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.

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.

Race jersey

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.

Small Business Spotlight: The Olive Branch Coffee and Pizzeria

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 Tamie Wallake to talk about her business The Olive Branch Coffee and Pizzeria and you might expect her to tell you about the delicious food they make with fresh ingredients. You might expect her to brag about how they’re able to prepare fresh subs, custom pizzas and salads in a matter of minutes. You might expect her to mention the relaxing atmosphere and the coffee shop that invites customers to stay.

If that’s what you expect from a conversation with Tamie, you would be wrong.

Instead, her eyes sparkle and her demeanor brightens as she discusses how she and her husband Bryan use this business to help people who need a second chance. The Olive Branch helps people who are recovering from tough breaks and poor life choices that may have resulted in addiction, homelessness or crime.

The story of how this business came to be and of its place in Canal Winchester is actually quite complex and one that is rooted in faith and service to community. Bryan is a real estate broker and Tamie is a former realtor. Together, the pair have a history of building and selling businesses that fill a need,  including a golf course, a fitness center, and a construction company. “We have a talent for building businesses but not an eye for growing them. So, after selling the golf course we were looking for a new project.  I felt like God wanted me to do a daycare,” she explained.

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That’s why they opened Heaven Sent Children’s Academy which employs 35 teachers to care for 200 children. Empty acreage next door to the daycare was beckoning to be filled but the pair weren’t certain what business they should pursue next.

When Bryan came home and announced he wanted to open a pizza shop, she said her reaction was not initially supportive. “What do we know about making pizzas? I thought he was crazy,” she laughed. “But then I started thinking about the good we could do and how we could help people who are struggling because they made bad choices at some point in their lives.”

Those people who are struggling often slip through the cracks, becoming a statistic or sometimes a story on the evening news. But through the daycare, through her sister who is a foster parent, and through the couple’s nonprofit organization called Breaking Chains, she saw firsthand the dire need that many members of the community suffered with every day.

She tells some of those stories – not of statistics – but of real people who couldn’t get ahead even when they tried and who needed a second chance to start their lives anew.

She speaks of a young man who was homeless and who had a felony conviction. A hard worker that no one would hire because of the conviction, he had nowhere to live and a newborn baby. So Tamie and Bryan stepped up to help the young family and learned why it is so easy for people like him to be forgotten. “He was really trying but couldn’t get a job, couldn’t get a place to live because of bad choices he made years before. It’s no wonder people struggle when they can’t get a second chance,” she said.

“I realized I could use this business to help people like him. So I agreed to make pizzas if we could use it to help others and to give back,” she said. Consequently, they donate monthly to two charities including Breaking Chains which assists people coming out of homelessness and drug addiction.

But Tamie and Bryan didn’t want to just make pizzas. They wanted to make excellent pizza with fresh ingredients, quick service and the best customer service in town. They first attended pizza school at Good Fellas in Staten Island, New York. Good Fellas is renowned in the pizza industry for making some of the world’s best pizzas. They teach their students to use the best ingredients to make their dough and sauce from scratch.

Customers can watch their dough pressed and the pizza made before their eyes. It’s slid into a brick oven and baked for 2.5 minutes before coming out piping hot and ready to enjoy.

Signature pizzas include a BBQ Chicken Pizza with sweet bbq sauce, mozzarella/ provolone mix and cheddar cheeses plus chicken, bacon and onion. Diners can also choose from a host of meats, vegetables and cheeses as well as eight sauces to make their own custom pizza. Plus they offer signature subs and salads as well. Vegan and gluten free customers will have no trouble finding delicious options on the menu. They even offer a cauliflower crust.

Many of their ingredients come from a community garden behind the restaurant. Daycare children from Heaven Sent help tend the garden, learning about the how food grows and the importance of worms. “These are city kids and they have a chance to learn about growing food. Plus, what we don’t use here is donated to Heaven Sent so nothing is wasted,” she said.

Open the door to the Olive Branch and you are immediately hit with the divine smell of baking pizzas and melted cheese. The next thing you’ll notice is how prompt, courteous and helpful the staff are at all times. “We focus on customer service. We want the customer to be number one and we want the product to be excellent. We’ve worked to give them a sense of ownership and we are always working on customer service skills. Honestly, we have the cream of the crop here, a great group of kids,” she said of their staff of twenty.

“We are careful not to have too many second chancers here at one time,” she said as she explained how the ownership employees feel in their work extends to helping newcomers learn the Olive Branch way.

In addition, the business offers a coffee shop which serves One Line Coffee, a Columbus business that roasts coffee fresh when it is ordered. They actually offer more flavors than national chain coffee shops and have a peaceful atmosphere for conversation, meetings and quiet reflection. Smoothies, hot chocolate, espresso and frapuccino are a few menu items. Plus there are muffins, homemade cinnamon rolls, breakfast pizza and burritos. Homemade donuts are available Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

coffee shop

Comfy chairs welcome customers to the coffee shop.

The business has a distinct area for the pizza restaurant, a quiet area complete with a fireplace for the coffee shop as well as party space for bridal showers, Bible studies and birthday parties. “We literally offer the best of both worlds. We have fast, courteous service but we also have good quality ingredients, good food and a pleasant dining experience,” she said.

With the business approaching its two year anniversary, Tamie and Bryan have one eye on semi-retirement. “We understand that we are good at building businesses but we’re not so good at taking them to the next level and growing them,” she admitted.

That’s why they have engaged their grown sons to take over the Olive Branch. Braden will take over the marketing and Jeff will manage the daily operations. “Jeff has the mindset and the ability to take us to the next level and to do things here, to do things with people that I could never do,” she explained. “I’m at peace with stepping away from the daily work and trusting it with him. And I just know it’s going to be a real blessing for him and for others.”

Tamie and Bryan will take a break to rest before deciding their next move. She looks forward to finding greater balance in her life and to enjoying some freedoms that are hard to achieve when running a business every day. But she remains passionate about the message on their shirts – “It’s not just about the dough. Pizza with a purpose.”

She clearly is devoted to helping people by filling needs in the community and through addressing specialized needs that impact individuals and families. “Being able to do this has been a true blessing for us. Being able to take a break and to come back having found some balance, I think we’ll love it more,” she said with a smile.

The Olive Branch Coffee and Pizzeria is located at 5600 Gender Road in Canal Winchester. Dine in, carry out, request delivery or arrange curbside pickup. Order online, follow them on Facebook or call 614.524.6888.

 

 

 

 

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.

 

VCNB Tools That Save You Time

Do you ever look at the clock and wonder where the time went? Do you ever look at your bills and wish you didn’t have to spend so much time paying them? Do you ever wish you could cut a couple of errands out of your week? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you need to keep reading.

Since it feels like time is moving faster every day, here at VCNB we work hard to give you tools that will help minimize your banking chores and free up time for things you really want to do. Here are a few ways you can manage your time better through easy banking with VCNB Mobile and VCNBfamily.com.

Direct Deposit
With direct deposit, your paycheck is automatically deposited into the account of your choice. No need to pick up your check at work and make a trip to the bank.  Need cash? Grab cash back at the register or at an ATM. Not near a VCNB ATM? No problem! Now VCNB customers can use MoneyPass, an ATM network that gives customers access to over 32,000 surcharge free ATMs across the country. Click here to visit MoneyPass and find an ATM near you! 

Mobile Deposit
Deposit a check using the bank’s app, VCNB Mobile, and the camera on your mobile device! Intrigued?  Learn more here! 

Online Bill Pay
Online Bill Pay is a hassle free way to manage your monthly bills. You can use it to pay a single bill or you can set up auto pay for a number of bills. You choose the date the bill is paid and the amount you pay and let us take over from there! It also allows you to receive your bills electronically and set up payment reminders to ensure your bills are paid on time.  No stamps or checks required! This is a free service as long as you use it at least once every month but there is a $3 monthly charge for months that you do not use the service.

Auto transfers
Trying to save money for your child’s education or a family vacation? If you have a hard time remembering to save, set up automatic transfers! You choose the amount you save, the account the funds come from, where it goes and when the transfer takes place. Best of all, you can change any of this at any time.

Mobile app
With VCNB Mobile, you’re essentially carrying a banker in your pocket 24 hours a day. Use the app to set up those automatic transfers, to pay bills, view balances, review transactions, deposit checks and more!  Search for VCNB Mobile in the app store on your device. Now you can change your password in the app and can even set it up to log in using Touch ID.

Mobile Payment Options
VCNB offers Google Pay, Apple Pay® and Samsung Pay, allowing customers a secure, easy way to pay on the go with their VCNB debit or credit card. Learn more here! 

VCNB Breaks Ground On New Ashville Branch

PW Campbell, Mark and Tom

From left are Dan Fox and Charlie Sachs of PW Campbell, Community Bancshares Chairman and CEO Tom Will and VCNB President Mark Erslan.

Village Personnel, Mark and Tom

From left are Village Administrator Franklin Christman, Ashville Chief of Police Jeffrey George, Pickaway County Sheriff Robert Radcliff, Ashville Mayor Charles Wise, VCNB President Mark Erslan and Community Bancshares Chairman and CEO Tom Will

VCNB executives, board members, bank employees, local dignitaries and their guests braved the elements Monday to take part in an official groundbreaking event at the site of the new Pickaway County Banking Center in Ashville.

The estimated $2 million facility was designed by renowned financial industry designer/builder PW Campbell. It will replace the former bank building at 26 E. Main Street in downtown Ashville. The branch was temporarily relocated to 18 Long Street to make way for demolition of the old and construction of the new.

VCNB President Mark Erslan said he is enthusiastic about the bank’s future in this Pickaway County community. “The village of Ashville has been good to work with in the planning process and supportive of the project. We are pleased to invest in this community and to grow here,” he said.

Erslan went on to thank the Village of Ashville and its administration for their support through the planning process.

The new one story building will be over 5,000 square feet, boasting soaring ceilings and an open floor plan designed to modernize and simplify the banking experience. With entrances from Main Street and from the parking lot side, accessing the bank will be significantly easier as well. When opened, this branch will use the new VCNB bank model which will put the personal back in personal banking by employing bankers who can each assist customers with nearly every one of their banking needs.

“This new branch will feature a balance of updated conveniences for those customers who like to bank through digital channels along with the in-person service our customers have come to expect,” Erslan explained.

The completion of this branch will be celebrated with an open house in the fall.

Click here to read about our philosophy that an investment in the bank helps the community.

 

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.

sheriff-maude-collins

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.

Supporting Community By Investing In Ourselves

Artists Renderings of the new Pickaway County Banking Center in Ashville

 

Last month we told you a little about our core values – the things we value most and that make us who we are. We talked specifically about how we value community and the things we do to support our communities through volunteerism, donations and encouraging our employees to get involved.

Another way that we support our communities is through investing in ourselves. That sounds a bit self-serving but we believe in taking care of our buildings and putting our best foot forward whenever possible. A well cared for branch that operates efficiently is an investment in the community as well as in ourselves.

That’s part of the reason we have been undergoing upgrades at some of branches for the last several months. Last year we updated the storefront of our Circleville location and we’re putting the finishing touches on work at our Grove City branch while renovation projects are in full swing at our Laurelville and Lancaster West Fair locations. We recently finished demolition and clean-up of our Ashville building to make way for a brand new facility.

Plans are in the pipeline for improvements at other branches in the coming years.

Supporting the community means being good neighbors and we hope you’ll be happy with the results as we modernize and improve our locations in the coming months and years. The next time you’re in one of the branches under construction, be sure to ask the staff about the plans and have a look at the artist’s renderings of the new work!

Kathy Cooper Retires This Week

kathy cooperWhen Kathy Cooper talks about her years as a banker, it’s clear that this has been a career and a passion rather than just a job. She will retire January 31, closing a 35 year chapter of her life’s book. But she insists this is just the end of a chapter and that she still has a lot of life and maybe even some new pursuits ahead of her.

Kathy has been with Friendly Bremen Banking Center since 2001 but had a varied and interesting career with other banks prior to that. In fact, she began her banking career in 1983 when she started as a part time teller at Equitable Federal Savings and Loan in Lancaster. Six months later she moved into middle management and hasn’t looked back since.

Kathy grew up in Lancaster on what she calls “Main Street USA.” Her father owned retail businesses in downtown Lancaster which she said was a quintessential small town. She wanted to be an educator but, after some time in the education program at Ohio University, decided this was not the career for her and took that first position as a part time teller.

Customers in Bremen often think of Kathy as the face of the bank as they often see her out and about in the community and because she is a veteran Bremen banker who has helped many of them realize their life’s dreams as their lender.

She has worn many hats in the world of banking and says that she has seen and done almost everything. From a bank run in the early eighties to changes in banking culture to holding a stock broker’s license for one of her prior employers, she said that every job and each person she worked with over the years taught her something. “I’ve been fortunate to have great individuals, maybe you would call them mentors, who took the time to ask questions and give feedback and to help form me,” she said. “I’ve met many interesting individuals who have helped me in some way and I’m grateful for that.”

When it comes to banking in general and lending in particular, Kathy has some strong opinions about what it takes to be successful in a hometown atmosphere. “You have to be approachable and be able to talk to people on their level so they feel comfortable using you as a resource. You have to be knowledgeable about all products and be able to help them with the big picture. You have to ask a lot of questions and be able to identify what’s best for the customer and any weaknesses that might become problems,” she said.  “Availability is key too. Customers know where I live. They have my cell phone. They know I’m tied to the community and that I’m here for them always – evenings, Sunday mornings – when they need me. And most of all, you have to treat people in an honest manner. That’s extremely important.”

Once she retires, Kathy said she has plans for projects around the house and yard. She also looks forward to a little light travel and some volunteering with Habitat for Humanity and the Fairfield Heritage Society. More than anything, she looks forward to spending time with family including daughter Sarah, son Zachary and her four grandkids. In fact, her eyes light up when she talks about Marin, Joseph, Isabelle and Camden, her grandchildren who she says are involved with a host of activities.

While time off work sounds appealing, she doesn’t expect retirement to last forever. “I’m just taking off my Peter Pan cape for a while. You never know what I’ll do next but I can tell you this. I’m like a bad penny. I just keep rolling back,” she laughed.

“It’s been great! It’s been a fun ride but now it’s time to turn the page,” she said.