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ANCHORAGE, Alaska – Credit Union 1, the second largest credit union in Alaska, will also be the state’s only state-chartered credit union when its merger with North Country CU, the state’s other SCCU, is completed. That should happen, if everything goes as planned, by Jan. 1, 2004, according to Credit Union 1 President/CEO Leslie Ellis. Before that though, there are still some things that need to be done, like members’ votes. Ellis said the NCCU Board approached Credit Union 1 in the beginning of August to propose the two credit unions merge. She said NCCU, based in Fairbanks, is stable and prosperous, but with only $25 million in assets, the credit union has found it difficult to keep up with technology and offer members the services they need. It wasn’t only the fact that both credit unions are state-chartered that made Credit Union 1 the obvious merger partner choice for North Country, it was other commonalities the two credit unions share that dictated North Country’s decision. For example, both credit unions have community charters – Credit Union 1 serves anyone who lives or works in Alaska. North Country’s field-of-membership includes anyone who lives or works in their judicial district. Both credit unions also use the same data processor Ultradata. “North Country wants the merger to be minimally intrusive and painless to its members as possible,” said Ellis. To help facilitate this, North Country’s members will retain their account numbers. Credit Union 1 also already has a branch in Fairbanks, albeit at the other end of the city from North Country’s facility. So that means North Country’s members will have access to two branches in Fairbanks. North Country also has a branch in Nome. According to the merger agreement, all employees of North Country’s two facilities will be retained. The credit union’s manager Gary Thumser left the credit union earlier this year, but the CU’s board did not disclose the circumstances. Ellis said she didn’t anticipate the merger to have much of an impact on the volunteer-run Alaska Credit Union League. Even though the league will have one less dues paying member, Ellis, who is a member of the ACUL Board, said “given the league’s new schedule, that only amounts to about $800.” In addition, she noted that officials and staff of North Country “haven’t been active in any of the actual work of the league, although they’ve been active participants with league educational sessions.” Ellis expects North Country staff will continue to be involved in the ACUL’s educational sessions after the merger. At press time, Ellis was waiting to receive regulatory approval on the merger application from the Alaska Department of Banking, Insurance & Securities. She expected to receive that by mid-September. Once she has that in hand, then members of both credit unions will vote on the merger which Ellis said should be done the last week in October. When the merger is complete, there will be 12 credit unions in Alaska. All except for Credit Union 1 will be federal charters. [email protected]

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