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!

 

 

 

Small Business Spotlight: Buff Lo Dip

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!

Ask Duane Boring to describe his product Buff Lo Dip and his eyes light up. “It has the taste of dipping buffalo chicken wings in ranch dressing, just minus the chicken,” he says with a smile.

DuaneGood served hot or cold, this locally made dip can be used on or with almost anything. In fact, he names a long list of items his customers use it on as a condiment including hamburgers, hot dogs, tacos, baked potatoes and sloppy joes to name a few. It’s also commonly used on pizza, as a dip for chips, chicken nuggets and vegetables. “People get pretty creative with it sometimes,” he said.

Buff Lo dip – and yes, that’s the spelling – buffalo without the ‘A’, was born out of necessity in Duane’s home kitchen. “Years ago, there was a fast food restaurant that offered a similar sauce for dipping their chicken nuggets. I loved that stuff and had it at least a couple of times a week but they discontinued it,” he explained.

Since no one was selling anything like it, he decided to make his own for dipping those fast food nuggets.  “No one was selling it so I got up one Saturday morning and started pulling things out of the cupboards. I started mixing things up and wrote down the measurements each time so I would remember how to repeat it. And you know something? What I came up with was better than what they had in the first place!”

When his family liked the product, he packaged up samples to take to church. “I went to church with bags of eight ounce sample cups for a couple of weeks and asked people to try it. After a while, people were meeting me at the door wanting more. They wanted it for all kinds of things. They were putting it on sandwiches, pizza, all kinds of things. I just made it for my chicken nuggets!”

jar.jpgWhen requests to purchase the dip started to come in, he knew he had something special. So he began the year and half long journey to start his business and to learn the legalities of producing, selling and distributing food.

When he rolled out his Buff Lo Dip at McArthur Super Valu on July 11, 2011, that first order of 234 jars sold out in two days.

Today he has his own kitchen facility and distributes in thirteen states, thanks to Rural King. But he has a stronghold in gas stations, local groceries and other stores throughout southeast Ohio, Cincinnati, Columbus, Kentucky and West Virginia.

The former insurance agent oversees all aspects of his family business including production, marketing and working with distributors. His company van now has over 300,000 miles on it as he crisscrosses the country introducing new audiences to Buff Lo Dip at expos, trade shows and events. From a chicken wing festival in Memphis to the Holiday Market in Cincinnati and hunting and fishing expos everywhere in between, it seems that Duane has left no rock unturned as he works to grow sales.

He credits the partnership with Rural King for helping the business grow into new markets including Florida, Tennessee, Alabama and Missouri. “It’s great when you’re working a show and you’re able to tell someone who just said they love your dip that they can buy it a Rural King in their own community,” he said.

They can also ship to anywhere in the United States.

However, Buff Lo Dip isn’t just about making money. He is all about giving back and offers a fundraising program for non-profits. One example of fundraising success is the work he does with Future Farmers of America (FFA).  “I like working with FFA and last year was our biggest fundraising year with them,” he said.

As he talks about the business, he shares a good bit of wisdom that can be applied, not just to business but to all aspects of life. “Listen to everyone’s advice and use some of it because everyone in the world will tell you what to do. You have to listen, decipher and take from it what will work for you.”

He has another sound piece of advice regarding getting what you want. “My son has asked how I keep getting into different stores. I tell him that I walk in with a jar of dip, a business card and a smile on my face. What do I have to lose by asking? If I don’t ask, the answer will always be no. Why not give it a shot? The worst that will happen is they’ll keep my sample jar and not order anything,” he said.

The Vinton County native said that his wife Trish and three kids Zac, Levi and Amanda have been supportive of the business and all have played different roles in making it successful. “It’s not a huge company. We’re not millionaires or anything like that but I like what I’m doing and that’s more important than making a lot of money at a job you hate.”

Find Buff Lo Dip in a store near you with their location finder or just visit their website to learn more about the company.

Like and follow them on Facebook or Pinterest.

 

 

 

 

 

Small Business Spotlight: Raccoon Creek Outfitters

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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Small business owners tend to be passionate about their work. Even so, it’s hard to match the enthusiasm and pure joy of Bobbi Hoy when she talks about Raccoon Creek Outfitters, the Vinton County business she and husband Dustin started together.

What began as a dream is now in its third season and growing every year. “People thought we were crazy when we opened. We started in April 2017 with 28 canoes and eighteen kayaks. Now, we’re in our third season and have 106 boats. There are times we have them all out on the water at once,” Bobbi said. “It’s amazing how much we’ve grown.”

2.jpgRaccoon Creek Outfitters does it all.  They offer kayak and canoe rentals, a store and campground. They even offer their grounds for event rental.

The livery offers canoe and kayak rentals for five and seven mile routes, giving customers everything they need for a leisurely trip down the Raccoon. “This is a good creek to start on. It’s not fast moving water so you can go at your own pace,” she said. “One thing that makes it a little different is that we left the tree tops. That means it’s not just a lazy river. You have to paddle, to steer, and that makes a more enjoyable experience.”

All skill levels are welcome at Raccoon Creek Outfitters but they are pleased to introduce their passion to the beginner. “It’s ok if you’ve never even held a paddle before. We’ll take you out to the landing, show you some techniques and let you practice before we send you out,” she said.

3With 34 acres situated along the peaceful shores of Raccoon Creek in eastern Vinton County, it’s an ideal place to camp. Primitive campsites are available along the creek banks while RV sites with electric hookup are available as well.

A shelter house and large kitchen are available to rent for events such as reunions, parties and festivals.

Plus, the store offers a large variety of Bonafide and NuCanoe kayaks, life jackets, fishing gear and other supplies. They also sell Bending Branches Paddles, Yak Attack gear, Anchor Wizard anchoring systems and Venom Lures.

But the Raccoon Creek story isn’t really about the boats and other tangibles the business offers. It’s actually about the people and the exploration of the natural world they encourage here.  “We say that you may come here as a stranger but you will leave as family because if you’re a friend of ours, you are family,” Bobbi explained.

Their sense of friendship and family extends to their team as well. “We don’t have employees or staff. We are a team here and everyone is valuable to the team,” she said. “My husband and I always had jobs where we worked for someone else so we know how important it is to feel valued. That’s why everyone has a say and that’s part of the reason everyone loves coming to work.”

boat 1.jpgDustin Hoy worked for and managed another canoe livery for several years, learning the ropes in hopes of someday pursuing his dream to own his own livery. “Dustin is the backbone. He’s knowledgeable in every aspect of the boats and, if he doesn’t know it, he’ll learn. It’s his passion, his dream, and I’m lucky enough to be living it with him,” she said with a smile.

It is a family affair as Bobbi’s brother manages the business while her two kids help out as well. “Family is everything to us and we are proud to have our family working with us and cheering us on,” she said. “We wouldn’t be here if not for Dustin’s mom (Arretha Hoy) who helped us get this place and for so many others who have helped us along the way. If it wasn’t for them we wouldn’t be here.”

She also credits those who help to promote the business every chance they get. For example, her sister Adeanna Chandler was the first customer they put on the water and one of their biggest fans. “She has a stack of business cards and she gives them to everyone she sees. She advocates for us in so many ways and my appreciation for her is big to say the least. My parents Dean and Carol Chandler, also tell everyone about us. It means the world when people have your back!”

The Raccoon Creek Outfitters team consists of Mark Chandler, Rose Chandler, Cecilia Chandler, Bret Chumley, Brett Coleman, Justin Turner, Clinton Lester, Tessa Hoy, Alina Hoy, Okey Fitzwater and Arretha Hoy. They also credit their Pro Staff Team of Matt Davis, Reed Carpenter, Michael Jennings and John Shef.

When talking about the people who have made a difference, she mentioned several customers who have supported the company from the beginning including one family from Canada that comes every year as well as locals who come as often as they can.

“We are truly blessed. Life is so short, you have to learn to appreciate the little things and the wonderful people who surround you. Blessings come in all forms and we are overwhelmingly blessed,” she said.

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The company makes an effort to go the extra mile and to give back for all the good fortune they have enjoyed. From serving breakfast to campers every morning to free movie nights to helping out with community events, Bobbi said that her team enjoys staying busy and being involved.

They also offer a number of discounts including a ten percent discount for paddling their vessels to current military, veterans, nurses, law enforcement officers, EMTs, firefighters and teachers. Discount rates are available for 4-H clubs and large groups too.

Free Movie Friday is open to the public. Movies are family friendly and usually start around 9 p.m. every Friday from Memorial Day to Labor Day, weather dependent. Both visitors and the community are welcome to bring a chair and snack to enjoy this free event.

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Conveniently located near Lake Hope State Park, Uncle Buck’s Riding Stable and Dance Barn and the Moonville Tunnel, the staff encourages customers to take advantage of other activities in the area. It’s also just a short drive to the Hocking Hills State Park and to Ohio University in nearby Athens. “Whatever people are doing, we just want to help them get outside and to enjoy nature,” she explained.

Visitors will hear countless species of birds as well as frogs, whippoorwill and the gentle splash of an occasional fish jumping in the water. “There’s nothing like floating. I love being on the water. It’s so peaceful to hear the birds and the wind in the trees and to just become one with the water. I sound like such a hippie,” she exclaimed.

Visit their website or follow them on Facebook to keep up with upcoming events like Capsize Cancer and many others.

 

 

 

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!

VCNB_V_CMYK

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!

 

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!

window and bernie

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.

Guitar lamp

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.

glass work

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.

 

 

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!