Six Ways To Save On Groceries Today

It’s a necessary purchase and one of the most expensive line items in most household budgets. What is it?

Food.

Everyone has to eat and it can be costly but there are some ways to eat healthy and for less simply by making a few adjustments to eat with the seasons.

  • Eat what’s in season. It typically costs less, isn’t shipped as far and tastes better. For example, melons, berries, cucumbers, zucchini, sweet corn, green beans, tomatoes, cherries and a host of other fruits and vegetables are in season during the summer. In the fall, look for pears, apples, broccoli, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, peppers and eggplant. Each season offers different bounty and new opportunities to switch up your diet.
  • Go for fresh. Those prepackaged salads are quick and look good but can go from attractive to limp or slimy quickly. Fresh romaine, head lettuce and spinach make a great salad and will last longer. Pre-cut veggies and melons are convenient but cost far more per pound that cutting melon or celery for yourself.
  • Go for frozen. Frozen fruits and veggies are typically picked when ripe and then flash frozen. That means frozen produce is a good substitute for fresh. However, beware the frozen prepared meals which often are packed with sodium and sugar and cost more for their convenience.
  • Eat (and take care of) what you have. How many times have you loaded up your cart with tons of fresh produce only for it to rot in the fridge? Make sure you’re either eating what you buy or learn what can be frozen for later. For example, grapes are an amazing treat when frozen. Even odds and ends of leftover vegetables make a great base for soups or omelets. Fruits go well in smoothies or baked goods.
  • Go meatless. Meatless Monday has long been a popular concept and summer is a great time to try that out. With an abundance of fresh from the garden produce, there’s a world of recipes and meal combinations to entertain your taste buds.
  • Preserve it for later. Learn what kind of produce freezes well. Then you can snatch up deals while the selection is abundant and enjoy the season’s bounty when the price is higher again later.
  • Shop local. By shopping farmers markets or farm stands, you’re getting seasonal foods and supporting a business in your community.

How do you cut grocery costs and still eat healthy? Tell us in the comments. We would love to hear from you!

VCNB Introduces Zelle In Its Mobile App

Zelle® Makes it Fast, Safe and Easy to Send Money Digitally to Those you Know and Trust With a Bank Account in the U.S.

Vinton County National Bank today announced that Zelle® is now live in its mobile app, VCNB Mobile and through online banking.

VCNB Executive Vice President of Marketing Audra Johnson said the bank is pleased to offer this modern, free and safe way for customers to send money to someone else. “We’re excited to provide Zelle to our customers. It is a fast and easy way to send money to someone, receive money or even split a bill. Best of all, it’s secure. Person to person payments have become the norm in our society and Zelle outperforms all other platforms. We are confident our customers will love it!”

The Zelle Network® includes financial institutions of all sizes. For more than 140 million consumers, Zelle® is already available from the convenience of their mobile banking app, making digital payments a fast, safe and easy alternative to cash and checks. Money sent with Zelle® goes directly from one bank account in the U.S. to another, using only a recipient’s email address or U.S. mobile number. Funds are typically available within minutes when both parties are already enrolled with Zelle®.

Consumers who are not enrolled and receive a payment notification or a request for payment can enroll through their financial institution or by downloading the Zelle® app if their financial institution does not participate. Consumers should only use Zelle® to send and receive money with friends, family and people they know and trust.

Zelle is free to use within VCNB Mobile and VCNB Online Banking.

About Zelle®

Brought to you by Early Warning Services, LLC, an innovator in payment and risk management solutions, Zelle® makes it fast, safe and easy for money to move. The Zelle Network® connects financial institutions of all sizes, enabling consumers and businesses to send fast digital payments to people they know and trust with a bank account in the U.S. Funds are available directly in consumer bank accounts generally within minutes when the recipient is already enrolled with Zelle®. To learn more about Zelle® and its participating financial institutions, visit http://www.zellepay.com.

Teens Gain Money Management Skills With Student Checking

If you have a teenager in the house that means you have a child who is a few short years from being out on their own. What skills do you want them to have when they go off to school or to start a new career?

Chances are that good money management skills are on that list.

Whether they have a part time job or just an allowance, odds are your teens have some money to manage. Before they are expected to manage large sums, it’s best they learn to manage small amounts too!

That’s why VCNB offers a Student Checking account. This account is designed to help teens learn how to manage money, keep a debit card safe and learn some financial independence.

Here are some things to know.

This account is for teens ages 14 to 17 and requires that a parent or guardian be a joint owner of the account. There is no minimum balance requirement or fees for electronic statements. The account comes with a free standard debit card.

Like all VCNB accounts, Student Checking gives the account holder access to account alerts, online and mobile banking so that your teen can learn to successfully keep track of and spend their money. They can also access over 32,000 surcharge-free ATMS nationwide through the MoneyPass® network.

Click this link to read more about this account or to get started by opening a new Student Checking account online.  

Meet Your Banker: Tom Will Oyer Is A Sixth Generation Banker

It is rare to meet someone who is the sixth generation working in a family business. Yet, that’s the case for Tom Will Oyer whose family founded Vinton County National Bank in 1867. He is aware of how tightly intertwined the Will family history is with the bank’s story and the role the bank has played in local history all these years.

Tom Will Oyer is the sixth generation of the Will family to work at Vinton County National Bank.

“The bank has always been a part of my life in some way. As a kid I remember my grandfather taking us to lunch in McArthur there in the basement of the bank and I remember knowing that he was important in the community. When I got older, I was teller a couple of summers but it was never assumed that I would join the family business. No one ever made me feel pressured to come here but the option was available,” he said.

In fact, Tom began to pursue an entirely different career path in the forestry industry. He was studying Forestry at West Virginia University and working a summer internship at a local company when he realized that it may not be the future he wanted for himself. So he switched gears and headed off to Ohio State University to study Economics.

With a degree in hand he began his career doing management and outside sales for Sherwin Williams Automotive Finishes in Dayton. Here he went to night school for his MBA at University of Dayton, met the woman he would marry, and decided to come home to contribute to the family business.

“When I decided to come here, I knew that it couldn’t be just a job. It would be my career and not a stepping stone to somewhere else. I owe a lot to the bank and it’s been wonderful being here and finding my way,” he explained.

Tom’s first step at the bank was in 2013 as part of the Management Trainee program. His grandfather Bob Will created this program more than sixty years ago to attract talented college graduates to the bank. The program gives participants opportunity to experience several departments and has produced many bank leaders over the decades

It was through this training that Tom found his love for lending and for helping customers achieve their dreams. “When you are lending money, you’re helping a customer reach their goals. Whether it is a first car, a new home, or starting a business, it is a great feeling when you’re able to help a neighbor,” he said.

He spent a short time as Branch Operations Manager for the bank before taking over as Head of Consumer Lending. This position gave him the opportunity to manage and develop lenders. His mother, Emily Will Oyer, is a retired Head of Retail who told him that he would truly enjoy his work when he started to see employees grow because of the efforts he has made in helping them improve and develop.  “I have also enjoyed my role as a manager, helping to guide employees and have a positive impact so they can blossom into the employee you know they can be. This is one of the true highlights of my job.”

It was under Tom’s leadership that the bank created the Personal Banker position which empowers bankers and broadens their ability to help customers with most of their deposit account and lending needs. He helped to develop new processes and training for this position which reached about forty employees in the first year. “We had to identify what was working and not working and even go back to the drawing board a couple of times to make sure we got it all right. In doing so, we went from about twenty lenders to sixty and we saw significant growth because of it,” he said.

Last year, VCNB President Mark Erslan approached Tom about a new opportunity on the horizon. Head of Commercial Lending Darrell Boggs had announced his intent to retire and Mark asked Tom if he would be interested in taking the reins. “Obviously, I don’t have a commercial lending background but I do have the lending background and the management background. I understand the processes and that it’s my job to facilitate the process to help lenders do what they do best,” he said.

He worked closely with Darrell to achieve a smooth transition and to prepare for the challenge ahead.

Mark commended Tom for the contributions he has made to the bank during his career here. “Tom has served the bank in multiple positions including the Head of Consumer Lending and Strategic Planning Committee Co-Chair. He’s helped foster changes that have resulted in bank growth and improved customer and employee experiences. We look forward to his continued contribution to the bank’s success, in this new role.”

While Tom takes pride in his family business, he is modest about his own accomplishments “There’s definitely pride in the Will family history with the bank and how we’ve served the community for so many years. It’s a wonderful thing, a rare thing but I think we all have a kind of built in modesty. We’re not flashy people, we don’t call attention to ourselves, we live pretty modestly and are grateful to have good careers in southern Ohio, serving our neighbors and employees,” he said.

He expressed gratitude for many people who helped to shape his views on community banking and who have helped him along the way. “Mark Erslan has been critical to my success. He’s been my mentor from day one and I’m grateful to him.  My vision of the bank and perception of where it’s been and where it’s going have been influenced by my grandfather, my mother and my Uncle Tom Will who is Chairman of the Board.”

Tom grew up in Ross County. He and his wife Andrea live in the Laurelville area with their children ages 6, 5, 2 and newborn. 

Community Spotlight: Vinton County Creating Healthy Communities

Living a healthy life is easier when you live in a community that promotes healthy living. In Vinton County, there’s an effort underway to make it easier for residents to live safely and to embrace healthy choices. The Vinton County Creating Healthy Communities coalition (CHC) addresses healthy eating and active living through projects that will potentially have far reaching and long lasting effects.

The coalition exists thanks to a five year grant received by the Vinton County Health Department. Spearheaded by CHC Coordinator Jeri Ann Bentley, the coalition is made up of citizens, organizations and government offices that have partnered to provide everything from input to boots-on-the-ground workers. While the CHC has accomplished a lot in their first year, there is much on the agenda for 2021 and beyond.

The Coalition is divided into two subcommittees, allowing for volunteers to help with the projects they find most inspiring. The Healthy Eating Committee has been instrumental in creating a larger, more robust system of farmer’s markets in Vinton County. They have also created a healthy vending project and started a community garden this year. The Active Living Committee is working on a Complete Streets policy for McArthur, bike infrastructure and a major playground renovation project at Wyman Park.

A Vinton County native, Bentley is passionate about building a healthier community for her own family and neighbors as well as for generations to come. “A healthy community gives every person, regardless of age, ability or socioeconomic background the same opportunities to enjoy a good life, to eat well, to move about and to access all the resources the community offers just like everyone else,” she said.

Thanks to the CHC and a partnership with Vinton Industries, farmers markets can be found every Saturday morning in McArthur, Hamden and Wilkesville. Fresh produce, honey, Amish baked goods, handmade items, plants and flowers are among the things shoppers may find throughout the season

Vinton Industries is also spearheading the community garden where a $10 annual fee gives gardeners access to a plot of land as well as access to tools, Seven Dust and watering. Their program to offer healthy vending services and education for local businesses has been successful too. The goal is to offer a selection of tasty, healthier snacks that employees enjoy as much as traditional vending machine faire.

“I can’t say enough about Vinton Industries and what it has meant to have their support. They just took all these healthy eating initiatives and ran with them. It has really freed up my time and resources to focus on other things,” she said.

For example, she is working on a Complete Streets policy, written with support from McArthur Village Council. This will help village leaders plan for future projects that make the streets safer for pedestrians, bicyclists and people with disabilities. A walking audit last fall revealed many streets with broken sidewalks, missing curb-cuts and no sidewalks that are treacherous for pedestrians. “We aren’t saying the town needs to run out and put in all new sidewalks but we are helping them see places where new sidewalks are needed. We found places where there’s no curb cut so if you’re in a wheelchair you have no choice but to backtrack and find a way off the sidewalk so you can go out into the street,” she said. “By identifying the issues, we are making a sort of wish list that will allow us to make positive changes in the future.”

Pedestrian traffic before and after school will be addressed in the future too. “We’ve all seen how dangerous it is for kids just trying to get to school or trying to cross after school to get from the high school to McDonalds. There are simple, low cost solutions that can make it safer for our kids to cross the street when there’s a lot of traffic.”

The biggest project that Bentley and the CHC have taken on is a major playground renovation at Wyman Park. The aging playground equipment is potentially dangerous for youngsters. There are few opportunities for kids with disabilities to enjoy the playground and very small tots may struggle to play safely here.

The two existing large structures will be replaced with new ones. There will also be a number of smaller, ground level pieces of equipment like a fire engine and a caterpillar for imaginative play. Swings designed to hold children with disabilities, a sign language board, a tic-tac-toe board, a twister beam and metal park benches are part of the plan as well. A new rubberized surface is planned to be installed for enhanced safety.

CHC has received grant funding and some private donations have been promised to the Wyman Park Board but more funds are needed to complete the project. The Wyman Park Board has applied for some additional grants and is appealing to potential donors to help fund this project as well. Donors will be publically recognized for their generous support.

Meanwhile, the CHC will host Wyman Park Appreciation Day on June 26 from 4 p.m. until dark to raise funds for the playground project while celebrating the park and its importance to the community. Scheduled events are not yet set in stone but the group plans to have an adult cornhole tournament, vendor and craft fair, face painting, inflatable slide, food, live music, Kona Ice, and much more! This free community event will have fun activities for all ages to enjoy. Registration forms for the cornhole tournament and vendor fair will be available soon.

“We take pride in where we live and love our community. We just want to make it better for everyone, safer and easier for everyone to make good choices for themselves and their families. We’ve accomplished a lot in the last year but we’re excited about the future and all that we can do to improve this place we call home.”

Learn more about Vinton County Creating Healthy Communities and their upcoming Park Appreciation Day by following them on Facebook. Click to enlarge each image below for cornhole tournament registration, vendor and craft fair registration and for a flier about Wyman Park Appreciation Day!

Want to donate to the playground project or get involved in the other CHC projects? Contact Bentley at jbentley@vintonohhealth.org or at 740.596.5233.

Meet Your Banker: Cindy Moore Joins The VCNB Family

The VCNB Financial Family is happy to welcome Cindy Moore to our Friendly Bremen Banking Center. Moore is a Business Banker who brings to the job the enthusiasm and experience necessary to help businesses with all their banking needs.

Cindy Moore is a Business Banker in Lancaster.

She has actually worked in the banking world since 1991, serving in a number of positions including branch management, consumer lending, mortgage lending and commercial lending. While she has vast experience in banking, Moore’s expertise may actually be in understanding customers and helping with their needs. “I really enjoy learning about our customers, their business and being able to assist them with all their lending needs,” she said.

She is a graduate of the Blythe School of Banking, American Bankers Association Bank Management School and American Bankers Association School of Consumer Lending.

When asked why she chose to join the VCNB family, Moore referenced the bank’s core values and how they relate to the community and customers. “I chose to come work for VCNB because we pride ourselves in being a community centered organization. I appreciate our core values: integrity, leadership, community focus, progress and our relationship with our customers,” she said.

Moore lives in Lancaster with her husband Eric and they have two grown children and three grandchildren. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, swimming, gardening and being outdoors.

Cindy Moore is excited to serve local businesses and help them reach their banking goals. Find her at our Friendly Bremen Banking Center on East Main Street in Lancaster or call her at 740.687.3920.  

Headed For The Hills: Hocking Hills Tourism Grows During Pandemic

The Hocking Hills is open for business and ready to provide rest and respite for pandemic weary travelers in need of a getaway. In fact, the Hocking Hills region has experienced a surge of visitors even while other tourist destinations continue to struggle.

Hocking Hills Tourism Association Executive Director Karen Raymore has a lot to say about why the region has continued to attract visitors this year, what it means for local businesses and what it could mean for the future of tourism in the area. It wasn’t all smooth sailing though as the early days of the pandemic caused obstacles, the likes of which no one had experienced.

“The first days and weeks were nerve wracking. None of us had ever experienced anything like a pandemic so, just like everyone else, we didn’t know what to expect, how long it would last or how to plan,” Raymore explained.
During those early days, of state issued stay at home orders and business closures, there came other local restrictions including the closure of cabins. “Where better to social distance and ride out a pandemic than a cabin in the woods? So visitors continued to come,” she said.

The Hocking County Board of Health eventually closed the cabins for over a month to slow the spread from a heavy influx of visitors. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources also saw issues with overcrowding in the Hocking Hills State Parks and ordered these parks closed until early July.

“As you can imagine, some cabin owners were unhappy and vocal while others seemed grateful that everyone was closing. It gave them opportunity to regroup and put in place safety measures,” she recalled. “When the cabins were allowed to reopen 41 days later it didn’t seem to matter that the state park was closed. People could escape the monotony of home and stay in nature on anywhere from two to a hundred acres. Some cabins have Wi-Fi for those who need it. Some folks are pleased to disconnect from their troubles. That demand has only continued to grow.”

The growing demand and increased traffic at Hocking Hills State Park over the years has long caused alarm among park officials worried about the sustainability of high numbers of foot traffic on park trails. The three month closure at the park actually gave officials time and space to reconfigure some trails so that they are mostly one way.

“It’s something that Pat Quackenbush, the Naturalist, had been wanting to do for a long time. We want to enjoy our beautiful natural world without doing so much damage. After all, when you are walking both ways and meet a group, someone usually goes off trail to allow the other party to pass and that can do real harm if it happens enough,” Raymore explained.

When the park reopened in July, cabins were inundated with guests who have continued to come without fail. When asked why the Hocking Hills has thrived through the pandemic while other destinations have struggled, Raymore credited three specific factors – accessibility by car, an abundance of free access to nature and a high number of detached lodging options.

Most people are driving rather than flying to the Hocking Hills and a there’s an enormous population within a six hour drive. According to a recent survey, the number one place overnight guests in the Hocking Hills come from is the Cleveland area. The Columbus area ranked second with markets near and far falling in line behind them.

It is this availability of cabins or detached accommodations that make the area more appealing to many destinations that rely on hotel lodging.

“If you fly to Orlando and stay in a hotel, you’re interacting with more people, you’re sharing an elevator with people outside your party, hotel staff is coming in to service your room,” she added. “People who were loyal to their hotel chains are finding it’s nice to have a living space, a kitchen, maybe a fire pit or their own private hot tub. They don’t have to worry about making too much noise or being kept awake by the neighbors.”

While the cabin business has flourished, it has been a journey and challenging time for many businesses that rely on visitors.

David Kennedy, who owns The Millstone Southern Smoked BBQ and the Hungry Buffalo in Logan said his year was marked by adapting to change – changing regulations, changing weather, changing customer expectations and others he never dreamed of facing.

“The one constant in this life is change and you either learn to adapt and be flexible or you won’t be around very long,” he said as he described a tumultuous year. “First we started with carryout and did quite well at the Millstone. Barbeque carries out really well. But when they closed the cabins, our carryout business dropped to almost nothing,” he said, explaining their decision to completely close for a period in 2020.

When they came back, it was with safety and hospitality top of mind. First it was with outdoor seating and, when the weather turned cold, changes to the indoor seating. “We want people to feel comfortable when they’re with us. That’s just being hospitable. So we created plexiglass and wood walls throughout the dining room. Getting rid of the open concept dining room and creating these booths helped us through the winter,” Kennedy said.

They will continue using the temporary walls for as long as it makes sense. “Not every restaurant in town has been so fortunate but we have been proactive in working hard to do what we do best – serving people good food and drinks and offering them great hospitality.”

In the world of retail, the downtown Logan shop Homegrown on Main experienced their best year ever. The store sells locally made items art, crafts, food items and books that were in demand by visitors seeking special souvenirs.

Just down the road from the State Park Visitor Center, Old Man’s Cave General Store has been experiencing a boom as well. Owner Lynn Horn admitted the early days of the pandemic were scary. The store had just ordered a large amount of stock in preparation for spring break. “Luckily we were considered essential because we sell food and we were able to stay open. It was scary because traffic was way down and we couldn’t plan.”

She credits local people for helping them get through these hard days.

Their deli offers quick items like pizza and burgers. Plus, they offer beer, wine and over 100 flavors of soft serve ice cream. “Ice cream sales went way up last year. It’s comfort food and people needed that,” Horn recalled.

Despite those bad days, Horn said that 2020 was a record year for her store. The close proximity to the park is ideal for serving visitors who need a cold treat, souvenir or a meal. Record sales every month made up for those early losses.

Horn reported meeting a lot of first time visitors. “We met a lot of people who would normally go somewhere else like Tennessee. But they found out that it’s just as beautiful here and much closer to home. The people here are friendly, the park rangers are friendly, the businesses are glad to have them here. It’s a good vibe so I know a lot of them will be coming back,” she said. “I’m sure there are good times ahead.”

Her store didn’t even see the normal slowdown that typically happens in the winter. “January and February are always our slowest months. They were slower than the rest of the year but much, much busier compared to other years. It’s amazing how busy it has been!”

What does this all mean for the future of the Hocking Hills and local businesses that benefit from tourism? Raymore said to count on continued growth including more family reunions at area lodges, more quick getaways for remote workers and more vacationers who wish to find both rest and adventure close to home.

“I think the future is bright,” Raymore exclaimed. “We’ve missed traveling, we’ve missed our extended families, we’ve missed so much that I think people will continue to travel more and more. And those who found us because of the pandemic will certainly come back again once everything is up and going full speed. They’ll want to explore more and we’ll be ready to welcome them!”

Learn more about things to do in the Hocking Hills including events and activities for the family, the adventure traveler, the retiree and everyone in between by visiting the Hocking HIlls Tourism Association online. Visitors can even find their ideal accommodations at the HHTA website ExploreHockingHills.com.

Darrell Boggs To Retire Friday

When Darrell Boggs took his first job in banking it was to earn some cash while he studied accounting at the University of Rio Grande. In fact, he never planned for a career in banking and had other plans altogether. Yet, he’s still at it and retiring this week after a lifetime of helping local people achieve their financial goals.

Darrell Boggs

“I honestly didn’t intend to stay in banking. I liked my accounting classes. That work made sense to me but I was tired of asking my parents for money. No young man wants to be dependent on his parents like that so I took a summer job doing something completely different and went to school at night,” he recalled.

When a position in banking became available, he jumped at the chance to work in a finance job where he could continue his education at night and make contacts that would serve him in the future. The year was 1978 and the rest, as they say, is history. He started out as Assistant Branch Manager, working his way up through different positions including Regional Manager and Head of Lending.

Darrell left that job in 2005 and spent six years farming with his dad before resuming his banking career with other banks in the region.

When VCNB was planning to open a loan office in Jackson, VCNB Head of Retail Brenda Doles came knocking. The two had experience working together and she thought he would be a good fit for directing the bank’s entrance to that community. Today he’s the Head of Commercial Lending.

“I have really loved working with Mark and for the company. I couldn’t ask for a better way to wrap up my career,” he said. “I’m thrilled with the staff we’ve developed here. Jackson County needed a good community bank and we’ve proven that time and again with the great customers who have come to us and the bankers that we have attracted to work for us here. I’m really proud of what we’ve built here – the building, the wonderful staff. It’s worked out better than we could have imagined.”

The Oak Hill area resident doesn’t plan to rest on his laurels in retirement. A lifelong farmer, he’s caretaker for a family farm that his parents moved to in 1967. “I plan to keep my cattle and farm as long as I can but I’m looking forward to traveling in the RV too,” he smiled, describing some of the places he and his wife have been with the RV and others he hopes to see.

His wife Marilyn is a retired Oak Hill Elementary School Principal. The couple have two grown children and two young granddaughters who they look forward to spending time with throughout the year rather than just during summer vacation. “We love to take the girls camping and to have them at the farm. We’re talking about getting everyone together for family trips and just look forward to seeing them more, having more time to enjoy our family.”

Will he miss banking? “I’ll miss the people. I’m ready to go but I’ve been fortunate to work with a lot of great people and have a lot of great customers. I’ll miss all the people.”

However, VCNB President Mark Erslan said that Boggs likely won’t be leaving the bank completely. “Given Darrell’s significant contributions to the bank, we’re working on a way for him to stay involved with the bank and enjoy retirement.”

Call, Click Or Come In!

How do you define easy? Here at VCNB we work hard to make it easy for you to get your new mortgage loan. We know that not everyone can come to the bank and that you still need to get your mortgage loan application started and the process underway.

That’s why our mortgage lenders are happy to do business however you like to do business. Want to come inside and sit down with a lender? Do you prefer to do things online? Does a phone call simply fit better with your schedule?

Whatever your choice – call, click or come in and our mortgage lenders will be happy to help!

Call 1.800.542.5004, click on VCNBfamily.com or visit your neighborhood Vinton County National Bank to get started. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.