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CU System briefs (07/14/2014)

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  • BOISE, Idaho (7/14/14)-- Will Hall, government affairs officer for the Idaho Credit Union League, has been promoted to vice president of the league and of League Services Inc. ( Gem July 2). Hall will continue in his role as government affairs officer and as the league's main lobbyist but will also be more involved in the administration, operations and strategic planning for the two organizations ...
     
  • GREENEVILLE, Tenn. (7/14/14)-- A former employee of Knoxville (Tenn.) TVA Employees CU was sentenced last week on charges of allegedly embezzling $420,000 from the credit union. U.S. District Judge J. Ronnie Greer sentenced 41-year-old Tamra Vance Robinson to 33 months in federal prison, three years of supervised release and restitution of $420,000. Robinson pleaded guilty in March to grand jury charges. According to a Department of Justice release, between 1998 and 2011, Robinson allegedly embezzled funds from the $1.3 billion-asset credit union by creating a fictitious teller drawer to conceal cash withdrawals, manipulating the coin and currency receipt and disbursement records, and falsifying entries for the vault, teller ledgers, teller drawers and ATM. According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Helen Smith, an investigation into the embezzlement never located the stolen funds ( Kingsport Times-News July 11) ...
  • COLUMBUS, Ohio (7/14/14)-- Bob Johnson, a former Ohio Credit Union League field staff liaison, died July 6 . He was 83. Johnson worked for the league for 16 years, retiring in 1993 ( eLumination July 9) ...

Ala. CUs join nationwide 'Bank on' campaign for unbanked

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MOBILE, Ala. (7/14/14)--Four Alabama credit unions have joined a national campaign to help consumers become more financially independent.
 
In south Alabama, the Bank On initiative includes more than 20 credit unions and banks that offer financial services at lower costs to the community ( al.com July 11).
 
Among the Alabama credit unions participating in the program:
  • Army Aviation Center FCU, Daleville, with $1.1 billion in assets;
  • Azalea City CU, Mobile, with $19 million in assets;
  • McIntosh (Ala.) Chemical FCU, with $22 million in assets; and
  • New Horizons CU, Mobile, with $208 million in assets.
Individuals who have had accounts closed because of past financial troubles or bounced checks more than six months ago may be eligible for the program. Participating financial institutions offer free checking and/or second chance accounts.
 
Since the first Bank On program was launched in San Francisco in 2006, this model of financial access has been refined, replicated and identified as a leading strategy for state and local officials across the United States to bring unbanked and underbanked consumers into the financial mainstream.
 
Bank On programs negotiate with credit unions and banks in local communities to reduce barriers to banking and increase access to the financial mainstream. Typically led by local government or state public officials, Bank On programs are voluntary, public/private partnerships between local or state government, financial institutions and community-based organizations that provide low-income, un- and underbanked people with free or low-cost starter or second-chance bank accounts and access to financial education.
 
Bank On Oregon is also sending a "shout out" for support from local financial institutions. "We need the participation of credit unions to make this effort a success," David Tatman, administrator of the Division of Finance and Corporate Securities, a division of the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services, told the Northwest Credit Union Association ( Anthem July 11). "We want to ensure there are a variety of safe and affordable products available on the Bank On Oregon website to fit the needs of Oregonians."

Credit unions from Dubuque, Iowa, Baton Rouge, La., California and Idaho are among the many that are participating in the Bank On program.

Corbett signs lien legislation protecting Pa. CUs

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (7/14/14)--Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett last week signed into law a bill intended to protect homeowners from unfair mechanics' liens and eliminates mechanics' lien rights for subcontractors.
 
The legislation, known as Act 117, addresses concerns from a Pennsylvania Superior Court opinion that held a credit union's open-end mortgage was subordinate to a mechanics' lien, the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (PCUA) reported ( Life is a Highway July 11).

Act 117 remedies this problem for credit unions in two ways: 
  • It amends the open-end mortgage statute to specifically allow proceeds to be used to fund soft costs, such as title insurance, transfer taxes, legal fees, engineering fees, accounting fees, architectural fees and management fees.
  • Open-end mortgages will receive priority over a mechanics' lien only if more than 60% of the proceeds of the loan secured by the open-end mortgage are used to fund hard or soft construction costs.
"The association would like to thank bill sponsor Sen. Kim Ward (D-39), House companion bill sponsor Rep. Sheryl Delozier (R-Camp Hill) and Gov. Tom Corbett for their leadership on behalf of credit unions and consumers," said Patrick Conway, PCUA president. "Act 117 will ensure consumers aren't penalized from unscrupulous contractors while protecting Pennsylvania credit unions with respect to their lien priority for construction loans."
 
The act will go into effect in 60 days.

Inaugural leg. intern reality fair a success in Mass.

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BOSTON (7/14/14)--Massachusetts House of Representatives and Senate legislative interns participated in their first reality fair Thursday.
 
The Scholars and Cents program was sponsored by the City of Boston CU, with $321 million in assets; Mass Bay CU, with $201 million in assets, South Boston; and Metro CU, Chelsea, Mass, with $1.3 billion in assets, the Massachusetts Credit Union League reported ( Daily CU Scan July 11). 
 
Click to view larger image Dan Picard, special accounts manager, City of Boston CU, addresses participants of the reality fair. (Massachusetts Credit Union League Photo)
Almost 90 students sponsored by 20 senators and 30 representatives gained valuable insight into financial challenges they will face as they emerge from their academic careers to life on their own.  The participating students are enrolled in high school, college and graduate school and have chosen to volunteer in the public sector at the State House.  In addition to local students, attendees were also from Korea, England and Ireland.  The summer legislative intern series incorporates more than 60 programming segments to benefit the students.
 
Student reactions to their spending and savings habits included, "I'm terrible about money," "I shop too much," and "I can budget for large but not small day-to-day items."  One student commented, "I had no credit and therefore could get no credit."  Another said borrowing is "simply money to repay."
 
By the end of the program, students openly acknowledged that "food is expensive," that they "needed to read the fine print before accessing credit," and that "retirement is important and needs lots of money."
 
The daylong program integrated traditional educational exercises with a special identity theft presentation by Patricia Hamilton, director, Public Inquiry and Assistance Center, Massachusetts Attorney General's Office. 
 
The participating credit unions sought to complement their current financial education efforts during the school year by expanding their work into the summer.

Coast Central donation means new wheels for food pantry

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EUREKA, Calif. (7/14/14)--Coast Central CU, Eureka, Calif., with $1 billion in assets, recently donated $25,000 to the organization Food for People, which operates hunger relief programs throughout Humboldt County.

Food for People, which fights for hunger relief in Humboldt County, received a new set of wheels to deliver food, thanks to a $25,000 donation from Coast Central CU. (Coast Central CU Photo)
The donation helped purchase a cargo van that replaced an aging vehicle the organization used to collect food from grocery stores and farmers' markets, and deliver it to food banks and families in need.

"It is such a relief to have a reliable, high-capacity van that will met our needs now and into the future," said Anne Holcomb, Food for People executive director. "We appreciate the opportunity to partner with CCCU and the many businesses and farmers who donated over a half a million pounds of food last year in support of our programs."

Holcomb said the food the organization collected last year reached about 12,000 children, families and seniors throughout the county each month.

With the old van, the organization collected about 510,000 pounds of food, which accounts for about one-quarter of all the food distributed by Food for People.

Spokane CUs raise $159K for CUs for Kids

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SEATAC, Wash. (7/14/14)--The Spokane (Wash.) Chapter of the Northwest Credit Union League celebrated a milestone $159,290 raised for Children's Miracle Network Hospitals last year ( Anthem July 8).
 
The Spokane Chapter noted the exceptional work of Spokane Teachers CU (STCU), Liberty Lake, with $1.9 billion in assets, which raised the highest amount by a single credit union at $56,002.78; and Amicus FCU, Spokane, with $11 million in assets, which reported the highest amount raised per member at $2.82.
 
Top fundraisers by asset size were Amicus FCU; Spokane City CU, Spokane, with $34 million in assets; United Health Services CU, Spokane, with $101 million in assets; and STCU.
 
Other credit unions highlighted at the event included Progressions CU, Spokane, with $54 million in assets; Cheney FCU, with $87 million in assets; Spokane Media FCU, with $10 million in assets; Coulee Dam FCU, with $110 million in assets; Horizon CU, Spokane Valley, with $601 million in assets; PrimeSource CU, Spokane, with $54 million in assets; Spokane FCU, with $131 million in assets; Avista Corp. CU, Spokane, with $54 million in assets; Global CU, Spokane, with $367 million in assets; Numerica CU, Spokane Valley, with $1.3 billion in assets; Safeway FCU, Spokane, with $54 million in assets; and Washington State Employees CU, Olympia, with $2 billion in assets.
 
The Northwest Credit Union Association's Heroes of Hope dinner and auction to benefit Credit Unions for Kids will be Oct. 8 in Spokane.

CU's new HQ: High-tech, high-touch, no corner office

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BRIGHTON, Mich. (7/14/14)--Anyone who walks through the doors of Lake Trust CU's new headquarters once it opens next year may mistake their surroundings for the offices of Facebook or Google.

But while the $1.6 billion-asset, Brighton, Mich.-based credit union is sticking to financial services--as opposed to social networks or search engines--the organization hopes the unique, open workspace environment it has incorporated into the design will stir up the same type of innovation and collaboration that's often found in Silicon Valley.  

"(It's) the kind of organization that we are; we strongly believe in innovation and collaboration, and all of those things truly benefit our members," Danielle Brehmer, Lake Trust vice president of strategic innovation, marketing and public affairs, told News Now . "Having this really open environment, where not even the CEO has an office, we can integrate the different lines of business."

That's right: David Snodgrass, Lake Trust president/CEO, will sit at a work station in the middle of all other employees.

"I don't have an office," Snodgrass told the Lansing State Journal last week.

Brehmer told News Now that Lake Trust staff toured offices like Facebook and Google, as well as local businesses in Michigan, to flesh out the design for the new headquarters.

The building will replace the credit union's current Lansing and Plymouth facilities that are aging and expensive to maintain. The new headquarters also will enable Lake Trust to better serve its expanded field of membership after the 2010 merger of NuUnion CU and Detroit Edison CU.

In addition to open work spaces, the resultant $30 million building will house 350 employees and include a fitness center, cafeteria, walking trail on the perimeter of the property and community rooms.

The 100,000-square-foot facility also will be LEED certified, meaning it will meet the most current sustainable building design standards.

"You can't call yourself innovative if you're not thinking about sustainability and long-term impacts," Brehmer told News Now . "Look at the way of the world, that's who consumers are today."

The building is expected to be completed by October 2015.

American dream: 'I can make it, it's tougher for others, says Credit.com

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SAN FRANCISCO (7/14/14)--A financially secure retirement and freedom from debt are more representative of the American dream than the house with a white picket fence, according to the 2014 Credit.com American Dream Survey.

Thirty-six percent of respondents said retiring at 65--and being financially secure when they do so--is the ultimate American dream. A quarter said getting out of debt was their goal.

Though the majority of respondents were optimistic about their ability to reach their vision of the American dream--16% said they've hit their goal and another 50% say it's within their reach--nearly 70% say they don't believe "other people" will be able to achieve their own version of the American dream.

Credit.com reported that this is the second year that people are more optimistic about their own future than that of others. The survey polled 1,094 U.S. consumers age 18 and older.

"The American dream appears to now be about getting out of debt and getting to retirement age with a sense of financial security," said Adam Levin, credit.com co-founder/chairman. "And the sense is that the next generation will find it even harder to get there."

Other definitions of the American dream are owning a home (17%), joining the "1 percent," (5%), graduating from college (3%) and paying off student loans (2%).

The definition shifts with age, however. For those 18 to 29 years old, owning a home was the most popular definition at 22%, followed closely by retirement under financially secure circumstances (20%) and living debt free (19%).

The debt-free goal is a challenge for those with student loan debt.  Nearly one-third of those who carry outstanding student‚Äč loans were most likely to say it was not very or not at all likely that they would be debt-free in their lifetimes.