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Great Falls Teachers FCU Changes Name To Embark FCU

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GREAT FALLS, Mont. (5/6/13)--Great Falls (Mont.) Teachers FCU officially will change its name today to Embark FCU.

The key reason for the change is market confusion from the original name, which implied one had to be a teacher or affiliated with education to be a member,  President/CEO Deb Evans told the Great Falls Tribune (May 3).  The credit union adopted a community charter in 2001 that expanded membership to everyone living or working in five counties.

The word "embark" connotes starting a journey or investing in an enterprise, said the credit union. Many members are educators who help students embark on an educational journey every day. The credit union does the same for its members, said the credit union.

Damm Appointed To Kansas CU Council

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WICHITA, Kan. (5/6/13)--Larry Damm, president/CEO of Cessna Employees CU, Wichita, Kan., has been appointed to the Kansas Credit Union Council by Gov. Sam Brownback.

Damm will serve a three-year term (Wichita Business Journal May 2).

The seven-member advisory council advises the Kansas Department of Credit Unions on the needs of the state-chartered credit union system.

Damm has led $233 million asset Cessna Employees CU since 1998.

CU Icon Richard 'Doc' Heins Dies At 85

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MADISON, Wis. (5/6/13)--Richard "Doc" Heins, 85, who in 2010 was recognized with a Herb Wegner Award for  his lifetime achievements in the credit union movement, died Friday. For 27 years, Heins was with CUNA Mutual Insurance Group, starting in 1969 as a consultant and retiring in 1996 as its president and CEO.

Heins was well-known, well-respected, and well-liked throughout the credit union world, and many of the movement's top leaders who knew him best said he will not be forgotten.

"Doc was one of those rare individuals that possessed incredible creativity combined with a passion to collaborate," said Jeff Post, CUNA Mutual president/CEO. "The leadership and vision he provided--not only to the United States credit union system and its members, but other credit union systems and members around the world--is still being felt today. It was an honor to know him and learn from him."

Credit Union National Association President/CEO Bill Cheney also noted Heins' dedication to credit unions.

"Doc Heins was an icon for the credit union movement and for the CUNA/league system," Cheney noted. "In a very real way, he charted the course for the partnership between CUNA and CUNA Mutual that serves all credit unions so well to this day.  All of us will miss his visionary leadership and his consistent focus on supporting every aspect of our system."

"In his nearly four decades of association with CUNA Mutual, and more than 50 years within the cooperative movement overall, his influence was tremendous. When he was awarded the Herb Wegner Award, it was noted that throughout his career that 'he pushed us all to see beyond what is there and explore new possibilities.' No more appropriate words have ever been said for such a vital man in the credit union movement," Cheney added.

Susan Newton, executive director of the American Association of Credit Union Leagues, highlighted that Heins' dedication to credit unions was exemplified through his many achievements and innovations on behalf of credit unions, including: creating a program allowing credit unions to write loans for as little as 5% down; expanding the delivery of direct-response products including life insurance, his pioneering application of applying age and health factors to insurance risk ratings, his unwavering support of an independent federal regulator and insurer for credit unions, his backing for creation of the Filene Research Institute (and later the i3 group); and, his international work, including encouragement for rebuilding credit unions in Poland after the demise of the communist regime in that country.

"Doc was ceaseless in his devotion to credit unions and cooperatives worldwide; his legacy is stronger credit unions here in America, and a surging cooperative movement around the globe," Newton said.

The president/CEO of CO-OP Financial Services, Stan Hollen, remembered Heines as an inspiration to many over the years: "He formed his CEO Dialogue Group and Members Development Council years ago and I was fortunate to be a member.

"I still have the rocking chair he had delivered to my home that each Council Member received.  Doc was most comfortable in front of a group with an easel and marker to sketch out his ideas. His leadership in combining with Century Companies in Iowa set the stage for the future of CUNA Mutual. He will be missed but not forgotten."

Larry Blanchard, former senior vice president for special projects from CUNA Mutual Group, added that Heins was a visionary, mentor and philanthropist who embodied the philosophy of "helping people to help themselves."

"Among his great and unsung achievements was that as a young professor at University of Wisconsin in the 1960s, he conceived a novel idea to help millions of Americans become homeowners: private mortgage insurance. His interests ranged from credit unions as tools for economic and social development to urban development, manufacturing and more."

Dick Ensweiler, president of the Texas Credit Union League, said Heins was the one, along with former CUNA Mutual president Bob Curry, who recruited Ensweiler to CUNA Mutual.  He called Heins "a warm and personal gentleman who was both very bright and lots of fun" who was CUNA Mutual's "idea guy."

"Doc always had an open mind and sought input to what else the organization could be doing." Ensweiler also reminded of Heins' co-founder role for the Filene Research Institute, backing his strong belief that the credit union community needed a strong research function."

Funeral services for Heins will be held Thursday, May 9 at 11:00 a.m. (CT) at Our Redeemer Lutheran Church, 1701 McKenna Boulevard, Madison, Wis.

CU System Briefs (05/06/2013)

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  • VACAVILLE, Calif. (5/6/13)--Vacaville, Calif.-based Travis CU has teamed up with several schools and organizations to develop a new Work-Ready Certification Program for students. Travis will offer the Biz Kid$ financial literacy curriculum, which has been launched at all middle and high schools in Solano County. The WRC program uses entry-level job skills, identified by local business and industry, to validate that students in the area have the ability to succeed in the workplace and contribute to the community. As a stakeholder in the community, the credit union strives to empower its members and communities with information and knowledge that helps them understand their options, make smart choices, and take charge of their financial lives, Travis CU President/CEO Patsy Van Ouwerkerk told The Reporter (April 29). Partners include the Fairfield-Suisun Chamber of Commerce, Solano County Office of Education and the Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District ...
  • GREENSBORO, N.C. (5/6/13)--Tom Puckett, chairman emeritus of Charlotte, N.C.-based Postal CU, died April 25 at the age of 91, according to the North Carolina Credit Union League (The Weekly Conversation May 3). Puckett was the 79-year-old credit union's first employee. In the early years, he ran the credit union from the top drawer of his desk at the post office. "Tom loved his credit union," CPCU President/CEO Joy Watts told the league. Puckett also served as chairman of the board from 1984 to 1997, and as board treasurer. He was awarded the credit union's first chairman emeritus title in 2008. "He guided this credit union from a small credit union to over $40 million in assets" when he retired from the post office after 33 years, Watts said.  He was the Piedmont Chapter's Person of the Year. Funeral services were last week ...

Naval Base Wildfire Not Near CU Branches

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OXNARD, Calif. (5/6/12)--A credit union with six branches on or near the Naval Base Ventura County, Calif., said the branches are not located near wildfires that spread onto the naval installation's boundaries Friday.

Two wildfires had encroached the base, sending buildings and vehicles in flames as 900 firefighters fought the blaze. Its origin is being investigated. Thousands of residents along Pacific Coast Highway 101 fled the area when the fire jumped the roadway Friday morning ( May 3). The fires had closed 10 miles of the highway as of Friday afternoon.

CBC FCU, based in Oxnard, has branches in Camarillo, Oxnard, Thousand Oaks,  and on the naval base at Port Hueneme and Point Magu.  Thousand Oaks has two branches. "None of our branches are near the fires," a spokeswoman told News Now.

The two encroachments occurred at Point Magu and near the Thousand Oaks and Camarillo Springs communities. By Friday afternoon the base announced mandatory evacuation of some residents on the base due to smoke.

New Jersey League Names Michlig CEO

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HIGHTSTOWN, N.J. (5/6/13)--The New Jersey Credit Union League Friday named Greg Michlig as its new president/CEO.

Michlig, a long-time employee of the Credit Union Executives Society (CUES), will begin at the league May 20.

He succeeds Paul Gentile, who left in January to become executive vice president of strategic communications and engagement at the Credit Union National Association.

"I look forward to working with the team of the New Jersey Credit Union League to continue to build the momentum that has been so evident the past several years," Michlig said. "It has been a great pleasure working with the league board of directors throughout this process, and I am eager to begin meeting with the credit union community throughout the Garden State."

Michlig began working at CUES in 1995 in advertising sales. In 1999, he left CUES to work at PEMCO as a senior account executive. In 2008, Michlig returned to CUES, where he most recently held the position of senior director of member relations.

"Greg is widely known in the industry and has a long list of associates throughout the country, which will help him to continue to move the league forward as a respected resource," said NJCUL Chairman Lou Vetere.

"He has a proven track record of initiating and cultivating relationships that will serve him well as he meets with our credit union leadership.  His energy, drive and passion for the industry will be evident from the moment you meet him and he is focused on working with New Jersey's credit unions to help make all of them more successful," Vetere said.

Minnesota Man Opposes Student Branch

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COOK, Minn. (5/6/13)--An attorney working for the North Woods School in Cook, Minn., has advised the school district not to enter into an agreement with Cook (Minn.) Area CU to provide a student-run credit union branch at the school. The credit union says it is a misunderstanding.

There is no Minnesota statute that allows school districts to enter into collaborations or arrangements with private entities such as a credit union, attorney John Colosimo wrote in a letter to the school's district Superintendent Teresa Knife Chief. Colisimo said the agreement would provide opportunities for the credit union to expand its business--which would benefit the credit union and create liability issues for the school ( April 30).

"I think when the school superintendent contacted [Colosimo], and asked him questions about a credit union in the school, [Colosimo] assumed it was to create a regular branch, like a main branch, to sell loans and credit cards and to make money," Richard Crettol, president/CEO of Cook Area CU, told News Now.

"He thought of it as joint venture--a school going into the credit union business," Crettol added. "We look at it as an educational partnership to provide education to kids," he added.

The situation has been a misunderstanding from the beginning, Crettol said. "I told the superintendent to have a more-detailed discussion with the attorney to get him to reverse his position and send a letter to the [local] newspaper," he added.

There were more than 700 credit union branches in schools and youth clubs in 34 states last year, according the Credit Union National Association. The first school credit union branch in Minnesota opened in 2012, said

There have been no known legal problems with the three other student-run credit unions in the state, Kelli Sandhurst, communications specialist with the Minnesota Credit Union Network, told News Now.  

"We are following the situation and are going to be working with the Minnesota Department of Commerce and Department of Education to see if there is a precedent for this," she added. "We also reached out to the credit union to offer any help they want."

Maine CU-backed Manufactured-home Bill Passes Committee

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PORTLAND, Maine (5/6/13)--The Maine legislature's Judiciary Committee gave its unanimous support to L.D. 854--a Maine Credit Union League-backed bill that clarifies when a manufactured home is considered residential real estate.

Credit union representatives testified about a week ago on behalf of the league and Maine's credit unions, supporting the legislation (Weekly Update May 3).

The league played an active role in developing the legislation's language and in seeking support from legislators. It amends the laws governing manufactured housing to say that manufactured housing--for which no certificate of title has been issued--is considered real property when it has been permanently affixed to real property owned by the owner of the manufactured housing.

The bill, sponsored by State Rep. Charles Priest (D-Brunswick), was brought forward, in part by the league, as the result of an issue raised by the Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston (FHLBB) in 2011.

"The FHLBB informed Maine lenders about a year and a half ago that they are not able to collateralize FHLBB with mortgage loans collateralized by mobile homes that were not titled and not permanently affixed to property," Ryan Poulin, president/CEO of New Dimensions FCU in Waterville, explained to the committee in his testimony.

The legislation now moves to the full legislature for consideration.

Delaware League Elects Board, Honors Awardees

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The 2013-2014 Delaware Credit Union League Board, includes, from left, front row: Vice Chairman Joel Romaine, Treasurer Cheryl Chilcutt, and Secretary Meredith Jeffries. Back row, from left, are: Chairman Allen Riley and Board Members Sharon Schaeffer, Jerry King, and Susan Winward.
DOVER, Del. (5/6/13)--The Delaware Credit Union League elected its board and presented awards at its 55th Annual Meeting and Trade Show in Dover April 18-20.

With "The Password Is Members" as a theme, more than 160 people from 20 credit unions statewide attended the event, with the support of 29 vendors.

The league elected three board members. Incumbent board members Cheryl Chilcutt, Louviers FCU, Newark; Allen Riley, Sussex County FCU, Seaford; and Joel Romaine, Community Powered FCU, Bear, were elected for three-year terms. At the reorganizational meeting, the following board officers were elected:

  • Chairman--Riley;
  • Vice Chairman--Romaine;
  • Secretary--Meredith Jeffries, New Castle (Del.) County Delaware Employees FCU; and
  • Treasurer--Chilcutt.
The remaining board members are Jerry King, DEXSTA FCU, Wilmington; Sharon Schaeffer, Delaware First FCU, Wilmington; and Susan Winward, Wilmington (Del.) Postal FCU.

The league recognized Pamela Fleuette, CEO of Sussex County FCU as 2012's Outstanding Credit Union Professional. She has been involved in the credit union movement as a National Credit Union Administration examiner, as a business consultant, and currently as CEO of Sussex County FCU.

The Delaware Credit Union League 2012 Outstanding Volunteer, Gerald Reynolds, (left), accepts the award from Delaware State Police FCU President/CEO Steve Cimo. (Photos provided by the Delaware Credit Union League)
Examples of the technology Fleuette has deployed to enhance existing members' services and to help attract new members:

  • SmartOffice, which combines flexible furniture and technology--the first of its kind in Delaware;
  • Interactive drive-thru teller machines;
  • Personal teller machine kiosks in each of the credit union's four branches, the first of their kind in the country; and
  • Digital advertising screens.
The league also presented the 2012 Outstanding Credit Union Volunteer award to former board chairman Gerald Reynolds of Delaware State Police FCU, Georgetown. He has been a credit union member for 50 years and a volunteer for 35 years.

Corporate America Board, Supervisory Committee Announced

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IRONDALE, Ala. (5/6/13)--Monte Hill, president/CEO of Family Savings CU, Gadsden, Ala., has been elected board chairman of Corporate America CU.

Other board officers at the Irondale, Ala.-based corporate include:

  • First Vice Chairman--Merrill Mann, president/CEO, APCO Employees CU, Birmingham, Ala.;
  • Second Vice Chairman--Brad Long, senior vice-president/chief financial officer, First Florida CU, Jacksonville, Fla.; and
  • Secretary/Treasurer--Joey Hand, president/CEO, eCO CU, Birmingham.
Other members of the Corporate America CU board are:

  • Jane Boysen, president, Alabama Rural Electric FCU, Montgomery, Ala.;
  • Kim Burkett, president, TVA Community CU, Muscle Shoals, Ala.;
  • Gary Fairley, president/CEO, Jackson Area FCU, Jackson, Miss.;
  • Joyce Harrison, president, Mobile Postal Employees CU, Mobile, Ala.;
  • Heath Harrell, president/CEO, Guardian CU, Montgomery, Ala.;
  • Steve Nix, president, First Educators CU, Hoover, Ala.;
  • Jim Phillips, director, Alabama One CU, Tuscaloosa, Ala.; and
  • Tangela Souders, president/CEO, Wiregrass FCU, Dothan, Ala.
Members of the Supervisory Committee include:

  • Chairman--Mark Johnson, president/CEO, Naheola CU, Pennington, Ala.;
  • Vice Chairman--Carrie Player, chief financial officer, Alabama Central CU, Birmingham;
  • Doug Key, president/CEO, Mutual Savings CU, Hoover, Ala.;

CUNA To League Meeting: Consumers Want Trusted Financial Partner

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DOVER, Del. (5/6/13)--Consumers are yearning for a financial partner they can trust after the banker bailout and that's why the credit union movement's Unite For Good campaign is important, Trey Hawkins of the Credit Union National Association told those attending the Delaware Credit Union League's 55th Annual Meeting and Trade Show.

More than 160 people from 20 credit unions in the state attended the April 18-20 meeting, said the league (Together April 30).

Click to view larger image Credit Union National Association Vice President of Political Affairs Trey Hawkins, in his keynote speech at the Delaware Credit Union League's 55th Annual Meeting and Trade Show, discussed protecting credit unions' tax status, CUNA's Unite for Good campaign, and regulatory burdens. (Photo provided by the Delaware Credit Union League)
Hawkins, CUNA's vice president of political affairs and keynote speaker at the event, outlined the campaign, discussed protecting credit unions' tax exempt status, and told of the "crisis of creeping complexity" in burdensome regulations faced by credit unions.

He reiterated the goals of Unite For Good--CUNA's campaign to rally credit unions toward the strategic vision in which "Americans choose credit unions as their best financial partner."  The campaign's goals are: remove barriers, create awareness and foster service excellence.

On the taxation issue, Hawkins warned that people in Washington are focused on what can be done to close the daily-increasing gap between federal spending and tax revenue. The political consensus, he said, seems to favor spending cuts or tax increases as the primary means of reducing the deficit.

Voters prefer stimulating the economy and reducing unemployment, he said, adding that credit unions contribute to the economy by providing loans that help families.

Some Americans do not know credit unions are tax exempt, Hawkins said. Now it is more important than ever to educate members about the exemption--before Congress and banks legislate it away, he added. "Members should know that 'a tax on credit unions is just another tax on people like me.'"

CUNA's Plan To Win can help credit unions both educate their members and prepare for a national call to action to protect the tax status, if needed. The plan includes four steps:

  • Educate;
  • Participate;
  • Communicate; and
  • Hold lawmakers accountable.
The Unite for Good website has action steps to help credit unions in determining how to begin or continue their advocacy. Use the link.

Regulatory burden is a major concern, Hawkins said. Credit unions were subjected to more than 120 regulatory changes from at least 15 federal agencies between 2008 and 2012--before the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau completed its first rule. CUNA recently introduced 35 regulatory relief proposals to Congress to help reduce the economic and compliance burden on credit unions.

Hawkins also discussed credit unions' electoral impact on political candidates, noting that voters were more likely to vote for someone who was a credit union champion--by 2 to 1 and discussed the role of the Credit Union Legislative Action Council in advocacy efforts.

CUNA Mutual Group Employees Ratify Three-year Contract

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MADISON, Wis. (5/6/13)--Office & Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU) Local 39 employees at Madison, Wis.-based CUNA Mutual Group have ratified a three-year contract.

The contract includes increases in wages and salary ranges as well as increased incentive plan payouts for leading performers; changes to pension and post-retiree benefits, including freezing the current defined benefit plan and replacing it with a cash balance defined benefit plan; and modifications to health insurance offerings and premiums.

"Union leadership and the company worked hard in the past two months to reach agreement on a contract that reflected both sides' most important issues," said David Sargent, chief human resources officer. "Our company has a goal of being an employer of choice who provides good-paying jobs, strong benefits, professional growth and development, and opportunities for employees to make a difference for the customers we serve and the communities where we live," he said.

"The bargaining committee representing OPEIU Local 39 members at CUNA Mutual Group remained focused on the issues that were important to members," said Karen Maund, chief steward.   She noted "all the innovative ideas shared at the bargaining table, at membership meetings, along with all the support and encouragement, as every member played a part in reaching an agreement that reflects good wages and benefits."

"Reaching an agreement of this sort during these economic times was difficult, but working together was key and both teams were determined to achieve results," said Debra Eveland, business representative for OPEIU Local 39. "The union looks forward to continuing a working relationship with the company."