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CU System Archive

CU System

CU shopping center deal prevents eminent domain

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OXNARD, Calif. (8/5/10)--A Camarillo, Calif.-based credit union has reached an agreement with property owners of a shopping center over its lease, thus averting an eminent domain action by Oxnard city officials, according to Ventura County Star (Aug. 3). The agreement between Pacific Oaks FCU and the new owners of the Carriage Square shopping center, where it has a branch, means the credit union will move to another location in the center. Upside Oxnard, the new owners, plan to furbish the mostly vacant, boarded-up shops and build a Lowe's home improvement center as an anchor store to attract more businesses. The plans call for demolishing most of the older structures, including the building occupied by the credit union. Pacific Oaks FCU and the shopping center had been negotiating a relocation deal, but the deal collapsed earlier this summer and affected the progress on the renovation. The City Council, saying the renovation is crucial to generating sales tax revenue, considered taking over the credit union's lease under the eminent domain law, where a government agency can force property owners or businesses to sell property at fair market value to make way for projects deemed necessary for the public good. However, Mayor Tom Holden convinced the council to drop the eminent domain proposal since the two parties were close enough to iron out an agreement without the city's involvement, the Star said. An editorial in the Pacific Coast Business Times Monday urged to the city not to use eminent domain, saying it was "a harsh way to treat a financial institution that's an important part of the lifeblood of the region's largest city." It urged the city, the shoppimg center owners and the credit union to work out a deal. Shane Saunders, vice president of marketing at the $270 million asset credit union, told the Star that the parties came to a mutually agreeable accord. Everyone is happy and looking forward to the new center and new Lowe's, Saunders added.

Detroit man found guilty in guards murder at CU

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DETROIT (8/5/10)--A Detroit man was found guilty Tuesday in a U.S. District Court for the murder of an armored-truck guard who was shot to death during a heist at a credit union's ATM in 2001. Timothy Dennis O'Reilly, 36, faces the rare death penalty for the murder of Norman "Anthony" Stephens during the Dec. 14, 2001, robbery at the Dearborn FCU. The penalty phase of the case begins Monday. It will determine whether he is executed or receives the mandatory minimum life sentence in prison with no possibility of parole. The jury deliberated for several hours before returning the verdict, which ended an 11-day trail. O'Reilly and five other men robbed the truck, which was delivering money to the credit union's ATM during the early morning hours, and escaped with $204,000 in cash. O'Reilly was found guilty of conspiring between June 2000 and December 2001 with six other men to rob the credit union; of robbing the armored truck and killing Stephens; and of murder with a firearm during a violent crime. He also was convicted of a June 2003 robbery at a Comerica Bank location. Michigan banned capital punishment in 1847, but courts can impose the death penalty for federal capital crimes such as a murder during a bank robbery.

NCSL Kentucky league CUNA attract legions of legislators

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (8/5/10)--Events hosted by the Kentucky Credit Union League and the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) attracted multitudes of legislators attending the 2010 Legislative Summit of the National Conference of State Legislators (NCSL). Many met a football legend who got his gridiron start in Louisville.
Click to view larger image Idaho State Sen. Denton Darrington, right, enjoys meeting football great Paul Hornung at an appearance sponsored by the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) and the Kentucky Credit Union League at the National Conference of State Legislators' Legislative Summit in Louisville, Ky. (Photo provided by CUNA)
The summit is the largest annual gathering of state lawmakers in the nation. There, legislators study current issues, promulgate policy for advocacy for the NCSL in interfacing with the federal government, and meet with constituents and representatives of trade associations, businesses and other organizations. CUNA's annual booth at the conference provides "a forum for lawmakers to obtain information about credit unions and meet with league representatives and CUNA in an informal setting," said Chris Johnson, CUNA vice president of state governmental affairs. At this year's conference, state credit union leagues and associations from Georgia, Virginia, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Texas, New Mexico, Utah and Idaho greeted their state legislators at the booth. Legislators flocked to the booth in record numbers for special events coordinated by Debbie Painter, director of public affairs and government relations at the Kentucky league and Lynn Coard, director of state advocacy for CUNA. Two events sponsored by the league--the serving of Kentucky standards mint juleps and bourbon balls--were well attended. Another popular event, sponsored by CUNA and the league, was the appearance at the booth of Paul Hornung, Heisman Trophy winner at the University of Notre Dame and two-time NFL Most Valuable Player as a member of the Green Bay Packers. Among those who arrrived at the booth to meet Hornung was NCSL President Don Balfour, a state senator from Georgia. "Attending and participating in the NCSL's annual meeting is a vital part of the advocacy program of the Kentucky Credit Union League," said league President/CEO Wendell Lyons. "We have found that getting together with our state's legislators at a league-sponsored breakfast, visiting with them at the booth, and attending special events with them at the booth engenders a very positive impression of credit unions among our legislators," he added. "I think they are impressed by the effort that the leagues and CUNA make to welcome them during an occasion when they are away from the hectic environment of their state capitols." John Graham, president/CEO of Kentucky Employees CU and a member of CUNA's Board of Directors was a first-time volunteer at the CUNA booth. "I was impressed by the creativity and energy that the state league volunteers and CUNA staff brought to the events at the booth. Equally impressive was the response of the state legislators who came to the events," Graham said. "This type of informal interaction between credit union representatives and state legislators creates invaluable goodwill with the legislators."

Belvoir FCU to close student branches

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WOODBRIDGE, Va. (8/5/10)--Belvoir FCU is planning to close in-school branches at four Woodbridge schools so it can divert resources to serving an influx of employees at Fort Belvoir, Va. The $268.8-million-asset credit union said it is ending partnerships with branches at Woodbridge and Gar-Field high schools, and Woodbridge and Godwin middle schools. Fort Belvoir is expected to grow by 20,000 employees because of the Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) recommendations of 2005, and the credit union would be responsible for serving those individuals’ and families’ needs, said The News and Messenger (Aug. 4). Belvoir FCU had to realign resources to support the new BRAC families but will remain committed to supporting the schools. The credit union will not have a physical presence at the schools, but will participate in back-to-school nights and other events, said Bonnie Andresakes, community relations and education office, in a press release the newspaper cited. Those who were served by the school branches can remain members, and students, parents and staff at the schools can still join. Belvoir first began partnering with the schools about five years ago. It also has a branch in Fort Belvoir Elementary School.

Velocity CU video Banks schmank consumers

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AUSTIN, Texas (8/5/10)--Have you been “schmanked” by a bank lately? According to an ad campaign by Velocity CU, Austin, Texas, “schmank” means: “Any irresponsible and/or devious action taken by a bank with the intention of fleecing its customers: My bank schmanked me with multiple fees for things that weren’t my fault." The humorous ads on website www.bankschmank.com ask people several questions about banks:
* What frustrates you about banks? * What do you want to say to banks? * What word best describes banks? * Have you been schmanked?
“We’re not bashing big banks,” Carol Cain, senior vice president, marketing and business development for the $515 million-asset Velocity, told News Now. “We were getting annoyed because banks were in the news for not making loans and because of all their problems. But there was nothing about credit unions and their solutions. So we created a way to educate people and differentiate credit unions from banks.” Velocity had used the headline “BankSchmank” on billboards since 2009, before it created the microsite www.bankschmank.com in April. “We wanted a dynamic format that easily changes,” Cain said about the decision to use the Internet. “Also, the website channel would appeal to a younger audience of adults ages 21 to 34, and that is what the website is geared to. We promoted it via our Facebook page, and also supported it with some traditional media such as billboards and a few small print ads in alternative newspapers, including The Onion and The Austin Chronicle.” The unscripted ads were made in-house with a flip-video camera and featured actual members, members to-be and people who were just upset with banks, Cain said. The credit union got some creative help with the design of its microsite, she added. The response so far has been great, Cain said, noting that the credit union has seen 4,500 unique visitors to its microsite, and a 13% click-through rate to the credit union website. “Anything above 10% is good,” Cain added. Perhaps most noteworthy is that Velocity has experienced a 3% increase in active checking accounts since the launch. “That is one goal for our tangible results,” Cain said. Incidentally, Cain said that when that credit union’s employees are out and about and say they’re with Velocity CU, people will respond, “Are you the BankSchmank?” To visit the Velocity microsite and view the ads, use the link.

Two women charged in 2.4M fraud at defunct CU

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CHARLESTON, W. Va. (8/5/10)--Two former employees have been charged for their alleged roles in defrauding a now-defunct credit union in Bluefield, W.Va. Rebecca Poe, 35, former assistant manager, and Pamela Mullins, 46, former teller, were charged with defrauding N&W Poca Division CU out of $2.4 million. A federal grand jury in Beckley, W.Va., returned an indictment against Poe, which alleges that she took money union from 2003 to August 2008. Poe allegedly made fake deposits into her account and the accounts of family members. She used the funds for personal expenses, said the indictment (Bluefield Daily Telegraph Aug 4). Mullins originally was named as an aider and abettor in the indictment but not as a defendant. On Tuesday, she was charged with fraud, and an information was filed alleging she engaged in conduct similar to Poe’s, the newspaper said. If convicted, each woman could face up to 30 years in prison, a $4.8 million fine and an order of restitution. The National Credit Union Administration liquidated N&W on Oct. 3, 2008. At the time of liquidation, the credit union had 1,194 members and $6 million in assets. N&W served employees of the Norfolk and Western Railway System in West Virginia and Virginia.

A-K Valley FCU merges with Clearview FCU

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MOON TOWNSHIP, Pa. (8/5/10)--Clearview FCU, Moon Township, Pa., announced the merger between A-K Valley FCU, Lower Burrell, Pa., and Clearview was finalized Saturday. All of A-K Valley FCU’s nearly 11,000 members automatically became members of Clearview (Life is a Highway Aug. 4). Clearview will maintain A-K Valley’s four branches in Allegheny and Westmoreland Counties, bringing Clearview’s total branches to 17 in Southwestern Pennsylvania. A-K Valley’s branches will continue to be staffed by the same employees who have served their members for years. “This was a great merger and will continue to be a solid partnership between two very strong credit unions that have similar services and philosophies,” Clearview President/CEO Mark Brennan told the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association. Clearview FCU has $629 million in assets.

Focus groups point out positive presence of Maine CUs

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WESTBROOK, Maine (8/5/10)--Credit unions are an example of “buying local,” while using a bank is generally not the case, according to Maine consumers. In recent focus groups held in Bangor and Portland, conducted by Maine-based research firm, Market Decisions, the attitudes, perceptions and beliefs held by consumers toward credit unions are positive compared with other financial institutions, said the Maine Credit Union League, according to the Maine league newsletter Weekly Update (July 30). State consumers in the focus groups compared ads by credit unions and other financial institutions. The study found that advertisements by credit unions were well-received and viewed as “honest, informative and creative.” In discussing how the ads made them feel about credit unions, consumers used words like “friendly” and “stable.” They also viewed credit unions as more personable than banks, offering better interest rates, more involved in their communities and more concerned about their members. “Judging by the comments from consumers, the message is getting heard and being received--credit unions are a great option for financial services,” said John Murphy, president of the Maine Credit Union League. The research provides messages that the league’s upcoming Awareness Campaign can build upon. Key points that still need to be reinforced with consumers are the convenience and sophistication of credit unions--including online services, advanced technology such as mobile banking, and the state and nationwide ATM and Shared Branching networks, the league said.

CU System briefs (08/04/2010)

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* SAN JOSE, Calif. (8/5/10)--A shuttle bus driver is accused of robbing Provident CU, Redwood City, Calif., on July 20, according to The San Jose Mercury News (Aug. 3). Shelly Denise Jones, 34, allegedly parked her bus near the credit union, walked inside the branch with a gun, and took about $3,000 in cash before driving off in the shuttle. She was arrested while on the job July 30 after police received an anonymous tip. Jones also is accused of committing two other heists. She was charged Monday with one count of robbery with a handgun ... * SAN MATEO, Calif. (8/5/10)--San Mateo (Calif.) CU (SMCU) has seen increasing success of its Refer-a-Friend program. Every time a referral to SMCU results in a new membership, the credit union donates 20 meals to the Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara and San Mateo County. This quarter, the program exceeded expectations, said the $600 million asset credit union. Due to members’ involvement, 141 referrals were converted into memberships, resulting in a contribution of 2,820 meals to the food bank--more than doubling the number of lunches donated in the first quarter. Refer-a-Friend was started in June 2009. In one year, 5,180 meals have been donated ... * ST. LOUIS (8/5/10)--Rob Cartwright, 25, of Barnhart, Mo., is the
Click to view larger image Click for larger view
winner of Vantage CU's search for its first Young & Free St. Louis spokesperson. Cartwright, one of 36 applicants for the Gen Y spokesperson job, learned he had the position at a surprise party in his honor Friday night. He will become a salaried employee of the credit union for one year and serve as the voice of his age group, attending events and creating regular online videos and blog articles to keep YoungFreeSt.Louis.com an informative hub for the age 25 and under crowd. Runners up Jon Christopher of O'Fallon and Rebekah Nelson of Clayton will each receive an iPod Touch. Vantage, based in St. Louis, has more than $650 million in assets. (Photo provided by Vantage CU) ... * AUSTIN, Texas (8/5/10)--A+ FCU hosted its first annual Youth Financial Camp July 13-15 for 75 children ages 10-14. On Day One, they learned about financial goals, entrepreneurial qualities, and the value of career and education, and participated in a business proposal challenge to invent a product and market it to a panel of judges. On Day Two, campers learned about saving and investing, and played a stock market board game. On Day Three, after breakouts on car buying and credit, campers participated in a real-world simulation of living on a budget. One camper told her parents: "I never knew how difficult it was for you and Dad to really budget. I ask you for so many things we don't need and that aren't necessary." The credit union worked with volunteers from Cornerstone Financial Education and the Financial Literacy Coalition in Central Texas on the event. Here, parents and campers attend the awards ceremony at the conclusion of camp. A+ FCU has more than $780 million in assets. (Photo provided by A+ FCU) ... * MARSHALL, Mich. (8/5/10)--The Marshall (Mich.) Community CU board has appointed Heather Luciani as the credit union's new CEO, after a five-month search and reviewing more than 100 candidates (Michigan Monitor Aug. 2). Luciani, who is pursuing her MBA at Western Michigan University, completed CUNA Management School at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2006, and received her Certified Credit Union Executive and Certified Financial Services Professional designations in 2009. She is active in the credit union industry through her involvement with the Michigan Credit Union League, serving on its Government and Political Affairs Forum, the Future Leaders Council and the Battle Creek Chapter of Credit Unions executive committee. Marshall Community CU has more than $157 million in assets ...