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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Closer ties or perhaps consolidation of the North and South Dakota Credit Union Leagues has moved a step closer with the resignation of the North Dakota League’s 61-year-old president Buell Reich. Reich, who has been president of the North Dakota Credit Union League the last three years and has been party to the talks over the last year about sharing services between the two Leagues, said he is leaving the top staff job in Bismarck “to slow down and take more control of my life.” “I’m not sure yet what I might do next,” said Reich, “but I might decide to look for a job in a credit union, with another League, CUNA or CUNA Mutual.” The North Dakota job, he said, has been a taxing one, and while “I have enjoyed it, it is time to move on.” Reich’s resignation, submitted to the North Dakota Board Aug. 20, is effective Nov. 30. Reich’s departure, which was a “surprise” to a number of North Dakota League Board members, will move forward a plan to utilize services and staff of the South Dakota League, said Irving Mund, a North Dakota director and president of the $17 million St. Alexius Credit Union of Bismarck. Mund, in Sioux Falls last week along with directors of both League Boards for an annual management conference attended by CUs executives from both states, said the North Dakota Board may within the next two months decide to hire Donald Couch, president of the South Dakota League as “interim president” while mulling consolidation steps. Couch, however, is also “in his 60′s and so we may decide to look for an understudy for both Leagues,” explained Mund. “We’re not sure how it will all shake out.” He said Reich, a close friend and an able administrator, has been “stressed out” in the job and was probably dismayed by “staff downsizing” which occurred three years ago. “Buell is an accountant,” and dealing with personalities in the North Dakota League environment may not have fit him well, said Mund. Before taking the North Dakota job, Reich was an accountant with Basin Electric Coop, of Bismarck for 18 years. He joined the League as service corp. vice president in 1999 and was promoted the same year to president. Reich candidly acknowledged that the staffing job was difficult in some ways “because it is hard to please everybody and get the support I needed.” On staff cuts, he said he knew he had a mandate to reduce costs from a base of 26 employees in 1999 “to the 14 we have today.” Like other state leagues across the country beset by shrinking budgets, the North and South Dakota Leagues have seen their share of mergers reducing dues income. Both Dakota Leagues have about the same number of CU members – 60.Including Couch, the South Dakota League has a staff of six including a representative stationed in Rapid City. The two Leagues have stepped up their sharing of services in the last six months with the South Dakota League planning to operate a call center for both states and the North Dakota handling printing promotion and marketing. [email protected]

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