Business

Kitsap Community Federal Credit Union opens new East Bremerton branch

"Ethics, respect, education, understanding and community - these values are painted in a mural on the wall of the new Kitsap Community Federal Credit Union branch in East Bremerton. They are the governing philosophy of a business dedicated to giving back to the community it serves.The new branch is located at 6651 N.E. State Route 303, nestled into a hillside near WalMart. The new building, KCFCU's 10th branch, opened Feb. 28 - the day the earthquake hit.Our membership has been asking for a branch (in East Bremerton) for years, said Colin Morrison, the credit union's senior vice president for information systems.He added that many credit union members live along the SR 303 corridor and the location is almost equidistant between Silverdale and Bremerton, making it convenient for customers.Credit union officials hired 12 new full-time employees for the branch, and transferred more than 50 others to the new facility. The new branch houses a call center that can seat 50 agents, walk-up and drive-through surcharge-free ATM machines, safety deposit boxes and Internet access in the lobby.We strive to have a balance of high tech and high touch in our branches, said Ron Rogerson, KCFCU's vice president for marketing. High touch is when a members can come in and talk to a person. We have people who like both. If members want to learn how to access their accounts online they can come to the branch and an employee will take them through the process step by step, according to Rogerson.The new building was designed in a Northwest Lodge style, and the lobby is sunny with a vaulted wooden ceilings and photographs of local nature scenes and events. Although it is brand new, the branch already is buzzing with activity.It's going to be our signature look for the rest of our free-standing branches, said Dave Willis, vice president of facilities and administrative service for the Kitsap Community Federal Credit Union.The branch houses almost 20 miles of cable for data communication systems, including high-speed fiber optic cables, according to Morrison.Kitsap Community Federal Credit Union has a long history of working with the community. The first branch opened in 1934 in what was then called the Bremerton Navy Yard. Originally, membership was limited to navy yard employees, but over the years laws changed allowing more members. It is a not-for-profit company governed by a volunteer board.Anyone who lives, works, worships or goes to school in the greater Kitsap Peninsula can join the credit union, Rogerson said. The firm serves customers in north Mason County, Kitsap County and Pierce County north of the Tacoma Narrows bridge.Kitsap Community Federal Credit Union leaders underscore the importance of their employees giving back to the community. President and Chief Executive Officer Elliot Gregg wrote in the 2000 annual report that credit union employees had volunteered more than 3,200 hours that year in 100 community events. These (values) aren't just words painted on the wall - we walk the walk, Rogerson said.The credit union also takes its commitment to education very seriously. Last year the company gave five $2,000 tuition grants to students pursuing post-secondary educations at universities or trade schools. Officials plan to give five or six of the grants again this year. Applications are available in all the branches and to be eligible, candidates must live within the greater Kitsap Peninsula area and have a high school diploma.As for the future, credit union officials are looking forward to continuing expansion. Designs for a new Kingston branch are in the works, according to Willis, and the building is slated to open in the fall of 2002 in the Albertson's parking lot at 8196 State Route 104. "

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