Montana Story Archive

Montana legislators write about threat from big box interchange bill

November 30, 2023 – The big box interchange bill would have major negative impacts on credit unions, community banks, and the people they serve, Montana Reps. Steve Gunderson, R, and Ron Marshall, R, wrote in the Flathead Beacon this week.

“New regulations on interchange fees and routing mandates on credit card transactions coming in the form of the 2023 Credit Card Competition Act would have significant implications for our rural banks,” they wrote. “We’ve seen this before. A similar set of regulations, known as the “Durbin amendment,” were imposed in 2010 related to debit card transactions. That legislation resulted in small banks having to raise fees on customers and cut back on services offered, for instance free checking.”

Montana Becomes First US State to Pass TikTok Ban

Apr. 21, 2023 — The state of Montana in the US has become the first to pass legislation banning TikTok on personal devices. The bill, SB 419, passed by a vote of 54 to 43, mentions several concerns about TikTok, such as alleged surveillance from the Chinese government as well as the encouragement of “dangerous activities” among youth using the app. Read more

S 2155 is Right for Montana’s Main Street Credit Unions

March 21, 2023 In Montana, credit unions help our communities thrive and our small businesses grow. In addition to providing financial accounts, loans, and mortgages to 464,865 members in Montana, credit unions work for the sustainable development of communities, valuing people over profit and treating community values as their own. Montanans rely on access to local credit and capital, and they prefer to be served by their neighbors.

But our local financial cooperatives are once again facing challenges brought on by Washington bureaucrats who want to repeal S 2155 – also called the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act. This bi-partisan act passed in 2018 and allowed for a more customized regulatory climate that provided credit unions – the original consumer protectors – opportunities to serve their consumers more efficiently. Most importantly, the act strengthened consumer protections for student borrowers, seniors, veterans, and victims of identity theft – some of the most vulnerable members of our population.

Fortunately, both Senators Jon Tester and Steve Daines went to bat for Main Street in 2018. Senator Tester deserves our gratitude for his leadership in crafting this tailored legislation, and Senator Daines supported the measure on the Senate floor. They understood the need for relief for Main Street institutions in Montana. Read More

Montana’s Clearwater Embraces Its CDFI Status

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Sept. 2022 — Leaders of the Montana cooperative discuss the importance of the credit union’s certification as a community development financial institution and how that status dovetails with the institution’s broader mission.

We hope you enjoyed this bonus content from Callahan’s “Anatomy Of A Credit Union” series, a quarterly profile that explores the strategies and analyzes the performance of an exemplary credit union. Check out the full feature “Anatomy Of Clearwater Credit Union” on

Merger That Crossed State Lines is Now Complete

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A credit union merger that crossed state lines has been completed.


August 2, 2022 — Horizon Credit Union in Washington said its merger with Great Falls, Mont.-based Embark CU is now finished. Embark CU’s members gave the combination their OK in May.

For Horizon CU, its FOM now expands into north central Montana.

According to Horizon, Deb Evans, the president and CEO of Embark CU, will “lead the local market in the new organization” and will sit on the Embark Advisory Board.

“Joining forces gives our members and employees expanded products and services that will enhance their banking experience,” said Evans, who has been with the credit union since 1995.  “Years ago, our board of directors chose ‘Embark’ to signal our members’ financial journey and merging with Horizon continues that journey. Together we are not just bigger, but better and stronger. Our combined presence and involvement in the Great Falls and the surrounding area will benefit not only our members but the communities themselves.”

‘Strengthening Communities’

Added Jeff Adams, president/CEO of Horizon CU, “Each of our credit unions care about strengthening the communities we serve and providing quality service to our members. I look forward to seeing what our organizations are able to accomplish together.”

Horizon CU reported it first entered the Montana market via a merger with the former Montana First Credit Union in 2012, and in the decade that has followed it has continue to grow and is now the third-largest CU in the Big Sky state.

The merged CU has $1.8 billion in assets, 31 branches, more than 400 employees and more than 113,000 members.

$25,000 Donated to Local Children’s Museum

Sept. 14, 2021  Valley Credit Union (Valley) recently donated $25,000 to Wise Wonders Science and Discovery Museum (Wise Wonders) to assist with the museum’s latest expansion. These funds will be used to support the local organization in its efforts to build an updated grocery store exhibit for young learners.

“We are proud to sponsor this community-centered organization in its pursuit to foster creativity and engage curious minds through hands-on learning,” said Casey Klein, CEO of Valley Credit Union and Wise Wonders board member. “The value that this environment brings our youth is unmatched. We are eager to see the new attractions come to fruition in this renovated space and know that the museum will continue to be a staple for young minds for many years to come.”

In 2019, Wise Wonders moved to a new location that offered more room for playful learning and continued growth. However, shortly after their reopening, COVID-19 hit, and the museum was forced to close for over a year. It wasn’t until earlier this year, on April 28, 2021, that the museum was able to officially reopen and welcome families back into their facility. Since then, Wise Wonders has worked diligently to get operations back to where they were and proceed with their plans for new attractions and enhanced programming.

One of Wise Wonders’ main goals for the new space was to provide a larger-scale grocery store exhibit for children. At the museum’s previous location, they had a smaller grocery store set-up that was the most trafficked exhibit and supplied high interaction from children. The funds from Valley will make this vision a reality.


Valley Credit Union announces the 10th consecutive renewal of its $20,000 sponsorship of Alberta Bair Theater’s Student Matinee Series for its upcoming 2021-22 season.

This sponsorship helps the theater bring in top talent to perform as a part of the education program for students of all grade levels throughout the region.

June 2021 – Valley Credit Union has contributed for the tenth year in support of Alberta Bair Theater’s Student Matinee Series. “Creating opportunities for our youth to learn and grow within the community is something our credit union is proud to support,” said Brandon Scala, Senior Vice President of Business Development at Valley Credit Union. “The enrichment these performances bring extends beyond the stage and directly into our schools and community gathering spaces, uniting and inspiring us all.”

The Student Matinee Series serves public, private, and home schools – as well as the general public. These programs are specifically designed with students in mind, and each show is recommended for specific grade levels ranging from pre-kindergarten to grade 12. Through the funds and support provided by Valley and the community, the theater can offer a more complete program, from scheduling quality productions and offering discounted rates for students, to providing study guides with specific program information that links back to classroom curriculum, discussion questions regarding the production’s content, and activities to enhance everyone’s time at the theater.

Alberta Bair Theater (ABT) recently completed a large-scale renovation to revitalize the near century-old theater bringing new life to this downtown icon. The coming 2021-22 season will be the first year of live shows in the renovated building. ABT has also announced the return of school buses to the theater for the upcoming school year.


Park Side CU Supports Local Nonprofits Through Ongoing Partner Program

February 3, 2021 – Park Side Credit Union (Park Side) is proud to announce the exclusive group of nonprofit organizations the credit union will be working with for their 2021 Park Side Partner Program. Through these strategic partnerships, each organization will receive cross-promotion, shared advertising, and a donation of $5,000 from the credit union.

This unique, innovative campaign is in its tenth year and Park Side has donated more than $225,000 to over forty nonprofit organizations through the Partner Program.

“We could never have dreamed of the cooperative network that this program has been able to create, but after a decade of uniquely connecting nonprofits to each other and to the credit union we are simply amazed at the depth of relationships and span of positive community impact” said Josh Kroll, Vice President of Marketing and Business Development at Park Side.

By way of careful consideration and an enlightening selection process, the credit union has established relationships with Missoula Education Foundation, Watershed Education Network, and Home Resource, all based in Missoula. In the Flathead Valley, the partnerships include the Ascent Program at Glacier High School, STEM for Flathead Valley Schools, and KALICO Art Center. Park Side is already working to increase exposure and awareness of these critical nonprofit organizations in our local communities through strategic philanthropy.


Banking Commissioner Melanie Hall Named to FFIEC Committee

Jun 16, 2020 The Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC) today announced the selection of Melanie Hall to the FFIEC’s State Liaison Committee (SLC). Hall’s term runs from May 1, 2020, through April 30, 2022.

Hall is the commissioner of the Montana Division of Banking and Financial Institutions. As commissioner, Hall provides leadership to the Division which is responsible for the supervision of all state-chartered banks and state chartered credit unions, as well as licensing and examination of over 500 non-bank financial entities.

Hall is the current chair-elect of the Board of Directors of the Conference of State Bank Supervisors (CSBS) and the former chair of the CSBS Education Foundation Board of Trustees. Hall serves as the chair of the State Supervisory Committee which is the functional committee responsible for coordination of multistate examinations with the CFPB and is on the FDIC Advisory Committee of State Regulators. She also serves on the Board of the Montana Council on Economic Education.

Hall’s term runs from May 1, 2020, through April 30, 2022.


Rocky Mountain CU converts from federal insurance
Oct. 4, 2018 — As of October 1, the $240 million Rocky Mountain Credit Union, based in Helena, Montana, converted from federal to private share insurance provided by American Share Insurance (ASI). Rocky Mountain Credit Union is the first credit union in Montana to convert from federal to private insurance since ASI was approved to do business in the state effective January 1, 2018.

Whitefish Credit Union Junior Board to Host Colors for a Cause 5K Fun Run
May 13, 2015 – Whitefish, Mont. – Whitefish Credit Union’s Junior Board of Directors will host a “Colors for a Cause” 5K Fun Run at the Kalispell Youth Athletic Complex on Sunday, May 17 at 1 p.m.

Montana Division of Banking & Financial Institutions Discusses Issues in Credit Union Supervision with Montana Credit Union Network and NCUA Region IV Leadership
June 12, 2014 – On June 12, the Montana Division of Banking & Financial Institutions participated in a biennial meeting with the Montana Credit Union Network (MCUN) and NCUA Region IV leadership to discuss current issues in credit union supervision. Hot topics were information security, interest rate risk, results from a survey of Montana credit unions concerning the exam and supervisory processes, and potential changes to the Montana Credit Union Act that are being considered by both the Division and Montana’s state-chartered credit unions.

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