By Steven Thomas, BMO Harris Bank, Onalaska

Playoff football, tournament volleyball, and cross country meets dominate the local sports scene. Like many, I am heavily invested in my own community’s success this year with an Onalaska football squad still undefeated and advancing to Level 3 of the playoffs for the first time in 20+ years. This past Saturday, I was fortunate to watch three of our runners compete in the WIAA State Cross Country meet in Wisconsin Rapids. Our hometown favorite, Manny Putz, an Onalaska sophomore, won the D1 WIAA Cross Country meet on a beautiful day posting a 0.2 second margin of victory after an all-out sprint in the last 200 meters to the finish of the 5,000 meters run. From the Braveheart like battle charge at the sound of the starting gun to watching the final sprints at the finish. It is a pleasure to watch these gifted athletes give their all.

Like these runners, farmers are on their annual race to the finish of the 2022 harvest season. Travels across the Midwest reveal steady progress in the corn and bean crop bringing in above average yields in areas that received adequate moisture, below average in areas where moisture was dryer conditions prevailed. Corn that is not drying down quickly coupled with higher drying costs are expected to eat into profit margins.

Dryer conditions this fall have made for good harvesting conditions with few weather delays experienced. The annual ritual of fall applied dairy-generated fertilizer is certainly noticeable around the countryside. Fall seeded cover crops and winter grains have mostly been planted.

During this harvest season, beyond the yields coming in, the biggest discussion with clients has been related to end of year planning. Despite all the inflationary pressures, supply chain disruptions and high costs, most clients are looking at solid returns this year. End of year tax strategies will certainly be implemented in the next 2 months as farmers look to mitigate anticipated tax obligations. Meet with the accounts early to develop the plans appropriate for each operation. Tax rates could be adjusted and paying some of the tax burden this year when cash is more readily available can be one consideration. We do anticipate supply chain issues and transportation challenges will continue which could impact chemicals and fertilizer availability that are likely to be prepaid.

Political ads are dominating the airwaves with every candidate trying to make their best case for themselves and make their opponent look as bad as possible. I have my own opinions on those I’ll be supporting with my vote. Fortunately, the election is only a few days away and the ads will stop, but the task of governing in a bipartisan manner with legislative solutions that find common ground and benefit the common good seem to be harder and harder to reach. Your vote is important. Local races, school boards, town boards, school funding referendums all matter. I encourage all to cast your ballot in this very important mid-term election.

Steven Thomas is vice president of agricultural banking with BMO Harris Bank in Onalaska. Thomas also serves on the WBA Agricultural Bankers Section Board of Directors.


What happened in 1922? The Lincoln Memorial was dedicated. The first issue of Reader’s Digest was published. Water skiing, convertibles, the electric blender, the radial saw arm, and the Eskimo Pie were invented. The Tomb of Tutankhamen was discovered in Egypt. A first-class stamp cost 2 cents compared to 60 cents today. The price of gas was 11 cents per gallon compared to average price for regular gasoline now at about $3.40 a gallon.

Along with these noteworthy moments in history, 1922 was also the year the vault from York Safe & Lock Co., of Chicago, Ill. and York, Penn. lumbered through the streets of downtown Marinette. It came to rest at Stephenson Banking Company, which is now known as The Stephenson National Bank & Trust (SNBT).

“The delivery of the vault was a pretty big deal back in those days,” said Daniel Peterson, SNBT president & CEO. “It arrived on a train car with a sign that boasted the weight of 66,000 pounds. Gentlemen brought it through the streets using log rollers lead by a horse drawn team. Once it got to the bank building, a section of wall and a window was removed so it could be maneuvered inside. The vault has been in the same place ever since.”

A lot of things have changed at the bank in the last 100 years, but the vault remains the same. It gets locked every night and opened again each morning. “It’s a wonder the vault still functions after being opened and closed more than 25,000 times all those years,” continued Peterson.

SNBT celebrated its 148 Anniversary on October 30. “The vault has stood by throughout our long history as a witness of the various contributions SNBT has made in the area: customers buying their first car; newlyweds purchasing a home; entrepreneurs launching new business ideas; and innumerable people reaching for their dreams,” Peterson concluded.

During a Special Meeting of Members on August 23, 2022, it was discussed and approved to reorganize Prevail Bank from a Mutual Savings Bank to a Mutual Holding Company (MHC). This reorganization was also approved by Prevail Bank’s Board of Directors, the OCC, and the Federal Reserve Board.

“The reorganization provides Prevail Bank with growth capabilities and opportunities we didn’t have before,” said Prevail Bank President Nathan Quinnell. “We have the option now to raise capital by issuing subordinate debt if we need it. And, if a fast acquisition comes our way, we have the ability to acquire the bank under the holding company, and continue to run that institution separately, until such time it is convenient for both parties to start the conversion/merger process.”

Deposit account customers and borrowers will be unaffected by the reorganization. The bank will operate as it did prior to the reorganization, with the same offices, products, employees, and services. Deposits are still insured by the FDIC; it will continue to operate under the same laws and regulations, with the addition of one more agency — the Federal Reserve Board.

Pictured (left to right) are: Sydney Rodriguez, Badger Bank branch manager; Cindy Wade; Mark Gruen, Johnson Creek superintendent; Rick Wrensch, School Board president; Tammi Vetrano, Badger Bank marketing coordinator.

Badger Bank is excited to partner with their communities’ school districts and offer the Exclusive School Spirit Pride Debit Card. When you tie your Badger Bank accounts to a School Spirit Pride Debit Card, your everyday purchases are worth more! All you have to do is use your School Spirit Pride Debit Card for purchases and Badger Bank donates money to your chosen school district.

Now more than ever, schools need our monetary help to adapt to our ever changing environment. To help your school, all you have to do is open a Badger Bank deposit account and tie it to your school of choice School Spirit Pride Debit Card. Badger Bank donates $.05 for every credit purchase made on your School Spirit Pride Debit Card. It’s that easy to donate to your school. Badger Bank’s personal bankers make it even more stress free with their great service.

“Badger Bank is excited to give back to the communities we serve.” said Dave Keleher, president of Badger Bank. “We are dedicated to our community and are happy to show our support through fundraising efforts such as these.”

This year’s donation has increased significantly from years past, thanks to the dedication of the bank and their customers. “To Badger Bank, it’s more than just hiring people who live and work here. It is the dedication to the growth and well-being of the community” stated Craig Keleher, CFO of Badger Bank. This year, Badger Bank was thrilled to present checks that totaled $8, the School Districts of Fort Atkinson, Cambridge, Johnson Creek, and Jefferson.

  • The Fort Atkinson School District was presented a check for $2,134.15. The funds will be used to further support teaching and learning within the School District of Fort Atkinson.
  • The Cambridge School District was awarded with a $3,111.25 check. This money goes to the Everybody Eats Campaign that the school has organized to make sure no kids go hungry at lunch time.
  • This year’s donation totaled $1,367.95 for the Johnson Creek School District. They will allocate the donation for One Team, One Dream Fundraising.
  • Jefferson School District received $1,367.95 donation from Badger Bank. The money will be put into an account that is used to help lower income families to help pay negative lunch account balances and athletic fees.

Naji Allan

Bank First is pleased to announce the promotion of Naji Allan to assistant vice president – business banking officer. He joined the bank in 2019 as a business banking analyst and has quickly progressed into a key member of the business banking team. Allan will continue to assist new and existing business customers in the Sheboygan area. He serves on the finance committee for the Boys and Girls Club of Sheboygan County and is currently enrolled at UW-Milwaukee pursuing his MBA. He received his bachelor’s degree in finance and international business management at UW-Oshkosh. Allan enjoys exercising, traveling, and football Sundays.

Triangle Background

Rose Oswald PoelsBy Rose Oswald Poels

Last week, bankers from Wisconsin and Illinois traveled to Washington D.C. together for in-person meetings with banking regulators. This trip, organized for the last 11 years by WBA, has for the last two years also welcomed bankers from Illinois.

I have always found this trip to be productive given the intentionally smaller group of bankers who attend and the senior level officials who meet with us. This year was no exception!

Like visits to Washington D.C. to meet with our elected officials, meetings with regulators do not result in meaningful, visible change overnight. However, if we don’t share the stories demonstrating the impact that regulations have on banking operations and consumers in the Midwest, their perspective is only what they know and see in Washington D.C. As the burden of federal regulations remains substantial on banks, it is critical that we continually advocate so to lessen the impact.

This year, our primary list of issues included small business data collection (1071 Rule), NSF/representment of checks and UDAAP (Unfair, deceptive, or abusive acts and practices), overdraft programs, deposit insurance assessment rates, CRA, and the definition of tangible equity capital in Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) rules.

Our group had several meaningful conversations over the short two-day trip with senior officials from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), and FHFA, as well as with Director Chopra from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). During these conversations we learned it is likely that both the final CRA modernization rule and the 1071 rule would be issued at around the same time; however, there could be a phased-in implementation period for 1071.

The general counsel for FHFA heard from several of us in attendance regarding the very real and negative impact the current definition of tangible equity capital could have on community banks’ ability to borrow from the Federal Home Loan Banks and promised to share this impact with decisionmakers starting that afternoon. Overall, I was very pleased with the active involvement of the bankers during the meetings and the level of engagement we had with the various regulators.

I would like to thank the following Wisconsin bankers for joining me and WBA’s Vice President – Legal Heather MacKinnon on this trip:

  • WBA Chair Dan Peterson, Stephenson National Bank and Trust in Marinette
  • Al Araque, Johnson Financial Group in Racine
  • PJ Childers, Crossbridge Community Bank in Tomahawk
  • Kristen Gagliano, North Shore Bank in Brookfield
  • Corey Hoze, Associated Bank in Milwaukee
  • Mark Oldenberg, Security Financial Bank in Eau Claire
  • Terry Rosengarten, Unity Bank in Augusta
  • Theresa Wiese, First Business Bank in Madison

I would also like to thank Dave Feldhaus from the FHLBank of Chicago for joining us on this trip and the FHLBank of Chicago for sponsoring our dinner.

If you are interested in joining WBA on its annual regulatory advocacy trip in October of 2023, please let me know. As you can tell, we accomplish a lot in a short period of time and your continued advocacy for our industry makes the greatest impact in ushering the movements most important to our communities.

Bankers’ Bank, a leading correspondent bank for community banks located in Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio, has announced the addition of new talent to the team and two promotions.

Brian Mickey

Brian Mickey – Bankers’ Bank is excited to welcome Brian Mickey as first vice president, risk management solutions. In this new role, Mickey is responsible for managing and developing the bank’s loan review and portfolio analysis services. He has three decades of experience in the banking industry with experience at small to medium sized commercial banks. He’s worked in many different facets of credit including underwriting, administration, loss mitigation, asset management, and business development with a primary focus on commercial real estate lending. Mickey is excited to partner with community banks and deliver a solution to better meet their needs. He holds a bachelor’s degree in finance from Loyola University of Chicago.


David Paxton

David Paxton – Bankers’ Bank recently promoted David Paxton as the new senior vice president, risk management solutions. In his new role, he is responsible for building and executing strategies to grow the bank’s risk management solutions. Paxton joined Bankers’ Bank in early 2022 as first vice president, business solutions. He has worked in community banking for more than 10 years, most recently at Amalgamated Bank of Chicago as the manager of their government services and union services departments. Prior to that role, he worked for ten years in Washington D.C. as a commercial banker. Paxton holds a bachelor’s degree in recreation management from West Virginia University. Paxton is looking forward to building relationships with community banks and providing solutions to meet their risk management needs.


Jim Kluck

James “Jim” Kluck – Jim Kluck has been promoted to first vice president, risk management solutions. Kluck is responsible for the management of the bank’s asset liability management and enterprise risk management solutions. He has been with Bankers’ Bank for 5 years, most recently as vice president, asset liability management. In that role, he was responsible for growing the business from five bank customers to over 50 bank customers. Kluck is focused on building long-term relationships with his customers and spends time to understand each customer’s unique circumstances and challenges to help deliver solutions to help banks better manage their risk. Kluck is a graduate of Marquette University with a masters of business administration. He is also a Certified Managerial Accountant.

Triangle Background

In recognition of Veterans Day and a way to salute area veterans, Security Financial Bank (SFB) is encouraging community members to thank a local veteran. From now until November 11, SFB will have thank you postcards available at all of its locations for community members to write notes of appreciation to area veterans. People will be able to take and send the cards to a veteran they know, or SFB will deliver the completed notes to local VA hospitals and clinics.

“We hope these cards show our local veterans how much we appreciate their service to our country,” said Mark Oldenberg, CEO & president of SFB.

Stop by any one of the following SFB branches to fill out a thank you card now until November 11th:

  • Alma Center – 141 W Main St.
  • Black River Falls – 8 Main St. OR 660 Hwy 54 E
  • Bloomer – 1401 Main St.
  • Durand – 212 W. Prospect St.
  • Eau Claire – 4217 Southtowne Dr.
  • Ladysmith – 200 Miner Ave. W.
  • River Falls – 1561 Commerce Ct.
Triangle Background

Jenna Clark

Jenna Clark has joined National Exchange Bank as a team leader – supervisor at the Campbellsport office.

Clark brings eight years of management experience with her. In her role, she will work with the existing leadership team in supervising employees to help ensure smooth and efficient deposit operations and leading the Campbellsport customer service team in providing excellent service, working to build and sustain lasting relationships in the community.

Clark grew up in Brown Deer and attended Brown Deer High School. She now resides in Jackson with her family.

The October 2022 WBA Compliance Journal is now available. In this edition, WBA Legal covers Part 2 of a two-part series regarding contracting with minors. In this second part, readers will find guidance on what banks should consider when banking minors, including the doctrine of incapacity. The publication also includes an article about a recent court action that overturned closed-end loan HMDA reporting thresholds for exempt institutions, a summary of recently published agency rules and notices and other important compliance-related updates for bankers.