ST. HELENS, Ore. – St. Helens Community Federal Credit Union has scheduled a special meeting of members on Sept. 4 in response to a petition calling for a recall of up to five of its seven board members.

In a letter addressed to members of the $166-million CU and posted on its website, President and CEO Brooke Van Vleet confirmed the board’s receipt of 492 validated signatures. Because the number was close to the 500 required by the credit union’s bylaws to call a special meeting, Van Vleet said the board believed it was in the CU’s “best interest” to “move ahead with a special meeting to allow the membership to resolve this issue.” The credit union has more than 15,000 members.

However, Van Vleet also made clear she does not support the recall effort.

“While respecting members’ rights to voice their opinions through the process, I strongly advise you that an unwarranted and impulsive recall at this time will be disruptive to the credit union,” Van Vleet wrote. “Our annual meeting and call for nominations process remains the optimal time to make changes within our board and discuss ways to improve St. Helens Community Federal Credit Union.”

The letter goes on to suggest those members who signed the petition did so “under false impressions” regarding a merger St. Helens Community had proposed earlier this year with $145-million Wauna FCU in Clatskanie, Ore. The merger discussions were canceled, Van Vleet, wrote, and “there are no plans to resume discussions.”

Van Vleet told Credit Union Journal the petitions state the reasons for the recall effort are the termination of SHCFCU’s prior CEO, Jeff Schwartz, and the announcement of the intent to discuss a possible merger with Wauna FCU.

“We respect the right of members to voice their opinions through this process, but as the CEO I do not support the recall effort,” Van Vleet said. “I believe this to be a baseless and impulsive recall that is only intended to be disruptive to the credit union. The board stands by its decisions and believes they were made in the best interest of the credit union. They are disappointed the recall has occurred but are moving forward with the process in accordance with the credit union’s bylaws.”

In Van Vleet’s letter to members, she says of the directors facing recall, “This group has served you and our credit union on a volunteer basis for many successful collective years.” Each of the five directors – Marty Borrevik, David Graham, Mike Hafeman, Richard Louie and Chair Lea Chitwood – supplied statements that were posted on the credit union’s website [].

The special meeting will be held at the Scappoose High School auditorium in nearby Scappoose, Ore. Members who cannot attend the special meeting are asked to file absentee ballots by Aug. 30.


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