL) hosted its 76th Annual Membership Meeting and Education Symposium April 14-16, in Destin, Fla. More than 227 credit union executives, staff and volunteers attended, with an additional 104 guests and 43 vendor organizations represented. Many credit unions attended the meeting, “which in essence is the last Annual Meeting for the Alabama Credit Union League,” said League President/CEO Gary B. Wolter. “Over the years, we have grown the movement, sometimes swiftly and sometimes achingly slowly. But by working together, we have all moved it forward. Now we are entering a new era of growth and prosperity and are looking forward to growing our partnership with the Florida Credit Union League as the League of Southeastern Credit Unions (LSCU).” Wednesday began with the league’s annual membership meeting, which addressed league business and recognized credit unions and individuals who have, in the past year, excelled or made outstanding contributions to the credit union movement and their communities. Featured guest speakers at the business session included Florida Credit Union League President/CEO Guy Hood, Credit Union National Association Chairman (CUNA) Kris Mecham, National Credit Union Association (CUNA) Regional Director Alonzo Swann, CUNA Mutual Regional Sales Manager Robin Kolvek and Manuel Bolanos, CEO of FEDEAC R.L., the trade association for Costa Rica’s credit unions. Bolanos mentioned the momentum credit unions in Costa Rica have had--in giving thanks to the partnership with ACUL and its member credit unions--and his hopes that the LSCU will continue the partnership. Wednesday continued with a line-up speakers and educational sessions. The Opening General Session featured Dr. Edmund J. Seifried, who spoke about “Today's Economy and the Impact on Your Credit Union,” which addressed the state of the economy and trends that affect our credit unions. The league also announced winners of the Merit Awards. Those winning the award represent excellence in service, financial performance, system, and community involvement. The league enlisted CUNA to judge all submissions and select the winners. Merit Award winners are:
* Class One category: FOGCE FCU, Eutaw, Ala.; * Class Two category: Alabama Postal CU, Birmingham, Ala.; * Class Three category: East Alabama Medical Center FCU, Opelika, Ala.; * Class Four category: Health CU, Birmingham, Ala.; * Class Five category: Valley CU, Tuscumbia, Ala.; * Class Six category: North Alabama Educators CU, Huntsville, Ala.; * Class Seven category: ACIPCO FCU, Birmingham, Ala.; and * Class Eight category: Family Security CU, Decatur, Ala.
The 2008 Chapter Excellence Award was awarded to the Montgomery Chapter of Credit Unions. Representing 11 credit unions, the chapter awarded educational scholarships, implemented a cooperative advertising campaign, and sponsored a golf tournament which raised more than $26,000 for local charities. The chapter also maintained a focus on credit union issues and advocacy, featuring speakers and programs of import to credit unions statewide.

REAL Solutions program signs four new states

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WASHINGTON (4/23/09)--Surpassing its goal to reach 33 states by year-end 2009, REAL Solutions--the signature program of the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF)--is now reaching 34 states and 1,200 credit unions. In the first four months of 2009, four more states have agreed to offer REAL Solutions: Georgia, Idaho, Pennsylvania and Vermont. NCUF’s REAL Solutions National Program Director Lois Kitsch has set a new personal goal to bring REAL Solutions to 40 states by year-end. At the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (PCUA), REAL Solutions liaisons are witnessing a new phenomenon: Credit unions are already signing up for REAL Solutions even before PCUA’s meeting to introduce the program. “In this uncertain economy, credit unions are looking for new ways to help members build good credit, grow savings, and gain assets,” said Kitsch. “The need for REAL Solutions has never been greater.” At the same time, NCUF is providing “virtual solutions” accessible to credit unions in every state. The online REAL Solutions Impact Center (see link) features new toolkits, podcasts, monographs, blogs, and many other resources to help credit unions offer sustainable products and services for members with low wealth. Low-wealth members include people with low income or modest means, and people with moderate and middle incomes who are struggling to save or hold onto assets. Surveys on the Impact Center indicate how REAL Solutions’ participating credit unions are saving members tens of millions of dollars. “The most successful products and services are not only affordable for consumers, but also sustainable for credit unions,” Kitsch explained. “Sustainable products and services become a permanent part of credit unions’ business plans--as opposed to ‘loss leaders’ that must be limited in volume or subsidized by other parts of the credit unions’ operations.” “As credit unions seek resources to better serve low-wealth households and emerging markets, REAL Solutions has become an even more critical business strategy for credit unions growing their memberships by serving the underserved,” said NCUF Executive Director Steve Delfin. “Now that the strategies are detailed online on the REAL Solutions Impact Center, thousands more credit unions can benefit from our shared experiences across the country.” NCUF, state credit union foundations and leagues are funding REAL Solutions through the Community Investment Fund (CIF), which won the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ Award for Fundraising Excellence. CIF investments are structured to earn dividends for each investing credit union while making charitable donations to NCUF and state credit union organizations.

Man killed at State Employees CU ATM

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LUMBERTON, N.C. (4/23/09)--Police are investigating the shooting death of a man who was discovered slumped over in his truck after making an early morning withdrawal Tuesday from an ATM at the Lumberton, N.C., branch of State Employees’ CU (SECU). Charles Rozier, 46, was discovered about 2:30 a.m., near the ATM with a gunshot wound to his chest, said Lumberton Police Lt. Johnny Barnes. A receipt indicated that Rozier withdrew money from the SECU ATM at 2:11 a.m. (Associated Press April 22). “We are cooperating with authorities in the investigation,” Leigh Brady, SECU senior vice president of education services, told News Now. “We continually do inspections to make sure areas around credit unions are well-lit.” Police didn’t know the amount of money Rozier withdrew, but said his wallet was with him and contained cash. Barnes said the shooting was recorded on a poor-quality surveillance tape, according to the Associated Press. The tape showed two men approaching Rozier when he got back in his truck after making the ATM withdrawal. The men opened a truck door and one of them shot Rozier before they ran away, the tape showed.

CUNA audio conference helps develop strategic plans

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MADISON, Wis. (4/23/09)--Credit union volunteers can find out how to create viable strategic plans in a challenging economy during the first of several upcoming audio conferences offered by the Credit Union National Association. During the “Board Scenario Planning for a Challenging Economy” audio conference Tuesday, board members can learn what information they should pay attention to create, adapt or reconfigure their strategic plans in a viable way. The session will identify trends of savings and loan activity, weigh the influence of future economic events on growth patterns in 2009, and analyze and establish standards against which credit union performance can be measured. “Board Scenario Planning for Developing and Maintaining an Effective Collections Department,” scheduled for May 5, will examine successful and effective credit union collections programs with member service as the focus. The session also will provide creative tools for assisting members in financial need while creating a more efficient collections process. “Working Your Portfolio Using Loan Modifications in This Economy” walks attendees through underwriting practices and creative ways to minimize effects of charge-offs, repossessions, and bankruptcies. The May 11 audio conference also will feature success stories from credit unions that are using loan modifications to help the member during a financial crisis. On May 14, volunteers can learn about check-hold time frames and how they can be used to help protect credit unions from fraud during “Regulation CC: Check Holds and Other Checking Account Issues.” The offering also covers holds on cash, Check 21, notices, disclosures and stop payments. “Delinquencies and Loan Loss Reserve Funds” on May 18 offers regulatory perspective on how to adequately and fairly fund a credit union’s allowance for loan and lease losses account. The impact of the current economy on lending and collections and loan portfolio diversification will be discussed. Credit union professionals can receive answers to compliance questions during “Pressing Credit Union Compliance Issues” May 21. The conference will address the most popular hot-topic issues--as determined by feedback received from credit unions. Participants can e-mail their questions to cucomply@cuna.coop before the conference.

Two Mass. CUs explore merger

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BROCKTON, Mass. (4/23/09)--HarborOne CU and NationsHeritage FCU, two Boston-area credit unions, are exploring a merger. HarborOne’s members voted in favor of the merger last week, and NationsHeritage members were scheduled to vote on the proposed merger Wednesday night. The credit unions are proposing to merge because they share the same philosophies on member service and the community, and the merger would enhance convenience and service for members, Jim Rice, HarborOne senior vice president of marketing, told News Now. NationsHeritage also is “adjacent to HarborOne’s marketing footprint” in the Boston area, Rice said. If the merger is approved, the resulting credit union would retain the HarborOne name. It would have 15 branches, 28 ATMs and 138,000 members. HarborOne is the larger credit union of the two, with 12 branches and 23 ATMs. The merger would not be finalized until after May 5 because of regulatory approval, Rice said.

Personal finance guru lauds CUs

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MADISON, Wis. (4/23/09)--Credit unions are safe and practice excellent customer service, said Dave Ramsey, a personal finance expert with Gatehouse News Service, in a response in his column to a reader’s question. “Considering the current state of the economy, [my husband and I] were wondering if a credit union would be a safer place than a traditional bank for some of our savings?” a reader asked (Norwich Bulletin.com April 22). Ramsey said that the National Credit Union Administration increased insurance coverage limits for deposits in 2008, just as the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. did for banks. “The biggest thing you want to look at is the ‘hassle factor’ if your institution goes broke and closes up shop,” Ramsey wrote. “I haven’t done business with big banks for years, primarily because of the awful customer service you get at most of them. I like local, community banks, and I believe whole-heartedly in credit unions. As a rule, these institutions practice excellent customer service. Plus, most of them didn’t get mixed up the sub-prime debacle. “Community banks and credit unions are both safe, and in most cases, they’re both fabulous places to put your money,” he concluded.

Colo. association elects board of directors

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DENVER (4/23/09)--The Credit Union Association of Colorado (CUAC) announced that it has elected three incumbent board members during its annual meeting in Colorado Springs. The incumbents are:
* Charles Emmer, president, Ent FCU, Colorado Springs; * Keith Cowling, president, CU of Denver; and * Steve Pearson, president, Fellowship CU, Lamar.
The board also elected board members to the following leadership positions:
* Chairman, Doug Ferraro, president/CEO, Bellco CU, Greenwood Village; * Vice Chairman, Michael Williams, president/CEO, Colorado CU, Littleton; * Treasurer, Keith Cowling, president/CEO, CU of Denver, Lakewood; and * Secretary, Eva Gaudio, president/CEO, St. Vrain Valley CU, Longmont.