With Merger Dropped, St. Helens CU Now Faces Director Recall
The $166 million St. Helens Community Federal Credit Union, which last month called off a merger bid by another Oregon credit union following member objections, has set Sept. 4 as the date for a special meeting on a recall petition for five board members.
The newly installed president/CEO of St. Helens, Brooke Van Vleet called the recall effort “disappointing, baseless and disruptive.”
“We respect the right of members to voice their opinions through this process,” Van Vleet said Monday, but said the board “stands by its decisions,” including canceling the planned merger with the $134 million Wauna FCU of Clatskanie, which had been in the works for several months.
Some St. Helens members had also objected to the dismissal of long-time CEO Jeff Schwarz in May.
In July, the St. Helens board dropped the merger proposal with Wauna and hired Van Vleet, a former top exec at First Tech of Beaverton, Ore., prior to its 2011 merger with Addison Avenue FCU of Palo Alto, Calif. forming the $5.4 billion First Tech FCU.
In a statement, Van Vleet called the recall petition for the five directors – Chair Lea Chitwood, Treasurer Michael Hafeman, Richard Louie Marty Borrevik and David Graham an “impulsive” action with its “intent to be disruptive.”
Vice Chair Tom Tussing and Michael Ismert were not targeted by the member group which collected a required 492 valid signatures. The credit union has 15,400 members.
“St. Helens Community Federal Credit Union has served local people in Columbia County since 1938,” said the Van Vleet statement, adding that the “long-term success owes much to the strength and commitment of our volunteer board members who give generously of their time and have a fiduciary responsibility to make sound decisions.”
The recall effort began in June and the board received the signed petitions on Aug. 7. They were then validated by Moss Adams, an independent auditing firm, Van Vleet said, and a special members meeting was called for Sept. 4.