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No CUs affected by Midwest tornados

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MADISON, Wis. (1/9/08)--No credit unions have reported damages from a rare series of January tornados that hit the Midwest Monday and Tuesday, according to CUNA Mutual Group (CMG). "There have been no reports of damages to any credit unions from Oklahoma to Wisconsin," Mike Retelle, CMG's disaster team response coordinator and Credit Union Protection claims manager, told News Now Tuesday evening. Tuesday morning, he had reported that CMG Regional Sales Vice President David Griffiths and the Wisconsin and Illinois Credit Union Leagues had no reports of credit unions with damages. "We're currently cautiously optimistic we will see very few, if any losses, from last night's weather event. However, we will continue to monitor the situation throughout the day," Retelle said Tuesday morning. Unseasonably warm weather for January spawned about 30 tornados from southwest Missouri to southeast Wisconsin Monday. On Tuesday another tornado was reported in central Arkansas, and tornado watches were in effect for Arkansas, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee and Mississippi Tuesday afternoon. The tornados killed one person in eastern Arkansas Tuesday and two people in Missouri's Webster and Greene counties on Monday. The storms demolished houses, knocked a railroad locomotive off its tracks and shut down a courthouse ( and Kansas (Jan. 8). Kenosha County, Wis., Sheriff's Office spent Tuesday assessing the damage to homes in the area from Monday's storms. Hardest hit was a subdivision in Wheatland, about 50 miles southwest of Milwaukee and just north of the Illinois border. At least 55 homes were damaged or destroyed there by a tornado that cut a 10.8 mile swath through the area. Thirteen people in that county were injured. Gov. Jim Doyle ordered a state of emergency for that area.

NACUSO receives 50000 for innovation center

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NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. (1/9/08)--PSCU Financial Services has contributed $50,000 to fund the National Association of Credit Union Service Organization’s (NACUSO) 2008 plans for its National Center for Collaboration and Innovation, NACUSO announced. The donation was delivered by NACUSO Board Member Dave Serlo, president of PSCU Financial Services in St. Petersburg, Fla. “NACUSO has created an important resource--NACUSOMatch--that helps members communicate service offerings and build partnerships,” Serlo said. “We believe this kind of information sharing will help create new growth in this industry and build upon the cooperative spirit that we have embraced for decades. “Our motivation at PSCU is to continue supporting the value we see in NACUSO-generated solutions, designed to foster the collaborations and innovation needed to reverse down-trends in the industry as quickly as possible,” he added. Tom Davis, president/CEO of NACUSO, noted that PSCU is a NACUSO Platinum Partner and that Dave Serlo steadfastly championed the center’s development. “We feel strongly that PSCU’s support will ensure timely solutions, through NACUSO, to help credit unions grow and survive in 2008 and the years ahead.” An initial contribution by PSCU provided the start-up “seed capital” for the National Center for Collaboration and Innovation, created to serve as a unifying source for collaboration and innovation efforts, and as a clearinghouse for “who’s doing what” in the industry, NACUSO said. NACUSO officially launched the National Center on May 1, during its 2007 annual conference. From there, NACUSO continued to build and establish the NACUSOMatch Directory, a collaborative Web-based networking tool where NACUSO members can communicate service offerings and investment opportunities for credit unions seeking strategic partnerships.

California bill would require monthly loan report

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RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. (1/9/08)--A bill was introduced in the California Assembly Monday that would require lenders in California to provide monthly reports on loan modifications. The California Credit Union League (CCUL) is aware of the bill’s introduction and is monitoring the situation. “Yesterday (Monday) was the first day of the California legislative session,” said Henry Kertman, CCUL public relations director Tuesday. “It is on our radar screen, but the league has no official position at this time.” League staff is studying the bill and will be reviewing it with the league’s Government Relations Committee within the next few weeks to determine a position, Kertman said. The bill, authored by California Assembly Banking and Finance Committee Chairman Ted Lieu, would require lenders to detail the loans they have originated and serviced, including hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs), fixed-rate products, fully-amortized ARMs, or loans with negative amortization or interest-only features (American Banker Jan. 8). Lenders would also have to provide information on all modifications within the last two months, modification type, the number of loans nearing foreclosure and amount of loans past due (American Banker). A hearing on the bill is scheduled for next week.

Youth Week art and savings challenge signup ready

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MADISON, Wis. (1/9/08)--Credit unions can get Youth Week artwork and sign up for savings challenges now, the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) announced this week.
Click to view larger image Click for larger view
Youth Week, with a theme of, "Got Green? Grow It at Your Credit Union," will coincide with Earth Day, taking place April 20-26, 2008. This year’s corresponding Youth Week artwork will concentrate on going and saving the "green." Participants will be encouraged to build good saving habits and change current habits to protect the environment. Small, simple changes will be highlighted, including: replacing an incandescent light bulb when it burns out with a compact fluorescent light bulb, biking or walking instead of riding in a car, donating a used toy instead of throwing it away, putting the computer monitor to "sleep" when not in use, and eating more fresh fruits and vegetables instead of processed foods. The theme was selected from ideas sent by staff from more than 50 credit unions. "Got Green" is a variation of "Save the Green," a theme suggested by Jennifer Millard from Desert Energy CU in Tucson, Ariz., in 2006. Themes were voted on by nearly 500 credit union employees. The top themes were then presented to 26 youth, who chose "Got Green?" as their favorite. Along with National Credit Union Youth Week is the fifth annual National Youth Saving Challenge, where credit unions can bring youth to the credit union to open new accounts or make deposits in existing ones. Credit unions can participate by registering for free on the CUNA website, and setting saving goals. They then tally the total amount of deposits, the number of new accounts opened, and the total number of deposits made by young members during Youth Week and report their results to CUNA to determine figures on a national level. CUNA’s website also contains educational and promotional materials for Youth Week and free planning resources for credit unions. The site includes celebration suggestions from fellow credit unions, success stories, general newsletter articles, media tips to alert local media about this event, and more. For more information, use the link.

Pennsylvania surveying fin ed at workplace

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (1/9/08)--Pennsylvania's Office of Financial Education is surveying workplaces in the state to learn more about employers offering financial education. The results will also help the office act as a resource for businesses that want to get information about financial education or start their own program, according to the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (Life is a Highway Jan. 8). According to Secretary of Banking Steve Kaplan, businesses in the state could achieve higher productivity, lower health care costs, and reduced absenteeism by providing financial education for their employees. "Money problems at home can have a negative effect on an employee's work performance and that affects the company's bottom line," said Kaplan. "By investing in financial education, businesses can help foster a healthier and more productive workforce." The survey is available until March 14 at Many Pennsylvania credit unions offer financial education to members and conduct public seminars on financial education topics.

CU CEO tells Sacramento what to expect in 2008

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SACRAMENTO (1/9/08)--Lenders should be doing everything they can to help their borrowers in today’s economy, a California credit union CEO recently told the Sacramento Bee. Carol Hauck, president/CEO of First U.S. Community CU in Sacramento, said that traditional solutions may not be enough to ward off foreclosures amidst the real estate slowdown. Hauck was interviewed for a Jan. 6 article about what consumers can expect in 2008. Hauck was interviewed for the financial institutions section. Housing values continue to drop, which makes financing challenging for financial institutions, she told the newspaper. Foreclosures and losses will mount, and there may not be enough capital available for new financing. Refinancing to pay other debts has slowed because many borrowers do not have enough equity. Homeowners who financed at the top of the market may also owe more than the value of their homes, she noted. To solve these problems, traditional solutions may not be enough and new ideas are needed to help both borrowers and their financial institutions, Hauck said.

Biz Kid featured in IDetroit NewsI

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DETROIT (1/9/08)--Biz Kid$, a new TV series exclusively underwritten by America's Credit Unions to teach kids about money was mentioned Tuesday in an article by a Detroit News television writer. The new show will be seen on 279 PBS television stations in 43 states starting this month. The article said the show aims to provide money management tips to young people during a time when the importance of financial literacy is being discussed by state legislatures nationwide and the U.S. Congress. The 30-minute PBS production debuted Thursday on WTVS-TV in Detroit. The first installment features guests--including a rap producer, a skateboard designer and a philanthropist who began a fund-raiser for a hospital--giving advice on money and entrepreneurship, the article said.

Iowa Foundation provides nine grants to small CUs

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DES MOINES, Iowa (1/9/08)--The Iowa Credit Union Foundation provided grants to nine small Iowa credit unions through its annual small credit union grant program. Funding for small credit unions grants is provided to the foundation annually by Veridian CU, a $1.214 billion asset credit union based in Waterloo, Iowa. Two grants are available to small credit unions: one for up to $1,000 for technology and planning needs; and the second for up to $2,500 for a credit union manager or board member to attend the annual Governmental Affairs Conference, sponsored by the Credit Union National Association (CUNA). The 2007 Small Credit Union Technology Grant recipients include:
* Dapako CU, Clinton; * Dubuque Teachers CU, Dubuque; * Frontier CU, Fort Dodge; * Polk County Employees CU, Des Moines; * Postal Employees CU, Fort Dodge; * Power Co-Op Employees CU, Humboldt; * Quaker Oats CU, Cedar Rapids; * Von Maur Employees CU, Davenport; and * Waterloo Police CU, Cedar Rapids.
The Governmental Affairs Conference Grant recipient for 2007 is Leitha Aten of the UNI CU in Cedar Falls. “Thanks to the generous support of the Veridian CU Board of Directors, the Iowa Credit Union Foundation is able to provide crucial support to small credit unions to help them meet their technology needs,” said Marybeth Foster, foundation executive director. “The Governmental Affairs Conference Grant allows credit union board members or managers to attend a national conference so that they in turn can better educate elected officials about issues important to small credit unions in Iowa.”

CU System briefs (01/08/2008)

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* TACOMA, Wash.(1/9/08)--Tacoma-based Sound CU came out looking good when a couple's blog compared the final loan payment processes on two car loans--one at the credit union, the other at Rainier Pacific Bank across the street. The husband and wife split up for their respective institutions to pay off their loans and then regrouped. For their side-by-side comparison use the link. The credit union loan took fewer people to process, fewer checks written, and was completed 15 minutes before the bank loan … * RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. (1/9/08)--Tuesday's USA Today featured a letter written by California Credit Union League staffer Melia (Meichelbock) Keller, manager of communications and marketing. The letter addressed an article from last week's issue titled "Mental toll of war hitting female service members." Keller wrote about her experiences in Iraq as a civil affairs sergeant in the U.S. Army Reserve Special Operations Command. She received the Combat Action Badge, the Army Commendation Medal, the Iraqi Campaign Medal and the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal for her service. Her experiences are detailed in her online journal and book … * AUSTIN, Texas (1/9/08)--An employee of LCRA CU, Austin, Texas, has been charged with robbery by threat after allegedly faking a robbery and bomb threat at the credit union Monday morning. Nathaniel Hamilton had told police that while in a restroom, a robber passed him a note saying he had a bomb and wanted a certain amount of money delivered to the restroom. A silent alarm was activated and the building evacuated. Police say Hamilton admitted staging the event and stealing money from the credit union ( Jan. 8) … * NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (1/9/08)--Jacquelin Florentin Jr. of Newport News was scheduled to be sentenced Tuesday on bank fraud and aggravated identity theft charges stemming from using other people's Social Security numbers to open accounts at four financial institutions. The accounts were at lst Advantage CU, Newport News Shipbuilding Employees CU, Citizens and Farmers Bank and Langley FCU. The scheme ran between July 2006 and March 2007, said the U.S. Attorney's office. He allegedly cashed $2,400 in checks and used one of the accounts to back his purchase of a car. He agreed in October to plead guilty and faces up to 32 years in prison with fines of up to $1,250,000 (Daily Press Jan. 7) … * PHILADELPHIA (1/9/08)--Police are resorting to nicknames to help people identify serial robbers, says the Philadelphia Daily News (Jan. 8). The "Scarf-Face Bandit" covers his face with a scarf during each holdup. He held up Sun East FCU on Dec. 26 after pointing a gun at tellers and handing over a demand note. He fled with an undisclosed amount by jumping into the trunk of a waiting car. The Scarf-Face Bandit also held up the Earth Star Bank last Thursday … * HUNTINGTON, W. Va. (1/9/08)--A former employee of a credit union that merged in 2004 with Star USA FCU has been charged with embezzling at least $81,000 from both institutions. Susan Kelley was employed by Huntington Veterans Affairs FCU and then Star USA from November 1998 to March 2006. Money first was discovered missing in November 1998. According to court documents, the embezzlement occurred from November 1998 to March 2006. Prosecutors bypassed the grand jury and filed an information document on Dec. 27, which indicates a pre-indictment guilty plea (The Herald-Dispatch Jan. 2) …