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Triton reopens evacuated facilities in Mississippi

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LONG BEACH, Miss. (9/5/08)--ATM manufacturer Triton Systems of Delaware Inc. reopened its administrative offices and factory Wednesday after evacuations related to Hurricane Gustav closed both facilities in Mississippi. County officials had ordered the evacuation, said Alicia Blanda, spokesperson (ATM&Debit News Sept. 4). Triton is based in Long Beach, Miss. Its manufacturing plant is located 10 miles away. Neither was damaged in the Category 2 hurricane. To prepare for the storm, Triton shipped two truckloads of ATMs to its Memphis, Tenn., facility. That facility was opened after Hurricane Katrina closed the Long Beach offices for two weeks. It serves as a warehouse, repair and training, and technical support center.

Georgia CU Affiliates announces Fall Symposium lineup

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DULUTH, Ga. (9/05/08)--Georgia Credit Union Affiliates (GCUA) has announced the program and speakers for its annual Fall Symposium, Oct. 8-10, at Hilton Head Island, S.C. The event is the first large conference produced through the partnership between GCUA and the Credit Union National Association (CUNA), which provides a series of educational programs to meet the training needs of credit union volunteers, staff and management. The program theme: “Get Smart. Get Focused. Get Real,” encompasses the everyday challenges credit unions face including growth, marketplace relevance, innovation and economic forces. "This year's conference is particularly important," says Mike Mercer, GCUA president/CEO. "With the economy in an unpredictable state and a very important election on the horizon, it’s time for our member credit unions to reconvene and discuss the potential impacts these and other events will have on financial institutions.” The speaker line-up for the symposium features:
* Jeff Post, CEO, CUNA Mutual Group; * Mark Adams, professional communicator; * David Colby, chief economist, CUNA Mutual Group; * Charles Commander (Chuck) Clay, former Georgia state senator and partner/attorney, Brock Clay law firm: * Marlo Foltz--director of blended learning, CUNA Center for Professional Development; * Lois Kitsch, national program manager of REAL Solutions, National Credit Union Foundation: * Albert Mensah, motivational speaker; * Joey Rudisill, vice president of information technology, First Tech CU; and * George Towle, partner, The Rochdale Group, Inc.
The symposium is open to member credit unions of GCUA. Online registration is available in on the GCUA website.

75 of Gustav-affected CUs fully operational

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MADISON, Wis. (9/5/08)--More than 75% of credit unions in the Gulf Coast states affected by Hurrican Gustav are operational, while the rest try to get back to normal. There were fewer losses than expected, but access to affected areas Thursday were still hampered by power outages and communications problems. The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) said that as of the close of business Thursday there were about 180 federal and state-chartered credit unions in affected areas and that more than 75% are fully operational. "Efforts to contact the remainder are hampered by power outages, which are making it difficult to ascertain the status of the others," John McKechnie, director, office of political and congressional affairs for NCUA, told News Now. For Mississippi, “this was a non-event in contrast to Hurricane Katrina [in 2005],” Charles Elliott, president/CEO of the Mississippi Credit Union Association, told News Now. “We do not have much damage. Some credit unions got some water and were sandbagging. There was minimal water and flooding. “Two Gulf Coast offices were not open Wednesday--mostly due to lack of staff, but they are open today,” he said Thursday. “We also had some branches that were not open Tuesday. We came out of this extremely well. We were prepared for the worst. So we feel fortunate.” While CUNA Mutual Group cannot provide specific names of credit unions that reported losses, due to confidentiality constraints, it did have an update on the aftermath of Gustav and what lies ahead, Phil Tschudy, CUNA Mutual media relations manager, told News Now. “We're still concerned for credit unions suffering from Hurricane Gustav, but the attention of CUNA Mutual’s property and casualty claims area now is also focused on Hanna and Ike,” Tschudy said. “Regarding Gustav, losses sustained by credit unions continue to be far less than we had expected. This doesn't mean some credit unions will not have challenges ahead of them, however.” Many New Orleans and Baton Rouge, La., area credit unions are not yet open due primarily to evacuation orders and/or power outages, he added. “Through information provided to us by the Louisiana league, and from New Orleans and area credit unions we've been able to reach, we believe that once people are allowed back, most credit unions should be fully operational once power is restored. “Our adjusters in the Baton Rouge area report that actual physical damage to buildings is not serious, but the lack of power, downed trees and sporadic communications in that area will continue to hamper recovery operations and prevent credit unions from opening. Authorities hope this situation will improve dramatically over the next few days,” Tschudy said. Credit union staff in three affected parishes in Louisiana--Terrebonne, Lafourche and St. Mary--will be able to fully assess damages on Monday and let the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) know if national fund-raising assistance is needed, Steve Bosack, NCUF deputy director, told News Now Thursday. The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) is monitoring the aftermath of Hurricane Gustav and is ready to respond, if necessary, with resources that include the following: CU Locate: the Credit Union National Emergency Information System provides credit union members with a toll-free number, 1-877-CULOCATE (877-285-6228), to receive information about the status of their credit union affected by a crisis. R.E.S.C.U.: the Relief Effort and Support for Credit Unions is the credit union movement's effort to prepare for and respond to large-scale natural and man-made emergencies and business interruptions. This resource includes Adopt-A-Credit Union. Also, CUNA Strategic Services offers disaster preparedness and recovery services through several alliance programs:
* Agility Recovery Solutions can provide a mobile recovery unit fully equipped with power, communications, computer equipment, and many other amenities within 48 hours of a disaster. * Strohl Systems offers PLANet, the industry’s only Internet-based business continuity planning tool designed to help credit unions meet NCUA and Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council regulations for business continuity and disaster recovery. * VoiceGard offers a comprehensive suite of services to restore telephone capabilities after a catastrophic system (PBX) failure or loss of facilities.
For more information, use the resource links.

Louisiana power outages impact CUs

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NEW ORLEANS and BATON ROUGE, La. (9/5/08)--Power outages in New Orleans, Baton Rouge and surrounding areas in Louisiana are affecting credit unions, as residents begin returning to the cities evacuated before Hurricane Gustav. The Louisiana Credit Union League announced it had rescheduled two educational programs because of the outages. The league has rescheduled two of its educational programs because of power outages in Baton Rouge and New Orleans. The FACT Act Identity Theft Red Flag Guidelines has been rescheduled for Sept. 22. Opening Share Accounts has been rescheduled for Oct. 9 and Oct 10. The league plans to send out an additional updates to those who registered for the programs. Many credit unions were serving their members through online transactions although some branches were closed, according to credit unions News Now contacted. It attempted to contact credit unions in Houma, New Orleans, and Baton Rouge. A branch of Denham Springs-based LA DOTD FCU in Baton Rouge had some wind damage and has no power, so it is closed, according to Cary Anderson, CEO, and Michele Merle Lacour, vice president of growth services. "We were operating Tuesday and Wednesday because we put in redundant systems," said Anderson. "We made sure we had everyone's addresses and contact information so we wouldn't lose anyone." LaCour explained that the credit union lost contact with one or two employees during Hurricane Rita. "This time we knew where everyone was." Anderson noted members from other credit unions started arriving at LA DOTD FCU's Service Center Wednesday. Some of their credit unions' systems were down, which meant the members--and the service center--couldn't access the accounts. "Ours was working because we are part of Harland Ultradata Service Bureau, which is based in Des Moines, Iowa," Anderson said. LaCour said the credit union was able to provide nonmember services such as check cashing, purchase of gift cards, and credit card advances. A lot of members have wind damage to roofs and trees down, they said. "Fifty percent of Baton Rouge should have power in about eight days, and the other half will get it in three to four weeks," Anderson said, adding that Lafourche Parish won't get power for six weeks. He noted that people planned better for this hurricane. "This week was the month-end, when we take a look at the shares. From Friday noon to Saturday closing time, members withdrew $1 million--that's more than they take out in a month," he said. LaCour noted the ATM out front had only $1,300 left before it was refilled Thursday. The Lake Charles office ran out of cash and had to have an emergency delivery, they said. Although Katrina is the bigger event for New Orleans, Gustav was the bigger event for Baton Rouge, said Lacour. They told News Now there has not been a lot of flooding, although the river was about to crest. Another Baton Rouge-based credit union, La Capitol FCU, is “doing fine,” CEO Susan Leake told News Now Thursday. The credit union’s northern Louisiana branches were open during the storm, but Southern Louisiana branches were not. Some of the branches were closed as of press time--such as those in Houma--because the city had not yet begun letting people back in. The credit union doesn’t expect any significant damages from the storm. Business was slow on Thursday. “I’m rather surprised,” Leake said. “We made a huge effort to open in Baton Rouge.” Staff and members at the Baton Rouge branch are “delighted” to be there because the credit union has electricity and air conditioning. Parts of Baton Rouge are without power, and it may be several weeks before it goes back on--which isn’t great when it’s 98 degrees, Leake noted. “We were hit very hard,” she said. Damage in Baton Rouge consists of downed trees and roof damage, but there were few deaths, she added. “We were very blessed.” The credit union’s branches that operated on Wednesday did so with “skeleton crews,” she said. La Capitol spent “a lot of time,” last week on its disaster recovery plan. The credit union reviews its plans before hurricane season every year, but made an effort to ensure the execution of it was completed by close of business on Friday. Some staff members grumbled because the storm wasn’t expected to hit until after Labor Day, but “I didn’t feel comfortable waiting until next week,” Leake said. “We have a lot less work after the storm.” The credit union also loaded its ATMs with cash before the storm, and the “activity was ahead of it,” she added. The status of many credit unions is still unknown. Communications is spotty or non-existent in some areas. According to information on credit unions’ websites:
* Campus FCU, Baton Rouge, was closed Thursday; * Coast Guard Employees CU, New Orleans, will not process loans until further notice. The credit union asked its members not to come to the credit union unless necessary. Coast Guard’s remote site is intact and will run on limited operations. The main office was expected to be open Thursday for a few hours to handle phone calls; * CUSA FCU, Covington, closed Thursday; * Michoud CU, New Orleans, was closed through Friday; * New Orleans Firemen’s CU opened the Picayune ranch Thursday and confirmed that other locations would open Friday if the buildings had water and electricity; * Noda CU, New Orleans, will be closed until Monday; and * University of New Orleans CU will re-open Monday.
Credit unions, like others in the area, are dealing with basics. According to LA DOT FCU's Anderson and Lacour, the big issue for residents is gas and ice. Anderson's wife was in line for two hours for five gallons of gas, he said. "The gas stations have gas but they don't have the power to pump it." The credit union has provided a credit union day care center for employees because schools are out this week. It is entertaining about five or six children with movies in the training room, and it paid them to help pick up the storm's debris out front. It's hot and sticky. Hot showers are nonexistent. But the credit union knows its focus. It is still "just trying to take care of our employees and our members," said Anderson.

CU in Alabama helps Gustav-displaced CU

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WETUMPKA, Ala. (9/5/08)--Alabama State Employees (ASE) CU, Wetumpka, Ala., opened its doors to help a Louisiana credit union whose disaster recovery plan for Hurricane Gustav needed a change.
Click to view larger image Staff members from ASI FCU, Harahan, La., served their members through two conference rooms and the CEO's office at Alabama State Employees CU, Wetumpka, Ala., this week after ASI's alternate locations for disaster recovery from Hurricane Gustav did not work out. (Photo provided by Alabama State Employees CU)
Mignhon Tourne, ASI CU CEO, told News Now that ASI decided to change the geographic location in its disaster recovery plan when it realized that its alternate location may be without power due to the direction Gustav was traveling. Harahan, La.-based ASI looked at relocating temporarily to Memphis, Tenn., or Montgomery, Ala. After researching ASE and realizing that its asset size was comparable to ASI’s, Tourne made the call to ASE’s CEO, Ned McHenry. “Ned answered the phone immediately and said ‘Come up here,’” Tourne said. McHenry told Tourne that the credit union had two conference rooms available for its staff to use. “I felt like we had something to help them out,” McHenry told News Now. ASI’s disaster recovery team traveled to Montgomery last weekend to set up. The information technology staff from ASI left for Montgomery ahead of everyone else, and set up Internet access and phone lines at the credit union on Monday. ASE was “absolutely great,” Tourne said. “ASE deserves a lot of recognition and thanks for the helping hand it extended.” “It was a good experience for us as it was for them,” McHenry said. Other ASI staff members stayed behind in Harahan until the credit union closed for business Saturday afternoon. Montgomery is about a four-hour drive from New Orleans, but the staffers who left later were caught in “bumper-to-bumper traffic” and made the drive in nine to 12 hours, Tourne said. About 21 ASI employees, their families and 12 pets made the trip. They stayed in a Montgomery hotel that “went out of its way” to help the credit union staff members. “They were fantastic,” Tourne said. Tourne was heading back to ASI in Harahan while talking to News Now Thursday, and said parts of New Orleans were without power. The credit union planned to restore service by Monday, she said.

2008 Missouri CU award winners named

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ST. LOUIS (9/5/08)--The Missouri Credit Union Association (MCUA) named the credit union winners in the state-level Dora Maxwell Social Responsibility, Louise Herring Philosophy in Action, and Desjardins Youth Financial Education awards. The awards recognize credit unions statewide for their efforts in activities to help their communities, members and young people. MCUA will recognize the winners during the first Missouri Credit Union Convention and Exposition, Sept. 16-19. First-place winners advance to the Credit Union National Association competition. The 2008 Missouri first-place award recipients for the Dora Maxwell Social Responsibility Award--include:
* Joplin (Mo.) Metro CU--$5 million to $20 million assets; * Raytown-Lee’s Summit Community CU, Raytown--$20 million to $50 million assets; * Central Missouri Community CU, Warrensburg--$50 million to $100 million assets; * Mid Missouri CU, Ft. Leonard Wood--$100 million to $200 million assets; * Mazuma CU, Kansas City--$200 million to $500 million assets; and * CommunityAmerica CU, Kansas City--Greater than $500 million.
Louise Herring Award for Philosophy in Action--first place:
* Raytown-Lee’s Summit Community CU--less than $50 million assets; * St. Louis Community CU--$50 million to $250 million assets; and * Vantage CU, Bridgeton--greater than $250 million.
Desjardins Youth Financial Education Award--first place:
* Raytown-Lee’s Summit Community CU--$35 million to $75 million assets; * Gateway Metro FCU, St. Louis--$75 million to $250 million; and * Vantage CU--greater than $250 million.

ICNNMoneyI Overdraft problems fade after switch to CUs

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NEW YORK (9/5/08) staff writer Jessica Dickler says her readers are outraged about overdraft fees. But, she added, a number of readers with overdraft fee problems at banks said their problems disappeared after they switched to a credit union. "Many readers said that their overdraft fee problems went away when they moved their money over to the local credit union," wrote Dickler in "Overdraft outrage: You weigh in," posted Wednesday. She quoted "Hunter" of Brunswick, Maine, who said, "This is one of the reasons I have stopped doing business with banks. All of my accounts are in credit unions. I have found you get better service and very low or no fees on most of the things banks charge big bucks for." Readers criticized the way overdraft fees are calculated. Many have learned the hard way that banks debit checks or charges from largest check to smallest, not from the dates of the checks, said Dickler. As a result, consumers may pay more overdraft fees. In the article, the American Bankers Association encouraged disgruntled customers to switch banks, saying that it was the strongest way to let a bank know how one feels about its policies.

CU System briefs (09/04/2008)

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* GREENSBORO, N.C. (9/5/08)--The Carolinas Credit Union Foundation (CCUF) is awarding a $10,000 Micro Community Grant to HORSEPOWER Inc. to renovate the agency's barn. HORSEPOWER uses horses to work with individuals with disabilities in a program of therapeutic, educational and recreational value. The program benefits individuals who are mentally, physically, emotionally and/or socially challenged. HORSEPOWER also received a Micro Community Grant in 2006. The grants allow credit unions in North and South Carolina to partner with local nonprofit agencies to bring benefit to the community. The North Piedmont Chapter of Credit Unions helped with the proposal. "Credit unions care about the communities that they operate in, and HORSEPOWER is an agency that all the credit unions in the chapter enthusiastically support," said CCUF President/CEO John Slack (Weekly Update Sept. 4) … * DUBLIN, Ohio (9/5/08)--The Ohio Credit Union League has signed a 10-year lease for its new quarters in downtown Columbus. League President Paul Mercer signed the lease for more than 9,000 square feet on the 11th floor of the One Columbus building at 10 West Broad St. The building, currently under construction, will overlook the Ohio Statehouse and provide convenient access to elected officials, media outlets and regulators, says the league. The league will move to an interim office in early October for a few weeks (eLumination Newsletter Aug. 27) … * FRISCO, Texas (9/5/08)--Texans CU and Frisco Independent School District have partnered to open a student-run credit union branch at the Career and Technology Center in the district. Led by a Texans' operation manager, four students will earn CO-OP credit by working in the credit union throughout the school year. Texans says it is the first credit union in the area to open this type of branch. From left are Dara Stork, Texans CU student employee, Wakeland High School; Yvette Marquez, McDermott Branch operations manager; and Breandrea Adevereaux, Texans CU student employee at Wakeland. (Photo provided by Texans CU) … * SALT LAKE CITY (9/5/08) --Mountain America CU's board of directors has named Sterling W. Nielsen as president/CEO of the $3 billion asset credit union. Nielsen will take the reins from Gordon R. Dames, who will retire on Dec. 31 after 16 year leading the Salt Lake City-based credit union. Nielsen joined Mountain America in 1995. Prior to his appointment, he served as executive vice president, chief administrative officer. Floyd Tanner, chairman of Mountain America's board, made the announcement … * MICHIGAN CENTER, Mich. (9/5/08)--Terry L. Brandt, 56, was convicted Wednesday of embezzling $226,170 from Michigan Center-based Cascades CU while he was chief financial officer and treasurer of the credit union. According to court records, Brandt wired money from the credit union's general account to his personal trading accounts at least nine times between October 2006 and January 2008. He faces up to 20 years in prison. Sentencing has been set for Oct. 9 ( Sept. 3) …