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Credit union board votes to open a branch on Vashon

Puget Sound Cooperative Credit Union (PSCCU) decided Monday to open a branch on Vashon, a move it’s making at the invitation of several Islanders who have worked for months to find a way to establish a credit union on Vashon.

The Bellevue-based credit union’s board voted unanimously on Monday to open a branch on Vashon, said Shannon Ellis-Brock, PSCCU’s vice president of

business development. She

and others are pleased they’ll

soon be working with the Vashon community, she said in a news release, providing what she called “a full-service PSCCU branch office on Vashon that locally responds to the needs of the Vashon-Maury Island community.”

Those involved with the credit union effort, a group that calls itself CU Vashon for Community United Vashon, said they were thrilled by the news of Monday’s board vote.

“I’m ecstatic,” Rex Stratton, one of the key players in CU Vashon, said Monday night.

He and others began the effort months ago in the hope that the Island would form its own community-based credit union but changed course when they found out “how bloody difficult it was going to be,” Stratton said. No new credit union has been chartered in the state since 1998, Stratton said.

A few months ago, when they discovered that PSCCU was interested in establishing a branch on Vashon, the Island activists working on the credit union issue jumped at the opportunity.

Monday’s vote, Stratton said, puts their dream of a member-owned financial institution within reach.

“If we put our energies into it, it’ll be a wonderful addition to the community,” he said.

The Vashon branch represents a new direction for the small credit union, which has about 4,000 members and $50 million in assets. It has primarily been an employee-owned agency, providing services to Puget Sound Energy and Valley Medical employees. A branch on Vashon, Stratton said, will be the credit union’s first community-oriented office.

The credit union, which hopes to have a branch in place by next spring or summer, has already begun partnering with WisEnergy, an Island conservation group committed to reducing the Island’s energy consumption; PSCCU has begun offering weatherization loans.

Greg Kruse, a board member for WisEnergy, said he, too, is thrilled by Monday’s news.

“WisEnergy is really excited about a credit union landing on Vashon,” he said in an e-mail. “They will provide a precious and up to now missing financial piece of the complicated puzzle to move weatherization efforts forward on Vashon.”

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