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Contest: And the winner is…  by Tara


Hey everyone! Thanks so much for all of your wonderful entries in Our Family Tree Contest! There were 65 people entered into the drawing to win a $250 gift card. I printed off everyone’s entries on single sheets of paper, shuffled them repeatedly (like a deck of cards), placed them into a large bin, mixed them up again, and then brought them down to our front line staff at NE to assist me in taking a video of the selection. Well that was a mouth full, eh? Without further ado, here is the winner…

Congratulations to our winner!!!

Contest: Our Family Tree!  by Tara


When did you join our family tree?? Let us know and it could be worth $250 to ya!

The addition of the new Facebook Timeline has caused us to reminisce on our Linn Area past. We would love to see how our family has grown since we first began waaaaay back in 1935! (Click here to check out our Timeline!)

We thought it would be fun to hear YOUR stories and see some pictures of our extended family. Each entry will be put into a drawing. The winner of that drawing will receive $250!

How to Enter

To enter, email the following four items to me (Tara) at

  1. The year you became a member (you can estimate, if you can’t remember back that far!),
  2. a couple sentences talking about why you joined, what you like about Linn Area Credit Union or even share your favorite Linn Area experience,
  3. one picture of you or your family and
  4. your contact info (NOT your account number, please!) so we can let you know if you’ve won the $250!

The Rules

• All entries must be received by no later than midnight on Monday, April 9th. The winner will be contacted on Tuesday, April 10th.

• One entry per household.

• Incomplete entries will not be eligible (see the four entry requirements above).

• Your entry must be emailed to – no hard copies or other forms of entry will be accepted.

• All people that enter must live in Linn or surrounding counties.

• Linn Area Credit Union employees and their immediate families (spouses and children) are encouraged to participate, but are not eligible to win.

• No purchase necessary.

• By submitting an entry, you are giving permission for Linn Area Credit Union to use your name, picture and submission for promotional and advertising purposes, including but not limited to our website, our blog, Facebook and Twitter.

Questions? Just shoot me (Tara) an email at WE can’t wait to see all the members of our family tree!

Since we’re chatting about family trees, have you ever dug into your family history? How far back did you go? Tell us below in the comments!

Exclusive interview with the Ugliest Sweater winner!  by Tara


I know you’ve been on the edge of your seat just WAITING and yearning to know who was the big winner of our Ugly Christmas Sweater contest. The time has come to tell you, grasshopper. The votes poured in and the race was tight! But I can tell you that *clearing throat* the winner is FRANK, er, I mean, MALLORY!!!!

Mallory is famliar to many of you loyal blog followers as she is one of our talented contributers! Well it turns out that she can also make a mean ugly sweater. She penciled us in for an exclusive interview where I asked some pretty hardball questions (take that, Barbara Walters!). Enjoy!

What inspired you to make your Grinch themed sweater?
The Grinch has always been my favorite Christmas story so when I Googled ugly sweaters and a picture of the Ginch came up, I couldn’t resist!

That was a pretty crafty sweater you crafted. What sorts of materials did you use? How long did it take you?
I got a sweater at Goodwill and then I bought a lot of felt… too much felt. Then it was just a matter of cutting stuff out and using heat and bond. I used some jewels for bedazzelment, some mini lights and, of course, jingle bells. 

Did you have the “He’s a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” song playing on repeat while creating your sweater?
No, but now I wish I would have.

How did Frank react to his part in the theme?
Well normally he loves to get his picture taken, but he seemed as thrilled as Max (the dog he was playing) to have the reindeer antlers on.

Do you see yourself donning this sweater again?
I couldn’t bring myself to throw it away. It is stashed away with all my other Christmas decorations, just waiting to be unveiled in the future. 

Your sister launched an all-out online assault to lobby for your win. What did you think about that?
I knew my sister had some techy friends because she works at Apple, but I had no idea how far she would take it! I feel like I owe her big time now. 

Did any of your friends of family give you a hard time about your fabulous sweater?
They thought it was great! They are all big fans of Frank. I’m not sure they even saw me in the picture.

How many poses did you try before you settled on the one to submit?
I had to take the picture the morning it was due ,so I had to get my husband out of bed to be the photographer. He was still half asleep so he was not willing to take multiple pictures. I tried to take a few by myself after he went back to bed, but it just wasn’t working out. So what you see is pretty much the only picture that turned out.

Congrats, Mallory!

A big THANK YOU to the LACU peeps that participated in the contest and a very special “Holla!” goes out to all of you fabulous people that voted! Keep your eye on the blog – you never know when that next contest is going to pop up!

In the comments below, tell us about the ugliest sweater you’ve ever worn!

The Ugliest Side of Christmas!  by Tara


Raise your hand if you’ve ever attended or, heck, been invited to an Ugly Sweater Party. Well we decided to invite you to help with ours! We’re running a little competition at Linn Area Credit Union. We challenged our employees to wear their ugliest sweaters and it’s up to YOU to help us determine a winner!

Enough, chitter-chatter. It’s time to blind you with our ugly sweaters – just be sure to read how to vote at the end of this post! Here are our 13 entries in alphabetical order:


 Oh my, doesn’t Aaron look dashing in his neat paisley collared shirt paired with a lovely striped sweater vest? Ahh, and some fetching plaid pants to round out the outfit. A festive ensemble, indeed!


We have one sassy little Santa on hand with Alice! Love all the different Christmas-y scenes. This sweater might be busier than Santa himself!


A poncho is right for almost any holiday, especially Christmas! Just ask Beth. Cold outside? No worries, just pop on the snowman cap to keep toasty warm! Take that, Frosty.


Haley is really feeling the Christmas spirit in this picture! Just look at that lovely green sweatshirt, smartly bedazzled. Talk about bringing in the noise and bringing in the funk!


Awww, here’s Jess looking so sweet and innocent in her fuzzy green, mittened sweater! This was actually re-gifted to her by her son. Truly the gift that keeps on giving… and giving… and giving…


You better watch out; you better not shout. Ms. Lori will know if you’ve been naughty or nice! What a festive sweater. And that skirt? Well, that dazzling skirt actually depicts an entire scene of Santa delivering presents! Ho ho ho!


They say Mallory’s heart grew three sizes the day she wore this sweater! Mallory dons this handcrafted gem which is a close replica of the one the Grinch wore in his classic tale. And move over Max! Frank sure knows how to rock a pair of antlers.


Taaa-dahhh! Here’s Marcia’s Christmas sweater! The 3D velvety bows adorning the two trees really make this sweater a classic.


Marie’s sweater is all about the details. Whoever created this treasure had access to a lot of random things. Let’s see… I spy jingle bells, tinsel, buttons, fake flowers, sequins galore and some furry stuff. Did I leave anything out?


Meeeeee-ow! No idea how Matt got talked into this one, but here he is in a shirt that hardly needs an introduction. This one is sure to be a head turner at any gathering! 


Lights… Camera… PATRICIA! Lights on or off, this sweater is chock-full of Christmas cheer. Wowers!


Nothing like some sparkly puffy paint to spruce up any ol’ sweatshirt! Here’s Tracy showing us how it’s done! We puffy heart you, Tracy!


MERRY X-MAS is right, Val! Pow, Christmas over here. Pow, Christmas over there. BAM! Christmas everywhere! Val’s sweater is truly a Christmas miracle!

How to Vote!

We’ve blinded you with our Christmas spirit, now it’s time to vote for the sweater that you think should take the cake! There are 3 ways to vote (you can vote one time per social media outlet):

  1. Right here on the Bloggity Blog by leaving a comment below with the name of the person you are voting for and WHY you like (or dislike) their sweater the most.
  2. On our Facebook page by leaving a comment under the picture of the person you are voting for and telling us WHY their sweater is the ugliest. (Click here!)
  3. Tweet @LinnAreaCU with the name of the person you are voting for and WHY they deserve to win. (Click here!)

If you don’t give us a reason, the vote doesn’t count! Also, we reserve the right to discount votes from duplicate IP addresses. So no cheating, k?!?!

Voting ends at 10:00 pm on Wednesday, December 21st!

Now go get your vote on!

posted under Contests | 83 Comments »

Scary CC Stories: Dionn’s Nightmare  by Tara


Happy Halloween, all you Linn Area gouls and goblins! We hope that your day is going well and that you’re successfully dodging any black cats that try to cross your path.

Today is the final story from our real-life spooky credit card stories – and we’ve saved the best for last. So hold onto your knickers… this story is really going to make you cringe!

Victim: Dionn Pinckney

“My nightmare began March 2010. I had been with a card company for over 12 years. Most of the time, I paid my card off every month. This card was used quite alot for frequent flyer miles. In March I charged over 1000.00 for airline tickets to attend my aunt’s funeral. Because of bad weather, the airline cancelled our flight. With the new regulations the government put in place in Feb., this affected my card. My interest rate was 4.5% before the new rules.  Then it went to 17%.

For 2 months, I kept getting this huge interest charge.  I called the card company and they told me I had to pay my credit card off 2 months in a row in order not to be charged this rate. My interest was so large, because it was acruing daily.

I was shocked and very upset. I couldn’t pay it off, because of the credit from the airline. The next month when I received the credit, I paid the balance, cancelled the card, lost my flyer miles, and demanded they send me my .13 credit. I also told them they were backstabbing good customers, and will never come back. Linn Area is now the card for this family.”

*shuddering*  Uhhh!!!! That story gives me the heebie-jeebies! Well, except for the part when Dionn found Linn Area’c credit card. That part fills me with warm fuzzies!

And the winner of our “My First Ride Contest” is…  by Tara


Thank you to all who voted in the “My First Ride” contest! It was super close, but the winner is… 

*drum roll please


Congratulations, Denise (read her story here)! You and that slug bug story stole the hearts of the voters. For that, you receive a $200 Atira gift card!

Don’t worry, folks, our creative 2nd place winner David (read his story here) gets a $50 Atira gift card and fast drivin’ Tom (read his story here) will speed off with a $25 Atira gift card. (Winners – I’ll be contacting you via email to coordinate the pickup of the gift cards!) 

Well that was loads of fun, don’t ya think!??! Be sure to keep your eye on the blog, Facebook and Twitter – who knows what kind of contest we’ll have up our sleeves next! 

Got a great idea for a contest? Tell us about it in the comments below!

My First Ride: Top 3 Finalists Revealed!  by Tara


WOWZA! Talk about a successful contest! First, I’d like to give props to everyone who entered! We received over 50 stories boasting about their first cars. So many common themes of oil leakage, creative ways you guys kept those beauties running and, of course, all of you who had stick shifts… but didn’t know how to drive them! I was totally rocking a  perma-grin while reading these stories – so thank you again for submitting these stories! It’s obvious how much ALL of you LOVED your first cars!

To narrow it down to just 3 finalists seemed like an impossible task! I have to give a special thanks to our team of Linn Area judges for conquering this big job: Amy, Kathy, Liz, Bobbie and Matt. We first narrowed it down to 13 stories… then 8… then 4… and, FINALLY, the top 3 finalists!

How To Vote

Before I announce the top 3 finalists, here’s how YOU can vote! Just go to the comment section at the end of this blog post and let us know who you think had the best story and why! Only one vote per person, please. (Play fair, kids!) Votes on Facebook will not be counted, but feel free to comment away on our Facebook page (click here) to encourage others to come to the blog and vote! Voting ends on Sunday, August 14th at midnight. The winner receives a $200 gift card. Runner-ups receive $50 and $25 gift cards, respectively.

So without any further ado… Here’s the top 3 finalists, in no particular order!!!

Denise Stapley

Ahhh….my first ride.  Just the thought of it  brings back smiles and good memories.  An image in my head of a rusted out, faded cream colored, 1968 Volkswagen Beetle.  A hand-me-down lovingly passed from my dad who owned it in its prime new state, to my older brother, and eventually to me.

By the time “Besse” as I referred to her made it to me in the late 80′s, she had seen better days.  Her crème exterior was marked with giant rust patches, dent upon dent, her headlights creatively held onto the car by bolts and brackets, her clutch held up with a small chain to prevent it from falling  forward to the floor, my seat raised to accommodate my 5′ tall frame by old couch pillows and yes…a phone book.  Backseat passengers had to be careful not to lift up the floor mats unless they wanted a clear view of the concrete passing by.  I loved Besse.  She was a conversation piece and she was my teenage freedom.  For the most part she was tried and true. Riding in the summer with the roof cranked open listening only to the AM stations that barely crackled in on the original “stereo”.  Even in the winter she hung in there when her gears would get stuck in first making my drives to school slow and cold.  The familiar sound of her engine and exhaust still rings clear.  Safe she was not… but oh so much fun!

Besse was finally put to rest after one sad day in particular.  We had known that the end was near.  Tooling around town, I had pulled into a store parking lot in Marion when a concerned passerby pulled up beside me.   “Hey, do you know your car has flames shooting out from underneath it?”  This…was not a good sign.  Besse had begun  leaking exceptional amounts of oil in her last days creating both hazard and mess.  The end had come.  Soon Besse was gone, sold for a mere $50 likely for scrap metal.   She was later replaced by “Wendy the Wagon”  complete with fake wood paneling.  Wendy, though I loved her too, never quite lived up to the bar set by Besse.

The “slug bug” game has now been passed on to my daughter who is often the victorious winner.  And that sound…I can recognize it from a mile away!  Some day, some day, there may be yet another Besse in our driveway!

David Brandstetter

My first ride was a little 1964 MG 1100 Sedan.

I bought it in anticipation of securing my drivers license back in 1975.  It cost me 2 years worth of savings doing a variety of jobs like delivering newspapers, kid sitting, and mowing lawns. How much you ask?  $300.00 cash, which was a small fortune to me!  I have always liked MG’s and this car looked like a “mini” Rolls Royce, it was also Red (cause you know color makes the car go faster) and very fun to drive.When driving it home for the first time I knew we were going to have a bittersweet relationship when the brakes locked up in the middle of a busy intersection! Since it was a private sale, it did not have a warranty and the sale was final, I couldn’t return it.

Once the brake issue was resolved, I was able to drive it to work and school for about a year before it sprung a huge oil leak from a bad transmission gasket.  Since it was an import… parts were hard to get in Iowa and because the engine and transmission shared the same oil, it took a lot to fill it back up again.  My solution was to carry a plastic ice cream bucket to slide under the leak when not in use and then pour it back into the car to continue driving it.  I eventually made my own gasket out of a Capt. Crunch cereal box (Thank You, Quaker Oats) and was able to get another year out of the car before the clutch gave out. The car was front wheel drive and beyond my ability to fix at the time so we parted ways, it went to the junkyard and I turned my sights on a 53’ Ford which I drove through my college years.

I often think about my little MG and the thrill of driving for the first time…and some days when I wish I had kept it.  I still have one of its hubcaps in my office.

I now enjoy a Chrysler Sebring convertible, “Red” in color, which I purchased with the help of Linn Area a few years ago. As soon as the temperature reaches 55 degrees in the spring, the top is back and wind is blowing through my hair!!

Tom Brammer

In 1979, I turned sixteen and bought a green ’69 Ford XL from my older sister for $400.00. I couldn’t pay her in full until I had received two paychecks from my first job as a car washer for Hertz Rent-A-Car where she also worked behind the front counter.

It had a 390 V8 and I installed dual pipes with glass-pack mufflers. The front seats were ripped, so I fashioned seat covers out of cream-colored carpet. It only had an AM radio, so I wired a cheap cassette player and mounted it on the floor. I covered the rear dash with white fur carpet and set speakers on top because they didn’t fit in the factory holes. It had retractable headlight covers and I put orange fog lamps inside the grill. It had a long thin dent on the rear left quarter panel and looked like something from a Stephen King novel. My high school girlfriend even nicknamed it Lucifer.

I remember driving back and forth to Central College. There was a stretch of road just outside of Pella that ran straight for a couple of miles. Every time I hit this section of the road, I’d bury the speedometer past 120 mph. I have no idea how fast I went, but it felt like I was taking off in a plane as telephone poles and corn stalks whizzed by. On one trip, a floormate from Chicago drove back with me. We reached this stretch of road and I instinctually hit the gas. At the end of our “flight,” I looked over at my friend… His face was ashen and eyes were wide open in horror. He had buckled his waist seatbelt (No shoulder harnesses back then.) and was hanging on to the tightening strap with white knuckles. I fought with all my might not to laugh… He never rode with me again.

Given its nickname, Lucifer had to have had some quirks. I can remember many cold winter mornings, standing in the street, using a blow comb on an extension cord to thaw the door so that it would open… only to have the car not start. Due to the number of times I called AAA for assistance, they took me off my father’s policy.

My dashboard lights were a huge embarrassment. About every three weeks or so, they would stop working. I would have to flash my brights so that the indicator light would come on and I could see how fast I was going. (I’m sure this irritated many drivers.) After a few trips to install new fuses, my mechanic came to a conclusion… I didn’t know my headlight switch was also a dimmer switch for my dashboard lights. When I turned my headlights on/off, I sometimes dimmed my dashboard lights off. When he replaced the fuses, he simply turned the dashboard lights to full intensity. We had a good laugh when he informed me of this feature.

I drove that car till my senior year of college…

Get your vote on!

Okay, peeps! Time to get voting! Remember, you have to vote in the comments below on the blog. Again, Facebook votes and “likes” will not be counted. Email me if you have any questions: Voting ends Sunday, August 14th. The winner gets a $200 gift card, 2nd place receives a $50 gift card and a $25 gift card will go to the third place entry.


Contest: My First Ride  by Tara


Congratulations, loyal Linn Area fans! You made it through one of the hottest weeks we’ve ever had! We think it’s time to focus on something besides the heat wave!

To celebrate this summer’s amazing auto rates and the vehicles we LOVE, we want to hear all about YOUR very first car! Come on, I’m sure I’m not the only one that has some pretty fond memories of my first ride. Was yours a piece of junk like mine or were you one of the lucky ones that was gifted a brand new, shiny car?? 

We know you’d love to reminisce about that first car just for fun…  so we’re going to start a contest to make it worth your time! Just by telling us a fun story about that very first car of yours, you could win a $200 gift card (there are prizes for the runners up, too)! Check out all the deets on our “My First Ride” contest: 

How to Enter:

• To enter, email a fun story about your first car (500 words or less, please!). Don’t forget to tell us the make and model of the car. Oh, and HOW did you pay for it?? Of course, we’d LOVE to hear that you got your loan through Linn Area!) We will also consider video entries that are 3 minutes or less. The more creative, the better!

• Make sure to attach a picture of the car (if you don’t have one because your car went kaput before you ever had a picture taken, try to find one similar out on the internet!)

• All entries must be emailed to With your submission, be sure to include all of your contact information. You’ll receive an email back letting you know that we’ve received your entry.

• DO NOT submit your entry on Facebook.

• All entries must be received by no later than midnight on Sunday, August 7th

• On Tuesday, August 9th, the top 3 submissions (as selected by Linn Area Credit Union) will be announced on our blog, Facebook and Twitter.

• Area residents will then be able to begin voting for their favorite story immediately on our blog! The entry that receives the most votes will win the grand prize of $200 (2nd place receives $50 and 3rd place receives $25).

• The winning entry will be announced on our blog on Monday, August 15th.


The Rules:

• Entries received after midnight on Sunday, August 7th will not be considered (only one entry per person).

• All people that enter must live in Linn or surrounding counties.

• You do not have to be a member of Linn Area Credit Union to enter.

• Linn Area Credit Union employees and their immediate families (parents, children, siblings, spouses) are not eligible to enter.

• No purchase necessary.

• By submitting an entry, you are giving permission for Linn Area Credit Union to use your name, picture and submission for promotional and advertising purposes.

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