Have You Heard About Rewards Checking?

Ad for Inside eCommThis is a big day here at VCNB. That’s because we have released a new product to our customers and frankly, we couldn’t be happier.

This week marks the debut of VCNB Rewards Checking. With Rewards Checking you can earn UChoose Rewards® points just doing what you always do – buying things with your debit or Platinum Visa® card and by using bank products.

We’ll give you points for having direct deposit, for automatic loan payments and for some other things you may already be doing with us. The more you use your card and the more VCNB products you use, the more points you will earn.

Points can be redeemed through UChoose for cash back, gift cards, travel, concert tickets and all sorts of other great things! Essentially, we’re rewarding you for your loyal business with VCNB!

Many of our employees have been testing Rewards Checking this summer and are thrilled with their points earnings. To reward you even more, we are offering 5,000 bonus points if you sign up for Rewards Checking before December 31, 2015.

There is a monthly service charge of $7 which will be imposed each statement cycle. However, you can receive a $7 credit to your account each statement cycle by either completing fifteen or more debit card transactions per statement cycle or by maintaining a combined monthly total deposit relationship of $5,000.

Want to sign up? It’s easy! If you are an existing VCNB customer, just contact an account representative and ask to switch. If you’re a new customer, you can sign up either online or at any of our seventeen bank locations. Once you have signed up for Rewards Checking, you will need to take just a few minutes to login to the UChoose Rewards website to register your debit card before you will begin earning points.

You can learn more about Rewards Checking and the 5,000 point promotion by clicking http://www.vintoncountybank.com/rewardschecking/.

What are you waiting for? Rewards Checking is HERE! Sign up today!

Local Business Spotlight: The Laurelville Apple House

The Laurelville Fruit Company is best known around town simply as The Apple House.

We understand that being a small business owner is tough. That’s why we plan to spotlight a different business each month to help you learn about unique businesses in your own back yard. 

When you bite into fruit from the Laurelville Apple House you get the sense you are tasting a bit of history. That’s because the Apple House has been a Hocking Hills landmark for over a century. Now operated by third generation family owners, the Apple House is a beloved tradition.

Located in the heart of Laurelville, they offer apples, peaches, cider, jams and local honey from July to December each year.

Delicious apples are available now and their famous apple cider will be ready in September.

What makes this place special is hard to define. Some people might say it’s their world famous apple cider or the numerous varieties of locally grown apples. But it is more than that. It’s all of these things combined with an extensive history, good customer service and old fashioned charm.

While many of their customers are visitors to the Hocking Hills, others are repeat customers coming from, not just around Hocking County, but all over. “We have a lot of people who come every year from all over Ohio and West Virginia. They come back year after year,” explained third generation Apple House owner Bobby Bowers.

“We have people whose parents brought them when they were little. Now they’re grandparents bringing their grandkids,” Bowers said. “Some of them have been coming forty, fifty years, maybe longer.”

This Laurelville tradition actually began as a “chicken-raising business,” according to a history that hangs on the wall inside the Apple House. That was in 1911 when rural mail carrier George Bowers and banker John Reichelderfer partnered on land just outside of town. The land had several apple trees and the pair abandoned the chicken business and began the Laurelville Fruit Co. By 1918 they were harvesting over 3,000 bushels from their orchard every season. The pair expanded the business over the years until Reichelderfer passed away, leaving Bowers to run the business alone.

When Bowers’ son Bob graduated high school in 1943, the pair worked together to set out more apple and peach trees. With business booming, they purchased more land and set out more trees to keep up with demand.

Bobby Bowers and his father Bob are ready to greet customers as they carry on the century old tradition that is the Apple House.

Bobby Bowers and his father Bob are ready to greet customers as they carry on the century old tradition that is the Apple House.

Bob took over the entire operation in the 1950’s, making him the second generation owner. But tragedy struck on January 2, 1968 when fire destroyed the wood-framed structure of the main building. The present concrete block building was constructed at this time and the business continued to thrive. His son Bobby also became involved in the business and was running the entire operation by 1980.

Today, a sign hangs outside the building, commemorating their hundredth anniversary in 2011 and thanking customers for a century of business.

Visitors might think that this history is still alive or even that time has stood still once inside the cinder block walls. A collection of chairs invites locals to sit a spell and chat; a pot-bellied stove during the cold months will encourage them to stay longer than planned. The wooden tables loaded with produce beckons all inside for a bit of nature’s goodness.

Regardless of which Bower waits on you, they will pull your change from an antique cash register – the kind that only calculates up to $99.99. And when they pull out your change, they will count it back to you, the old fashioned way, the way Bower says it has to be done.

During the height of apple season this fall, a cavernous walk-in cooler will be packed with wooden crates of apples of several varieties. And starting Labor Day, the family will begin making their famous apple cider, using the antique apple cider press that has churned out cider for decades. The press and the process have been retrofitted with touches of modernity that make the product both safe and delicious.

From the 1968 wooden grader to the 1920 cider mill to the giant vats that capture the cider, parts that touch the apples have been upgraded from wood to stainless steel. A technique using ultraviolet radiation replaces old fashioned pasteurization methods to meet modern safety specifications while preserving the quality of the cider. “It’s the same old cider but it’s perfectly safe,” Bowers explained.

They produce apple cider fresh daily, churning out 1,000 to 1,500 gallons a day during peak season.

Another favorite? Apple Cider Slushies. Bowers purchased the slushie machine in 1987 for his three daughters to learn responsibility and earn money for college. The girls, aged 8, 10 and 13 embraced the slushie project and operated it through their high school years. The girls are all grown up now but the tradition has continued and frequently inspires folks to stand in a long line because, simply put – the slushies are that good.

In September, both Bob Bowers and his wife will turn 90 years young. They are only “sort of retired” from the business as Bob has been working every day since peach season began. “It’s been my life,” he said.

Bobby explained that this business is a way of life that has its own rewards. “You’ve gotta like what you do when you work seventy or eighty hours a week. But when people say it’s the best cider they ever had or the best peaches they ever ate, you know it’s all worth it,” Bowers explained.

If you’re going, leave your plastic in your wallet. Cash is king at the Laurelville Apple House (they take checks too). The Apple House is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily from July through December 31. Call them at 740.332.2621.

Scroll down to view more pictures.

Join Us For A Backyard BBQ!

It’s the height of summer and we’re ready for some fun! That’s why we are hosting a Backyard BBQ in Ashville. The Pickaway County Banking Center will host this free event from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Monday. It will take place behind our bank at 26 E. Main St. in the heart of town.

Bring the entire family and your appetite because we’ll have free food, lemonade and ice tea as well as door prizes. There will also be free bounce houses for the kids. While they play, you can visit with our bank staff and executives from the VCNB Financial Family.

Ashville Branch Manager Kati Maple explained the purpose of having this event. “We are having this backyard bbq to show appreciation to our customers and introduce ourselves to anyone who is not familiar with our bank,” Maple said.

We hope to meet community members and to visit with customers so stop by and enjoy a free evening with your family and our VCNB family!

Protect Yourself From Fraud

How savvy are you when it comes to protecting yourself from fraud? Earlier this week we discussed what we do to keep your VCNB accounts safe. Today we want to talk about what you can do to protect yourself.

Protect Your Information
Sometimes you have to provide personal information for legitimate business reasons. For example, you are required to provide personal information when you open a bank account, apply for a credit card or enroll in college. However, you should avoid giving out this personal information unless absolutely necessary. Examples of personal information that should be kept personal include:

Address and Zip Code
Phone Number
Date of Birth
Social Security Number
Card or Account Number
Card Expiration Date

There is some information that you should NEVER share with anyone else. Passwords and Personal Identification Numbers (PIN) should absolutely never be shared and should always be kept private.

Using Your Card
Be attentive and vigilant when using your card at an ATM, in a store or a restaurant. Always cover your card and PIN and watch for anything out of place including:

  • Cameras, cell phones, mirrors or other instruments that might be used to view your card or PIN.
  • Individuals who are watching you.
  • Cashiers who take your card out of sight. Take it to the register yourself when possible.
  • Devices or items used to cover the card slots of an ATM, gas pump or other card machines. These devices can be used by criminals to capture your card information.
  • Any other unusual or suspicious activity.

Online Safety
Never respond to unsolicited emails that request personal information or that ask you to verify your card or account number. Legitimate businesses do not send these types of emails. Also beware of links to websites. A website may look legitimate but may collect data or even install spyware on your computer.
Plan Ahead
Are you traveling? If traveling abroad, contact VCNB before you leave. We can provide assistance and advice to help keep you safe on your journey. If traveling domestically, you do not need to contact us but it is wise to make some purchases along the way. Headed to the beach? Use your card to book the hotel and purchase gas along the way.

Also, make sure we can always reach you if we suspect fraud. Be sure to keep your current home, cell and work phone numbers on file with us. If we suspect fraudulent activity on your account, we need to reach you as soon as possible.

As we told you yesterday, we never solicit personal information via phone, email or text message. If someone contacts you requesting account information, your social security number, PIN, passwords or other personal information, do not provide this information. The bottom line is you should trust your instincts. If it feels suspicious it probably is. If you missed yesterday’s post, be sure to check it out.

VCNB Fraud Department: Protecting Your Accounts

Fraud is on the rise, putting every American at risk of becoming a victim. This is why the security of your VCNB accounts is our number one goal. In everything we do, every decision we make, we first consider the risk involved and how our actions will affect your security.

We have systems in place to keep your Debit/ATM card and your VCNB accounts safe and secure. To protect your account, we monitor your transactions for possible fraudulent activity 24 hours a day, every day of the year.

What is potential fraudulent activity? Some red flags include a string of expensive purchases inconsistent with your usual spending patterns or a sudden change of locale. We also look for patterns associated with new fraud trends around the world.

For example, if you purchase gasoline in Lancaster, Ohio just hours after a purchase is made in Florida, this would raise a red flag. A series of purchases for hundreds of dollars of merchandise may also be cause for concern.

If we suspect fraudulent activity, our monitoring agency will call you to verify the validity of your transactions. It is imperative that you respond to this call to prevent additional risk and avoid restrictions that we may place on your card for your protection.

If we contact you:

  • You will be contacted between the hours of 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. in your local time zone.
  • An automated call will ask you to verify recent activity on your card.
  • You will be able to respond via your touchtone keypad.
  • You will be provided a toll-free number to call if you have additional questions.

If we are unable to reach you, the transaction that triggered the suspected fraud may not be approved. Also, your card may be temporarily restricted to prevent your exposure to fraud.

It is imperative that we reach you if potential fraud is detected so please keep VCNB apprised of your correct contact information including home, cell and work phone numbers, email address and home address.

Also remember that our policy is to never solicit personal information via phone, email or text message. If someone contacts you requesting account information, your social security number, PIN, passwords or other personal information, do not provide this information.

If you are uncertain about the validity of a contact you receive from someone claiming to represent VCNB, please call our Customer Service Department at 1.800.542.5004 or the number on the back of your card.

Want to learn more? Stay tuned. Later this week we’ll talk about what you can do to protect yourself and your accounts from fraud.

Avoid Christmas Debt This Year

Christmas and BillsLet’s talk Christmas. We know it’s only August but it’s time.

Christmas is now less than five months away. That means in just a few months we will be celebrating this joyous season. What comes to mind? Family traditions, delicious food, stockings filled with candy and buying gifts? The song tells us it is the most wonderful time of the year but that isn’t the case for everyone.

Unfortunately, Christmas also is the most expensive, most stressful and most debt filled time of the year for millions of Americans. As Santa’s Wish List grows every year, so does the amount of debt Americans owe every January. If you typically are still paying for Christmas when Groundhog Day rolls around, now is the time to think about how to avoid debt and the interest that comes with it, beginning this year.

There are several ways you can tackle this problem. The first is to shop year round. If you need generic gifts for co-workers or if you already know what you are giving someone, watching sales and clearance racks is a great way to pick up nice gifts while saving a few dollars. If you buy just one or two gifts a month, when December rolls around you’ll be ahead of the game. Start with after-Christmas sales, to save a bundle for next year.

Another way to go is to begin saving a little bit each month. Start by adding up all your anticipated holiday expenses: gifts, cards, stamps, wrapping paper, bows, food, travel costs and anything else that is an added expense during the holiday season. There are five months until Christmas. Is it possible to save a fifth of the total each month?

If the answer is yes, that’s terrific! Start squirreling away the money today!

If the answer is no, think about how much you can save. Are there expenses you can trim to get you to your goal? Maybe you have something to sell. Maybe you can cut back on the holidays some and lower your savings expectations.

Even if you can save just a small amount of your goal before the holidays, it will give you a leg up when shopping season arrives.

Speaking of savings for the holidays, in October we will begin enrolling folks for the 2016 Christmas Club. You decide how much you would like to save each month and we will automatically take your payments from your checking or savings account. In October 2016, you’ll receive a check from us for the full amount of your Christmas Club savings. There is a $20 fee for an account that is closed early. See an account representative for details.

Imagine starting the year without Christmas debt. It can be done if you get organized and begin in advance!

Simplify Money Management With VCNB

This week is National Simplify Your Life Week. That sounds nice but sometimes simplification is the hardest thing you can do. Between work and family, it often feels like a struggle to just keep everyone fed and on time for school.

Since much of your life hinges on money – paying bills on time, buying groceries, saving money and the piece of mind that comes with knowing these things are done – we want to give you a quick overview of how you can simplify your money.

If you’re a VCNB customer, you have access to several of things that will make your life easier thanks to Online Banking and VCNB Mobile. Accessing accounts electronically really is a lifesaver for a lot of our customers. Need to save money? You can automate it and forget it. Have trouble paying bills on time? You can automate those too! Do you sometimes overdraw your checking account? Get a balance alert via text or email when you go below a certain balance!

Here are some features that will simplify your life:

Save Money
Experts say you should save ten to fifteen percent of your income toward retirement. They also recommend having an emergency fund to help with life’s little surprises. But are you actually saving? Schedule on-demand transfers from your checking to your savings. Better yet, set up automatic transfers to ensure it is done regularly. Automatic transfers can be scheduled for any amount on any day of the month. Just set it up once and watch your balance grow!

Think you won’t be able to leave your savings alone? A lot of our customers use Christmas Club accounts as a means to save. Regular transfers are made from your checking or savings account into a Christmas Club account. Since there is a $20 fee to access those funds before the Christmas Club cycle finishes, most customers successfully reach their savings goal.

Track Money
Do you sometimes overdraw your account? Wonder if your direct deposit hit your account? Forget to make a loan payment? Set up account alerts for these things and more. There are nineteen different account alerts that can be sent via text or email. If you need a gentle reminder that your car payment is due or if you want to know that a check cleared, we will let you know!

Do you have a lot of plastic in your wallet? Between credit cards and store rewards cards, most Americans are carrying a lot of plastic. You can personalize your VCNB debit card to make it easy to find. Upload your own picture or use one of ours for a $5 annual fee! Locating your debit card has never been simpler!

Pay Bills and Spend
It’s a fact of life. Busy people often pay bills late. Whether it’s a lack of time or stamps, or simple forgetfulness, it’s easy to incur a late fee. Streamline your bills with Online Bill Pay. You can put your payments on autopilot and schedule them to pay the same day every month or you can manually schedule payments as needed. Either way, the service is free as long as you use it at least once a month. Otherwise, there is a $3 monthly fee.

If you use Online Bill Pay, you also have access to Popmoney ® personal payment service. Popmoney allows you to send money to anyone with just their email or mobile phone number. Best of all, other people can send you money too! So the next time you split the cost of a gift for your boss you can just send your share via Popmoney. If you buy concert tickets for the gang, they all can send your share to you! The cost is .50 per transaction for the person who sends the funds.

Save Time
Online and on your mobile device, you can save yourself time by checking balances, paying bills and keeping things straight. But did you know you can also save yourself a trip to the bank? Use our mobile app to deposit a check for just .50! You can do this by logging into your mobile account and taking a picture of the front and back of the check. CLICK HERE for complete instructions and details. (W/LINK TO WEBSITE)

Still write checks? You can reorder those online as well!

Keep Us Close
Keep us close – on your computer, on your mobile device, in branch or over the phone. You can also chat with our Customer Service Department during business hours. Just visit our website and click the Green Chat Now button to start a conversation!

Phew! That’s a long list! How do you use VCNB to simplify your life? Tell us in the comments section!

Lower Summer Cooling Costs

Is this hot, humid weather starting to impact your budget? At VCNB we are always looking for ways to save a little money and to use our resources more efficiently. So today we are talking about ways to lower our summer cooling bill.

If you’re like a lot of our customers, you cool your home using either a central air conditioner or window units. Or maybe you simply use fans to keep the air moving and the windows open. Either way, there are methods you can use to keep air conditioners running efficiently, to prevent heat build-up and to prevent energy waste.

Here are some tips to get you started today:

Close the blinds  Anything that prevents the sun from beating in and creating a greenhouse effect will make it easier for your AC unit to maintain cooler temps. If possible consider planting leafy trees or bushes that will provide shade for your home.

 Look for leaks  It sounds silly but you can lose a lot of cool air through small openings around doors and windows. Another major source of loss is around window air conditioning units. A few minutes sealing small drafts can help with energy bills year round. If you have a little extra money, consider adding insulation to your attic as well!

Clean the filters  Keep your air conditioner in great working condition by cleaning the filters once every month and replacing them when necessary.

Program the thermostat  While you may like your house at a comfortable 75 degrees when you’re home, there’s no need to keep the house so cool when you aren’t there. Invest in a programmable thermostat and set it to increase five to ten degrees while you are away from home and to return to a comfortable temperature an hour before you return.

Turn off the oven  Turning on the oven heats up the house, forcing your air conditioner to work harder. Cook on the grill, in the microwave or on the stop top!

 Set your air conditioning fan to auto   This turns the fan motor off when the unit is not cooling. Using Auto rather than On can save you $15 to $25 a month during the summer.

Use ceiling fans  Set ceiling fans to blow downward during the summer to circulate air rather than lowering your thermostat.

Thinking ahead  When it’s time to replace your air conditioning unit, talk to a qualified air conditioning specialist who can determine the right size cooling system for your home. A unit that is too large for your house will operate as inefficiently as one that is too small. Also choose a higher SEER unit. SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio and basically rates the efficiency of a cooling unit. The higher the SEER number, the more cooling you will get for your dollar.

What are your techniques for keeping your home cool and your cold, hard cash in your wallet? Comment below!

Local Business Spotlight: Blystone Farm

We understand that being a small business owner is tough. That’s why we plan to spotlight a different business each month to help you learn about unique businesses in your own back yard. 

WP_20150707_10_30_51_ProIt’s summertime in Ohio and the season for sunshine, swimming pools and family gatherings is upon us. That means perfect weather for grilling out! And if you’re looking for a place to pick up fresh, local meat to throw on the grill and fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables to pair it with, look no further than Blystone Farm in Canal Winchester.

Blystone Farm is a historic, four generation family farm that has taken eating local to a whole new level. Herds of commercial sheep have been raised on the farm through the years. Then, eleven years ago, Joe Blystone had a brainstorm. Seeing opportunity in Franklin County and surrounding areas, Blystone led the charge in opening an on-farm meat processing facility.

“The idea to bring back the old time butcher shop really started with the growing ethnic community in Franklin County,” Joe said. With lambs and goats being raised at the farm already and the development of the butcher shop, Blystone Farm found their niche in their ability to “provide a high quality fresh meat product to the immigrant and refugee community, with respect to their religious need.”

Opportunities for expansion accompanied the operation’s success. The family farm took on pigs and cows and began laying plans for expanding the shop. Joe’s wife Jane was welcomed into the family business in 2010, bringing expertise as a baker and experience as a business owner.

The building was expanded and the Blystone Farm Retail Market was developed into what it is today – a one stop shop for fresh, local meats, fresh baked bread and pastries, local seasonal fruits and vegetables, craft beer and more, including locally made condiments such as Blystone Farm branded sauces and seasonings.

Nearly all of the meat available at the shop is processed on-site from all Ohio raised livestock. The only exception is grass-fed, naturally-raised buffalo meat used in their bison burgers, sent straight from The Wild Idea Buffalo Company in South Dakota.

It doesn’t stop at the butcher shop and bakery though. Customers with special occasions can place custom orders including half and whole animals for events like a hog roast. In fact, custom orders are gladly accepted and prepared for customers with specific needs.   And, as an added bonus, the outdoor table seating and in-house deli at the shop offer visitors a chance to sit, relax and have a sandwich at lunch while overlooking the beauty of rural farmland.

Word has begun to spread about quality products and service in the expanded shop and rave reviews are rampant on social media. “We’re starting to see folks stop in from further out than Lancaster, Fairfield County, and Franklin County” which is what the primary customer base was in the past, Joe explained.

So the next time you have a hankering for a bison burger or a fresh baked pie, you’re planning a hog roast, or you feel like impressing your guests with local brewed craft beer and a porterhouse steak, stop by Blystone Farm in Canal Winchester. At Blystone Farm, it’s always the season for quality food and drink!

Want to know more? Visit their website or follow Blystone Farm on Facebook!

Cell Phone Courtesy For Everyone

We are busy, busy, busy and always on the go. That means we do more with our phones than ever before. But are you always courteous with your phone.

As of January 2014, the Pew Research Center reports that ninety percent of American adults have cell phones. That means that most of us are walking around with devices in our pockets that give us the gift of communication anywhere we go. Given that so many of us have embraced the technology, we couldn’t overlook the opportunity to talk about polite phone usage during Cell Phone Courtesy Month.

Rather than talk about what not to do, we prefer to focus on the positives. Here are some do’s.

Do Be Present In The Moment
Out with friends? Having dinner with your family? Enjoy the time you have with loved ones and engage in conversation with them! Chances are, whoever is trying to call or message you can wait awhile.

Cell phone courtesyDo Silence Your Phone
Respect the people around you by using your phone’s silent or vibrate mode and let calls go to voicemail during public events like movies and plays or during work meetings. You don’t want to miss out on what’s happening around you or distract others with your conversation.

Do Respect Service Workers
It’s a busy world for you and for the people around you so be respectful of time. Don’t make service workers wait or feel ignored while you carry on a conversation. Store clerks and wait staff will be the first people to tell you they don’t enjoy listening to your conversation while they wait to wait on you.

Do Maintain Your Privacy
Be aware of your surroundings and avoid discussing confidential information or private information in public. You never know who may be in hearing range. Besides, do you really want a lot of strangers to know the details of your recent root canal? Along those lines, keep your emotions in check and avoid having an argument where others can hear.

Do Use Your Indoor Voice
People tend to speak more loudly than normal on their cell phone and sometimes don’t realize how distracting the added volume is to others.

Do Be Discreet
If you need to take a call and you are with a group, excuse yourself and find a quiet place to have the conversation. When possible, stay in place and send the person a text to let them know when you will return the call.

Do Focus on the Road
Be responsible when you’re behind the wheel. Don’t text or place calls when driving. Need to make a call? Pull over for a few minutes. It’s better to be a little late for your destination than to cause an accident with your distracted driving.

Do Watch The Volume
If you’re watching a video or listening to music on your device, try earphones to avoid distracting others.

Respect Rules
While you may love your phone, there are some places that do not welcome your mobile devices. Respect posted signs at places like hospitals, dentist offices or government facilities where usage is restricted.

We know you love your phone! We love our phones too! However, as usage becomes more prevalent, we all need to focus on being good users. What are your thoughts on this topic? We would love to hear from you! Post a comment today!