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Amid frustration and dismay from customers, Bremer Bank closed the doors at its branch in Berthold on October 29th.
However, State Bank & Trust of Kenmare-Berthold Office opened for business in the same location on November 9th, offering full banking services Monday through Friday from 9 am to 4 pm.
And Jim Jorgenson, president of Jorgenson Holding Company and executive vice-president and trust officer of State Bank & Trust of Kenmare, apologized for the delay. “Berthold was without banking services for approximately eight days, which included two weekends,” he said. “We feel bad they had to be without services for a week.”
However, no one seems too upset with the way operations have started at State Bank & Trust-Berthold. “I’m glad they came,” said Robert Inman, president of the Berthold Economic Development Corporation. “It’s nice to have a local bank, especially with the oil development and everything that’s been happening in town. I know people in town who have switched their accounts, and more people will be switching.”
Berthold mayor Alan Lee was also pleased. “Everybody I’ve talked to is pretty excited that they came,” he said. “I’m sure all the businesses are glad. It saves them driving to
Jorgenson emphasized that the community pride evident in Berthold was one reason State Bank & Trust of Kenmare wanted to serve customers there. “Berthold is a thriving community and they are very proud of their community,” he said. “We had a number of people request us to open there. They felt better served by an independent, community bank.”
He smiled as he described how quickly the decision happened. “I was reading in the paper about Bremer moving out of there,” Jorgenson said, referring to Bremer Bank’s announcement, “and then my phone started ringing!”
Plans for expanding
Negotiations took place with Bremer Bank to purchase the existing building, but Jorgenson and the staff have already developed plans to renovate the office. “We’re hopeful we can acquire some additional space to offer a drive-up facility, a nighttime depository and an ATM,” he said. “We’ll be expanding the bank and re-configuring the interior space next spring. There just wasn’t enough time to get the building expansion done this fall.”
The transition to State Bank & Trust-Berthold Office also had to be approved by the FDIC and
“We just had to have the final word,” added Charlene Ankenbauer, comptroller, operation officer and trust officer for State Bank & Trust of Kenmare. “We were ready to go as soon as we received the approvals.”
Cindy DeBilt, longtime employee at the Bremer Bank Branch in town, was hired as the assistant cashier and manager for State Bank & Trust-Berthold. The bank also employs Monica Wold, a Berthold resident with several years of experience at People’s Bank in Parshall, and Tanner Westlake, formerly of First National Bank in Williston, who serves as the new loan officer and insurance agent for Berthold customers.
“They’ll stand alone as their own office,” Jorgenson explained. “The decisions will be made over there, which gives the bank its own local flavor. We’re in the community to provide any kind of services they want, and if [the Berthold office] doesn’t have it, we can get it for them, or we may have access at one of the other banks.”
Part of the family
of community banks
State Bank & Trust-Berthold Office joins a family of community banks under Jorgenson Holding Company, including Citizen State Bank in Mohall with offices in Sherwood and Lansford, State Bank & Trust of Kenmare, First National Bank & Trust Company in Williston, with offices in Crosby, Ray, Lignite and the North Branch in Williston, and 25 ATM machines at locations throughout northwestern North Dakota.
“The three banks are all independent community banks, operating with separate management and their own decision-making capabilities,” Jorgenson said. “They kind of all do their own thing.”
“It’s nice to have those connections in those locations, though,” Ankenbauer said, adding that the offices share information and assist each other on a regular basis.
Inman appreciated the decision to invest in Berthold. “I think it was a good move on their part,” he said. “I know Cenex and some of the other businesses in town really appreciate it.”
He noted small ways the new bank had already reached out to community residents. “They sent thank you letters to everyone who’s opened a new account with them,” he said. “They seem to be right on top of everything.”
“We know they’re looking to expand services,” Lee said, “and in Berthold, with the oil activity, there’s a lot of need.”
Lee emphasized the security offered to businesses by having a local bank. “Nobody has to drive to
No special event is planned at this time to celebrate the bank’s opening in Berthold. According to Jorgenson, a celebration will be scheduled for next summer.
“We’re looking forward to an open house after we complete the renovations,” Jorgenson said. “Right now, we’re glad to be there and glad to be providing banking services to our many friends in the Berthold community.”