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Texas league announces three new directors

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FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (2/11/09)--The Texas Credit Union League announced the re-election of two board members and the election of a new director. The three ran unopposed in the elections for their district (LoneStar Leaguer Feb. 10). They are:
* Carol Murray, president of Southeast Community CU, San Antonio, re-elected to the board for Asset Category A (assets of less than $10 million); * Kay Stewart, president of North East Texas CU, Lone Star, re-elected in Asset Category D ($50 million-$100 million assets); and * Buddy Schroeder, president of United Heritage CU, Austin, the new director for Asset Category E (assets of $100 million or more). He will serve the directorship now held by Wayne Vann, president of Navy-Army FCU, Corpus Christi, who chose not to seek re-election.
Their terms will begin in April, after the league's Annual Membership meeting. Elections are underway in two other races for Asset Category B (Assets of $10 million to $20 million) and Asset Category C ($20 million to $50 million assets).

Michigan CUs launch 100000 Save to Win account

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MADISON, Wis. (2/11/09)--Starting in February, members of eight participating Michigan credit unions have a chance to win monthly prizes, and a grand prize of $100,000 by saving throughout the year in a new Save to Win program. The program focuses on how much money people save, in contrast to most reward-type programs based on how much people spend. “The Michigan credit unions in this pilot program are leading the way by exploring new financial solutions to enrich the lives of their members,” said David Adams, president/ CEO of the Michigan Credit Union League. Save To Win aims to energize consumers’ savings habits through a federally insured savings account. Each deposit of $25 into the share certificate earns participants an entry into monthly and grand prize drawings. In addition to the grand prize, credit unions will give away $39,000 in monthly prizes. Those who don’t win a prize will still earn regular interest and build savings, the league said. The pilot program in Michigan is supported by a partnership with the Filene Research Institute, the D2D Fund, and the Michigan league. Save to Win has been championed by Harvard Business School Professor Peter Tufano, founder of the D2D Fund. The program is underwritten by a grant from the Center for Financial Services Innovation (CFSI). “The lack of savings in America can be partly explained by the fact that savings are simply not fun and the motivation to save has been stripped away,” says Denise Gabel, Filene chief innovation officer. “Offering prizes to build a solid financial future is a way to get people excited again.” Tufano said the program “is a modern American version of a program that has been used for more than three centuries to help people save.” “It’s no secret that we are in an economic crisis, especially here in Michigan, and as an industry we have to help people with real solutions,” Adams said, noting that credit unions’ mantra of people helping people “sets credit unions apart from other financial providers.” “CFSI invests in promising new initiatives like Save to Win that are potentially scalable and designed to help the financially underserved start saving and building assets,” said Sarah Gordon, CSFI nonprofit relationship manager. “Combining the concept of savings with the thrill of possibly winning $100,000 will hopefully inspire non-savers to open accounts and start a new habit.”

Wegner Awards Dinner has about 100 seats left

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WASHINGTON (2/11/09)--More than 1,000 credit union leaders and supporters have registered for the 21st Annual Herb Wegner Memorial Awards Dinner presented by the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) on Feb. 23. About 100 seats are still available. Seats can be reserved online through a secure page on the NCUF website. (Use the resource link.) Registrants also can download a printable form, complete it off-line, and fax or mail it to NCUF. “We truly appreciate the enthusiasm we’re seeing from credit union supporters who understand how important it is--even in the worst economic times--to share and celebrate the best practices and the best people that credit unions have to offer,” said NCUF Executive Director Steve Delfin. The dinner will take place at the Grand Hyatt Washington, two blocks from the Washington Convention Center, site of the Credit Union National Association’s 2009 Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC). Delfin said NCUF hopes to sell out the main ballroom with 1,100 people. The awards ceremony will showcase four of the credit union movement’s highest national honors:
* Lifetime Achievement Award: Bill Sterner, late president/CEO of Elevations Credit Union in Boulder, Colo. * Individual Achievement Award: Rita Haynes, treasurer, manager and CEO of Faith Community United Credit Union in Cleveland, Ohio. * Individual Achievement Award: Tom Sargent, president/CEO of First Tech Credit Union in Beaverton, Ore. * Outstanding Organization Award: Montana Credit Unions for Community Development in Billings, Mont.
Registration is also still available for the GAC. Use the resource link.

Australian CUs affected by bushfires set up fund

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VICTORIA, Australia (2/11/09)--Australian credit unions have set up a Bushfire Relief Fund to provide emergency relief to victims of devastating Australian bush fires, according to Abacus-Australian Mutual, Australia’s credit union trade association. The bushfires in Victoria have affected several credit unions and building societies (savings and loans) through their branch networks, staff and many of their more than 250,000 members in regional Victoria (Electronic News Publishing Feb. 9). Credit Union Foundation Australia is collecting donations, which are tax deductible and will be used to provide relief through the Red Cross Victorian Bushfire Appeal. Police investigators said arsonists may have set some of Australia’s worst-ever wildfires, with the death toll reaching 173 as of Tuesday (Associated Press Feb. 10). About 400 fires have ravaged Victoria state, driven by 60 mph winds and temperatures as high as 117 degrees, the news service said. About 850 square miles were burned, according to the Victoria Country Fire Service.

CU hopes to spark local economy with low-rate auto loans

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FRESNO, Calif. (2/11/09)--Educational Employees CU (EECU) will begin offering car loans Thursday with interest rates as low as 2.99%, which is several percentage points below the national average. The promotion ends Feb. 20. The deal offered by the Fresno, Calif.-based credit union includes the following conditions: the low rate is good solely in Merced, Calif.; the rate applies only to 2006 model vehicles or older; and members have to qualify to obtain the rate (Mercedsun-star.com Feb. 10). The rate applies for new purchases or refinances, and the credit union is offering 100% financing, EECU told the newspaper. It’s a good development to see financial institutions getting aggressive with auto financing because many banks are not lending or they’re just waiting while matters get worse, Perry Robinson, general sales manager at Merced Volkswagen Kia, told the paper. Several car buyers already had visited Robinson’s dealership Monday after the new rate was announced, Robinson added. EECU has $1.746 billion in assets.

40 CUs among 135 FIs reporting impacts by breach

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ARLINGTON, Va. (2/11/09)--A bank security website is tracking credit unions and banks that have publicly reported they've been affected by the Heartland Payment Systems data breach. As of Monday, of the 135 institutions listed on the site, 40 are credit unions. The site, bankinfosecurity.com, also listed, where available, the total number of cards compromised at the institution. Because the list depends on public announcements by the institutions, the list is considered a tip of the iceberg in terms of actual cards compromised. It is not known what resources the website reviews. The site recently added institutions headquartered in Guam, Canada, and Bermuda that reported their cards were impacted. The 40 credit unions are spread throughout the U.S. in 24 states. In Iowa, five credit unions reported their cards were comprised, the most of any state. Washington follows with four credit unions reporting they were impacted. Maine and Oregon each had three credit unions reporting. Heartland, the sixth-largest payments processor, announced Jan. 20 that its systems were breached in 2008. It processes on average about 100 million transactions a month for more than 250,000 retailers and merchants.

Washington league A.G. ask support on elder abuse bills

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OLYMPIA, Wash. (2/11/09)--The Washington Credit Union League and Washington attorney general are asking for support from the state legislature to strengthen the front lines of financial institutions, including credit unions, to help stop financial exploitation of the elderly. John Annaloro, league president/CEO, and Rob McKenna, state attorney general, asked the state legislature to support House Bill 1788 and Senate Bill 5639--a comprehensive bill introduced by the attorney general’s office to improve financial protections for seniors and those with disabilities--in an op-ed article published Tuesday in The Seattle Times. “For years, banks and credit unions have been on the front lines in the battle to prevent financial exploitation of vulnerable adults,” they wrote. “Tellers and branch managers are on guard, observing and reporting the rising number of suspicious transactions by those other than primary account holders. “Local banks and credit unions also have cultivated great working relationships with law-enforcement agencies,” they added. The bill, which has strong bipartisan support, would mandate training to improve the ability of credit union and bank employees to identify and report financial exploitation. It also would allow financial institutions to freeze accounts if they suspect suspicious activity, and to better share information with law enforcement. Also, it would increase penalties for those convicted elder abuse. The legislation was sponsored by State Sen. Jim Hargrove (D-Hoquiam), State Rep. Al O’Brien (D-Mountlake Terrace), State Sen. Dale Brandland (R-Bellingham), and State Rep. Barbara Bailey (R-Oak Harbor).

Freedom CU board member scouts in inaugural parade

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WARMINSTER, Pa. (2/11/09)--Freedom CU board member Charles Whiting marched in the president’s inaugural parade Jan. 20 in Washington, D.C., with a boy scout troop.
Click to view larger imageCharles Whiting, Freedom CU board member, marched in the president’s inaugural parade Jan. 20 with Boy Scout Troop 358 of Germantown, Pa. (Photo provided by Freedom CU)
Whiting and 33 scouts from Troop 358 marched behind the Ohio State University Marching Band. “The parade highlight was the excitement of passing the presidential viewing stand and seeing the kids being a part of this historic moment,” Whiting said. The troop, selected from more than 1,400 scout troops nationwide, represented the Boy Scouts of America, the credit union said. Freedom CU, Warminster, Pa., has $350 million in assets.

RMJ raises nearly 600000 distributes 300000 in 08

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RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. (2/11/09)--The Richard Myles Johnson (RMJ) Foundation raised nearly $600,000 in 2008, distributing $300,000 to various organizations--including $100,000 to the Biz Kid$ television series and $87,850 in community service grants, according to the California Credit Union League. The foundation also provided $24,000 to Western CUNA Management School for scholarships, $25,000 for the California Credit Union League’s Annual Meeting and Convention, and $6,000 for the league’s Big Valley Educational Conference. Next year’s goal is to give away more community service grants by encouraging credit unions to participate in the numerous quality youth financial education programs available, said Tena Lozano, RMJ Foundation executive director. The foundation raised $595,835 in donations from credit unions, chapters, credit union-related organizations; fundraisers; and Community Investment Fund money. About $120,000 in scholarships were presented to staff and volunteers at smaller credit unions, allowing them to attend seminars, conferences and webinars focusing on operational and industry-related topics. The foundation also noted:
* Jones Methodist Church CU, San Francisco, received a $2,500 grant to continue its Financial Literacy Boot Camp, a third-year effort to provide a week-long summer day camp focusing on youth financial education. * The San Francisco Chapter of the California league and the San Francisco Unified School District received $20,000 toward a financial literacy consortium; * Sacramento District Postal Employees CU received $3,000 to continue its quarterly youth financial education newsletter; * Travis CU, Vacaville, received an $850 grant to defray the costs of transportation so youth from a low-income area could attend a workshop on the Cal Grant program and college budgeting; * National Youth Involvement Board received $1,000 for its annual conference; * The California & Nevada Youth Involvement Network received $500 to help recognize a California or Nevada school for exemplary efforts in youth financial education; * ByDesign Financial Solutions received $35,000 to continue its outreach to at-risk youth with its Financial Firsts program; and * The California Jump$tart Coalition received $5,000 toward its 2008 California Summit on Financial Literacy.
The foundation, established in 1958, is dedicated to providing Community Service Grants to support credit union efforts to spread the financial literacy message to youth.

Former KV FCU chairman opposes conversion to bank

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AUGUSTA, Maine (2/11/09)--Gerald C. Poulin, former board chair of Kennebec Valley FCU (KV FCU), is opposed to the credit union’s plan to convert to a bank, he wrote Tuesday in a letter to the editor of the Kennebec Journal. “For many years, this credit union has been a vital part of the Augusta community,” he wrote. “Today we are in danger of losing our credit union and, if allowed to happen, a big part of our community. Though I am no longer a volunteer, I am still a member and, as a member, I cannot support the credit union’s proposal to convert to bank and then merge with Kennebec Savings Bank. “The credit union was built by its members and it is the members’ assets that they are proposing to give away to the bank,” he added. The merger proposal was announced in September by Beverly W. Beaucage, president/CEO of KV FCU, and Mark L. Johnston, president/CEO of the bank (News Now Sept. 10). The credit union noted in the fall that the conversion and merger would significantly expand its capacity to meet the current and future needs of members. “We've continued to grow steadily since 1962 while maintaining a strong capital base and steadfast focus on member service,” said Beaucage in a September press release. “Our board determined that the long-term goal for KV was to build and maintain a strong presence in the Kennebec Valley offering our members a wide variety of financial services,” she added. To accomplish this, “it makes sense to consider combining our efforts with a local institution that has similar values.” The Maine Credit Union League called the vote of Kennebec Valley FCU's (KV FCU) board of directors to continue with its proposal to convert to a bank and immediately merge into another one “disappointing but just one step in a long process” (News Now Oct. 16). A group of members petitioned the credit union in late January to get access to board minutes related to the conversion proposal ( News Now Feb. 2). KV FCU, based in Augusta, Maine, has $51 million in assets.

Phony e-mail not from Federal Reserve or Treasury

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (2/11/09)--Several leagues are warning credit unions that an e-mail purportedly from the "Federal Reserve Bank System Administration" is bogus. The phony e-mail informs recipients that the U.S. Treasury Department has issued "new directions for U.S. Federal Wire and ACH (automated clearinghouse) online payments," according to the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (PCUA) (Life is a Highway Feb. 10). The message includes grammatical errors and informs recipients there are "definite restrictions on Federal Wire and ACH transfers till Feb. 20." The message includes a link to a fake website. It was not send from the Federal Reserve or the Treasury. Those receiving the message are being told, "Do not click on the links." Both PCUA and the Delaware Credit Union League alerted their credit unions to the scam.

CU System briefs (02/10/2009)

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* PALO ALTO, Calif. (2/11/09)--Addison Avenue FCU is offering advice to couples exchanging Valentines--learn to communicate about money. "Just as you shouldn't reserve 'I love you' for one day a year, the key to a financial partnership is regular communication," said Doug Marshall, senior vice president of the $2 billion asset credit union in Palo Alto. "This holds especially true in times of hardship; it's crucial to discuss your situation and plan ahead," he added. The credit union offers six tips to assist couples, including: plan the wedding; consolidate accounts and set expectations; buy a home; become debt free; set aside a "financial date night" to communicate; and optimize finances by cutting out unnecessary expenses and setting aside funds for the important things (Business Wire Feb. 10) … * SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. (2/11/09)--Numerica CU employees donated more than $11,600 to three cancer care centers that serve Washington
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and Idaho. The recipients are Cancer Patient Care, serving Spokane and North Idaho; the Tri-Cities Cancer Center; and The Wellness Place in Wenatchee. The funds were raised at Numerica's Annual Benefit Auction, an event it has coordinated for the past 18 years.; a silent auction; and raffles. On hand for the presentation of a check for more than $7,000 were, from left: Rex Reed, president of Spokane's Cancer Patient Care; Numerica employees Kimberly Hulse and Jessica Hildahl; and Cliff Evans, executive director of Cancer Patient Care. (Photo provided by Numerica CU) … * HARRISBURG, Pa. (2/11/09)--The Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (PCUA) has hired Joanne Broderick as a compliance and operations officer (Life is a Highway Feb. 10). Broderick will provide customized compliance solutions for credit unions in the Western part of the state under a new program that will be introduced later this month, said PCUA. Broderick formerly worked as compliance officer at SPE FCU, State College …