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Huge FOM Grant Creates 'Virtual' Community CU

HOUSTON-Shell Employees Houston FCU will become a virtual community charter without sacrificing its multiple groups-most of them tied to the energy industry-by virtue of an underserved field of membership approved by NCUA last month.

NCUA approved an application by the $300-million credit union to serve almost two million people in metropolitan Houston, defined as an underserved area, the largest underserved expansion ever granted by NCUA (also approved last year for PrimeWay FCU in Houston).

But while federal credit unions converting to community charters are required to give up their select groups, those adding underserved areas to their FOMs, even such large ones as the Shell Employees Houston FCU grant, may still retain their SEGs. Officials at the credit union did not return phone calls seeking comment.

Gov. Kulongoski Praises First Tech Payday Loan

BEAVERTON, Ore.-Gov. Ted Kulongoski applauded First Technology CU for being the first to introduce an alternative to high-cost payday loans.

FTCU created the $alary Advance Loan for members struggling with temporary budgeting problems because they are paid monthly rather than weekly or biweekly-the same consumers targeted by costly payday lenders.

Instead of charging a fee that would be equivalent to 400% to 500% as is found with most payday loans, the CU is offering 15% APR (with automatic deposit), charges no application fee, and offers free budgeting assistance.

"Too many Oregonians- including state employees-find themselves stretched thin between paychecks," Kulongoski said. "A major car or home repair bill can easily leave people without a good option for a short-term loan at a reasonable cost. I congratulate First Tech for stepping up with an alternative for its members, and I encourage other Oregon banks and credit unions to do the same."

Checking Program Benefits Camp

CHARLOTTE, N.C.-Charlotte Metro CU raised $13,000 for the Victory Junction Gang Camp, a summer camp for handicapped children.

The credit union pledged $10 for the camp for every checking account opened in the fall of 2003. Funds were also raised with raffles, bake sales, and other events.

PSECU Aids Children's Advocate

HARRISBURG, Pa.-More than 70 employees of Pennsylvania State Employees CU and their family and friends helped run a street fair to benefit PA CASA, the Pennsylvania Court Appointed Special Advocate for children. The credit union also sponsored the 2nd Annual PSECU Celebrity Race, a road race, for the benefit.

Prior to the race, Kathleen Salmon, chairman of the credit union, presented a $10,000 check to the charity.

WalkAmerica Raises CU Funds

LANSING, Mich.-Michigan credit unions raised more than $88,000 this year for the March of Dimes. Employees participated in events at 15 sites across the state, helping them top this year's fundraising goal by almost $4,000.

The funds were raised by pledges made by 350 credit union employees, and events held in conjunction with the annual fundraising.

Summit Information To Offer Voice Recognition Solution

CORVALLIS, Ore.-Summit Information Systems, a unit of Fiserv, said it has signed with Syntellect to provide its credit union customers with a speech-enabled interactive voice recognition solution.

The voice application uses natural language speech recognition and integrates with a variety of third-party host interfaces.

Credit unions that use Summit's Vista Credit Union Solution are able to offer their members a range of full-service options, including round-the-clock access to account information, a loan calculator, and can conduct member surveys and outbound calling campaigns.

New HQ Doubles Space For PCU

ASHWAUBENON, Wis.-Pioneer CU christened its new headquarters building Monday, a 40,000 square-foot, three-story facility that more than doubles the $200 million credit union's previous space.

The 77-year-old credit union provided members with refreshments and give-aways during Monday's grand opening celebration. The credit union was founded in 1927 to serve local postal employees.

Teller And Her Supervisor Looted Cash Drawers

SOUTH BARRE, Vt.-A former teller and her supervisor at United Community CU were charged with stealing $26,000 over the past three years to pay their bills.

The suspects, identified as Tanya Bryan, 33, a former teller, and Victoria Jewett, 33, her supervisor, allegedly took money out of the cash drawers and deposited into separate accounts they had.

The women were friends and discussed their schemes, but operated separately, police said. Both women have confessed to the scheme.

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