Darlene Merckle To Retire After Fifty Year Banking Career

When Darlene Merckle came to work for the Bremen Bank, she was a student at Fairfield Union High School who landed a part time job at the bank. On June 15, she will celebrate her well-earned retirement after a fifty year career with the bank.

Darlene Merckle 2

The kindness and professionalism of Darlene Merckle will be missed after her retirement from the bank this week.

Darlene’s name isn’t one that most customers know. However, scores of loan customers over the years have benefited from her expertise, hard work and dedicated approach to her job. That’s because she is an Indirect Loan Processor. That means she’s part of a select team of employees who are responsible for processing the loans that customers receive after applying at the dealership where they buy their automobile, RV, boat, motorcycle or other type of vehicle. While the loan documents can be signed at the dealership, there remains much work on the back end to insure that the loan is processed properly and the dealership paid.

But Darlene hasn’t always worked behind the scenes making dreams come true for customers.

She actually started at the bank at a time when employees had to be trained to do a lot of different jobs. “Back then, you did everything. Teller work, bookkeeping, you name it. We had to be able to do it all,” she said.

In those days, bookkeeping was a manual affair where posted checks were checked against hand written ledgers. She recalls the bank using lots of large machines such as a proof machine which was used to process checks at banks prior to the advent of computers.

Since then, she has moved around some within the bank and has seen more changes in the banking industry than she can count.

At the Bremen Bank on Main Street in Bremen, she recalls several remodeling projects, town floods, the addition of new branches and the many shifting responsibilities of staff. She even recalls a time when a stray cat had a litter of kittens in the crawl space underneath the bank. “Lots of good memories,” she said with a chuckle and a twinkle in her eye.

While Darlene started as a teller, she also worked in new accounts for a period before finding her niche in loan processing. At that time, a customer’s loan documents were kept all together in large paper files. As the bank grew, it became necessary to begin breaking out files by loan type and to change the filing system. Later, computers made it easy to scan and file documents, altogether eliminating the need for paper records.

She also recalls the many regulation changes that impact how a customer applies for a loan and the kind of information needed from the customer. “There was a time when there were no disclosures given, no application. There was just a note you signed promising to pay it back,” she said. “And I remember when we first started having customers fill out an application. It was a hard thing for some of our customers because they had never had to apply.”

Today, buyers can apply for a VCNB loan from the dealership. It’s a quick process that provides the customer with a convenient way to borrow money from VCNB when and where they need it and without making a trip to the bank.

Once the borrower is approved and they sign the documents at the dealership, Indirect Loan Processors like Darlene take over. They build the loan into the bank’s system and pay the dealership from their office in Lancaster.  “I like doing the behind the scenes work and I’ve always been fascinated by numbers,” she said. “It’s been a good fit.”

With just a few days left on the job, Darlene says she is looking forward to retirement. “It’s time to retire. Sometimes you just know. There’s not a reason I want to go now but I don’t want to wait too long either. I don’t want to wait until it isn’t fun anymore,” she explained. “Fifty years is enough time.”

The Fairfield County native looks forward to spending time with family including her two grown children and her five grandchildren as well as Mark, her husband of 45 years. “I’ll miss the people. Yes, I will miss my coworkers. A lot of them are like family,” she said wistfully.

And Darlene’s coworkers will miss her too.

Vice President of Indirect Lending Trisha Kyer is visibly saddened when speaking of Darlene’s upcoming retirement. The two have worked together for 25 years, forming a bond that extends beyond work. “She’s a good person and once you’re friends with her, she’s there for you for life,” Trisha said. “I think she knows everyone in the bank and they all lover her. I know this is best for Darlene but we’ll miss her.”

The bank will celebrate Darlene’s fifty year career with a reception at our West Fair branch in Lancaster on Friday, June 15 from noon to 3 p.m. The public is invited to stop by for cake and to wish Darlene well as she starts a new chapter in her life’s book.

“Who would’ve thought that little seventeen year old girl would still be here all these years later?” Darlene asked. “It’s hard to believe!”

Debbie Harmon To Retire Friday

Debbie HarmonDebbie Harmon’s career has been a long and winding road since she started out as a Performance Dance major in college. Debbie will soon retire from the VCNB Family after a successful banking career and, while it isn’t the line of work she studied for, Debbie says her career working with customers has been rewarding.

She appreciates the community aspect of working for a community bank. “I like that the community is important to us and that people matter,” she said, pointing out that the branches are encouraged to support their communities and individuals are rewarded for their volunteerism.

“Community banking was a good move for me,” she said of her decision to take a position at VCNB about nine years ago. Prior to working for VCNB, Debbie was employed by a big bank and before that by Ohio State University as Coordinator of Student Loan Services.

Many of Debbie’s customers will remember her as Head Teller and later Branch Service Manager at Canal Banking Center. She moved to the Pataskala branch about a year and a half ago to help out as Branch Service Manager during an interim period.  “I liked my job before but had the opportunity to do more, to make the last year more interesting and to do more than I’ve always known,” she explained.

Helping people is a passion that has made Debbie a good community banker. “I like helping people, especially when I can take a customer’s problem or question and guide them to a solution from beginning to end. I don’t like to pass a customer off to another department or another person but enjoy working through the issue for them,” she explained.

Her eyes light up when she talks about the free time she will soon have. “I’m looking forward to having more time to take care of myself better. It may sound fuddy-duddy but I’m looking forward to being at home too. I love going and doing things, especially visiting places I’ve never been. It’s a big world and there are a lot of things to see and do but I like home too,” she said with laugh. “I’m not at all worried about how I’ll fill my time.”

Debbie reads a lot and enjoys writing as well. She and husband Guy have been married for 40 years and they have two children. She looks forward to having more free time with her family as well as time to work in her flower garden.

“It’s been easy coming to work here. Good friendships, good relationships, good customers – that’s truly been a blessing. But it’s time. It’s time to retire. Nothing has changed. I still like my job and still want to do a good job. You don’t always know why but you know it’s time to start a new chapter and now is the time for me,” she said.

Debbie will officially retire on May 31. A reception will be held on May 31 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the Pataskala branch of the Friendly Bremen Banking Center to honor both Debbie and Crystal Gregor who will retire the same day.

Crystal Gregor To Retire Friday

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When VCNB opened its Pataskala branch in 2006, Crystal Gregor was there to help move into the office and to greet new customers. She had just made the move from a big bank to VCNB, training at our Lancaster West Fair branch before helping open the newly constructed office in Pataskala. That means May 31 will mark the end of an era for our Pataskala customers and for Crystal as she will retire after a 32 year career in central Ohio banking.

While she is excited to retire, the longtime Head Teller at the Friendly Bremen Bank of Pataskala still gets a little teary eyed when she speaks of leaving her customers and coworkers.   “I am looking forward to retirement but will miss the people so much. My coworkers are a little like family and I just love everyone I work with,” she said. “

She also feels a fond attachment to many of her regular customers, smiling as she mentioned a few who she will particularly miss. “I’m here for the customers. It’s my job to take care of the customer but it’s not just a job for me. I love taking care of people and I’m really going to miss this part of my life.”

While Crystal will miss her customers and work family, she looks forward to spending more time with the people in her personal life, especially her husband Glen who she calls “the best” and her 86 year old father who she calls “the most gentle, kind man.”

Crystal has three sons in Pickerington, Worthington and Texas. She intends to visit her Texas son later this year. She also has four grandkids who she is already making arrangements to have quality time with. And then there are her three best girlfriends with whom she’s making plans for some fun adventures this year.

“It’s been such a journey and I’m lucky to have learned so much along the way,” she said. One of those lessons, she said, is to not let others make you feel bad. “Never let anyone get you down when you know you’re a good person and doing the right thing,” she said. “You have to be true to yourself.”

Another important lesson relates to money and kindness. “Money only means so much. If you’re not doing a service of kindness for another human being, what are you doing? Why are you here?” she asked.

Her last piece of advice?

Enjoy every day. “You get one life. Enjoy every day,” she said. “Coming to work here was truly a blessing. I feel like I’m where God wants me to be. But I also feel like it’s time to do something different and I look forward to what that might be.”

If you’re in the area, help Crystal celebrate her happy day with a reception at the Pataskala branch of the Friendly Bremen Banking Center from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on May 31. The reception will also celebrate the career of Debbie Harmon who will retire on the same day.

Bank Where You See Our Logo

Do you know how to spot a VCNB branch?

We have seventeen locations in eight Ohio counties and they operate under a few different names – Friendly Bremen Banking Center, Canal Banking Center, Hocking Hills Banking Center,  Jackson County Banking Center, Pickaway County Banking Center, Ross County Banking Center and, of course – Vinton County National Bank.

Embracing a community name is our way of embracing our communities!  While they may operate with different names, all of these bank branches are a part of the VCNB Financial Family and all embrace the same values and priorities that have been developed since our first bank opened in McArthur in 1867.

But how do you recognize a VCNB branch? That’s easy. Just look for our logo!

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Regardless of which VCNB branch you went to when opening an account, you can bank anywhere you see our logo. Need help finding a VCNB office? Click here!

 

What We Mean When We Say Relationship Banking

VCNB Billboard - Relationships Across Generations - (Rt. 50 Kenjoh Outdoor)

If you’ve seen our advertising and billboards this spring, you know that we’ve been talking about “Relationship Banking.” You might be wondering what that actually means.

To us, relationship banking is exactly what it sounds like. It’s about building relationships with our customers, bonds that last through a lifetime and often through multiple generations.

Whenever someone retires from our bank, we inevitably have customers who mourn the loss of their banker. For so many of our customers, their VCNB banker isn’t just someone who opens their account or loans them money. That person has helped them through many stages of life. From their first checking account to saving for a car or getting a first mortgage – their VCNB banker has offered sound advice over the years and has been with them through many stages of life.

This is how we’ve been successful for 152 years. We love helping you and hope to have the opportunity to help your kids and your parents and your friends as well. We want you to trust us so much that you open your child’s first passbook savings with us and that you don’t hesitate to recommend us to a friend searching for a new bank.

Our customer list is filled with countless examples of families who have been with us for generations. Don’t you want a banker you can trust? VCNB is here for you and for your lifetime of needs.

 

VCNB Team To Compete In The Buck Fifty

When the Buck Fifty kicks off in Chillicothe Friday afternoon, a team from VCNB will be among a field of nearly a hundred teams hoping to conquer the challenging overnight relay race through Ross County. The course winds through several communities, along back roads and through the area’s state and national parks. While the region’s rolling hills and winding roads make a scenic backdrop for a run, the course is a grueling 150 miles of physical and mental challenges.

But this relay race isn’t just about winners and losers. It’s also about raising money for an important cause in Ross County. Buck Fifty proceeds benefit the Drug Free Clubs of America Program in Ross County.

VCNB Head of Consumer Lending and VCNB Team Captain Tom Oyer said that helping raise money for this important cause was part of the reason the bank wanted to participate. “It’s an important cause here in Ross County. All the money raised is used to combat the drug problems in the community, specifically young people in schools,” he said.

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Look for the VCNB team jerseys during the Buck Fifty Friday and Saturday!

The bank’s participation in this third annual event was actually the brainchild of VCNB President Mark Erslan and Personal Banker Dustin Nusbaum. An avid runner, Nusbaum logs ten to twenty miles every week and has supported the Buck Fifty since its inception three years ago.

The Buck Fifty funds this program which has attracted 65 percent of all Ross County high school students, using a drug free pledge, education and incentives to keep kids clean.

The race begins on Friday and ends Saturday, mainly with ten person teams and just a handful of elite five person teams. The bank’s team consists of ten people from Chillicothe and other areas where the bank has branches.

Each ten person team is divided into two vans, with one van on the road at all times while one person is running. While the terrain is challenging, the schedule is grueling. It calls for participants to run several miles at a time, at three different times during a 24 hour span.

By day, Bryan Radabaugh works as Vice President of Operations at the bank’s McArthur office. In his free time he’s been training and looking forward to some family time with his two grown children who have also joined the bank’s team. “It’s going to be a lot of fun,” he said. “I’m in the same van as my kids so we’ll get to have some family time,” he said while describing the competitive spirit of son Bret, age 23, and daughter Hannah, age 20.

While Nusbaum has experience running this course, it will be a first time experience for the rest of the team. “It should be interesting for all of us. It’ll certainly be a challenge. You know, running is physical but it’s a mental thing too. Your body is saying ‘I can’t. I don’t want to do this.’ But you have to stay focused and use your mind to keep going,” Radabaugh said.

The VCNB Buck Fifty team consists of:

Mark Erslan, Chillicothe
Bryan Radabaugh, McArthur
Tom Oyer, Chillicothe
Mike Thurston, Pataskala
Gracie Rarick, Pataskala
Keirstan Mirgon, Lancaster
Josh Palmer, Pataskala
Dustin Nusbaum, Chillicothe
Bret Radabaugh, McArthur
Hannah Radabaugh, McArthur

“We’re all just proud to represent the bank and hope to do a good job,” Oyer said. “More than anything, we’re happy that the money raised at the Buck Fifty will be used for such a good cause.”

Best wishes to all of these volunteers who make up our team. We are proud of the work you do for the bank and look forward to seeing you compete this weekend! Want to learn more about the Bucky Fifty and how the money raised will be used locally? Click here for details.

A Fond Farewell: Earl Later Retires

Talk to Earl Later about how he spends his time outside of work and you have to wonder how he even finds time to work at the Salt Creek Banking Center. That’s actually no longer a problem for the longtime banker since he retired from the bank last week.

Earl has worked at our Laurelville branch since before it was part of the VCNB Financial Family. He started at Salt Creek Bank in 1995, bringing with him years of experience as a lender at other banks in Logan. When he started at Salt Creek, part of his job was to organize loan records and modernize forms to overhaul tracking and record keeping systems. “I spent a lot of time just getting files straightened out and updating forms so that we could have a better system moving forward,” he explained.

Earl Later retires 2He cut back to two days a week fifteen years ago but says he is now ready to retire from the bank and direct his attention elsewhere. And there is no shortage of things to keep him occupied.

Earl’s life with his wife Brenda keeps him active and busy. For the past six years, the two have been rearing two young boys – the children of Brenda’s deceased niece. Now aged 12 and 13, the boys are involved in school activities including soccer and basketball. “That keeps us going, having the boys and all their school work and sports and things they’re involved in,” he said.

Brenda also operates a cottage bakery business out of their home. From wedding cakes to party cupcakes to cheesecakes for a local restaurant, she stays busy with baking and decorating. He helps out as her runner, picking up supplies and assisting with deliveries.

He’s also looking forward to organizing his wood shop so that he can use it for future projects. And that’s without mentioning his ten acre Rockbridge property where he mows about five acres of grass, does snow removal and other maintenance.

Earl also credits a lifetime of hard work as he described growing up on his father’s farm. The Rockbridge property that now is home to a popular antique and craft mall was once his father’s busy farm.  “You name it, we did it. I drove tractor, baled hay in the summer when it’s hot. I learned to work hard.  Now I like to mow because it clears the mind, it’s a different world out here,” he said.

Earl also has a son, Mark, who lives in Logan. The pair have an annual tradition – they attend a NASCAR race together and try to visit a different track each time. “We’ve been to a lot of different tracks and we look forward to it every year.”

“Of course, I’ll miss talking to the customers and I’ll miss my coworkers but it’s a changing world and it’s a good time to retire. Nothing stays the same. That’s the one constant,” he said. “I like to keep the blood flowing. A lot of people, when they retire, they just sit down. The key is to keep active,” he said. “To me, old age is about fifteen years older than I am.”

 

Bonnie McDevitt To Retire This Week

Bonnie McDevitt retires 2019

Bonnie McDevitt

Ask Bonnie McDevitt to talk about herself and her upcoming retirement and her initial response is that there’s not really anything to talk about. Her next response is to start talking about the people in her work life and how much she will miss them.

A seasoned banker and customer service professional, Bonnie will retire on March 29 after working as a teller in our Pataskala branch for twelve years.

Before coming to work at our Friendly Bremen Banking Center in Pataskala, Bonnie worked as a teller for another bank for several years. Before that, she was Head Cashier at the JCPenney Outlet Store, working at the popular store for nearly twenty years.

Bonnie’s customers and coworkers will tell you that customer service is always her focus and priority. It is these people – her regular customers and her longtime coworkers – who Bonnie says she will miss the most. “I’ll miss a lot of customers, people I see regularly. But I’ll really miss my coworkers. Some of them I’ve worked with for a lot of years,” she said.

Retirement is something that has been on the horizon for some time. She cut back to part time hours three years ago, something that she says has helped with the adjustment. “I’ve gotten used to having free time so it’s not like I’ll just wake up someday and have nowhere to be.”

The Scio, Ohio native has been working since she was just sixteen years old. From babysitting to running a cash register to lots of other jobs in between, she says that growing up in the small Harrison County town was beneficial. “Never have I regretted growing up in a small town. It was a good place to grow up and I got a lot of good experience and values from being from a small town,” she recalled. “I’ve had a good life so far!”

While Bonnie looks forward to retiring, she is conscious of the need to stay busy and to have purpose in her life once she is no longer headed to the bank every day. She has two grown children and four grandchildren and her eyes shine with pride as she describes each of them. She particularly enjoys seeing her two youngest grandchildren participate in extracurricular activities including basketball and football.

Bonnie also has a group of girlfriends from her JCPenney days. They gather regularly to socialize and play Euchre. “We’ve been playing cards together for years and years. Some of those girls, I’ve known since they were young. Some of them for 34 years!”

“My daughter wants me to stay busy. She’s all the time on me to stay active and to have things to do so I think she’ll keep me busy” she said. “You have to have the right mindset. You have to have a positive mindset and to find ways to not become bored. It’s too easy for people to become depressed when they’re not active. I don’t want that, I want to stay active,” she said.

Bonnie is thrilled that spring has arrived as she sometimes walks in her Pataskala neighborhood. She also enjoys jigsaw puzzles and isn’t intimidated by the challenging ones. She intends to volunteer some and hopes to soon begin volunteering at Mt. Carmel Hospital. She’s already talking about finding a small part time job once the newness of retirement wears off.

“Life is a journey and I’m ready to enjoy the next chapter,” she exclaimed!

Bonnie’s last day will be Friday, March 29. Customers are invited to stop by that day to celebrate and enjoy cake and punch.

 

Laurelville Lobby Reopens Monday

Since we began remodeling the Salt Creek Banking Center in mid-January the lobby has been relocated to the back of the building where customers have used the back entrance and are sometimes inconvenienced by our construction.

This is why we couldn’t be more thrilled to say that the wait is over and the lobby remodel is complete. Customers may resume using the front door on Monday!

With this remodeling project, the bank is embracing a new style of doing business that we believe will be not just aesthetically pleasing but a better experience for the customer.

The remodeled space is light and airy with digital screens for advertising and a wall featuring images from the town’s long history. The drive-thru has been reconfigured as well and now uses a video system for customers to interact with their bankers through high definition cameras and monitors.

More importantly, most of the staff has been trained to be Personal Bankers who can help customers with most of their banking needs.

The idea actually harkens back to an earlier time in banking when every employee could help a customer with almost all their needs. Whether customers are making a deposit, opening an account or applying for a consumer loan, Personal Bankers can help with all these needs without passing the customer off to another employee.

Branch Manager Holly King is enthused to begin using the new space.  “I am very excited that the new lobby opens on Monday! I cannot wait for my wonderful customers to see the beautiful history wall and experience this exciting time with us,” she said.

Customers and the public are welcome to stop by to see the work we’ve done. “Even if you don’t have bank business, we hope you’ll stop by to see how nice it looks and to have a cup of coffee with your bankers,” Holly said.

Other improvements include some upgrades to back office areas and to the building exterior.

 

Small Business Spotlight: Bernie and Max Stained Glass Studio

Small businesses are important to communities and running a business is tough work. That’s why we feature a small business in one of our communities every month!

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Bernie Evans talks about the work needed to repair this church window in his workshop at Bernie and Max Stained Glass Studio.

To the casual observer, a piece of stained glass art is just that – a pretty piece of art. But talk to Bernie Evans and you’ll quickly learn that working with stained glass involves a logical process that requires patience and problem solving skills as well as artistic ability.

Bernie is the mild mannered owner of Bernie and Max Stained Glass Studio in downtown Chillicothe. The studio is a resource for all things stained glass including the tools and supplies for creating glass art, classes and workshops to learn the process, restoration and repair services for older panels, lampshades, and the creation of unique stained glass pieces for purchase. The walls of the retail space are lined with sheets of stained glass in nearly every color imaginable and the store features locally made stained glass pieces – both large and small.

What is surprising is that the business started out as just a hobby. Bernie explained that he had some health issues that put him off work from the paper mill in 2005. “I needed something to keep myself from going crazy and I just started playing with it,” he said.

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Bernie and Max Stained Glass Studio features a number of locally created pieces that are for sale.

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This dimensional guitar lamp was designed by Bernie. He donated one like it to Rock For Tots several years ago. It sold for $5,000 and was donated back the following year by the winner. It sold again for $7,000 that year.

After returning to work for several months, Bernie decided it was time for a change so he retired from his job and started the business from his home. He eventually moved into a small retail space in downtown. The business is now in the old Oddfellows Lodge on Paint Street, providing about 14,000 square feet of space as opposed to the 1,400 square feet available in his first storefront.

When asked how he learned the art, he said he is completely self-taught. “One of the things I got from my grandpa is my ability to pick things up pretty easily, to be able to learn on my own,” he said.

Employee Pam Hatton was cleaning a stained glass lamp when she chimed into the conversation. “His problem solving is incredible! Ingenuity is the word that comes to mind. If he can’t find the tool he needs, he makes it. And he can make or fix anything,” she praised.

He says that practice and patience are key to working with stained glass. “Practice and patience. Patience and practice. Students always want it to be perfect the first time and it just doesn’t work that way. It takes time to learn, practice to be perfect and you never stop learning,” he said.

He teaches the art in classes, workshops and other group settings that cover introductory to advanced techniques. His Introductory Class teaches the basics of the copper foil method of stained glass construction. Students will also learn about safety in glasswork, how to work with patterns, how to cut glass, grind, foil and solder. This class is typically held the first and second Saturday of each month from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and is limited to six students.

Another popular class, the Lead Came Class is more advanced and teaches students how to construct panels with strips of lead came. This class is scheduled when there are enough interested students.

They also offer a class that teaches more advanced students to work dimensionally by building their own jewelry box or lamp shade. In addition, they welcome groups and parties for fused glass workshops.

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This piece is a Bernie Evans original.

Pam, now retired from the VA, came to Bernie and Max as a student.  “That was about six or seven years ago and I just never left,” she laughed. Now she works a few days a week, creating lovely pieces that are sold in the store.

Larger pieces can be created for residential, church or commercial clients. For example, windows of all sizes, kitchen cabinet doors, lamps and wall hangings are commonly created here.

As much as Bernie loves talking about stained glass and the education the studio provides, his eyes light up when discussing the restoration and repair services they provide. He seems most at home in his basement workshop where workbenches are covered in hundreds of multicolored tiles related to his current project – the restoration of a chapel window for Chillicothe Correctional Institution.

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Bernie demonstrates the restoration process on part of a stained glass window from a chapel at Chillicothe Correctional Institute.

Each restoration piece is brought into the workshop where it is documented and rubbings are made before the piece is taken apart, the lead is removed, the glass is cleaned and it is put back together again using appropriate restoration lead.

Each case is unique. For the CCI project, Bernie had to design and fabricate special metal frames for each large section of the 26 foot tall, twelve foot wide window. “We never shy away from a challenge,” he acknowledged. “I like working on the old stuff. I like getting my hands on something that’s 150 or 175 years old,” he said with reverence.

That thought led Bernie to discuss the abundance of stained glass windows that have been damaged by the very methods employed to protect them. He talked about efforts taken in the last fifty years to protect the windows from acid rain, vandals and other threats by covering them with panes of glass or plexiglass. Unfortunately, when the sun shines directly on these windows, the air space is heated to a high temperature and the lead used to construct the windows is softened. “They thought they were doing good but, to do this properly, you need ventilation at the top and bottom to allow for air circulation. Now we are facing the consequences of these well intentioned actions,” Bernie explained.

While there are stained glass studios like his in Ohio’s cities, it’s uncommon to find this specialty in a small town. “There are very few that do this kind of work so we get a lot from outside the area. Columbus and Cincinnati have studios but there’s no one else left in southern Ohio.”

He credits his mother Mary Lou for her involvement in the studio from the very beginning. “She got involved and was an integral part of the studio.  She was here every day, making stuff until the age of 85,” when she passed away Bernie recalled. “We still have a few of her pieces here,” he explained as he pointed to the corner that was her workstation and where some of her last pieces she made still hang and will never be sold.

Bruno

Bruno is the store’s mascot, watchdog and host. Some customers pop in just to visit with him.

The other important character in the studio is a six year-old Pug named Bruno who is sort of the store’s mascot, watchdog and host rolled into one. Bruno comes running when customers pop in and ask for him, basking in the glow of attention. Bruno is clearly the apple of Bernie’s eye as the little dog provides both comic relief and companionship throughout the day.

Bernie is reluctant to share about the good things he does for the community but it is clear that the East End native and retired firefighter/EMT loves his town. He speaks fondly of a three dimensional guitar lamp that he donated to Rock For Tots several years ago. It sold at auction for $5,000. The next year, the buyer donated it back to the auction and it sold for another $7,000. “I just couldn’t believe how much it sold for and that it sold for even more the next year,” he recalled with a hint of pride in his voice.

After chatting about the ins and outs of the business, its origins, the cast of characters that come through the door and modern threats to antique stained glass, there was just one topic left to cover.

Who is the Max in the studio’s name?

Bernie chuckled at this question. “Max was my first pacer defibrillator,” he said, explaining that it’s official model name was Medtronic Maximo but Max for short. “The reason I was off work to take up stained glass in the first place was my health. I literally couldn’t have done it without Max,” he grinned.

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Bernie and Max Stained Glass Studio is located at 65 N. Paint Street in Chillicothe. Stop by or call them at 740.775.1054. Click here to visit them online or to follow them on Facebook.

They are open Tuesday through Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Saturday 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.