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Stars and Stripes readers pick Andrews FCU as best FI

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SUITLAND, Md. (1/13/14)--Readers of Stars and Stripes voted Andrews FCU as the top financial institution in the publication's latest readers' choice award.
 
"It's a great feeling to know members worldwide value and appreciate our service," said Oma George, chief retail officer of the $1 billion-asset credit union.
 
Stars and Stripes received more than 5,000 entries from readers to select their favorites in more than 60 business categories.
 
Andrews FCU is based in Suitland, Md., and serves Andrews Air Force Base, McGuire Air Force Base, military installations in central Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands, and more than 200 select employer groups in Maryland, New Jersey and the District of Columbia.
 
Stars and Stripes is an independent news publication that provides information to the U.S. military community of active-duty service members, Department of Defense civilians, contractors and their families.

W. Va. CUs still open despite federal disaster declaration

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CHARLESTON, W. Va. (1/13/14)--Credit unions in and around Charleston, W. Va., are mostly open for business, despite the declaration of a federal emergency caused by a chemical spill into the drinking water system, the West Virginia Credit Union League told News Now.
 
"We've been in contact with all of the credit unions in the affected areas this morning as well as the NCUA regional office," said league President Ken Watts. Of the 22 credit unions that are affected, all but two are open for business.
 
The two that are closed are housed in facilities that did not open today--the federal courthouse in Charleston and the county vocational center in Eleanor. "Members at the other 20 credit unions have full access to their accounts and business is being conducted as usual," Watts said.
 
Up to 300,000 residents of nine counties surrounding the state's capital city are without tap water. This includes restaurants, hospitals, state and local government, and financial institutions..
 
President Barack Obama issued the federal disaster declaration for nine West Virginia counties: Kanawha, Boone, Logan, Lincoln, Putnam, Jackson, Roane, Clay and Cabell.
 
A 48,000-gallon storage tank filled with a compound to wash coal breached a containment wall at Freedom Industries before it flowed into the Elk River Thursday (The New York Times Jan. 10). 
 
As of Friday afternoon, Freedom Industries, the company responsible for the spill could not determine the amount of chemical leaked into the river.
 
The West Virginia League will be monitoring the situation throughout the weekend and will determine if any assistance is needed should the water ban extend into next week. "We are hopeful that this gets resolved in a quick and safe manner," Watts added.
 
Jeff McIntyre, president of West Virginia American Water, told CNN today that the company has no timeline for declaring when the water will be safe to do more than flush toilets.
 
Residents were told that the water should not be used for drinking, boiling, washing, cleaning, bathing or given to pets.
 
Water distribution centers have been set up in the Charleston area.

CU System briefs (01/13/2014)

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  • ST. LOUIS (1/13/14)--Managing a calendar and creating content for social media can be challenging, and the Missouri Credit Union Association's latest #TweetUpTuesdays will tackle just that (Missouri Difference Jan. 8). In its first meeting of the year, the St. Louis-based group will focus on sources for content, editorial calendars and communication strategies during its meeting at the Blue Sky Tower Grill in Brentwood. The #TweetUpTuesdays program started in December  ...
  • MIDLAND, Texas (1/13/14)--Two Texans were sentenced to federal prison Jan. 9 for their alleged roles in defrauding My Community FCU, Midland, Texas. Raymond Holguin Jr., 36, and Gustavo Pizarro, 37, received 41 months and 18 months, respectively, and ordered to pay almost $4 million in restitution. According to a release from the FBI, the two men, along with a loan officer from the credit union, conspired on a car-loan fraud scheme that cost the credit union more than $4 million. Loan officer Michael Franco, 40, was sentenced to 18 months in prison in November for his role in approving more than 300 car loans on behalf of Holguin and Pizarro, who both worked at the Motor City dealership in Odessa ...
  • FITCHBURG, Mass. (1/13/14)--For the first time in its nearly 100-year history, Workers' CU will be distributing a bonus dividend to its membership through its GiveBack Program. In February, qualifying members of the Fitchburg, Mass.-based credit union will receive $2 million. CEO Doug Petersen announced the dividend during a Chamber of Commerce meeting (Worcester Telegram and Gazette Jan. 10). The $1 billion-asset credit union also teased the distribution with its "The Angry Banker" video on its bigbanksagainstworkers.org website ...
  • TROY, Mich. (1/13/14)--The finance and economics department at Walsh College, Troy, Mich., is teaming up with the membership of Michigan Schools and Government CU, Clinton Township, to participate in a survey about personal financial knowledge. The survey, which includes questions about stress levels related to financial situations, is open to residents of Oakland and Macomb counties ...

American Forces Network picks up Biz Kid$ for 2nd season

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MADISON, Wis. (1/13/14)--The second season of Biz Kid$ premiered Jan. 4 worldwide as new programming from the American Forces Network (AFN) on military bases overseas.
 
Biz Kid$ is the Emmy Award-winning and credit union-funded public television series that teaches kids about money management and entrepreneurship.
 
"Financial literacy is critical, and Biz Kid$ delivers outstanding content to teach youth how to make and manage money through the power of television," said Danielle Brown, director of development and donor relations at the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF).
 
The first 26 episodes of Biz Kid$ launched on AFN in 2012. The license for those episodes has been renewed and with the second season added, 39 Biz Kid$ episodes air at 12:30 p.m. viewer time on the AFNfamily channel to military bases worldwide.
 
The Department of Defense operates AFN, a worldwide radio and television broadcast network that serves nearly one million American service men and women, Department of Defense civilians and their families overseas, stationed at bases in 175 countries, and 140 U.S. Navy ships at sea.  AFN broadcasts the most popular American radio and television programs from all the major networks and is a service of the American Forces Radio and Television Service.
 
NCUF oversees fundraising, outreach and administrative responsibilities of Biz Kid$. In the past seven years, more than 300 credit unions and affiliated organizations have raised more than $13.8 million to support the show's production, website and curriculum. Every Biz Kid$ episode begins and ends with a narrator reminding viewers that: "Production funding for Biz Kid$ is provided by America's Credit Unions, where people are worth more than money."

El Paso mortgage CUSO helps 50 families find homes

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FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (1/13/14)--Through a grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the support of three local credit unions, the El Paso Affordable Housing credit union service organization (CUSO) will help 50 families become homeowners, the Cornerstone Credit Union League said Friday.
 
The grant of roughly $2 million, funded through HUD's Neighborhood Stabilization Program, will  be used to provide qualified homebuyers with up to $26,500 in down-payment assistance and up to 3% toward closing costs, Luis Caballero, El Paso Affordable Housing family asset development manager, told the league (Leaguer Jan. 10.).
 
"HUD issued these grants to various organizations around country in an effort to re-stabilize communities affected by housing collapse," said Caballero.
 
Three El Paso credit unions--FirstLight FCU, with $829 million in assets, $2 billion-asset GECU, and $89 million-asset OneSource FCU--were selected as the preferred lenders for the program. All three of the credit unions have received the Cornerstone Credit Union League's Juntos Avanzamos designation for credit unions that have demonstrated exceptional commitment and service to the Hispanic community.
 
The CUSO has partnered with a local developer to build 50 new homes. Ten of the homes have been completed.

Filene, Aite seek suggestions for revenue generation

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MADISON, Wis. (1/13/14)--As part of a newly established research partnership, Filene Research Institute and Aite Group are asking credit union CEOs, chief financial officers and other finance professionals to complete a survey on how they will drive increased revenue. Responses are due Friday.
 
Ron Shevlin, senior analyst at Aite Group, will guide the project.
 
Filene will share a complimentary copy of the report with survey respondents.
 
After three straight years of declining revenue from 2009 through 2011, the credit union system saw an increase of revenue in 2012. However, revenue increased by just 0.7%, still well below 2008 levels. As an industry, credit unions generated just a little more than half of what banks with more than $50 billion in assets were able to generate in non-interest income in 2012.
 
"Revenue generation is a top priority for credit union executives," said Ben Rogers, research director at Filene. "Through this research we'll look at where credit unions see revenue growth coming from, the biggest challenges credit unions face in generating additional revenue, and how and what credit unions are investing in to generate revenue."
 
The research project is expected to take two months. The report will be released later this year

CU advocates sought for Carolinas council program

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RALEIGH, N.C. (1/13/14)--As the North Carolina and South Carolina leagues merged, so did their council programs.
 
CUaware, based in Raleigh, N.C., and South Carolina's CU Forward are expanding the geographic footprint and meeting schedule for credit unions in those states.
 
"Our plan is to add four regional councils in South Carolina that will hold regular educational meetings, as well as networking and community events," said CUaware co-founder Brandon McAdams, director of business transformation at Coastal FCU, Raleigh (In the Loop Jan. 10).
 
To that point, both the leadership and regional councils are seeking credit union professionals to volunteer, and the deadline to apply is Friday. The four new regional councils are SC Upstate, Midlands, Pee Dee and Low Country. In addition, CUaware has five openings on its nine-member leadership council.
 
"Credit union volunteers in each regional council will coordinate these meetings and events in order to enhance the level of grassroots cooperation throughout the Carolinas," McAdams said. "The end result will be that more credit union staff will appreciate and understand what makes credit unions and cooperatives so special."
 
Former CU Forward ambassador Will Crosswell said it was a great first step, even as CU Forward comes to a close." I truly believe that joining forces with CUaware has the potential to open up more exciting opportunities for credit union professionals in South Carolina," said Crosswell, business development officer at Palmetto First FCU, Florence, S.C.
 
North Carolina's councils in the Piedmont Triad and Triangle regions will continue to build upon past success, and CUaware plans to expand further in North Carolina.
 
For more information, contact CUaware's Lauren Whaley, (800) 822-8859, ext. 9066, or use the link.