Triangle Background

Keith Vardon Jr. has joined Associated Bank as senior vice president & team leader, commercial banking. He is responsible for managing the commercial team in Chippewa Valley and building out the commercial portfolio in Central Wisconsin.

Vardon brings more than 30 years of banking experience to Associated Bank. Previously, he held the position of market president at U.S. Bank Wausau since 2005.

Vardon holds a bachelor’s degree in finance and accounting from Northern Michigan University. In the community, he has coached youth basketball for over 20 years.

He is located at 1107 Regis Court, Eau Claire.

Prevail Bank recognizes the importance of local organizations and the resources they provide for those less fortunate in the communities of central Wisconsin. Each of its nine branches have chosen a local program for which it will collect donations and Prevail Bank will match those donations up to $1,000 each! Anyone in the community can drop off monetary donations to the branch of choice. Donations will be accepted up to December 17, 2021.

Those organizations that will benefit from the generosity of Prevail Bank are:

  • Sauk County Children’s Giving Tree — It provides a variety of products including Christmas toys, clothing and supplies to children and families in Sauk County. They also provide financial assistance and meals around the holidays. If you wish to contribute to this cause, drop off your monetary donation at the Prevail Bank – Baraboo location.
  • Christmas is For Children — The Prevail Bank – Eau Claire location will be collecting gifts for the Christmas is for Children program. Participates are encouraged to come to the branch location and choose a tag from the holiday giving tree. All children receiving gifts are from the local community.
  • Ronald McDonald House Charities (Marshfield) — The Ronald McDonald House reduces the stress and financial burden for families when they must travel far from home to access medical care for their child. Make your contribution to the Prevail Bank – Marshfield Branch.
  • Taylor County Supportive Housing, Inc. — This agency, chosen by the Medford branch of Prevail Bank, provides those who are homeless with safe and secure shelter, food, support and solutions, with a primary emphasis on connecting residents with permanent housing solutions.
  • W-O-W Kids’ Meals Program — This program serves children in the Owen-Withee School District and is affiliated with the Feed My People organization. These organizations collect and distribute food to students in need for the weekends, when they don’t have access to school meals. Prevail Bank – Owen, as well as the Owen-Withee Lions Club, will match all donations up to $1,000!
  • Santa’s Elves Foundation — They provide Christmas gifts & needed basic living essentials (personal care items, winter outerwear, etc.) to children of families in financial need. Prevail Bank – Phillips is accepting donations for this cause.
  • United Way of Portage County — Since 1945, this organization focused on providing positive change and services to its community, encompassing the areas of education, health, and financial stability. Drop off your monetary contribution at the Prevail Bank – Stevens Point location.
  • Catholic Charities’ Wausau Community Warming Center — The warming center is an action step of the Wausau Housing and Homelessness Coalition, raising awareness of homelessness in Marathon County. It provides a clean and warm environment that can house up to 25 adults, as well as daily hot meals. Donations are accepted at Prevail Bank in Wausau.
  • Park Place Adult Day Services — This agency was chosen by the Prevail Bank – Wisconsin Rapids branch. It provides a safe environment, with trained professionals and compassionate staff, who help dependent adults maintain the maximum level of independence and function, while promoting socialization and mental stimulation.

State Bank of Cross Plains welcomes Leah Urso to its agriculture lending and business banking team. She serves farmers, agribusiness owners, and local businesses throughout Dane County.

“Leah brings such a genuine love for the agriculture industry to her work,” says Steve Eager, State Bank of Cross Plains’ market president. “Her ability to connect with customers and her drive to truly understand how she can help makes her not only incredibly competent but also a joy to have on our team.”

Having grown up on a registered Holstein farm and eventually owning and showing registered AQHA horses and registered Holsteins, Urso has in-depth knowledge and expertise in a variety of agricultural areas. As FFA president in high school, she was awarded Wisconsin’s Outstanding Agriculture Girl scholarship.

Urso earned her Bachelor of Business Administration with a minor in Communications/Public Relations from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. While at UW-Eau Claire, she co-founded and served as a representative for Student United Way-UWEC and was nominated by her professor into the National Honor Society of Leadership and Success for her academic achievement, community service, and campus participation.

Starting December 1, Wolf River Community Bank again will be bringing Santa through residential areas of Greenville, Hortonville, New London, and Shiocton as he sits atop a “Santa Float,” allowing families to see Santa and Mrs. Claus from the comfort of their own homes or community. Local police and/or fire department members in each municipality will accompany the float through the communities.

Last year was the inaugural voyage of the Wolf River Community Bank Santa Float. “We received so many encouraging messages about the Float last year and a multitude of requests to do this again so we are bringing Santa back,” said Joe Peikert, Wolf River Community Bank president and CEO. “It brought joy to all of us to send some holiday cheer into the neighborhoods we serve. We saw so many smiling faces and excitement from kids of all ages,” added Peikert.

The Santa Float will be visiting the following communities on the dates listed below:

  • Greenville – Wednesday, December 1 and Thursday, December 2 at 5:30 p.m. (Each night the float will be in a different section of the village).
  • Hortonville – Tuesday, December 7 at 5:30 p.m.
  • Shiocton – Wednesday, December 8 at 5:30 p.m.
  • New London – Thursday, December 9 at 5:30 p.m.

Community members will be able to track Santa as he travels through town using the bank’s “Santa Tracker” tool which will be updated each day of the event. Float routes and the “Santa Tracker” link can be found at

This year, one Santa Float spectator also will have a chance to win a Family Holiday Prize Package. To enter, post a photo or video of the Santa Float or your group waving to Santa as he passes by to The Wolf River Community Bank Facebook page (@wolfrivercommunitybank) or their Instagram page (@wolfriverbank). Or use the Santa Float hashtag on your own social media post – #WolfRiverBankSantaFloat. Enter by 12 PM CST on Monday, December 13, 2021. View details about the contest on the Wolf River Community Bank website or on their social media pages.

This holiday season, Wolf River Community Bank also is hosting their annual Holiday Food Drive to support local food pantries. Drop off non-expired food, personal care items or monetary donations at any branch through December 6.

Kirsten Holstrom recently received the 2021 Mary L. Staudenmaier WINGS (Worthy Individual Noted for Generous Service) Award. This award was named in honor of The Stephenson National Bank & Trust’s (SNBT) former-chairman and long-time president. The award epitomizes Holstrom’s steady participation in public service for the community.

“We are pleased to give this award to Kirsten. She has shown a true devotion to serving the community, and we appreciate the time and dedication she has put into volunteering,” said Daniel J. Peterson, SNBT president and CEO. “It has been appropriately named in honor of Mary Staudenmaier, who demonstrates the importance of serving our area through endless community involvement of her own.”

Holstrom, loan operations coordinator in Marinette since 2020, was presented with the WINGS Award in recognition of her remarkable level of community service. She pledged 495 volunteer hours to multiple local organizations, which include the Rainbow House, CASA of Menominee County, St. Vincent De Paul, Abundant Life Mission, and Haircuts for the Needy. She also donates her time to gift drives, coat drives, sponsored events, and many sports organizations in the community.

To recognize her dedication to serving, Holstrom received the WINGS plaque, and her name and photograph have been added to the WINGS display in the Marinette Office. In addition, the bank has made a $500 contribution in her name to CASA of Menominee County in Menominee, MI.

As a loan operations coordinator with over eight years of experience in lending, Holstrom primarily focuses on software applications administration, reporting functions and designing and administering systems and procedures, while also introducing customers to other bank products that may help their financial futures. Holstrom resides in Menominee with her husband, Chris Holstrom, and their two children

Triangle Background

Front row for left to right are: Ronald Austin (former director), Kevin Manley, Rose Oswald Poels (WBA president & CEO), Janet Mueller. Back row from left to right are: Nancy Filla, Nancy Lettner, Sharon Halama, Keith Witte, Tami Eid, Nancy Berg, Kris Kabus, and Brenda Bautch.

Ten bank employees were honored with lifetime service awards by First National Bank and Trust Company Arcadia market president, Kevin Manley, along with president and CEO for the Wisconsin Bankers Association, Rose Oswald Poels, on Friday, November 12, 2021 in Arcadia, Wisconsin, for their years of service in the banking industry.

The Wisconsin Bankers Association Lifetime Service Awards recognize bankers who have served in the banking industry for 30 and 40 years. The awards are open to an active or retired officer, director or employee.

First National Bank and Trust Company employees Janet Mueller, Nancy Filla, Keith Witte, and Tami Eid were honored for 40 years of service and Nancy Lettner, Kevin Manley, Brenda Bautch, Nancy Berg, Sharon Halama, and Kris Kabus were honored for 30 years of service. Additionally, former director Ronald Austin was recognized for over 50 years of service in the banking industry.

“These individuals recognized for their many decades of service are great examples of the heart of community banking,” said Wisconsin Bankers Association president and CEO Rose Oswald Poels. “In addition to their work to support the financial wellbeing of their clients, they are neighbors, friends, and volunteers who strengthen their community. I’ve known Kevin and his team for nearly 30 years, and it is my honor to present them with these lifetime service awards. With this day being Kevin’s last full day at the bank, I want to wish him much enjoyment throughout his well-deserved retirement.”

Additionally, Kevin Manley announced his retirement last month and his last day as a full-time employee was Friday, November 12. Under Manley’s leadership, the State Bank of Arcadia grew into a strong community bank supporting the areas of Arcadia, Whitehall, and Independence, Wisconsin. He has held roles in operations, lending, and served 24 years as the president of State Bank of Arcadia.

His impact, leadership, and contribution to employees, the community, and colleagues will be missed. Manley’s long and successful tenure with the bank and strong experience will help the bank continue its mission of strengthening local businesses and relationships in the surrounding communities.

North Shore Bank has announced John Whalen as the new consumer loan originator. In this new role, Whalen will be responsible for assisting customers in finding, processing and securing a variety of loans.

“We couldn’t be more excited for John to join our team,” said Chris Boland, vice president of consumer lending manager at North Shore Bank. “His vast experience and emphasis on customer service will be a great benefit to our customers and employees.”

Whalen has nearly 25 years of banking experience. He currently resides in Hustisford, Wis. and is a board member and vice president of the Lake Sinissippi Association.

Standing left to right are: JK Walsh, BOM vice president; Molly Scully, BOM vice president; Mike Lindert, BOM president and CEO; and GOLD Representatives Randy Reeg, city administrator; Tonya Petrick; and Jordan Wilke.

Bank of Mauston was proud to donate $10,000.00 to Guardians of Lake Decorah (“GOLD”) for the purchase of an Eco Harvester. GOLD is a non-profit lake association working towards improving water quality in Lake Decorah in Mauston. The purchase of the weed harvesting machine will help provide immediate water quality benefits while still working towards long-term solutions.

According to Michael Lindert, Bank of Mauston president and CEO, “Lake Decorah is a wonderful and important natural resource. Bringing it back to a healthy state will make a real positive impact in the entire Juneau County area. We appreciate the ability to partner with local organizations.”

Ken Thompson, president and CEO of Capitol Bank, is pleased to announce the election of Jay Sekelsky to the Board of Directors of Capitol Bank. He was elected to the position in October 2021 and will serve a three-year term. Sekelsky is currently a partner at Zermatt Investors, LLC, a private partnership that invests in early-stage companies. He retired in September 2018 from Madison Investment Advisors where he was a partner and the Chief Investment Officer. Jay holds a BBA and MBA from the University of Wisconsin – Madison and graduated from the Applied Security Analysis Program.

“Jay’s extensive experience will be an asset to our business, and his passion to serve on nonprofit boards aligns with our Capitol Bank core values,” said Thompson.

Sekelsky has made community involvement a big part of his life and currently serves on several nonprofit boards including Chair of the American Family Children’s Hospital Advisory Board, United Way of Dane County, Wisconsin School of Business Center for Professional & Executive Development, and Edgewood High School Board of Directors. Sekelsky is currently serving on the forprofit boards for West Bend Mutual Insurance Company, eCIO Inc., and Intellivist Inc.

Denise Sonnemann, Marshfield branch manager of Prevail Bank (left), presenting a $500 donation to the Founder of the “CHRISTMAS IN JULY” Charity, “Santa” Greg Cemke (right). The funds will be used to help make a child’s hospital experience in the Marshfield Children’s Hospital a little more bearable and happy.

Prevail Bank donated $500 to support the only Children’s Miracle Network Hospital in central and northern Wisconsin. That hospital is the Marshfield Children’s Hospital. The funds will be used to help make a child’s hospital experience a little more bearable and happy, and to help provide comfort to those parents that are going through a very anxious and nervous time in their lives.

“The charity’s main goal is to help bring smiles and comfort to children and families that have to endure hospitalizations and medical treatment,” said “Santa” Greg Cemke, “CHRISTMAS IN JULY” Charity Founder. “We are very appreciative of Prevail Bank’s donation which will assist with the Charity’s mission of providing a means of allowing the children to escape the hospital environment. This is extremely important during this time. A big Ho! Ho! Ho! Santa thank you to Prevail Bank for being part of the Charity’s effort!”

Denise Sonnemann, Prevail Bank branch manager – Marshfield, shared, “Prevail Bank is proud to support the “CHRISTMAS IN JULY” Charity, the children receiving treatment at the Marshfield Children’s Hospital, and those parents preparing to say good-bye to their child for the last time. Whatever we can do to soften the hurt, accelerate the healing, and provide comfort is priceless.”

The “CHRISTMAS IN JULY” Charity helps fund non-budgeted items that help children in the Marshfield Children’s Hospital. This is its 7th year and the Charity is raising funds for three child experiences: 1) Star light ceiling tiles for treatment and recovery rooms that will help distract and sooth children as they recover from surgery or other procedures, 2) The purchase of six portable gaming systems that can be moved throughout the hospital so families may have fun with their child, and 3) Precious Moment Memories. Life is full of precious moments and for those parents that are preparing to say goodbye to their child, a mold of their child’s hand within theirs, forever captures their love.

Prevail Bank’s goal is to pursue what’s possible within the communities it serves. It is passionate about economic development, financial stability and growth for individuals, families, and businesses. Prevail Bank is a community bank that is continuously looking for ways to give back, support those pursuing dreams, and make things better in central Wisconsin.

Prevail Bank’s Charitable Contributions program is available for local non-profit organizations that help local people in need, especially those with low-to-moderate incomes; stimulate communities financially; and/or enhances the standard of living of those less fortunate. If your organization is interested in applying for funds for a major initiative in your community, go to: