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CU movement responds to Midwest disasters

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MADISON, Wis. (6/18/08)--Credit unions are coming through for Iowa and other Midwestern credit unions caught in last week's flooding, but it is too early to gauge what will be needed. The Iowa Credit Union Foundation (ICUF) has opened an appeal for donations to a disaster grant fund, Marybeth Foster, ICUF executive director, told News Now. Credit unions in Iowa are being provided with applications to the fund. The grants are $500 each and go toward emergency needs. ICUF has received 20 applications for aid in two days and expects more. The floodwaters in Iowa haven't gone down enough for everyone to assess damage, Foster added. The National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) also has opened up an appeal for donations to CU Aid, the national online relief center for credit unions, and people can donate through an online application, Foster added. The Texas Credit Union Foundation (TCUF) board of trustees approved a $5,000 grant to go toward disaster relief for credit union employees in the affected areas of Iowa, according to LoneStar Leaguer June 17). “What is happening in the Midwest is tragic,” said Jill Pharr, TCUF executive director. “As families and communities struggle to get through this difficult time and begin the process of rebuilding, they can take comfort in the fact that credit unions from across the country, the people who serve them and the members who believe in the cooperative structure of the movement, have compassionately responded with aid and support,” Pharr added. More than 20 credit unions in Iowa were forced to close because of the floods, especially in hard-hit Cedar Rapids, Cedar Falls, Des Moines and Waterloo areas. Other credit unions offered assistance. Metco CU, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, was evacuated June 11 because of flooding. The credit union set up a temporary location on Thursday and was able to re-open Friday, Brad Mertens, Metco CU CEO told News Now. "We were only shut down for a day," he said. Metco is sharing space with Quaker Oats CU, Cedar Rapids. He said the credit union's disaster preparedness plan to share space with the credit union was successful. "You hope you never have to use those plans, but it's worked well so far." The credit union will likely offer "no questions asked" emergency loans up to $500 with low interest rates, he said. Metco is still assessing its damage--nobody has been able to get to the credit union since the evacuation because the area around it is flooded. Metco members, like many Iowans, are struggling, Mertens said. "It's pretty devastating," he said. "This event touched a lot of people." Metco is chartered to serve city and county employees. Their offices have been affected by the floods, leaving many members out of work, he added. Marine CU, Fond du Lac, Wis., has made $1 million of 0% interest loans for victims of flooding in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa (The Fond du Lac Reporter June 17). The money aims to cover costs of cleanup, temporary housing or other needs. The money will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis and is limited to $5,000 per borrower. The loans are interest- and payment-free for the first 120 days, the newspaper said. Even credit unions not directly affected by flooding are indirectly impacted. Energy Plus CU, based in Indianapolis, has three branches--one of them in Reedsburg, Ind. It experienced power outages, and its employees needed time off to deal with water and power outages. "One woman had no power for four days," said Cari Palmer, marketing coordinator. She added that washed out roads created difficulties for employees, whose commutes were tripled in time. Energy Plus CU is offering members storm damage loans of up to $2,500 with 7.25% interest for 12 months. "We announced it Tuesday morning and sent out e-mails, posted flyers, and sent information through inter-company mail for our employee groups," Palmer told News Now. "We're waiting for responses. They will need it for their deductibles," she said.

New Mexico CUs elect league board

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (6/18/08)--During the Credit Union Association of New Mexico’s annual meeting on June 6, the board of directors re-elected several officials. They are:
* Chairman: William Jacobs, CEO, White Sands FCU, Las Cruces; * Vice chairman: Scott Connely, CEO, Sandia Area FCU, Albuquerque; * Secretary: Karen Griffo, CEO of Roswell (N.M.) Community FCU; and * Treasurer: Harold Dixon, CEO, State Employees CU, Sante Fe.
Ronnie Johnston, CEO, Artesia (N.M.) CU, will fulfill a term vacated in District 2, and Judy Carrasco, CEO, Financial Security CU, Carlsbad, will replace him as alternate. Donald Sarich, CEO, Permaculture CU, Sante Fe, also was chosen as an alternate director for District 6. Remaining on the board are:
* Chuck Valenti, CEO, Del Norte CU, Los Alamos; * Larry Lujan, CEO, Northern New Mexico School Employees FCU, Sante Fe; * Andi Baum, CEO, Everyone’s FCU, Tucumcari; * Gary Sterton, CEO, Animas CU, Farmington; * Chris Fitzgerald, CEO, Rio Grande CU, Albuquerque; and * Robert Chavez, executive vice president and chief operating officer, Sandia Laboratory FCU, Albuquerque.

Williams wins CaliforniaNevada youth involvement award

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RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. (6/18/08)--Jeff Williams, member education director at Educational Employees CU (EECU), Fresno, Calif., has received the 2008 California and Nevada Youth Involvement (CNYIN) Award. The award means Williams will attend the National Youth Involvement Board's (NYIB) annual conference, to be held July 28-31 in Las Vegas, Nev. Williams was honored for his financial literacy efforts in his community. CNYIN Board Chairman Marissa Lott, marketing specialist with Farmers Insurance Group FCU, Los Angeles, noted that Williams has conducted 111 classroom presentations to 5,644 students from July 2007 to May 2008. He also conducted four breakout sessions for students from 10 high schools at a Fresno Chamber of Commerce Business and Education Career Fair. His primary focus is education of members and the community in the 10 counties EECU serves. He also worked with the marketing team to start four new youth programs, for members ranging from 0 to 24 years old. This year's NYIB conference is co-sponsored by the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues. For more information contact Catherine Arra at 800-472-1702, ext. 3486 or at

Carl Stewart named RMJ Foundation board chair

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RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. (6/18/08)--The Richard Myles Johnson (RMJ) Foundation, the state foundation for credit unions in California and Nevada, has named Carl Stewart, CEO of Water and Power Community CU in Los Angeles, as its new board chairman. Mike Gomez, CEO, Fiscal CU, Glendale, Calif.; and Sheri Ledbetter, vice president of corporate affairs, Western Corporate FCU, San Dimas, Calif., were named vice chairman and secretary, respectively. Immediate Past Chairman Debra Grisamer, CEO, Alta Vista CU, San Bernardino, Calif., has served on the board for more than 11 years and as chairman since 2004. She will remain on the board until her term expires at the end of the year. Stewart and Gomez have served on the RMJ Foundation board since 2002. Ledbetter was elected in 2006. “Financial education is vital to the future of the credit union movement, and our goal in this coming year is to continue to support quality youth financial literacy programs throughout California and Nevada,” Stewart said. The incumbent board members are:
* Marie Alonzo, chairman, Arrowhead CU, San Bernardino, Calif; * Sarah Canepa Bang, CEO, Financial Service Centers Cooperative, San Dimas, Calif.; * Bill Cheney, California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues president/ CEO; * Tony Boutelle, CEO, Credit Union Direct Lending, Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.; * Mary Cunningham, CEO, USA FCU, San Diego; * Kim Hester, executive vice president, network services, CO-OP Financial Services, Rancho Cucamonga; * Foundation namesake Richard M. Johnson; and * Jim Updike, CEO, Honda FCU, Torrance, Calif.
Marv Jensen, board member, Episcopal Community FCU, Los Angeles, serves as board member emeritus.

Latino conference tackles foreclosure service

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DALLAS (6/18/08)--Credit unions should do everything they can to help educate consumers about the services available to keep them in their homes, U.S. Treasurer Anna Maria Escobedo Cabral told attendees of the Fifth Latino Credit Union Conference in Dallas last week. Cabral opened the conference with a discussion about the foreclosure crisis in the U.S. She applauded credit unions for their efforts to provide financial education and affordable financial services to low- and moderate-income Americans.
From left: Harriet May, CEO, GECU, El Paso, Texas; Dick Ensweiler, CEO, Texas Credit Union League; Maria Martinez, CEO, Border FCU, Del Rio, Texas; and John Herrera, vice president for advocacy, Self-Help CU, Durham, N.C., and founder of Latino Community CU, Durham; spoke at the Fifth Latino Credit Union Conference in Dallas last week. (Photo provided by the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions)
Credit unions also can serve new Americans, including those whose immigration status is in question, said Bill Cheney, CEO of the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues. “We have in California a number of credit unions who have been extremely successful in accepting the Matricula Consular (consular identification) for new members and existing members,” he said. Immigration status of those carrying the consular identification is sometimes controversial, but “credit unions are not immigration attorneys, nor a police force, and once the credit union’s board of directors has determined what the credit union’s field of membership is, it becomes the credit union’s responsibility to serve the entire field of membership,” he added. Matricula Consular “is a perfectly legal and acceptable form of identification,” and the National Credit Union Administration has published briefs and papers about the legality of credit unions to accept the identification, Cheney said. Credit unions have a great opportunity to serve the Latino market, said Dick Ensweiler, former Credit Union National Association (CUNA) board chairman and president/CEO of the Texas Credit Union League (TCUL). It’s important to identify major defining factors of Latino groups within each specific community so credit unions can design programs and services tailored to the needs of their membership, he said. Attracting Latinos requires not only an understanding of Latino language and culture, but knowledge of the types of services they need. Credit unions should start with basic services such as remittances, check cashing, debit and ATM cards, basic savings and checking accounts, he added. “People ask me for my business plan to serve Hispanics, and I tell them we serve Hispanics because that’s our community,” concluded Harriet May, president/CEO of GECU, El Paso, Texas, and a CUNA board member. “Our credit union membership is 80% Hispanics. This is something we do because it’s our culture, because it’s the right thing to do, and because it’s simply good business.” The four-day conference was organized by the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions and the Network of Latino Credit Unions and Professionals. Sponsors included the TCUL, CUNA Mutual, NeighborWorks America, UNFCU Financial Advisors, the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues, Southwest Corporate FCU, SLI Group and Coopera Consulting.

Indiana FIs investigating overseas withdrawals

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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (6/18/08)--South Bend, Ind., credit unions were among area financial institutions whose accountholders were targeted by fraudulent overseas withdrawals on debit cards. Cards for about 150 members of Teachers CU, a $1.856 billion asset credit union, were among those compromised, according to Paul Marsh, senior vice president of sales and marketing. Some members experienced funds withdrawn from their accounts, The average amount withdrawn was less than $200, he told News Now. The withdrawal transactions were all based on personal identification numbers made on debit cards at ATMs in Russia, the Ukraine and Nigeria. The transactions were over 10 days. "It was a very localized attack against a number of financial institutions, both credit unions and banks," Marsh said. "There was no breach of our information or our systems," he said. The credit union found out about the fraud Monday morning and immediately took proactive measures. "We called each member and proactively reviewed all the logging activities for the accounts," Marsh said. The credit union shut down the compromised accounts and reopened new ones. "We're meeting with the individuals to go over their circumstances. We're providing member services, refunding fees and crediting the unauthorized charges on a case by case basis," Marsh said. "We also are making recommendations about what they should do and what they'll need to keep their finances safe and secure." One woman told police that $106 had been withdrawn from an account and a man reported that $1,300 has been withdrawn from his account, according to Associated Press via South Bend Tribune (June 16). Both transactions took place in Novosivirsk, Russia, the paper said. At least one other credit union in South Bend reported that 10 of its members were affected by the scam.

Kaiperm FCU Alliant CU in merger negotiations

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OAKLAND, Calif. (6/18/08)--Kaiperm FCU, Oakland, Calif., is negotiating a merger with Alliant CU, Chicago. Kaiperm has posted a letter on its website with information about the merger. The two credit unions will work together to make the merger seamless for its members, Shirley L. Jones, chairman of Kaiperm’s board, said in the letter. Kaiperm decided to pursue the merger after research it conducted determined a merger was the best way to improve and enhance financial services for its members. During the first three months of this year, the credit union posted losses of $2.2 million ( June 17). Alliant has $5.5 billion in assets and 200,000 members nationwide. Kaiperm has $94 million in assets and 17,536 members.

CU System briefs (06/17/2008)

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* NORTHVILLE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (6/18/08)--Michigan Credit Union League has added three new staff to its governmental affairs team: Marcia Hagenbarth, David Mroz and Jamie Wolfe. Hagenbarth is legislative affairs director, succeeding Andrew Doerr. She will oversee the league's legislative, grassroots advocacy and political action programs. She has more than nine years' experience in Lansing, most recently as assistant director of government affairs for SEIU Healthcare. David Mroz is the new political affairs coordinator, succeeding Nancy Short. He will direct the league's political fundraising, grassroots advocacy and campaign-related programs. Mroz formerly was Michigan political/field director for the Mitt Romney for President campaign. Wolfe is governmental affairs support specialist, succeeding Angie Hall. She previously was an administrative assistant with Aerostek Staffing. Wolfe has three years' experience as an administrative assistant in the Michigan House of Representatives … * GREAT FALLS, Mont. (6/18/08)--Electric City FCU (ECFCU) is merging with 1st Liberty FCU, Great Falls, Mont., to better serve ECFCU’s members. ECFCU’s members will have access to electronic bill pay, Internet banking and other services. (Great Falls Tribune June 12). ECFCU has $900,000 in assets. 1st Liberty has $113 million in assets ... * TULSA, Okla. (6/18/08)--Mayes County FCU, Pryor, Okla., is merging with Red Crown FCU, Tulsa. The merger will be complete at the end of the year. Red Crown will take over Pryor officially July 1. Mayes County FCU will be renamed Red Crown FCU, Mayes County Branch (Tulsa World June 17). Mayes County FCU has $21 million in assets. Red Crown has $81.5 million in assets ... * BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (6/18/08)--The board of directors at Jefferson County Teachers’ CU, Birmingham, Ala., announced it will change the credit union’s name to eCO CU, effective July 1. The name change allows the credit union to appeal to a more diverse membership. “We took the ‘e’ from Educators and ‘CO’ from Community,” said eCO CEO Joey Hand. eCO has $88 million in assets ...