— By BRIAN SMITH
A fixture in the community for 132 years, First National Bank of Weatherford is expanding from their location near the downtown square with another location.
The new location at 139 College Park Drive, has officially been open since Nov. 1, according to Senior Vice President for Marketing Evon Markum. An official ribbon cutting for the facility was held last week, part of a very busy time for the bank and its employees.
“We wanted to do something special for the new location, so we kind of kept the opening quiet until we could do the ribbon cutting and grand opening,” Markum said. “(The new location) gives us a chance to better serve our customers south of the square.”
The new location will have six to eight employees and is led by Senior Vice President Fred Werner, according to bank president Lin Bearden. Bearden said Werner is the “dean of Weatherford banking.”
Werner will celebrate his 50th year at First National Bank Weatherford in 2013, Bearden said.
“He came to us right out of high school,” Bearden said. “Everyone in town knows Fred. He grew up here.”
The new location has everything the original location has, Bearden said, including a drive thru, ATM and the ability to offer loan services.
Bearden said wanting to expand the bank to the south side of town was planned for several months.
“We’re excited about having a location on the south side of Weatherford and we felt it’s been necessary for quite a while actually,” Bearden said. “We realize that it’s not very convenient right now because of all the construction but the growth in town has been on the south side for a while and we are proud to be able to have a location on the south side.”
Bearden said the expansion isn’t finished yet as the bank plans future branches around the county.Werner being well known around the city isn’t surprising.
Markum said bank employees take their community activities very seriously and are involved in many things, including “ringing the bell” for the Salvation Army, which they took part in all day Thursday at the Weatherford Walmart.
“We are very involved in our community because our community is involved with us and it’s our chance to give back,” Markum said.
The holidays have been a busy time at the bank after a number of activities last week. After the ribbon cutting Thursday, the bank opened its doors early to the public Friday with a Breakfast Before Business, sponsored by the Weatherford Area Chamber of Commerce. For 90 minutes, business leaders had the chance to network and meet before getting down to business for the day. Music was provided by Kyle Williams.
Local business Whistle Hill Cafe catered the event. The breakfast to start the day was just part of a full day of activities. An open house was hosted throughout the day Friday with the public also able to enjoy the bank as a decorated Snow Village.
Later in the day, Santa made a special visit to the village to meet with children, who gave him their personal list for the holiday. Adding to the festive holiday atmosphere was the musical stylings of harpist Sydney Howell of Harps of Gold.
“It was just crazy in here,” Markum said.