Members in the News

Fire at STCU Construction Site Deemed ‘Suspicious’

An early morning fire on Aug. 7 will not delay the scheduled November opening of Spokane Teachers Credit Union’s (STCU’s) Moran Prairie Branch, credit union officials believe.

Walker Construction had been ahead of schedule for the branch at 5711 S. Hailee Lane. So while the fire will cause a delay, the November opening is still likely, according to Community Relations Manager Traci McGlathery.

Spokane County Fire District 8 responded quickly to the fire about 4:30 a.m. The work of human and canine investigators led to the conclusion that the fire may have been set intentionally.

While the investigation is not yet complete, “there is strong reason to believe that the fire is suspicious,” said Bill Walkup, chief of Spokane County Fire District 8. He asked anyone with information about the fire to call District 8 at 509.926.6699.

As part of their investigation, fire officials brought in Mako, Spokane Valley Fire Department’s Labrador retriever. Mako, who joined the fire department in 2010, is trained to sniff out accelerants at fire scenes.

“It’s remarkable that the building was not more heavily damaged,” saids McGlathery, who credited the quick response of firefighters, who were prompted by alert citizens. “We’re grateful to them, and to everyone who saw the fire and called 911.”

No one was injured in the blaze. Walker Construction is insured for fire damages, McGlathery said.

STCU broke ground on June 25 at the site on 57th Avenue, not far from the Palouse Highway. Designed by Nystrom+Olson Architecture, the 4,096-square-foot building will be the credit union’s 16th branch in Eastern Washington and North Idaho.

When fully staffed, the branch will have a manager, assistant manager and the equivalent of eight other full-time employees. With more than 10,500 vehicle trips a day, 57th Avenue is one of the South Hill’s busiest arterials. The nearby Palouse Highway accommodates more than 4,500 vehicle trips a day.

Kitsap Credit Union CEO Stands Out in Support of United Way

Kitsap CEO Stands OutHundreds of commuters showed their support with cheers and honks as Kitsap Credit Union CEO Elliot Gregg took the stand on a 25-foot billboard overlooking Highway 3 in support of United Way of Kitsap County on Friday, Aug. 17.

Kitsap employees have a long history of supporting local charitable organizations. In this latest effort, Gregg agreed to spend one minute on a billboard for every pledge made. Within a short period of time, employees rallied with an overwhelming response of 180 pledges, raising more than $20,000.

Gregg felt honored to take the three hour-stand on what was arguably the hottest day of 2012.

“The [KCU] board and employees are the real driving force behind much of our community involvement,” Greg said. “It’s their passion and personal involvement that has brought me here today. It’s a privilege to be able to represent them.”

Maps Credit Union Launches Inaugural Community Challenge Award

Maps Credit Union will award $2,000 to someone who can help solve the problem of teen homelessness in Marion County.

“Teen homelessness isn’t something you see all the time,” said Maps’ Community Development Officer Mitzi Smith, “but it is there. Marion County has one of the highest populations of homeless and runaway teens in the state.”

The Maps Community Foundation is a 501(c)3 charitable organization that was founded to bring together all of the credit union’s philanthropic efforts and place an additional focus on asset-building initiatives and financial education opportunities within our community. It is funded mainly through the credit union’s Free Community Checking Account, staff donations and fundraisers, and member donations.

All Maps members who have a Free Community Checking account benefit from a free checking product, but what sets the account apart from other checking accounts is the direct connection to the community. In a recent move to simplify the way Free Community Checking donations are made, the credit union began donating one penny each time a member uses the debit card attached to that account to make a purchase in a brick-and-mortar store or online. Jill Nowacki, vice president of development at the credit union, was excited to roll out this change at the beginning of July.

“Free Community Checking is such as great product, but we have had a hard time showing members how their activity directly impacts our community,” Nowacki said. “With this penny per use contribution, it is easy for members to see exactly how their activity results in Maps’ community investment.”

The award is open to anyone who has a creative solution to address teen homelessness in Marion County. Submissions, which can be sent to Smith by email at, must include a one-page executive summary describing the idea, the cost associated with implementing it, how to measure the intervention, and how it will benefit the targeted group. The complete project can be presented as a written report or a video presentation. Complete submission guidelines and contest rules are posted on the Maps website.

The deadline to submit a complete project is Oct. 1. The winner will be announced at the credit union’s annual meeting on Oct. 30.

Oregonian’s Business Partner Road Trip Wins Golden Mirror Award

Oregonains Business Partner Road TripOregonians Credit Union was chosen by the Credit Union Executives Society (CUES) as the 2nd-place recipient of a 2012 Golden Mirror Award (GMA) for Business Development. The award recognized the credit union’s successful Business Partner Road Trip campaign.

The goal of the Business Partner Road Trip was to visit 100 business partners and SEGs to reinvigorate and build relationships with them. At each stop the business development team toured the facility, learned about the owners or managers and all about the things that made each of the businesses unique. Fun stories about the companies were then created by the business development team and shared on the Oregonians Credit Union website and Facebook page. Due to the overwhelming success of the initial Business Partner Road Trip, a Business Partner of the Week campaign will start in the fall of 2012.

More than 500 marketing entries were submitted to CUES for this year’s Golden Mirror Awards. A full list of categories and winners can be found at

CU Back at School: 21 Years of Helping Students Go to School Properly Prepared

Aug. 21, 2012, marked the 21st year of Yakima County Credit Union’s helping local students go back to school with necessary supplies in hand.

Started in 1992, “CU Back At School” is now the annual joint effort of several major Yakima County Credit Unions: Solarity Credit Union, CALCOE Federal Credit Union, Lower Valley Credit Union, State Highway District 5 Credit Union and Washington State Employees Credit Union. The organizations pool their funds and purchase basic supplies like paper, folders, pencils, crayons, erasers, glue sticks and rulers for Valley students in need.

“By working together, we can help more students,” said Amy Cziske, public relations officer for Solarity. “Our hope is to give students the basics so they can start the school year off right. We work with the Districts to make sure the supplies go to the families who are most in need.”

More than 5,000 folders were stuffed, boxed, delivered and donated by members of the credit unions to schools in Granger, Mabton, Mt. Adams, Sunnyside, Toppenish, Wapato, Yakima, Union Gap, Grandview and Highland.

Columbia Credit Union Promotes Michelle Thor

Columbia Credit Union promoted Michelle Thor to Vice President Outreach and Social Responsibility following the retirement of 38?year veteran credit union executive, Laurie Kusch. Thor leads Columbia’s corporate outreach to generate new business and assist in advancing the credit union’s strategic direction. Beyond directing traditional outreach efforts to promote Columbia Credit Union as a workplace employee benefit and recruit business memberships, Thor also administers the credit union’s social responsibility initiatives to advance its sustainable values, community involvement/charitable giving, and financial education to the community.

With 10 years of credit union experience, Thor most recently served as Columbia’s Vice President Business Development, cultivating relationships in the business community. Prior positions include serving as Marketing Manager and Communications Specialist for the credit union.

“Michelle has been instrumental in building Columbia’s presence in the business community and has been a strong advocate for our sustainable business practices,” said Columbia Senior Vice President Marketing and Chief Deposit Officer, Colleen Boccia. “Through Michelle’s leadership, we became a founding Clark County Green Business. She ‘walks the walk’ regarding community involvement and business membership has escalated.”

Thor holds a bachelor’s degree from Eastern Washington University and completed an MSC in organizational leadership. She is a Vancouver Business Journal “Accomplished Under 40” honoree and is a graduate of the Western Credit Union National Association (CUNA) Management School. Active in the community, Thor regularly participates and contributes to numerous events and causes throughout the year.

“Columbia is a local financial services leader dedicated to strengthening our community and protecting the environment,” said Thor. “As their representative, I am excited to help improve the quality of life for members, families and businesses throughout Southwest Washington.”

Sound Credit Union Hires Donald Clark, Jr., CPA, as Executive Vice President

Sound Credit Union announced that Donald L. Clark, Jr., CPA has been named executive vice president. Clark has direct responsibility for finance, risk management, information systems, and investment and retirement services.

“Don is a seasoned credit union executive with a deep skill set. His addition to the Sound Credit Union senior management team will help us enhance the value we deliver to all our members,” said Richard Brandsma, the credit union’s president and CEO. “We are very excited that he has joined us and know that his strategic insight, dedication, and focus will help Sound to grow well into the future.” 

Clark has more than 17 years of experience in strategic planning, financial reporting, asset/liability management, business lending, risk management, and credit union service organization (CUSO) development. Clark is also a certified public accountant (CPA) and previously served as chief financial officer for several credit unions, including Sound, where he is returning after 14 years.

Solarity Credit Union Wins Highest Rating from BauerFinancial

Solarity Credit Union has been awarded the highest possible rating—Five Stars “Superior”—from BauerFinancial, Inc., the nation’s leading independent bank-rating firm. 

This Five Star top rating to Solarity is a testament from BauerFinancial to the credit union’s stability and strong management. To earn the Five Star “Superior” rating, Solarity needed to report not only impressive capital levels, but also a strong loan portfolio with negligible levels of delinquent loans. The information is gathered from detailed financial reports Solarity files with federal regulators four times a year. BauerFinancial then obtains this data in its raw form from the government, analyzes it, and compares it with historical data for consistency. Upon completion of the analysis, a star rating is assigned based on a scale of zero to five stars, with five stars being the strongest.

As a Five Star “Superior” financial institution, Solarity is placed on the BauerFinancial recommended list, meaning the credit union is considered safe and financially sound, operating well above regulatory capital requirements. Each five-star institution on this report had a capital-to-assets ratio of 9 percent or higher.

For more information about BauerFinancial, visit

Plank Hired as Numerica’s Chief Lending Officer

Kenneth Plank was recently hired as Numerica Credit Union’s chief lending officer.

Plank comes to Numerica from Washington Trust Bank, where he held the position of small-business banking manager, reporting to the executive vice president of retail banking. He has more than 25 years of experience in commercial lending at Wells Fargo, U.S. Bank and Washington Trust. Plank also has experience in small-business administration lending, consumer and mortgage lending, and dealer financing.

He earned a bachelor’s of science degree in business management from Lewis-Clark State College and is a graduate of the Pacific Coast Banking School. Plank is married and resides in the Spokane, Wash., area.

Maps Credit Union Announces Winners of the More Than Just Savings Contest

After a long period of submissions, reviewing and voting, the winners are in: Kathleen Dixon’s video, “This Busy Mom Needs Maps,” won the $500 grand prize in Maps Credit Union’s “More Than Just Savings” contest.

Dixon’s video covers one day in her life of shuttling kids, handling household needs, paying bills through the credit union’s online bill pay system, and finally taking a moment to relax. Dixon, who has been a member of Maps Credit Union with her husband for more than 30 years, is a regular user of the free bill-pay service.

Dixon was thrilled to win the grand prize, which was based on votes received at the More Than Just Savings website ( Two of the actors in the video, Dixon’s daughter and her boyfriend, have become engaged since the video shoot, and Dixon says she told them, “if we win, the money will go toward your wedding.”

 Dixon’s video, which received a total of 395 votes, can be viewed online.

The runner-up, “Maps Gets Me to Where I Want to Go,” received 299 votes. Eric Ivanitsky, a voice actor, produced the video and took home the $100 prize.

The video contest was designed to help increase awareness that Maps and other credit unions offer more than just savings and checking accounts. Videos submitted discussed Maps mobile apps, online banking tools, loans, credit cards, insurance and other offerings.

Lacamas Donates $3,000 to West Columbia Gorge Humane Society

Lacamas Community Credit Union has donated $3,000 to the West Columbia Gorge Humane Society (WCGHS) in Washougal, Wash. Lacamas selected WCGHS as one of its 2012 Community Partnerships—local organizations that benefit from the credit union’s fundraising efforts.

“We are proud to partner with the West Columbia Gorge Humane Society, and we know our donation will make a real difference in the lives of the animals they serve,” said Lacamas President and CEO Kathleen Romane.

Throughout the year, Lacamas raises funds for its Community Partnerships through sales of See’s Candy Bars and Entertainment Books, and other activities. As part of the July 28 check presentation, Romane toured the shelter, which is undergoing construction of a large outdoor cat shelter addition.

Advantis Partners with REACH for 2012 Paint & Repair-a-Thon

Advantis Paint a ThonOn Saturday, Aug. 4, a group of seven volunteers from Advantis Credit Union helped paint an elderly woman’s house in Portland, Ore., partnering with REACH Community Development, a local nonprofit affordable housing developer in the REACH Paint & Repair-a-Thon for the sixth consecutive year.

The Paint & Repair-a-Thon is an annual event for REACH Community Development who has been helping families and individuals with affordable housing in Portland for 30 years. The annual event provides critical plumbing, electrical, and carpentry repairs as well as painting of exterior of homes for senior and disabled individuals.

“REACH is committed to helping Portland’s seniors be able to live safely in their homes,”

said  REACH Executive Director Dee Walsh. “We’re thrilled to be partnering with the local business community, who are dedicating a very generous amount of their time, resources, and employees to help our senior citizens stay safe in their homes.”

Support for this year’s Paint & Repair-a-Thon event came from local business and civic partners, including major underwriting provided by: Almar Contracting, Miller Paint, Walsh Construction, Lifetime Windows, Bank of America, Bank of the West, LMC Construction, NW Natural, Advantis Credit Union, Affordable Home Remodeling, Interstate Flooring Company, NW Painting Specialist, Portland Housing Bureau, Milgard Windows, IBEW and the Electrical Workers Minority Caucus, Portland Chapter.

St. Helens Backpack Program Receives Start-Up Boost from SHCU–CU 4 A CAUSE

In these hard economic times, it is often children who suffer the most when a family is struggling to make ends meet. Nearly 50 percent of children enrolled in the St. Helens Elementary Schools are receiving free or reduced price meals during the school year. For many of these children, these meals might be the most substantial meals they get during the week.

On weekends, when school meals are not available, many children go hungry. Hungry children are sick more often, and experience more learning problems than children who are getting enough to eat, making it difficult for them to succeed at school.

A volunteer committee established earlier in 2012 has been working diligently to implement a new program that will serve the students of St. Helens School District elementary schools. The Backpack Program will provide bags filled with child-friendly, non-perishable food that children take home on the weekends (during the school year) in their backpacks. The St. Helens Backpack program is currently established as a local member agency of Columbia Pacific Food Bank a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization. The program is scheduled to kick-off October 2012.

On March 15, 2012, St. Helens Community Federal Credit Union, through its community outreach program CU 4 A CAUSE, announced a donation match up to $5,000 for all funds deposited to the St. Helens Backpack Program through March 31, 2012.

The total sum donated by March 31 was $1,684.50, and in addition to the donation match from SHCU, the total amount raised for the program is now close to $3400. Additional funds are still needed to pilot this program for 20 students at each elementary school during the 2012-2013 school year. The credit union will continue to raise awareness and funds for the program through the CU 4 A CAUSE community outreach program. Food drives will be held at First United Methodist Church.

Businesses or individuals in Columbia County can sponsor a child for an entire year for just $250. Businesses that sponsor a child receive a banner ad and link to their website on the CU 4 A CAUSE website sponsor page for an entire year. To download the sponsorship form visit


Do you have something to add to next month’s ‘Members in the News’? Contact Matt Halvorson, Anthem Editor:

Posted in Around the NW, Community Impact, CU4Kids, Financial Education.