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Okla. Foundation Deploys Tornado Relief Fund, Insurer Reports Damages

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OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. (5/23/13)--The Oklahoma Credit Union Foundation Tuesday deployed its Tornado Disaster Relief Fund to assist credit union people impacted by tornadoes Sunday and Monday in Shawnee and Moore. And CUNA Mutual Group reported major damage to just one credit union.

Gary Jones, president/CEO of the Credit Union Association of Oklahoma, was en route Tuesday morning to Shawnee to meet with two credit unions affected by Sunday's tornado. He had already met with credit unions in Moore, which was hit by an EFL5 tornado Monday. "I've been talking with a lot of people who are hurting. The human stories are incredible," he said.

Those wishing to donate funds to assist credit unions in Oklahoma should make checks payable to the Oklahoma Credit Union Foundation, mark them designated for the Tornado Disaster Relief Fund and send to:

Credit Union Association of Oklahoma

631 E. Hill Street

Oklahoma City, OK 73105

For more information, contact Carrie Buchholz at 405-702-8622, ext. 215 or at

"We have a lot of individuals who are credit union people who have loss of property and displacement of homes," Jones told News Now.  CUAOK reached out early Monday to two credit unions  headquartered in Shawnee--Bison FCU and Tri CountyFCU--as well as credit unions in Moore and Oklahoma City., including Tinker FCU, whose branch was destroyed. (See News Now story, Tinker FCU Branch Destroyed, Assisting Staff And Members).

"All feedback indicated there was not significant damage to credit union property and no loss of life, which was encouraging," Jones said. "We're resilient here and we truly have experience dealing with tornados."

CUNA Mutual Group reported to News Now Wednesday afternoon that its Property & Casualty Claims Disaster Team had been in contact with the league as well as all credit unions in Moore and the surrounding area. 

"In total, direct phone contact was made with 57 credit unions in the path of the large [Monday] tornado within 24 hours of the event," said Phil Tschudy, CUNA Mutual media relations manager. "This included credit unions in Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri and Iowa."

"Although we received reports of minor building damage to various credit unions along the storm's path, which reportedly was a mile wide, the only credit union reporting any significant building damage is Tinker FCU's branch in Moore, which has been widely reported as a total loss," he said.

"Fortunately, all employees at this branch were unharmed. Our main focus has been on Tinker, and we have had adjusters onsite meeting with its staff and assessing damages. Other than the major loss at Tinker, we will likely see minor building damage and power outage losses for credit unions in the Moore area."

The National Credit Union Foundation, which runs CUAid, the national online disaster relief fundraising mechanism for credit unions, has been in touch with the Oklahoma league, which has, at this time, decided not to activate CUAid given the number of people affected.

"As an individual, the outpouring from around the country from colleagues and others in the credit union movement and from vendors, reporters, regulators and  business partners has been universally positive and caring, and  their response  is a comfort," Jones said, noting the collaboration that credit unions enjoy.

The tornado in Shawnee killed one person, while estimates of the death toll in Moore 24.

CU System Briefs (05/23/2013)

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  • ONTARIO, Calif. (5/23/13)--Stephen Barden, former credit union president/CEO, California Credit Union League employee and Western CUNA Management School  (WCMS) Board of Trustee chair, has died, said the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues. Barden retired in 1998 after 16 years as the president/CEO of Beckman Employees CU--now Fullerton, Calif.-based Pacific Community CU. He was the 1980 recipient of the league's Leo H. Shapiro Lifetime Achievement Award.  Prior to that, he was manager of Los Angeles County Employees CU No. 11, now First City CU, which he joined in 1971.  He served as an education specialist at the league from 1961 to 1971. Barden also served two terms as league director, served on 10 league committees, chaired Western Corporate FCU's supervisory committee and helped create the Credit Union Deposit Network. He was involved with WCMS since its inception in 1962 and chaired its Board of Trustees from 1971 through 1997. Dr. James Likens, WCMS president, said a WCMS scholarship will likely be established in Barden's name.  Barden was the son of Lance Barden, who organized more than 400 credit unions, including the first credit union in Nevada, and the Hawaii Credit Union League. His daughter, Sue Longson, is vice president of business development and community relations in Irwin-based SCE FCU ...
  • HARAHAN, La. (5/23/13)--Beatrice "Bea"  Rosenblath, former president/CEO of Shreveport, La.-based St. John Berchman FCU (now Louisiana Catholic FCU) died Sunday after a battle with cancer. A life-long resident of Shreveport, she was 62.  Rosenblath began working in finance at the credit union in 1973 after obtaining her business administration degree. She was with the credit union for 35 years, during which the credit union grew to serve members locally and nationwide. She is survived by her husband, Fred J. Rosenblath; one son, Jordan F. Rosenblath; six sisters; and five brothers. A Mass will be Saturday at 10 a.m. at Holy Trinity Catholic Church, with a celebration of life service from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Scottish Rite Temple in Shreveport (Louisiana Credit Union League eNews and Shreveport Times May 22) ...

Ohio CU Helps Kids Find a Way To Play

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SMITHVILLE, Ohio (5/23/13)--Wayne County Community FCU in Smithville, Ohio, stepped in to fill a need when parents were disappointed that their three- to five-year-old children didn't have an option for playing organized sports in the community.

Click to view larger imageWayne County Community FCU in Smithville, Ohio, helped 44 kids and their families by creating a soccer league. The credit union created a six-week series of soccer games when parents said that their three- to five-year-old children didn't have an option for playing organized sports in the community. (Photo provided by the Ohio Credit Union League) 

Chris Blough, CEO of the $45.1 million asset credit union, got the idea after overhearing the parent of a Piggy Bank Club member mention that there were several sports for older kids, but none for younger ones (eLumination Newsletter May 15).

Blough found a lack of options for smaller kids when he investigated the situation and created a plan for the credit union to remedy the void. Wayne County Community FCU's board of directors saw value in Blough's vision and how it could fulfill the need and positively impact the credit union's target market (25-45 year olds).

As a result, the credit union created a soccer league--for $600 and a few hours of work a week--that helped 44 kids and their families.

Wayne County Community FCU spread word of the six-week series of soccer games through flyers sent to the YMCA and local preschools and churches. The program also attracted special needs kids who participated in a group setting and developed friends and teammates.

At each game, "Coach" Blough made sure to mention that the program was made possible by Wayne County Community FCU.

"Parents were amazed that a credit union CEO was actually investing time and energy in their kids, not just writing a check," said Blough. "Parents are busy and will forget nearly any form of marketing we can throw at them, but they never forget the way you treat their children."

Catalyst Corporate Appoints Supervisory Committee

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PLANO, Texas (5/23/13)--Catalyst Corporate FCU, Plano, Texas, named two new members to its Supervisory Committee. 

Jon Hernandez, president/CEO of CalCom FCU, Torrance, Calif., and Mattel FCU, El Segundo, Calif., was appointed to a two-year term.

Steven Devan, president/CEO of Grossmont FCU, El Cajon, Calif., was appointed a one-year term.

Herandez and Devan join three other committee members.

With more than 20 years of credit union experience, Hernandez is a member of the Credit Union National Association's Small Credit Union Committee, the California Credit Union League Board Executive Committee, and the CUNA Mutual Group select council, and is founder and chairman of the Southern California Credit Union Alliance.

Devan has more than 40 years of experience in credit unions and community banks in Southern California and has spent the past 10 years leading Grossmont Schools FCU.

Century Heritage FCU Staffer Wins Council Primary

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (5/23/13)--Bob Macey, Allegheny County councilman and business development/community relations director for Century Heritage FCU, won the Democratic primary election against opponent Arlene Jabbour in Council District 9 in Pennsylvania  Tuesday, the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association said.

In the Nov. 5 general election, Macey will face Ken Peoples (R), who ran unopposed in the primary (Life is a Highway May 22).

Macey plans to retire from Century Heritage FCU, Pittsburgh, on June 28, but will stay in public service and involved in economic development and community relations.

CUNA Mutual Group: Mortgages Should Reflect Flood Zone Requirements

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MADISON, Wis. (5/23/13)--With a wet U.S. spring causing the potential for flooding to increase, all credit unions need to make sure they know whether a property is in a flood zone before approving a mortgage, according to an article by Kriss Besch, CUNA Mutual Group product support manager.

"It's been the rule for decades," Besch wrote. "All lenders have to determine whether a property is in a flood zone before approving a mortgage. That lender also has to make sure that properties in flood zones are covered by insurance."

However, because of changing flood zones, "a mortgaged property that did not need flood insurance at the time of loan origination might need it five years later," Besch added. "It's up to lenders to keep track of map revisions and any other Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) changes regarding exclusions or exceptions."

The Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Report Act has increased its penalty to a minimum of $2,000 from $350 per flood violation, and lifted its annual $10,000 cap after several years of record flooding, catastrophic hurricanes and historic super storms.

"That means that a credit union that does not monitor flood zone revisions and require its members to have flood insurance could find itself in hot water--and with a big bill due to the government," Besch added.

Among additional tips for credit unions that Besch offers in the article on CUNA Mutual's website:

  • There are two types of flood zone certifications: Basic and life-of-loan. A basic certification is a one-time read of flood maps, which leaves the burden of monitoring changes up to the lender. For ongoing monitoring of any loan, the credit union would need a life-of-loan service. That service would track FEMA maps and notify the credit union of any flood zone certification changes. The responsibility and risk belongs to the flood vendor if mistakes are made. That means credit unions don't need to monitor FEMA maps on their own. With life-of-loan plans, the vendor does the tracking.
  • Credit unions must recognize that flood zone certification services are purchased per loan, not per portfolio. It is possible that credit unions have some mortgages that carry life-of-loan flood zone determination service and some that do not. They should verify annually what kind of coverage each mortgage carries to remain compliant with federal regulations.
  • Flood vendors should provide certificates for member files as proof to auditors that current determinations have been made. A credit union can be fined for not having a certificate even if the loan is monitored by a flood zone certification vendor and is adequately protected. Good flood vendors will also assist with FEMA Letter of Map Amendments for lenders.
  • It is never safe to assume that the flood zone status of a property cannot or will not change. As builders increasingly change the topography of construction sites by moving ground, flood zones can evolve--and sometimes much farther away than a credit union would suspect.

In Canada, CUs Outperform Banks On Small Biz Needs

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TORONTO (5/23/13)--Like credit unions in the U.S., Canadian credit unions continue to outperform banks in serving the financial needs of small and medium-sized enterprises, according to a Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) research report.

"Banks need to pay close attention to the report's findings if they are serious about serving the small business market," said CFIB Vice President of Research Doug Bruce. "Overall, credit unions do the best job of serving entrepreneurs, while Scotiabank and BMO are tied in receiving the highest overall scores among the big banks. CIBC is the worst big bank for small business--that's the same as it was in 2010, when we issued our previous banking report."

The report, CFIB's Battle of the Banks, provides bank scores based on nearly 13,000 survey responses from small business owners on four key issues: Financing, fees, experience with account managers and service.

Battle of the Banks shows a trend: The smaller the business, the lower the overall bank score. Compared with larger businesses, smaller firms have a tougher time getting the financing they need from their bank, the report indicates.

"Access to affordable financing and banking services is essential for hard-working entrepreneurs, and it's clear that all of the banks should do more to serve small-business clients," said CFIB President/CEO Dan Kelly.

CFIB is Canada's largest association of small and medium-sized businesses with 109,000 members nationwide.

In the U.S., credit unions continued to lend to small businesses in aftermath of the financial crisis, while banks largely withdrew from lending and stayed on the sidelines, News Now has noted. The Credit Union National Association is urging Congress to raise a cap on credit unions' member business lending to 27.5% of total assets from 12.25%. This would open up more opportunities for credit unions wanting to serve small businesses. Raising the cap would inject $13 billion in loans into the U.S. market and help create 140,000 jobs, CUNA said.