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Number Of Mergers Slows

ALEXANDRIA, Va.-Merger activity slumped to a five month low in January with NCUA approving just 18 mergers. Fifteen of those will eliminate a small CU of $5 million or less. The biggest mergers approved in January were: Sound CU, Tacoma, Wash. ($220 million) with Valley Community FCU, Auburn, Wash. ($16 million); Texoma Educators CU, Sherman, Texas ($45 million) with Pillsbury Denison FCU, Denison, Texas (6 million); Riverwood CU, Two Rivers, Wis. ($17 million) with Maritime CU, Manitowoc, Wis. ($7 million); and Credit Union Northwest, Seattle ($26 million) with Washington State Bar Association CU, Seattle ($6 million).

TX Bill Would Permit HELOCs

AUSTIN, Texas-Two bills introduced in the state legislature would allow credit unions and other lenders to join the 49 other states and offer home equity lines of credit, but only on a very limited basis.

The credit union lobby hopes to be ale to amend the bills, which would only allow proceeds from HELOCs to be used to fund private school tuition or for health care costs. Credit unions are working Texas Conference for Homeowners' Rights, which is headed by John Tippets, president of American Airlines FCU, to push the HELOC allowance, which allow homeowners to borrow against their home equity when they want. Texas voters approved an amendment to the state constitution in 1997 allowing lenders to make home equity loans, but the measure did not allow for HELOCs.

Locked Out Robber Locked Up

MILWAUKEE-An ill-fated bandit who locked his keys in the getaway car after robbing Landmark CU in nearby Sussex last August was sentenced to 97 months in prison last week. Lee Pham, 36, was captured soon after the robbery when a teller heard the car alarm and saw him frantically walking around his car. Pham pleaded guilty to bank robbery in connection with the case, as well as a separate hold-up last April at Continental Savings Bank.

Robber Dresses As Woman

ROCHESTER, N.Y.-A unarmed man in drag robbed the ESL FCU branch in the headquarters of its corporate sponsor, Eastman Kodak Co. The man, wearing a red wig and women's clothing, entered the building around 10 am and handed the teller a note demanding cash, then escaped with an undisclosed amount.

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