By Teri Knight, News Director
There’s been a lot of change in the banking industry over the past 11 years while Tim Viere has been the President of the First National Bank of Northfield. He said, “The model that we’re under is making loans and bringing in deposits but we don’t have a lot of other sources of income like trusts, wealth management, leasing, insurance, those types of things.” Technology is changing faster than ever before, which means increased costs that many community banks are not able to keep up with. These are a couple of the factors that initiated the sale of First National Bank to Merchants Bank. First National Vice President Rick Estenson added that, over his 15 years at the bank, the board has continually monitored the banking industry. The concern recently was to,
“ramp up and grow the organization or you potentially wither away as many other industries have.” There are 66 shareholders in the bank, some of whom are older. Long-term strategies
aren’t really an appropriate investment for them so last fall the bank board began inquiring with other banks regarding their interest in acquiring First National. Estenson added, “And we’re doing it from a position of strength. I think we’ve got a great balance sheet, good earnings, the bank’s doing well, the economy’s strong, we have great employees. It was at that moment that we thought it wise to look into what the interest level is rather than waiting until one of those is weak.” First National CEO Dave Shumway and his father have been involved in the ownership of the bank for over 90 years. Viere said that’s an emotional tie for them, their family and the employees. First National Bank was chartered in 1873 and has been inextricably tied to Northfield with the defeat of Jesse James in 1876. The name of the bank will become Merchants Bank when the acquisition is complete. As for the historic artifacts, Estenson said that Merchants, chartered in 1875, “They have a deep respect for the legacy that First National Bank has here and they want to make sure that that’s nurtured and preserved.” The new owners know there may be some mourning due to the name change but they also know that Merchants, started in Winona, another college town, understands and wants to honor First National Bank of Northfield’s legacy. As for the employees, Estenson said they have great employees and Merchants knows that. The full interview is in on kymnradio.net.
NHS graduation rates soar over statewide averages
Northfield School District Superintendent Dr. Matt Hillmann was in studio this morning with breaking news on the 2018 four-year State graduation results. Northfield High School had a 96% graduation rate compared to the statewide average of 83%. In our Hispanic community, the rate was 93% while statewide was 67%. He added that nearly 89% of English language learning students graduated. Additionally those in the free and reduced lunch program graduated out of Northfield at a 91% rate while statewide the average was 70%. The Area Learning Center (ALC) had a 63% graduation rate. These are students that were at risk for not graduating within four years. Hillmann said a portion of those other students not graduating are not quitting and plan to continue their studies. Hillmann’s full interview is on kymnradio.net.
Due to the recent heavy rainfall over the last week and rising water levels, Rice County Sheriff Troy Dunn, in cooperation with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, enacted an Emergency Water Surface Use Restriction. In other words, all watercraft must use slow wake restrictions. This went into effective yesterday and will last no more than 30 days.