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New HSFPP guides are a hit

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GREENWOOD VILLAGE, Colo. (12/20/07)--The National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE) announced that the new revised version of the High School Financial Planning Program (HSFPP) has been sent to a record number of schools and organizations. “The buzz from teachers and others has been incredibly positive,” said John Parfrey, director of the NEFE HSFPP. Since April 1, NEFE has sent 745,069 HSFPP student guides. Of those, 393,470 were new student guides. For the same period in 2006, NEFE distributed 455,670 student guides--a gain of 289,399 in 2007. “Those are huge numbers,” Parfrey said. He also noted that he has heard no complaints about the new program. Since the Credit Union National Association partnered with NEFE in 2000, the HSFPP has been revised in 2002 and in 2007. HSFPP is a free resource designed to teach high school students about personal finance.

CU System briefs (12/19/2007)

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* WASHINGTON (12/20/07)--Counterfeit teller checks bearing the name of Radcliff, Ky.-based Fort Knox FCU are reportedly in circulation, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) said Wednesday in a special alert. The counterfeit items display the credit union's routing number, but are not like its authentic checks. The counterfeit items are light brown with dark borders and rounded corners, and display a security feature statement embedded in the top border and along the bottom border between two padlocks. Authentic checks are light green with square corners, have the credit union's telephone number below its name and address in the top-left corner, and contain a centered watermark with its name and the "People Helping People" slogan … * HARRISONBURG, Va. (12/20/07)--Ida Blanchette, a member of Common Wealth One FCU's Johnny Appleseed Club, is one of 12 winners in a national art contest that promotes environmental awareness and thrift among children. Blanchette, daughter of Arthur Blanchette of Linville, Va., created a drawing with a recycling and conserving theme that will be featured in the Johnny Appleseed Club's 2008 national calendar. The club is a nationwide program sponsored by financial institutions to help young people learn more about ecology and money management. Blanchette's drawing was chosen from hundreds of entries. She was presented a cash award on Dec. 15. (Photo provided by CommonWealth FCU) … * SUITLAND, Md. (12/20/07)--Andrews FCU is airing 30-second television spots featuring service men and women sending season's greetings to their families back home. The $771.3 million asset credit union is working with ABC7 and NewsChannel 8 to air the soldiers' holiday greetings, which started running Monday and will continue to Jan. 1. The spots air at various times throughout each day. Each spot features three individuals from the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. "Although there is no way to repay these individuals for their dedication to this country, we wanted to show a small token of our appreciation for their efforts," said Michael Hale, president/CEO … * TULSA, Okla. (12/20/07)--Tulsa Teachers CU (TTCU) has launched its School Pride VISA check cards with names of 20 Tulsa and area schools to an overwhelmingly positive response (Tulsa World Dec. 19). Members can get the cards in the name of their school. Central High School head basketball coach Terry Scott was the first to get a Central card. The credit union began issuing the cards Nov. 27. In the first two weeks, the credit union issued 668 cards, a huge number in light of the recent ice storm that disabled the state, said Kristi Brooks Cohea, vice president at TTCU. Each time a card is used, the transaction will generate a donation from the credit union to the school named on the card. The credit union plans to expand the card offer to more schools. * PEMBINA, N.D. (12/20/07)--U.S./Canada border officials nabbed a Canadian robbery suspect as she crossed into North Dakota with friends headed to a Green Bay Packers game in Wisconsin. Emelda Reimer of Winnipeg was detained after border officials questioned the group and learned she was wanted on charges of stealing $35,000 from several Canadian credit unions earlier this year. The officials turned Reimer over to Canadian authorities. She was charged with four counts of robbery, two counts of robbery with a weapon and six counts of wearing a disguise (The Canadian Press Dec. 17) … * GRANITE CITY, Ill. (12/20/07)--A man was sentenced to 12 years in federal prison Monday after being convicted of robbing the GCS FCU, Granite City, in September. Clarence Thomas, 46, of Madison, Ill., was sentenced in U.S. District Court in East St. Louis. Also, Thomas was sentenced to five years of supervised release after finishing his prison term, and was ordered to pay $26,802 in restitution to the credit union (Belleville News-Democrat Dec. 18). He was convicted of aggravated robbery and using a firearm in commission of a violent crime, according to Randy G. Massey, acting U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Illinois … * YORKTOWN, Va. (12/20/07)--Robert L. Girouard, 92, who was chairman of the board at Langley FCU in Newport News, Va., for 19 years, died Dec. 15. Girouard's credit union activities also include positions at the state and national level (Daily Press Dec. 18). He represented the Virginia Credit Union League at the national level from 1967 to 1977. He spent 36 years at Langley Research Center and retired in 1980 …

Four Ohio CUs receive disaster relief from OCUF

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DUBLIN, Ohio (12/20/07)--Four Ohio credit unions received disaster relief grants from the Ohio Credit Union Foundation for August flooding that affected residents in the northern region of the state. Millstream Area CU, Findlay, received two disaster relief grants from the foundation. The credit union gave $250 gift certificates with each disaster relief loan application completed by Hancock County homeowners. The certificates were used to replace home furnishings damaged by the floods, said the foundation (Above and Beyond Dec. 19). A portion of the funds also was provided to Central Middle School, which serves 400 at-risk students. The school lost instructional items during the flooding. Empire Affiliates CU, a division of Toledo Area Community CU, received a disaster-relief grant to help the Shelby City School System. The grant application was written in partnership with Gorman Rupp & Associates CU in Mansfield. The grant will help teachers who lost instructional materials. Two of the school district’s buildings and the football field were affected by the flood. Midwest Community FCU, Defiance, received a disaster relief grant to help Ottawa families. The credit union launched a loan program to help residents rebuild and also offered $100 gift cards to families who applied for flood relief loans. Superior FCU, Lima, received a grant to help 400 of its Ottawa members. The funds were used to helped 16 teachers replace instructional supplies. Leftover funds were used to help members displaced from their homes. Superior FCU matched the grant funds and dropped the annual percentage rate for consumer loans for affected members to 5.50%.

Pennsylvania governor signs bad-check law

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (12/20/07)--New legislation that allows businesses to recover costs associated with consumers who write bad checks was signed into law by Pennsylvania Gov. Edward Rendell Tuesday, according to the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (PCUA). House Bill 296, sponsored by State Rep. Rick Stevenson (R-Mercer, Butler), will help businesses recoup costs incurred from handling bad checks by raising the service charge from $20 to $50. The change takes effect in 60 days (Life Is A Highway Dec. 19). The bill allows the service charge to increase to more than $50 if the company handling the bad check is charged more than the new limit by its financial institution. A written notice of the service charge must still be conspicuously displayed at the place of business. While PCUA was not involved in efforts regarding the legislation and did not take an official position on the matter, it felt it should make members aware of the law. “The reason we’re publicizing it is so credit unions have the opportunity to remind members not to bounce checks,” said Mike Wishnow, PCUA senior vice president of communications and marketing. “If they do, it could cost them more from the merchant side. Also, we’re giving credit unions a heads-up so they can inform their small-business members about the change in the law.” In Pennsylvania, it is illegal for a person to knowingly write a check without sufficient funds and fail to make good within 10 days after receiving notice of the refusal of the check. If convicted, the check writer must reimburse the payee the face amount of the check, as well as any service charge--if written notice of the service charge was conspicuously displayed on the payee’s premises when the check was issued.

Eakes criticizes Feds late subprime action in INY TimesI

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NEW YORK (12/20/07)--The Federal Reserve Board could have stopped the subprime mortgage crisis earlier, Martin Eakes, CEO of the Center for Responsible Learning, told The New York Times Tuesday. The Times reported that several people tried to warn federal banking officials that the subprime mortgages were risky for borrowers. Among the clues of potential problems was a report by the center, which analyzed records nationwide and found default rates on subprime loans rose to 20% in cities where home prices stopped rising or started to drop. Eakes is quoted as saying, "The Federal Reserve could have stopped this problem dead in its tracks," and adding, "If the Fed had done its job, we would not have had the abusive lending and we would not have a foreclosure crisis in virtually every community across America." Former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan told the Times the Fed was poorly equipped to investigate deceptive lending and that its policymaking was not to blame for the housing bubble or bust. The Center for Responsible Lending is a nonprofit group based in North Carolina. Eakes is a former CEO of the Center for Community Self-Help and CEO of Self-Help CU in Durham. The Center for Community Self-Help works with the credit union to provide affordable home loans, small-business loans, and loans to people who might have trouble obtaining credit (News Now July 13, 2005).

Oregon CUs help communities recover from storms

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BEAVERTON, Ore. (12/20/07)--Several Oregon credit unions and the Oregon Credit Union Foundation have joined to help residents deal with the aftermath of storms that hit the state Dec. 1-3. Storm-induced high winds and floods caused much damage, particularly to five counties designated as disaster areas--Clatsop, Columbia, Lincoln, Tillamook and Yamhill. The Oregon Credit Union Foundation donated $2,500 toward disaster relief efforts. Wauna FCU, based in Clatskanise, which was one of the hardest hit credit unions, established donation accounts for Clatsop and Columbia counties to provide immediate relief funds. In little more than a week, Wauna received almost $100,000 in donations from individuals, other credit unions and corporations. The credit union is working with county emergency service officials to distribute donations. TLC FCU, based in Tillamook, employed security guards at its branches during a power outage caused by storms to allow members to withdraw cash, since most ATMs weren’t working. St. Helens Community FCU, based in St. Helens, joined forces with the sheriff’s office to staff donation stations in the floodwaters’ wake. The credit union also collected donations in its branches and added supplies, such as blankets, to the donation boxes. Also, St. Helens board member Herb Bailey donated the use of six dump trucks from his company to help clear debris. Rivermark Community CU, based in Beaverton, does not have branches in the affected counties, but it has members who live there. To help defray expenses, Rivermark deposited $100 into the accounts of members who live in Vernonia--one of the hardest-hit cities. The credit union also offered a free skip-pay for the month for those with loans.