Brenda Prater Brooks To Retire This Month

When Brenda Prater Brooks came to work for Vinton County National Bank in 1979, President Bob Will joked that she was kicking the slats out of the cradle. Just over forty years later, Brenda is retiring as the second most senior employee in the bank.

Brenda BrooksShe never intended to stay this long but instead planned to work while going to college and eventually move on. “This is where God wanted me. I got married, had two kids and never left. Life is good,” she smiled.

Brenda began her banking career as a teller – first inside the lobby and later at the drive-thru. “On my first day, they gave me a cash drawer and told me any money out, write on the right side and money in gets written on the left. And you know what? I balanced my first day!”

When she started at the bank, the lobby was open 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily and until noon on Thursday and Saturday. “We didn’t have any of the technology we have today. Everything was done by hand and no one left until the General Ledger was balanced. You didn’t want to be the reason it wouldn’t balance,” she joked. “You felt about an inch tall because everyone had to wait around all because of your mistake.”

With everything filed and kept manually, when a customer wanted to know if a check had been cleared, the teller went downstairs to find the check. “We didn’t have an elevator back then so it was a lot of trips up and down the stairs. I was thin back then!” she laughed.

She speaks about many former colleagues with admiration, especially those who were here when she first started and who taught her to be a good representative of the bank. She is especially fond of Rosemary Reynolds and Ruth Molihan who were New Accounts Officers for many years. “I always thought they were the classiest ladies ever. Never a hair out of place, make-up done perfectly.  They were always so professional and kind. I wanted to be like them,” she said.

When Rosemary left the bank in 1991, Brenda got her chance to be like those ladies in New Accounts. “They put me across from Ruth and I learned so much,” she said. “I’ve done everything on the deposit side but never loans. I’m not sure I could tell someone who really needed money that I could not do a loan for them,” she said.

Brenda points out that many of her early customers have passed away. Now she’s serving their children and grandchildren. “I’ve loved every minute of getting to know my customers,” she said before talking about some of the births, marriages, retirements, deaths, celebrations and sorrows that she has witnessed in the lives of her customers. She even remembers two current VCNB employees when they were just tiny tots sitting on her lap while playing with her typewriter. “They’re all grown up now!” she exclaimed.

It is her own life experience that Brenda believes has helped her better relate to some of her customers. She specifically mentioned how the passing of her first husband has allowed her to relate to customers who have lost spouses. “I’m a firm believer that our experiences make us who we are and that we should use the knowledge and compassion we gain to help others,” she said.  “I’ve been able to better relate to my customers who have lost spouses because I’ve been through it. And unless you’ve been through it you just don’t know,” she said.

She will miss her bank family and customers but looks forward to having more time with her own family. With a husband, two grown kids, three grandsons, lots of friends and elderly parents, she has much to keep her busy and to look forward to. “I am so excited to just do my own thing and to have more time for what I need to do,” she said.

Brenda reluctantly admits that some of her customers will miss her. “People don’t like change and honestly, I don’t either. I remember when Rosemary left, so many people were reluctant to give me a chance. And when I started, if the system went down, that meant my pencil was broken and I needed to sharpen it,” she laughed. “So much has changed in these forty years but it’s a necessary part of life.”

Brenda is known for her good customer service so when asked what advice she would give someone in a customer service job, her response was decisive. “Never judge someone for their appearance and never treat anyone differently than you yourself would want to be treated. Every customer is important. They are the reason we have a job.”

“I will miss the people. Some have become like family but to everything there is a season. It’s time for me to leave,” she said.

Brenda will retire on January 31 along with three other longtime employees. Jane Nickelsand Barb Clemons in McArthur and Elaine Praterin Richmond Dale will retire that day as well. An informal reception will be held for customers and friends in McArthur on January 29 and a reception for Elaine will be held on January 29 in Richmond Dale.

 

Barb Clemons Will Retire January 31

Barb ClemmonsThe tellers who work with Barb Clemons like to tell newcomers not to be offended when customers don’t want their help. That’s because Barb has a following of customers who would simply rather wait for Barb. She’s been working at our McArthur office for almost 33 years and her customers have come to know her and trust the work she does.

She knows them well too. “You get to know them and how they want their work done. They like to just hand you their stuff and know that it will be correctly done. You learn who you can joke around with and they will tell you about their life and things that are important to them,” she said. “I’m glad people want to come to my window. It makes you feel appreciated.”

Barb has a good sense of humor and an easy laugh but she takes her work seriously, always focused on the task at hand and on pleasing the customer. “People don’t realize how much is involved in teller work. There’s a lot to do and remember and it can get stressful. A lot of people think we just stand there and count money but it’s a really complicated job,” she said.

She’s so good at what she does that she trains most of the new tellers in McArthur. In fact, countless tellers have benefited from Barb’s years of experience. “I have trained a lot of tellers. Lots and lots of tellers. You know I trained Mark Erslan when he came here,” she said.

Now the bank president, Mark started with VCNB as a management trainee, a program that required he learn several jobs including teller. She laughs as she recounts the day that his drawer was off a single dime. “He likes to tease me about that day.  He went home that night and found that dime in the cuff of his dress pants,” she said.  “He came in the next day with that dime and we teased him about it. Sure, Mark, it was there all the time!”

When asked about the advice she gives new tellers she thought for a moment before saying “you know there’s really so much that you need to know but the first thing you need to do is pay close attention to what the customer is saying. You need to hear what they want and if you’re not sure, it’s a good idea to repeat things so they can confirm it,” she explained. “The customer in front of you should be the most important person. Make them feel special and important. Make them feel comfortable.”

Before coming to work for the bank, Barb worked at a local nursing home for close to ten years. Some former classmates who worked for the bank thought she would be a good fit for an open teller position in Wilkesville and they asked her to apply for the position. But after a month of training in McArthur then President Bob Will was so impressed with her that he asked her to stay on in McArthur where she would have more opportunity for advancement.

Barb tried working in new accounts but quickly realized that she really enjoyed being a teller and that the new accounts position was not for her. “I would like to think that I’m good at what I do and I like that every day is different. Yes, I do the same things all day but the customers are different every day and that keeps things interesting.”

After close to 43 years in the workforce, Barb is excited to have some free time. “I can’t even imagine what it will be like to get up when I want and not have to come someplace but I’m looking forward to it. I just want to sit on the porch swing and do what I want to do,” she exclaimed.  “I’m looking forward to having time to get out and do things, to go to lunch with my friends, to keep up with stuff around the house.”

She and husband Mark were high school sweethearts and have been married for 45 years. They have two grown children and four grandkids. “I’m looking forward to spending more time with them and having time to go to the kids’ ballgames and things. But I will miss my customers and my coworkers. Some of my customers have expressed that they’re sad to see me go but that they’re happy for me. I want them to know I’ll miss them too.”

Barb will officially retire on January 31 alongside longtime coworkers Jane Nickels and  Brenda Brooks. Customers can stop by the bank on January 29 to wish the ladies well during an informal reception. A reception will also be held at our Richmond Dale office that day to honor Elaine Prater who also will retire on January 31.

 

Out With A Bang: Sheila Stickel Will Retire On New Year’s Eve

Sheila S.JPGWhen Sheila Stickel started with Vinton County National Bank in 1999, the bank had just three locations in McArthur, Wilkesville and Chillicothe. Much bank work was still done manually and online banking hadn’t even been invented.

Since then, the bank has expanded immensely and Sheila has worked in several branches and jobs, helping countless customers in many ways. But no matter her role here, Sheila always has the needs of the customer at heart.

That’s why her customers will be sad to learn that Sheila’s career with the bank will end when she retires on December 31.

A Vinton County native, Sheila worked for Society Bank in Columbus in the seventies and eighties before she went to an ophthalmic distributor where she sold equipment to eye doctors. When her sister, longtime VCNB lender Brenda Fee, called and suggested she apply for the Head Teller position in Chillicothe, Sheila thought it was worth a shot.

Today she is part of the VCNB Products and Services group, a team of five that tests, implements and maintains new products and services. They also assist both personal and business customers as well as bank employees who need help with those products and services.  She is well known to Business Online Banking customers as their go-to person for all answers about that class of products that she just calls “BOB.”

When she’s not helping customers, she’s busy generating several daily reports as well as monthly reports for lenders, New Accounts Offers and Personal Bankers.

Before going to Products and Services in 2012, Sheila worked directly with customers as Teller, Head Teller, New Accounts Officer and Branch Manager in a few different locations including West Fair Lancaster, Canal Winchester, Main Street Chillicothe, Laurelville and Tarlton. Since joining Products and Services, she has also worked in Ashville and Circleville, bringing the total number of branches she has worked in to seven.  She has visited all of the branches except the newest in Jackson. “I’m proud to say that I got to work in so many branches and see so many grow,” she said.

“I’ve seen the construction of some branches and the merging of some. We’ve gone from teller machines to online banking. Probably the most impressed I’ve been was going from the old teller machines to computers,” she smiled, explaining that teller machines were basically just large adding machines.

During the years before computers, everything was done manually. From manually stuffing statement envelopes to bundling up work for the Proof Department to process in another office, everything took longer and was more challenging than we find in the tech friendly bank of today. When the bank introduced online banking they held a contest for naming the product. Her entry “Bank to the Future” didn’t become the name of online banking but was used as the slogan. “I won a day off for the idea and Marketing went to town and used that to promote our Online Banking!”

Much has changed since Sheila won that contest as customers can now do almost all their business and personal banking online. “Today businesses can do almost everything they need with the click of a mouse. It just fascinates me how much control they have over their accounts and activities,” she said.

While she says she will miss the people, Sheila has a lot to look forward to including spending time with her recently retired husband and two grown children. She is especially excited to spend time with her seven year-old grandchild and a new grandbaby expected in June.

She looks forward to traveling some and to simply doing what she wants to do on her own time. “I have enjoyed my job but it’s time to hang up my hat,” she smiled. “Happy trails to me!”

The bank will celebrate Sheila’s retirement with a party on New Year’s Eve. Stop by the Pickaway County Banking Center in Circleville that day to wish Sheila good luck in this exciting new stage of her life!

 

 

 

VCNB Supports Project Recognizing Ohio’s First Female Sheriff

Alice's House and Sheriff Maude DonationVCNB is pleased to assist the Vinton County Historical and Genealogical Society (VCHGS) by supporting their project to recognize Maude Collins as Ohio’s first female Sheriff. VCNB gave $1,500 to the project which will result in the creation of a Historical Marker at the Vinton County Courthouse, near the Sheriff’s Office where Collins served.

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Sheriff Maude Collins

Sheriff Maude was appointed Sheriff in 1925 following the death of her husband, Sheriff Fletcher Collins, who was killed in the line of duty. She went on to run for a term of her own, beating male candidates in both Primary and General Elections. Another county has made previous claims that their sheriff was the first Ohio woman to hold this position in the seventies. VCHGS applied to the Ohio History Connection’s historic markers program last year in an attempt to rectify the oversight.

VCNB Branch Manager Jane Nickels praised the efforts to recognize the pioneering sheriff. “We at the bank appreciate your efforts to preserve the memory of Sheriff Maude and to tell her story in a way that generations to come will see and appreciate,” she said.

VCHGS President Deanna Tribe thanked the bank for supporting this project which had already received donations from several local residents and others who wanted to help. “Maude Collins is a significant figure not only in Vinton County’s history, but also Ohio’s history, women’s history, and law enforcement’s history. This historical marker in her honor will make Maude’s story more known to the public,” Tribe said. She also thanked VCNB Marketing Specialist Brandi Betts for assisting in the research and preparation of the marker application.

Small Business Spotlight: Spring Street Sports

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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When John McGee opened his business it was because he wanted to fill a need in his community. Since then, the Spring Street Sports owner has built a successful business but seems most interested in chasing a passion to help local kids.

Spring Street Sports started life when John realized there was no place in Vinton County to buy a Viking t-shirt or to have a trophy made. “My wife and I were going to see the boys basketball team in the playoffs at the Convo and I mentioned needing to get a shirt to wear. She said we’d have to go to Wellston to buy one and that just didn’t make sense to me,” he said. “Why would we leave our community to buy a Vinton County shirt?”

In 2006, they converted a small apartment on Spring Street in McArthur and started making shirts and trophies. With enthusiastic community support, they added embroidery services and tanning as well as other products.

It wasn’t long before they needed more space and McGee said they wanted to have a larger retail space. In 2016 the opportunity presented itself to move into a retail space in downtown McArthur. Here shoppers can pick up items that are ready for purchase as well as see sample merchandise and place custom orders.

McGee enthusiastically attends the games, sponsors events and does his best to help Vinton County kids and adults wear their Viking pride. “That’s why we’re here. Our kids are our future so we want to support them and we want them to know how proud their community is of them,” he said.

IMG_7704IMG_7736But their line of products isn’t limited to Viking apparel. They also provide things like embroidered jackets for construction companies and uniforms for businesses.

They offer some more unusual products too. “I try to offer unique things that you can’t find anywhere else around,” he said. For example, Spring Street is an authorized dealer for Green Mountain Smokers, wood pellet smoker grills that can also be used like a regular grill and that can be controlled with an app. With a 150 degree to 500 degree temperature range, it can be used to cook meats as well for baked goods and essentially anything else the backyard chef might want to cook.

Rocker chairs for camping and events, insulated cups, stadium chairs and Bison Coolers are also available here. Plus, they do year round tuxedo rentals. Signs, billboards, car magnets and digitally printed signage are also available.

Trophies and plaques continue to be popular as well.

He praised longtime employee Kelli Ousley as well as niece Kacy Petty who manages the store. “Kacy does a great job keeping everything running for me. It can be pretty fast paced and stressful in here and she does a good job keeping a handle on things,” he said.

Several brand options are available in custom hats, t-shirts, sweatshirts and jackets. Nike and Richardson are the most popular brand of caps. Popular apparel brands include J America, Holloway, Nike Golf, Gildan and Jerzees. These are available with embroidery, screen printing and several colors of vinyl.

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The store works with teams and organizations for fundraisers. “Everyone likes t-shirts so they make a great fundraiser,” he explained.

He gets the store involved in a number of other ways. They sponsor tailgating for home football games complete with sliders and other food. They also honor a football player with a Hit of the Week award and a band member with a Musician of the Week award. This year the store is sponsoring the Vinton County Prosecutor’s Driven to Succeed Program.

“In small communities, sports programs and school activities are what we do on the weekends and weeknights,” he said with sincerity. “Everything revolves around the schools and I think it’s important to be present and to support the kids and schools. We’re investing in the future when we support the kids.”

Spring Street Sports is located at 200 W. Main St., McArthur and they are open Monday through Friday 10 a.m to 7 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. to noon.  Call 740.596.8337 or follow them on Facebook.

 

Rita Teeters To Retire Thursday

When Rita Teeters talks about her upcoming retirement from Vinton County National Bank, she doesn’t seem as eager to leave work as she does to simply have free time to do as she wishes. Rita will retire Thursday after accumulating 35 years over two stints with the bank.

She started her career with VCNB in 1964. Back then, the bank was still small with just one location in McArthur and a modest staff that included only a handful of women. “One person answered the phone. That’s how small we were,” Rita said. “And there were just a few of us girls in the Accounting Department.”

Rita Teeters Retires croppedThese were prosperous years and, as the bank grew, so did the presence of other women. Rita’s job was to operate the proof machine, a large piece of equipment used to process transactions and ultimately make sure the bank was balanced at the end of each day.

She worked in the Accounting Department until leaving in 1979 while expecting her first child. “When Carla came along, I never expected to keep working. That’s just what you did back then. You stayed home and raised kids,” she explained. “But when I left, Bob Will told me I would always be welcome if I ever wanted to come back.”

Nineteen years later when Carla was in college and son Kevin in high school, Rita found herself looking for work to help her family through a rough patch.  “I answered an ad in the county paper because someone was looking for a proof operator. That’s what I did for the bank so I applied for it. Well, never did I guess it would bring me back here,” she said.

That was 1998 and she says a lot had changed during her nineteen year absence. “They had changed to a ten key proof machine. It was so small! And different! I had to learn it all over again!”

The bank had also embraced technology during her absence and she had to learn computers for the first time. “Kids today just grow up knowing these things but I had to learn. They were patient with me and I was grateful,” she laughed.

She has seen even more changes in banking since that day. Now she works in the bank’s Operations Department as a Senior Operations Processor. “We do a lot of the same things but the way we do them has changed. Computers have taken a lot of the labor out of what we do,” she said while citing some specific examples including how customer account statements are created. Today, statements are automatically generated by computers. Then, they were created manually by people. Returned checks were filed daily, checked off the customer’s statement and then mailed with the statement to the customer.

Rita also reminisced about the people and other aspects of the bank. As a young woman, she worked for Belle Jenkins, the bank’s first female employee who was known for her no-nonsense approach to work and impeccable style. “A lot of people were intimidated by her but I really liked Belle. She was a good role model for us all,” Rita said as she talked about the day the bank ladies learned they could wear pant suits to work. “I never saw Belle wear anything but a dress or skirt but she wore a pant suit to work one day. She came down to the basement and announced that we would be permitted to wear pantsuits but that the bottom of the jacket had to come to our wrist when we stood,” she explained.

She reminisced about other aspects of the changing dress code including the official bank blazer that every employee was expected to wear every Friday. Many bank customers might remember them in different colors over the years including burgundy, navy blue and gold. “We had to wear them every Friday. That was dress up day,” she said.

Rita talked about others who have come and gone from the bank since she started. “So many of them have passed,” she said while talking about popular bank personalities like Jerry Griffith who was a favorite banker of so many customers that his line would stretch through the lobby while other tellers stood with no customers to wait on. She smiled at the memory of Bob Will, Jr. who carved out time each day to speak to every employee. “He always made you feel like you were important,” she said.

During her time with the bank, Rita has worked for five of the bank’s nine presidents. She has witnessed the bank’s growth from one small community branch with only a handful of employees to a large operation with seventeen branches and close to 250 employees.

“I have enjoyed working here. They’ve been real good to me but it’s time to go. It’s been 35 years and I’m ready to have some freedom, to not have a routine. I told the girls the other day, it’ll be nice to not have to go out into the cold in the mornings,” she laughed.

Rita plans to spend some time on sewing and quilting projects and looks forward to spending more time outdoors next summer. She says she’s “the gopher” for the family farm and is most enthusiastic about spending more time with family. She has been married to her husband Kayle Teeters for forty years and she hopes to spend more time with him, their children and three young grandsons.

Rita, we wish you all the best in your retirement and hope you enjoy your newfound freedom!

Turn Coins Into Cash At Select VCNB Locations

If you’re like a lot of us, you probably have in your home a jar or a piggy bank filled with loose change. You empty your pockets each evening and give those pennies and dimes a toss into the jar until it gets full. Now, instead of rolling that coin, you can bring it to some of our banks to run it through a coin counting machine.

These self-serve machines are available at the following locations:

     Friendly Bremen Banking Center – East Main Street branch
Friendly Bremen Banking Center – Pataskala branch
Ross County Banking Center – Western Avenue branch
Ross County Banking Center – Richmond Dale branch
Vinton County National Bank – McArthur branch

To use one of these machines, simply follow the instructions on the screen and dump your change onto the conveyor belt. The machine does all the sorting and counting! Then it prints a receipt which you can take to the tellers to receive your cash or have the funds deposited into your VCNB account.

This is a free service to VCNB customers. Anyone who does not have a VCNB account but who wishes to use the machine may do so for a five percent fee.

Help VCNB Welcome Campbell’s Market To Vinton County!

campbells-market-e1512076599728.jpgVCNB invites the public to help us welcome Campbell’s Market to Vinton County! Campbell’s will host a Grand Opening event on Monday, December 4 at 9 a.m. They will have speakers, including local, state and federal government officials and the bank will be there to help celebrate!

First thing in the morning, we’ll have donuts and warm beverages for those who attend the grand opening ceremony. Then we’ll have homemade chili and light rolls for lunch! The chili supplies will come from the new store, including fresh beef straight from the meat counter which already has a reputation for being the best around. Guests will be invited to gather around a fire and enjoy piping hot chili and drinks. They can also enter a drawing for a fire pit and for a $100 gift card. Finally, The Radio will be on site for a live remote from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

In case you haven’t been by, the new Campbell’s Market is located next door to Vinton County High School at 630 W. Main St., McArthur. Click here to follow them on Facebook! 

We are elated that the Campbell family saw potential in our community and had the confidence to build a new store here. Help us welcome Campbell’s Market and thank them for investing in our community! We hope to see you Monday!

 

 

 

 

Shareholders Convene For Annual Meeting

Shareholders attending the annual meeting of Community Bancshares, Inc. on Tuesday, April 1 learned that their investment yielded a total return of 8.58 % in 2013. Approximately 135 shareholders attended the dinner meeting held at the Eagles Events Center.

Chairman Thomas D. Will welcomed shareholders and their guests, informing them that 2013 was a strong year and discussing the need to keep up with the needs and demands of customers to insure continued growth. “We will continue to add new products our customers demand and, if we’re going to attract the younger generation, we need a strong internet channel,” he said. “If there’s a better way to deliver services to our customers we want to know about it,” Will explained.

He then turned the gavel over to CBI Secretary/Treasurer Ben Crow. Mr. Crow informed shareholders that total assets grew 1.9 % in 2013 to $750.8 million. Net income rose 3.1 % to $6,790,458, and the book value of CBI stocks is $68.33 per share, an increase of 6.4%.

Vinton County National Bank President, Ronald Collins presented the state of the bank and outlined goals for the coming year.He credited Head of Lending Mark Erslan and his staff for making 2013 a successful year and discussed the release of a new logo meant to unify the bank’s 13 locations. “We spent a lot of time branding our individual hometown branches. Now we need to tie them together,” he explained. Collins went on to inform shareholders that 2014 objectives include actively pursuing acquisitions, improving market share in our current branch network and expanding online banking.

Erslan went on to present achievement awards to several Loan Officers and New Account Representatives for their outstanding job performance in 2013. He recognized them individually, informing shareholders of their length of service with the bank and why they are each an asset to the organization. Retail Accounts Vice President Monica Delong gave a brief presentation on Online Banking and the various products and services the bank currently offers.

Perhaps the most memorable moment came when former VCNB President Steve Hunter presented a gift to longtime board member Esther Crownover. Mrs. Crownover recently retired after 30 years of service, helping the bank grow exponentially over her tenure.

Many people know Crownover for her involvement in the local timber industry and for her love of race horses but she has also been a valued member of the board throughout the bank’s growth.

Crownover joined the VCNB board in January 1984 and the CBI Board in March of that year.  “The growth of the bank was just amazing over the years. Incredible, really,” she said.

Among other things, she has been involved in the board’s Audit Committee since 1984. She noted how much the audit report has changed and how complicated it has become compared to when she started.

About board service, Crownover noted “It’s been a good relationship.Everyone has been good to work with and to see the amazing progress the bank has made has been interesting.”