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JAMESTOWN, N.D. – North Dakota credit unions have put the final nail in the coffin of the ill-fated Mid-America Credit Union League, which would have combined the North and South Dakota Leagues, but leaders this month held out hope-albeit faint-that a consolidation may still be possible later on. “Look we want to keep an open mind about the future,” insisted Kermit Larson, the newly anointed president/CEO of the North Dakota League in commenting on an Oct. 20 vote taken by 30 CU managers meeting here who ratified a September board action to kill the merger idea. The consolidation plan, conceived in earnest more than a year ago and close to implementation Jan. 1, 2005 was rejected in a surprising turnabout in September when the South Dakota League Board rejected new terms in the contract which would have created what it said were inequities in the financial structure of the new organization. The South Dakota League, which had already put its Sioux Falls headquarters up for sale and was making plans to move staff and equipment to Bismarck, also complained about problems in “representation” in how Mid-America would be operated in its North Dakota setting. The two leagues for years had shared education, training and marketing functions and also worked together under a processing subsidiary with offices and staff also in Bismarck. While the North Dakota League said it was prepared to “go it alone” for the time being, the South Dakota League Board said it would still investigate a partnering arrangement with another state league under a “management agreement.” “We’ve had preliminary conversations with a couple of leagues but that is something confidential,” said Floyd Rummel III, the chairman of the South Dakota CU League and once the designated head of Mid-America which he described now as a “shell organization.” Officials of the Iowa and Montana leagues said there are no talks underway and those of the Minnesota CU League were not immediately available for comment. The position of the Nebraska CU League was not known. Rummel, who also is president/CEO of Dakota Territory FCU in Deadwood, S.D., said directors of his league would meet Nov. 18-19 in Chamberlain to plot the organization’s future including possibly hiring a new CEO to succeed the retiring Donald Couch. Couch, 64, had long expected he would be training a new Mid-America CEO but said he would stay on through July 2005 at the end of his contract. Meanwhile, the North Dakota League at its Jamestown meeting promoted Larson from interim president to CEO. Larson was once an applicant for Mid-America CEO but later withdrew. Leaders of both leagues have repeatedly expressed their dismay that the consolidation did not work, with Rummel also noting that economic conditions still remain among small leagues “to cure some problems.” Said Rummel, “I really found Dick Ensweiler’s comments most interesting that he was disappointed that our model for consolidation would no longer be available.” Rummel was referring to remarks of the CUNA chairman regarding the Mid-America collapse. It is unfortunate, said Rummel, that a Dakota test could not go forward. Larson said directors of his league also “were sorry to see that it didn’t work,” but “the sky’s the limit” on what might happen in the future. -

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