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CUNA Mutual other states report on damages to CUs

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MADISON, Wis. (4/19/11)--Cutting a swath of devastation last weekend, the storm front that spawned tornadoes in 15 states--92 of them in North Carolina--left people stunned at the devastation and the number of deaths and injuries. But credit unions were luckier than most. As states began their cleanup and took steps toward recovery Monday, credit unions remained largely unscathed. CUNA Mutual Group by early Monday afternoon had "not received any reports from credit unions that suffered damage from this past weekend's tornadoes," said Phil Tschudy, media relations manager. However, he cautioned that the insurer was "contacting leagues and its field staff in the impacted areas to make sure that is the case." North Carolina and Virginia credit union damages are reported in a related story (See News Now's "CUs in North Carolina, Virginia assess tornado damages"). News Now also canvassed other state associations to see how credit unions fared in their states. In Mississippi, Members Exchange CU, which is based in Jackson had a branch office in Clinton that was without power and phone service on Friday, said Charles Elliott, president of the Mississippi Credit Union Association. He told News Now that "no credit unions or staff received any damage we are aware of." However, "we do not have information concerning any members at this time." In Alabama, "it appears that no credit unions were affected in the storm area. However, some members were," said Mike Bridges, vice president of marketing and communications at the League of Southeastern Credit Unions, which covers Florida and Alabama. He noted that a credit union in Montgomery has one member who was hit hard, but he was still trying to confirm circumstances. The league is trying to figure out what credit unions are doing for members, if anything, he told News Now. The league's credit union foundation is working to put together a plan for disaster relief. The Kansas Credit Union Association had not heard of any damage to credit unions in its storms, but it was contacting credit unions to make sure. "We had our annual meeting this weekend (Thursday-Sunday) so a lot of credit union people were in Kansas City," said Susan Dyer, communication specialist. Other states also reported tornadoes and funnel clouds. They include Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Illinois, Georgia, South Carolina and Maryland (abc3340.com April 18). Later in the week, News Now will follow up with more coverage on these states and how credit unions are assisting members and their communities. Meanwhile, another weather system is building toward the Midwest and expected to present a moderate risk of tornadoes, high winds and hail today in parts of Missouri, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky.

CUs in N. Carolina Virginia assess tornado damages

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MADISON, Wis. (4/19/11)--Credit unions in North Carolina and Virginia appear to have escaped major damage from the weekend’s tornadoes, but the members they serve were almost certainly affected. Calling the path of destruction and death from Saturday’s tornadoes in North Carolina “horrible,” Raleigh-based State Employees' CU (SECU) CEO Jim Blaine said he felt lucky his credit union emerged from the storm system with relative minor damage. Blaine said one branch roof was damaged, forcing the branch to close temporarily, and eight ATMs were inoperable, but otherwise the credit union was at full service throughout the state on Monday. “They say we all know each other here in North Carolina, so I’m sure we have employees who know or are related to people who were affected, but I’ve heard no direct stories as of yet,” Blaine said. “Given the number of tornadoes that tore through state, we’re lucky to have gotten through it with the amount of damage that we experienced.” One tornado touched down a half mile from new offices of the North Carolina Credit Union League, which had relocated earlier in the week, but the league reported no damages. Virginia Credit Union League Rick Pillow said no credit unions in that state reported damage, and league members were awaiting further reports to determine if victims were in need of special services. North Carolina Credit Union League President John Radebaugh said that no other state credit unions had reported damages to the league or indicated special services were needed as of late Monday. In North Carolina, the last reported death toll from the storms was 21, with at least 130 more injured. Half of the North Carolina fatalities were in Bertie County, a rural county about 120 miles northeast of Raleigh that has just 21,000 residents. Preliminary reports indicate about 500 homes destroyed and more than 1,000 damaged. Officials say that more than 1,000 families will be homeless in the state, according the American Red Cross. Red Cross workers sheltered more than 500 people over the weekend. Five tornadoes touched down in Virginia, causing major damage, according to the National Weather Service (TBD.com April 18). Preliminary reports indicate that 332 structures were damaged, 35 destroyed, and 122 severely damaged. Five people in Virginia were reported killed as a result of the storms. For information related to other states, see related story in System News, "CUNA Mutual, other states report on damages to CUs."

SECU tellers help members switch to checking

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RALEIGH, N.C. (4/19/11)--State Employees’ CU (SECU) is helping members make the switch to credit union checking accounts through a personalized teller initiative. Since the initiative began, SECU tellers have educated 11,000 members on the benefits of the credit union’s checking product and 750 made the switch. The project came about when SECU tellers communicated to management that many members without a checking account at the credit union had indicated it would be too inconvenient to move to the credit union. SECU’s Senior Vice President of Corporate Projects Patty Munns organized a focus group of teller services managers to develop the program. SECU teller services managers from throughout the state met in early February to learn about the program details. The project kicked off March 1. As they serve members at their stations, tellers identify members without SECU checking and educate them on the product. But the key feature of the SECU “Switch” is the opportunity to work individually with the same teller, who guides a member through the step-by-step process of moving a checking account from another financial institution to SECU. “This checking switch project is a great initiative for our teller staff as they are the first point of contact for members visiting the branch,” Munns said. “Tellers interact daily with the membership and have a clear understanding of the services they (members) use. The ultimate goal is to help members save money on the products they need and want from their financial institution without compromising convenience or service. The switch process can be hassle-free and SECU tellers are proving that on a daily basis.”

Veridian CU tests cashless branch to woo Latinos

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DES MOINES, Iowa (4/19/11)--A cashless branch in a Des Moines social service facility is helping Veridian CU build trust and grow membership within the Latino community. Veridian CU opened the cashless branch in the Hola Center to test the market in a neighborhood where check cashers and payday lenders are more common than traditional financial institutions (Des Moines Register April 9). The branch consists of a single cubicle staffed by a member services representative (MSR). The MSR answers basic questions about checks, ATMs, and remittances and can provide the same transactions--except deposits and cash withdrawals--as a regular branch. The Latino population has grown by 84% in Iowa in the past decade. About 152,000 Latinos currently live in the state. A large portion of them are unbanked, said the newspaper. But Veridian has begun to establish a presence in the Des Moines Latino community. The credit union also sponsors the 37-team International Soccer League, which is largely Hispanic. The branch at the Hola Center will offer financial literacy classes. Coopera Consulting, a firm owned by the Iowa Credit Union League, also helps credit unions reach Latinos, the article said. The firm advises credit unions to hire bilingual staff, offer low-fee remittance programs that allow members to send money bank their home countries, make loans to non-resident taxpayers, and package loans for Latino events.

Insurance exec to head Michigans OFIR

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LANSING, Mich. (4/19/11)--Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder Friday appointed R. Kevin Clinton, a former insurance executive, as commissioner of the state's Office of Financial and Insurance Regulation. Clinton is the former president/CEO of American Physicians Capital Inc., a medical liability insurer in East Lansing. He replaces Ken Ross, who left the position Friday (Crain's Detroit Business and Lansing State Journal April 15). "Kevin Clinton brings a wealth of insurance experience to the post of OFIR commissioner, and we are looking forward to bringing him up to speed on the needs of Michigan's 322 credit unions," said Michigan Credit Union League CEO David Adams. "We've had a great working relationship with his predecessor Ken Ross and John Kolhoff, deputy commissioner for the credit union division, and hope to continue the mutually beneficial dialogue among the regulatory agency, the trade association and our credit unions." Clinton said his top goal is to reduce insurance rates by fostering more competition among insurance companies and reducing unnecessary regulations. Snyder said Clinton's first priority would be to "make sure consumers are protected by making sure financial institutions are sound" and that Clinton would lead the state's effort to "eliminate burdensome regulations that are preventing the industry from growing." OFIR oversees and regulates credit unions, banks, insurance companies and agents, health maintenance organizations, investment advisors, consumer lenders and securities broker-dealers and agents.

Illinois Director Meza appointed to NASCUS Board

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ARLINGTON, Va. (4/19/11)--Robert Meza has been appointed to the National Association of State Credit Union Supervisors (NASCUS) Board of Directors by NASCUS Chairman Tom Candon. Meza is director of financial institutions for the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. He is filling an unexpired term ending in September that was held by Michigan Commissioner Ken Ross, who left the Michigan agency Friday. Meza was appointed director of Illinois’ Financial Institutions Division in February 2008. Prior to his work at the agency, he was with Williams Acosta PLLC, a Detroit-based law firm. He also served in various leadership roles as an attorney with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights in New York and the Chicago Transit Authority. With one of the largest state-chartered credit union communities Meza will offer a broad perspective to the board, said NASCUS President/CEO Mary Martha Fortney.

Members United building corporate of the future

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WARRENVILLE, Ill. (4/19/11)--Members United Bridge Corporate FCU is "now beginning the formal process of building your new corporate of the future," its members were told Friday. John Fiore, chairman of the Members Advisory Council (MAC) for the Warrenville, Ill.-based corporate, posted a letter to member credit unions Friday announcing that the bridge corporate received a letter from the National Credit Union Administration's (NCUA) Office of Corporate Credit Unions, which stated it has no objection to Members United Bridge's capital plan. The corporate filed its capital plan with NCUA on March 18. NCUA's letter said that based on the information provided it would have no objection to the plan. "We are working with our attorneys to complete the private placement memorandum," said Fiore, who advised members to watch the MAC website for continuing developments, as well as the "posting of various documents as they become available." The new corporate credit union will retain the assets, people, processes, products and services of Members United Bridge.

Cheney to address N.Y. CUs convention

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ALBANY, N.Y. (4/19/11)--Credit Union National Association (CUNA) President/CEO Bill Cheney will address New York credit union leaders June 3 at the Credit Union Association of New York's Annual Meeting and Convention in Lake Placid, N.Y. The convention, which runs June 2-5, has as its theme: Credit Unions: Standing Tall. Cheney will report on the status of:
* Debit interchange; * The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau; * Corporate stabilization; * Supplemental capital; * Member business lending; * The National Credit Union Administration's budget and oversight, and more.

West Virginia league announces officers awards

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CHARLESTON, W. Va. (4/19/11)--The West Virginia Credit Union League elected Dave Van Middlesworth as chairman of its board of directors. The elections were conducted after the league's 75th annual meeting, which was held Saturday in Charleston, W.Va. Van Middlesworth is a director of the Eastern Panhandle FCU in Martinsburg, and he has served on the league board since 2002, said the league. Other officers elected include:
* First vice chairman, Donna Gordon, Mercer Co. WV FCU, Bluefield; * Second vice chairman, Mike Tucker, West Virginia Central CU, Parkersburg; * Treasurer, Doris Cunningham, Members Choice WV FCU, Charleston; and * Secretary, Edgar Cosner, The United FCU, Morgantown.
Also at the meeting, Terry Richardson, Pioneer FCU, Charleston, received the league's highest annual recognition of a volunteer, the William Bryan Hawkins Award. Receiving the Pacesetter Award was Carolyn Neale, National Employees FCU, Bluefield. Neale has been involved in the credit union movement since 1955. The award symbolizes excellence among paid credit union staff in the state.
Click to view larger image West Virginia Credit Union League's outgoing Board Chairman Tom Walker, left, presented the gavel to newly elected Chairman Dave Van Middlesworth, Eastern Panhandle FCU, Martinsburg, during the league's annual meeting Saturday in Charleston, W.Va.
 
Click to view larger image West Virginia Credit Union League's top honors Saturday went to Carolyn Neale, National Employees FCU, Bluefield, recipient of the Pacesetter Award, and Terry Richardson, Pioneer FCU, Charleston, who received the William Bryan Hawkins Award for volunteers. (Photos provided by the West Virginia Credit Union League)