U.S. Congressman Phil Roe, right, joined Clinchfield Federal Credit Union CEO Sandy Lingerfelt and Clinchfield Federal Credit Union Board Chairman Paul Monk for the ribbon cutting ceremony of the institution’s new branch at Unicoi County High. (Erwin Record Staff Photo by Richard Rourk)

By Richard Rourk

Students at Unicoi County High School welcomed a new service to campus on Monday, Sept. 17, as the Clinchfield Federal Credit Union is officially opened for business in the heart of Blue Nation.

Clinchfield Federal Credit Union CEO Sandy Lingerfelt was on hand to cut the ribbon with some very special guests. There was a group of more than 20 people to open the newest branch. Joining Lingerfelt and the students of Unicoi High School were members of Clinchfield Federal Credit Union’s Board, Unicoi County Schools Director John English, former Unicoi County Mayor Greg Lynch, and special guest U.S. Congressman Phil Roe. Also in attendance representing Clinchfield Federal Credit Union were Senior Vice President of Marketing & IT Allison Anderson and Business Development Representative April Simmons.

The ribbon cutting took place in the commons area of Unicoi County High School where the branch will reside. At this new location, the students will receive the same service that Clinchfield Federal Credit Union has been providing the community since 1947. Currently the credit union will be open on campus Thursday’s 11:30 A.M.-1:30 P.M.

“This is a great idea,” Roe said. “It is important to teach financial literacy as early as you can. I am actually working on a bill that would begin saving at birth. My idea is to put $2,000 away when a child is born. That money stays until retirement age for the individual. The most powerful thing in the world is compound interest.”

Roe wasn’t the only one who praised Lingerfelt’s idea.

“What a great idea,” English said. “We appreciate everybody at Clinchfield for bringing it to us. Anytime we can work together and teach the students things like financial literacy, it’s a good thing. Thank you again for your partnership and all that you do.”

The idea for the credit union on campus began when Lingerfelt began speaking with Joey Lewis’ personal finance class and realized there was a great need for it.

“They have credit unions in schools in areas like Nashville, but this in new to this area,” Lingerfelt said. “The plan is to utilize the facilities for educational purposes and to, in the near future, have the branch be led by the students.”

The credit union allows students to bank at school. By having the credit union there, students will be able to get cash when they need it most. If they need cash for a sporting event, field trip, or even lunch, they can just swing by. Students don’t have to be 18 to open an account either. As long as a guardian is willing to co-sign with the student, they can open an account.

According to Lingerfelt there may be more opportunities for even younger children to get exposed to financial education. She is currently looking at grants to start a program for elementary and middle school aged children to get a better understanding of financial stability. “We take piggy banks to the younger children and let them fill them,” Lingerfelt said. “We bring a coin counting machine in and let the children empty their piggy banks so they can see first hand how saving works.”

If you are interested in finding out more about Clinchfield Federal Credit Union or you are interested in opening an account, please visit clinchfieldcu.com or stop by their 1038 North Main Ave. location.