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OGDEN, Utah – Even with the Utah banking lobby taking renewed potshots on underserved field of membership expansion, the $400 million Goldenwest Federal Credit Union is moving ahead with its plans to open a food store branch, its first in Utah County. “We are excited and anxious to serve our members in Utah County who have welcomed us,” said Shelley Clarke, president and CEO of Goldenwest which three years ago was named in the first American Bankers Association suit against NCUA challenging a six-county FOM expansion for Utah CUs. For weeks, the Utah Bankers Association and its fiery president, Howard Headlee, have been waging a fierce media blitz attacking both America First, a defendant in the latest ABA “underserved” suit, and Goldenwest. On Goldenwest, Headlee has accused the Ogden CU of exploiting loopholes “and making a joke” out of CU statutes. Credit union defenders have charged Headlee with “more of the same” – groundless hypocritical attacks on issues in which banker court pleadings already affirm Goldenwest’s right to expand under its multiple common bond charter. On America First and the NCUA’s Dec. 30 moratorium on further underserved branches in disputed counties, Headlee has hailed the agency ruling as a big victory for banks. Meanwhile, in news articles appearing in Salt Lake and Ogden papers, Headlee has blasted America First for “skirting the law” and engaging in a legal ruse by converting to a federal charter, a decision he contends has now boomeranged. “Sooner or later America First will get the message,” declared Headlee. Meanwhile, Goldenwest, with 13 branches and 56,000 members, said it plans to open its new in-store branch at a Ream’s Family Foods outlet in Provo within the next few weeks. Clarke, the Goldenwest CEO, has told the Ogden media the CU’s charter is different from America First and NCUA regulations on Goldenwest’s expansion are clear. But Headlee told the Ogden Daily Herald that Utah County is not an underserved area and that Goldenwest “is on shaky ground and now in the center of a national debate which we have every confidence Congress will resolve.” -

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