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Banks vs. CUs As Blood Sport

LANSING, Mich.-Local banks and credit unions are engaged here in a blood battle-literally. The American Red Cross has engaged the two financial competitors in its first annual "Invest to Save Lives: Banks versus Credit Unions Challenge" to see which type of institution will be able to outdo the other in collecting blood donations.

Each donor will be invited to vote for their favorite type of financial institution to determine the contest winner.

The blood drive is running through Dec. 31.

USE For Financial Literacy On Air

SAN DIEGO-Linda Baugham, president of USE CU, has taken her popular radio show on financial literacy worldwide.

"Money Matters With Linda B," which debuted on local radio station KOGO AM 600 last summer, is now available to anyone with Internet access on Thursday's mornings at 8 am PST at

Baugham's show discusses critical financial issues like surviving divorce or women and retirement, while the credit union CEO fields call-in questions from listeners or often interviews authors of popular financial books, including Dr. Lois Frankel, who wrote "Nice Girls Don't Get Rich," or Michelle Singletary, author of "The Seven Money Mantras For A Richer Life." Financial literacy programs such as Baugham's show have become one of the chief focuses of USE CU, according to Lori Klasch, spokesman for the $800 million credit union.

"We're hanging our hat on financial literacy.

That's our brand identity," she told The Credit Union Journal.

Kansas Ends Drought On New CUs

HUTCHINSON, Kan.-NCUA has approved federal deposit insurance for a new credit union here, Catholics United CU, which will serve three local Catholic churches.

The new credit union, the first chartered by the state in 10 years, has commitments from a handful of area credit unions to contribute non-member deposits, according to Jerel Wright, former state credit union supervisor and now chief lobbyist for the Kansas CU Association.

The potential membership for the new credit union is about 17,000. Wichita-based Communities United CU was the last credit union to obtain a state charter in 1995.

A Year-End Urge To Merge

ALEXANDRIA, Va.-Credit unions continued their traditional end-of-the-year move to complete mergers last month, with 30 combinations approved in November, following 35 in October, the highest monthly figure in 2005, NCUA said. Through the first 11 months of 2005 there were 290 CU mergers, on pace to top last year's 300 mergers.

The biggest mergers approved last month were: Addison Avenue FCU, Palo Alto, Calif. ($1.8 billion) with CH2M Hill FCU, Corvallis, Ore. ($25 million); THINK FCU, Rochester, Minn. ($1.8 billion) with Minnesota Mutual Companies CU, St. Paul ($20 million); Indiana Members CU, Indianapolis ($900 million) with Capital Plus CU, Indianapolis ($26 million); and Capital Community CU, Grand Rapids, Mich. ($225 million) with Citizens Choice FCU, Greenville, Mich. ($25 million).

Heroic CU Manager Nets Reward

EDINA, Minn.-The credit union manager who helped reel in the Fishing Hat Bandit got his reward after all.

The FBI presented Dean Wickstrom, president of Real Financial Center CU a $5,000 reward and a plaque commemorating Wickstrom's actions last January when he followed the serial bank robber out of his credit union and tracked him, facilitating his arrest shortly afterwards.

The FBI was reluctant to pay Wickstrom the bounty because employees are generally ineligible for rewards, but decided to do so because of the extraordinary bravery he showed in helping them capture the credit union bandit, an official told The Credit Union Journal.

Wickstrom, who called police on his cell phone while he pursued the robber, helped police bag John Whitrock, who confessed to almost 20 credit union robberies in the St. Paul area and was sentenced in September to 15 years in prison. (c) 2005 The Credit Union Journal and SourceMedia, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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