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NORMAN, Okla. – The $4.2 million CSH Federal Credit Union knows first hand what it’s like to deal with a demanding sponsor. Indeed, CSH, which has maintained its main office on the premises of its hospital sponsor for 44 years, opened its doors last month in new rented space about a mile from Griffin Memorial Hospital, its sponsor. “The hospital simply decided we were no longer desirable,” explained Ron Smithers, president/CEO of CSH whose 1,200 members include employees at Griffin and at other area medical facilities. Pressure on CSH began last fall with demands the CU start paying rent because of a membership policy accepting retirees. According to the Oklahoma Credit Union League, “about six months ago, the present director of the hospital informed the credit union that as far as he was concerned, the credit union was just like a bank and should not receive support from the state and should move off the grounds,” Attorneys for the hospital informed the CU in April that it “no longer met the criteria” of state law “because it was no longer comprised exclusively of state employees,” said the League. The hospital maintained retired state employees were not state employees. Since the credit union had allowed retired state employees to remain as members under the once-a-member, always-a-member philosophy, the hospital said the CU no longer qualified under the law for the free space. In an effort to help CSH and other CUs in similar straits, the League succeeded this session in getting language included in a bill stipulating that state retirees are “state employees” in field of membership definitions. “We decided we would go ahead anyway and open in our own space, and it is a decision that our membership supports,” said Smithers recalling that the sponsor, which changed its name from Central State Hospital, had for months been “making it difficult” for the CU. Apart from demanding the CU pay “to fix the roof on a building which was quite old,” administrators at the mental facility also were critical of its employees meeting to handle CU business “during company time,” said Smithers. So far the relocation to a strip mall has turned out satisfactorily though “we will have more expense to pay for the rent,” said Smithers. But members “are happy we made the move.” And now the CU will consider expanding its field of membership whereas previously it been strictly oriented to the hospital. -

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