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Several firsts marked with credit union's opening

WESTconsin Credit Union’s Ellsworth Office Supervisor Anna Anderson and the staff gathered at the new location inside Nilssen’s Foods Friday. From left to right are: Karen Woehrle, Kathy Pagel, Anderson and Sherri Nelson.1 / 2
Russ Blasius was in the new Ellsworth office of WESTconsin Credit Union Wednesday. Blasius is a vice president responsible for the River Falls and Prescott offices, along with now the one in Ellsworth, located inside Nilssen’s Foods. (Herald photos by Bill Kirk)2 / 2

The opening of WESTconsin Credit Union’s new Ellsworth office this week is accompanied by several “firsts.”

For example, it’s the first time the credit union, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, has had a location completely inside of another business. The office occupies the former dining area for the deli department at Nilssen’s Foods in the village’s midway district, immediately to the right of that store’s main entrance.

Then too, it’s the first time a local supermarket has housed a separately owned enterprise that’s self-contained under its roof.

Additionally, it may be the first time—at least in recent history—the Ellsworth community has had a credit union locally. That’s not to say the community’s residents haven’t patronized such an outlet in the past.

“We’ve had a lot of requests from our membership to open a branch in Ellsworth,” said the credit union’s Chief Operations Officer Jim Wookey Wednesday, estimating those appeals dated back up to 10 years.

The actual impetus for the local office to proceed originated with an interest by Jason Nilssen, owner of the grocery store here and others in Western Wisconsin. Wookey remembered Nilssen mentioning his plans to buy the Ellsworth store and, later, indicating he had space for the kind of outlet the credit union might want. The latter happened approximately nine months ago, Wookey said.

“It was a way to get a presence there fairly quickly,” he said, though acknowledging it’s a completely new type of facility for the Menomonie-based credit union.

Credit unions are non-profit entities, organized to serve members and not having stockholders, the COO said. Anyone living or working in any of 17 Western Wisconsin counties, or in eight Eastern Minnesota counties, can become a member of this one by opening a membership savings account with a $5 minimum deposit.

For more please read the March 5 print version of the Herald. 

Bill Kirk

Bill Kirk was editor of the Pierce County Herald in Ellsworth, from 1988 to February, 2015 and is now on staff as a reporter. He holds a bachelors degree in journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. He previously worked in the media distribution department at the University of Minnesota's Minneapolis campus and is past editor of The Tri-County News in Osseo, Wisconsin.

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