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Wisconsin’s bankers are the definition of “community advocates” in all that you do every day to improve your local economy through your bank’s products and services, as well as through your generous philanthropy of time and money. This column shares and celebrates the diverse backgrounds, experiences, perspectives, and innovation of some of the extraordinary bankers in this state.

The following is a brief interview between WBA President and CEO Rose Oswald Poels and Bonduel Bank President David D. Schultz.

Rose: How did you first get into the banking industry?

Dave: My father was a banker in Weyauwega, as was his father-in-law, so I am not sure it was fate or just not thinking too hard about a career in banking when I graduated from Carroll College (now University) in 1981. I did find out quite quickly that there were not many jobs out there at that time. I was offered a job with a finance company after several interviews but was told I probably wouldn’t last with them as I would jump to a bank when the chance came. I felt that was probably true and decided to pass and hope for the best. Fortunately, Tom Martin with the Independence Bank group in Waukesha had checked with Carroll College for a candidate for their bank in Elkhorn. After five years there and a couple mergers, I was contacted about a position at Bonduel state Bank and have been here ever since.

What is your favorite aspect of your role at your bank?

Even though I never worked with my father at his bank, I was very aware of what he did and could see how much he enjoyed working with and being a part of the community. I am sure this is the biggest reason I got into the business. There is no doubt that in a bank, especially a small community bank, you have to like working with your customers and fellow employees.

What do you wish the general public understood about the banking industry?

As enjoyable as working with people to accomplish their goals is, it is not as much fun trying to inform them of all the regulations and red tape that we have to go through to get the job done for them. Most don’t want to hear why they have to give us their life history, wait so long and sign so many forms. As I tell them, this is banking, common sense has nothing to do with it.

Where do you believe the industry’s greatest challenges are in the next three to five years?

I believe that the greatest challenges our industry is facing is non-bank competition and cyber security.

Please describe your current role at your bank and share with us one of your more rewarding experiences.

I have been president here for about 10 years now and continue to wear many hats as everyone at a small bank does. Lending continues to be the most rewarding part of the job as it is fun help a young couple buy their first car or first house. The smiles on their faces make it all worthwhile. And being in a small town you have to be a part of the community and work with the people who are your customers and the reason you have the job at the bank. Without those people there would be no bank. It has been most enjoyable getting to know all the family connections and history in the area, even though I will always be an outsider even after 35 years here.

Do you know a banker who should be recognized as a Community Advocate for the work that they do? Nominate them today by emailing Rose

By, Cassie Krause

Community State Bank (CSB) and Browns Lake Aquaducks invite the public to a community food truck and water ski show event, “Dinner on the Dock”. Dinner on the Dock will be held on Thursday, August 5th, 2021 at Fischer Park in Burlington, WI from 4:30 PM until 7:30 PM during the Browns Lake Aquaducks Ski Show. CSB and the Aquaducks hope to recapture the excitement of the 2019 event which saw over 600 guests.

“Dinner on the Dock is a great community partnership with the Aquaducks,” said CSB Burlington Market President Becky McClelland. “We’re always searching for creative ways to bring our community together, and events like this are the perfect opportunity. Challenging circumstances last summer didn’t allow for us to host an event like this, so we’re excited to bring Dinner on the Dock back for 2021.”

The event will have food available for purchase and will feature delicious local creations from some of Wisconsin’s most popular food trucks and local artisans: All About Tacos, Mr. P’s Grilled Cheese, Trampers Oak Fire Oven, Pine Acres Popcorn, Kravings Ice Cream Shop, and Low Daily. Beer, wine and other non-alcoholic beverages will also be available for purchase on-site.

The Browns Lake Aquaducks will also perform two ski shows. The first, a Junior Show, will begin at 5:00 pm. The Main Show will begin at 6:30 pm.

“We’ve been Burlington’s ski team for over 40 years” said Emily Pavlich, Vice President of the Browns Lake Aquaducks. “The team is made up of local community members and are self-supported through fundraising and generous donations from many local businesses and guests. Dinner on the Dock gives us another opportunity to partner with a local business, and allows us to offer a more expansive event that showcases the talent of our team.”

Dinner on the Dock is open to the public and free to attend. No parking fees will be charged during the event hours at Fischer Park. For more event details or updates, please visit Community State Bank’s social media pages on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. You can also visit Community State Bank online at CSB.bank or learn more about the Browns Lake Aquaducks at Aquaducks.org.

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By, Ally Bates

Prevail Bank is pleased to announce that Laura Deuso has joined the Medford team as Branch Manager. Deuso has over five years of banking, cash management, and teller supervisory experience, in addition to two-a-half years in office management and human resource management.

“We’re very happy to have Laura join the Prevail team in Medford,” says Renee Leinfelder, Senior Vice President of Retail. “Her years of customer service and banking experience will make her transition seamless. I look forward to working with her and watching her build relationships with our customers.”

“What impressed me about Prevail Bank was the fact that it has the feeling of a small community bank with a strong emphasis on customer care and engagement,” says Deuso. “I’m looking forward to coaching and developing my Prevail Bank team, so together we can impact every customer we serve in a positive way.”

Deuso, a 2005 Rib Lake graduate, is very excited to return home to Westboro, Wisconsin with her husband, Colin, and two sons. When she’s not working, she enjoys spending time with family, painting, fishing, cooking, and relaxing by a campfire. 

By, Ally Bates

The Wisconsin Supreme Court (Court) recently decided two cases to allow the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to place permit restrictions on large livestock farms and high-capacity wells as a way to protect Wisconsin’s water. The issue in both cases is whether DNR had the authority under Wisconsin law to issue permits with conditions. 

In both cases, the Court looked to language used in Sec. 227.10(2m) Wis. Stats. and determined that (1) agencies’ actions under administrative law need be supported by explicit, not specific, statutory or regulatory authority; and (2) that explicit authority can be broad in scope. As a result of the two decisions, DNR was given broader authority than many believed was permissible since enactment of 2011 Wisconsin Act 21 (Act 21) because the agency actions authorized by the Court are not specifically stated in the statute sections in question. The following is a summary of the two cases.   

Kinnard Farms  

In the first case, Kinnard operates a large, concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO). Kinnard wanted to expand its dairy operations by building a second site and adding 3,000 dairy cows. The expansion required Kinnard to apply to DNR for reissuance of its Wisconsin Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (WPDES) permit to include both the original site and the proposed expansion. DNR approved the application and reissued Kinnard’s WPDES permit.  

Persons (petitioners) living near the CAFO sought review of the reissued WPDES permit because of their proximity to the farm, had private drinking wells, and were concerned the proposed expansion would exacerbate current groundwater contamination issues. The petitioners alleged that the reissued WPDES permit was inadequate because, among other things, it did not set a “maximum number of animal units” or “require monitoring to evaluate impacts to groundwater.”  

DNR granted the petitioners a contested case hearing and the matters were referred to an administrative law judge (ALJ). Kinnard filed for summary judgment alleging DNR lacked statutory authority to impose the conditions, citing Act 21. The ALJ denied the motion and conducted a four-day evidentiary hearing during which community members who lived or worked near the CAFO testified about contamination of well water and the impact the contamination had on their businesses, homes, and daily lives. Based upon evidence presented by residents and experts, the ALJ determined that DNR had “clear regulatory authority” to impose the two conditions disputed upon Kinnard’s reissued WPDES permit.  

Ultimately the matter was argued to the Court. The issue in the case involved sec. 227.10(2m), Wis. Stats., which dictates that “[n]o agency may implement or enforce any standard, requirement, or threshold…unless that standard, requirement, or threshold is explicitly required or explicitly permitted by statute or by a rule that has been promulgated in accordance with this subchapter.” (emphasis added). The parties disputed the meaning of “explicitly required or explicitly permitted” in the context of DNR imposing conditions upon Kinnard’s reissued WPDES permit.  

Kinnard asserted that explicit means specific, and that in the absence of statutory or administrative authority, DNR must first promulgate a rule in order to impose the conditions upon its reissued WPDES permit. The DNR and petitioners counter that such a reading of “explicitly required or explicitly permitted” was too narrow, and that Kinnard had overlooked the explicit, but broad, authority given to DNR in Secs. 283.31(3) – (5) Wis. Stats. to prescribe such conditions.  

The Court first looked to dictionary definitions of the term “explicit” and revised Sec. 227.10(2m) in context and determined explicit authority can be broad in scope. The court next examined the text of Secs. 283.31(3) – (5), and related regulations, to determine whether DNR had explicit authority to impose an animal unit maximum and off-site groundwater monitoring conditions upon Kinnard’s reissued WPDES permit. The Court held that while the statute sections do not specifically state an animal unit limit or off-site ground water monitoring, DNR did have explicit authority to prescribe both conditions when it reissues the WPDES permit.  

The Court determined that (1) agencies’ actions under administrative law need be supported by explicit, not specific, statutory or regulatory authority; and (2) that explicit authority can be broad in scope.   

High-Capacity Wells 

In a second case, the Court also reviewed whether Sec. 227.10(2m) Wis. Stats. allowed for DNR to consider the potential environmental effects of proposed high-capacity wells when such consideration is not required under Sec. 281.34(4) Wis. Stats.  

For some types of wells, DNR is required to follow a specific process in its environmental review of a well application. For other types of wells, a specific process is not required; however, DNR often still considers the potential environmental impact of a proposed well when considering a well application. Eight well applications in dispute in the case where the type that no specific environmental review was required. DNR did have information that the wells would negatively impact the environment. DNR approved the eight applications knowing of the wells impact having concluded it did not have the authority to consider the proposed wells’ environmental impact. 

Clean Wisconsin and the Pleasant Lake Management District (collectively, Clean Wisconsin) appealed DNR’s action arguing DNR’s decision was contrary to the Court’s decision in the Lake Beulah Management District v. DNR (2011 WI 54, 335 Wis. 2d 47, 799 N.W.2d 73) case. In Lake Beulah, the Court held that DNR had the authority and discretion to consider the environmental effects of all proposed high-capacity wells under the public trust doctrine when it determined that a proposed well would harm other waters in Wisconsin.  

DNR argued the Lake Beulah court case was no longer good law because Act 21 had since become law and the law limits an agency’s action to only those “explicitly required or explicitly permitted to state or by a rule.” The eight well applications were for the type of wells for which there was no formal environmental review under Sec. 281.34 Wis. Stats. DNR had also relied on a past Attorney General opinion which stated the agency could not rely on the public-trust authority and could not rely upon the Lake Beulah case as that would not withstand the requirements under Wis. Stats. Sec. 227.10(2m) (OAG-01-16).   

With respect to the high-capacity well applications, the Court ruled in favor of Clean Wisconsin having determined DNR has explicit authority, based upon its broad public trust authority under Secs. 281.11 and 281.22 Wis. Stats., to determine the environmental impact of high-capacity wells despite the fact that Sec. 281.34 does not specifically state such requirement. The Court’s finding reaffirmed the Court’s Lake Beulah decision despite enactment of Act 21.  

Take Away from Cases 

The interesting and concerning parts of the decisions is that after the passage of Act 21, many took the revised language of Sec. 227.10(2m) Wis. Stats. to mean that for an agency to act, the action had to be specifically stated or provided for within statutory language or administrative rule. If the action was not within such language, the agency would first have to promulgate a rule or otherwise change statutory language for the agency to take the actions desired.  

However, given how the Court has interpreted “explicit” in the two cases, that may not be the case. It is possible that because of the two Court decisions, an agency make act regardless of the action not being stated within statutory language or administrative rule. Instead, it is possible an agency may rely on its broader authority for action.  

Financial institutions should keep the decisions of the two Court cases in mind when considering whether an agency has the authority to act in a particular manner. Financial institutions should be cautious that just because an action is not specifically found within statute or rule, the action may still be authorized under a broader, explicit authority. Despite the passage of Act 21, agency action could be broad.  

As is often the case, one should read the dissenting opinions of both cases. The dissenting opinions outline the concerns of many regarding how broad an agency may act despite Act 21, despite the fact the agency’s actions were not specifically stated within statute or administrative rule in connection with reissuing an WPDES permit or when approving the type of well applications involved in the high-capacity well case, and despite the Court’s previous decision under Tetra Tech EC Inc. v. Wisconsin Dep’t of Revenue, 2018 WI 75, 373 Wis.2d 2387, 890 N.W.2d. 598. The decisions appear to give back to agencies potentially broad authority.  

Conclusion 

In both cases, the Court looked to language used in Wis. Stats. Sec. 227.10(2m) and determined that (1) agencies’ actions under administrative law need be supported by explicit, not specific, statutory or regulatory authority; and (2) that explicit authority can be broad in scope. As a result of the two decisions, DNR was given broader authority than many believed was permissible since enactment of Act 21 and Tetra Tech. Financial institutions need be aware of the Court decisions and be cautious that just because an action is not specifically found within statute or rule, the action may still be authorized under an agency’s broader, explicit authority. 

Clean Wisconsin et. Al v. Wis. Dep’t of Natural Resources, 2021 WI 71 (Kinnard Farm) decision may be viewed at: https://www.wicourts.gov/sc/opinion/DisplayDocument.pdf?content=pdf&seqNo=386188  

Clean Wisconsin and Pleasant Lake Mgmt. Dist. v. Wis. Dep’t of Natural Resources, 2021 WI 72 (High-Capacity Wells) decision may be viewed at: https://www.wicourts.gov/sc/opinion/DisplayDocument.pdf?content=pdf&seqNo=385454  

By, Ally Bates

Waukesha State Bank, a full-service community bank with 14 locations in Waukesha County, is proud to announce the promotion of Gerry Benton to bank manager of its Meadowbrook Road office in Waukesha.

“This promotion is well deserved and reflective of Gerry’s knowledge and expertise,” stated Devon Arnold, Waukesha State Bank senior vice president – retail banking manager. “Her dedication to customer service and desire to connect with the community make her a natural fit for a bank manager role.”

Benton started her career with Waukesha State Bank in 2017 and has supported our E. Racine Avenue, E. Main Street and Downtown Waukesha locations as a Personal Banker. She has nearly 15 years of financial experience and is a 2020 graduate of the Waukesha County Business Alliance’s Leadership Waukesha County program. In her new role as bank manager of the Meadowbrook Road office, Benton will be responsible for all aspects of daily office operations, including business development, personnel management, customer service, lending, relationship management and community service.

Benton is active in the local community volunteering with Poplar Creek Church in New Berlin as a teen leader/mentor. She and her family currently reside in Waukesha

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By, Ally Bates

PyraMax Bank is pleased to announce the following promotions: Maranda Baseler promoted to First Vice President System Administration, Robert Cooper promoted to First Vice President Bank Security and Facilities Officer, Shelley Hesiak promoted to Assistant Vice President Manager Commercial Lending Operations, Daniel Kempel promoted to Senior Vice President Manager Credit Administration, Karen Stroud promoted to First Vice President Controller, and Tammy Hanson promoted to First Vice President Compliance/BSA/CRA/OFAC Officer.

PyraMax Bank is proud to remain a local community bank that values its’ employees and continues to promote internally. In their new roles Maranda, Robert, Shelley, Daniel, Karen, and Tammy will continue to pursue PyraMax Bank’s mission of being recognized as a leader in our market as a depositor-owned community bank invested in the financial wellness of our families, business and communities, while still delivering financial products that serve a multi-generational client base.

While discussing PyraMax Bank’s recent promotion of multiple VP level employees Senior Vice President Chief Brand Officer Monica Baker states, “PyraMax Bank strives to promote from within and reward our existing employees with great opportunities for advancement.”

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By, Ally Bates

Betty Eisenga retired from National Exchange Bank & Trust on July 2, after 47 years of service at the office located in Randolph. Eisenga was Vice President of Operations & Lending where she helped ensure smooth retail deposit operations, fostered an environment of excellent service and helped grow and support the banks presence in Randolph and the surrounding market.

Eisenga is active in the community as a part of the Randolph Chamber of Commerce, the Community Corn Carnival and the Holiday Bazaar. Additionally, she is a past member of the school board for Randolph Christian School.

Eisenga grew up in Randolph and graduated from Central Wisconsin Christian High School. She currently resides in Randolph with her husband, Jim.

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By, Ally Bates

The Equitable Bank is pleased to announce the promotion of Jay Jesberger, vice president – compliance, to a new leadership role as Vice President, Bank Administration, and Mary Beres, vice president – loan operations, to a new leadership role as vice president, mortgage lending.

Jesberger has over 28 years of banking experience in several capacities including retail banking, consumer lending, and compliance. While with Equitable, Jesberger has worked diligently to build out the compliance department that is in place today, while also taking on the oversight of the human resources, internal audit, and security functions. Jesberger also serves on various Wisconsin Bankers Association committees and taught at their compliance management schools.

Jesberger has a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, obtained his Certified Regulatory Compliance Manager (CRCM) certification in 2007, and most recently attended and completed studies at the Graduate School of Banking at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Beres has a strong history of consumer and mortgage lending experience from multiple lending institutions covering all facets of the lending process. While with Equitable, Beres has created efficiencies in the mortgage lending area by streamlining operations, overseeing the installation of new loan origination systems, all while implementing numerous regulatory changes.

Beres has a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

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By, Ally Bates

Mark your calendars for September 13–14 and make plans to join your community banking colleagues for the annual WBA Management Conference! With plenty of time for networking, three general sessions, twelve breakout sessions, and an exhibit hall featuring industry partners, this conference will have something for everyone on your bank’s management team.

The last 18 months have brought a lot of challenges, personally and professionally, to all of us and our peers. Taking advantage of the opportunity to gather once again, this year’s agenda has been designed to tackle some of those challenges. The conference kickoff general session will feature a session on “The Path Forward” from Market Insight CEO and Founder Joe Sullivan. Sullivan will address several trends that will impact your path forward, including consumer behavior, technology, retail and branch services, as well as workforce planning.

Strategic Leadership Partner and Executive Coach Alonzo Kelly will lead a session focused on “Creating a Culture Where Everyone Feels They Belong.” Kelly will later present a breakout session to dive deeper into how the right questions can lead to more efficient and effective outcomes at the bank, while creating a culture of accountability.

With three rounds of breakout sessions, each offering four unique sessions, attendees will have twelve total breakout sessions to choose from. Topics such as liquidity, balance sheet management, CECL, HR hot topics and legal considerations, Bitcoin and digital transformation are on the agenda to be covered by industry experts.

To hear from Sullivan, Kelly, and the many other industry experts leading breakout sessions, make sure to register your team online today at www.wisbank.com/Management.

Livestream Option Available

The 2020 conference was held virtually given the global pandemic, allowing members to bring more of their bank’s management team together for the virtual experience. While we are beyond thrilled to be back in person for this year’s conference, we know that some may not be ready to attend a group event. Given that, bankers can register additional staff from the bank to join the general sessions via livestream for a reduced registration fee. Team discounting is also available for banks sending three or more attendees to Green Bay.

By, Ally Bates

Harmening_AndrewAndrew Harmening, who now splits his time between Green Bay and Milwaukee as the newly appointed president and CEO of Associated Bank, was born in Chicago and grew up in Indiana, and most recently lived in Ohio in his previous role as senior executive vice president of Huntington Bank. Harmening is no stranger to Wisconsin — he has been coming to the state for family reunions and events for over 30 years. His wife has family in Stratford and his daughter is attending the University of Wisconsin-Madison, so he comes to the state with a familiarity of local communities both small and large.

Associated Bank has been the official bank of the Green Bay Packers since 1919, and the prospect of coming to Titletown was one of the draws for Harmening. He enjoys the energy of the area and getting to know the people who make it a vibrant place. Harmening’s first day at Associated was April 28, and he has spent much of his time since then talking with colleagues across the organization — more than 300 and counting, mostly face to face.

“We’re in a people business,” said Harmening. “Our colleagues have pride in Associated Bank and are active in their communities.” He emphasized that the personal relationships built between employees and customers are an important way the bank differentiates itself from Fintech competitors. He noted that the bank earns trust from customers in a way that can’t be achieved by Fintechs. 

As Harmening maps out a strategic plan, he is intent on listening to colleagues and customers. He says he has been given license by fellow colleagues to “be bold” and wants to grow in ways that makes sense specifically for the organization and its customers. With regard to digital banking and technology, Harmening stresses that the objective is to “build stuff for your customers — don’t just build tech for the sake of it.” In addition to digital banking solutions, he mentioned small business and commercial banking as potential areas for growth, all while keeping community involvement at the forefront.

When asked where Associated Bank is headed over the next several years, Harmening stressed that they first need to get through the next 6–12 months. “This is the first pandemic we’ve experienced in our lifetimes,” he noted. “The pandemic, isolation, and returning to the office are all people-centered things.” He said the team worked hard on supporting small business owners hurt by the pandemic through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), and their spirit of human interaction still matters. He said flexibility for employees returning to the office in the building will also matter — success coming out of the pandemic will depend on keeping colleagues, customers, and the company in mind.  

“I really would emphasize first things first,” said Harmening. “Not ‘how did it make you bigger?’ but ‘how did it make you better?’” He said there’s no avoiding the scale question, it’s just a matter of getting it right. Harmening credited his predecessor Phil Flynn with having a risk management foundation in place, so there were no surprises, and there is a strong foundation on which to build.

Harmening emphasized that Associated Bank employees and board members alike are passionate about remaining independent. Associated Bank is the largest bank holding company headquartered in Wisconsin, with its history tracing back to 1861. With approximately 4,000 colleagues, serving over one million customers, more than 220 banking locations serving more than 120 communities throughout Wisconsin, Illinois and Minnesota, and commercial financial services in Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio and Texas, Associated Bank is the largest Wisconsin-based member of the Wisconsin Bankers Association (WBA).

Harmening looks forward to working with WBA and appreciates that the organization offers an open line of communication. He said a major benefit of a trade association is learning from peers and being able to find out if other banks are going through similar things. He also values the opportunity to have a voice alongside other WBA members and the collective advocacy for Wisconsin’s banking industry. After 12 years of experience with the Consumer Bankers Association, including service on the board, Harmening has a strong familiarity with trade associations and looks to continue Associated Bank’s longstanding tradition of being an active WBA member.

Harmening likes to stay active and healthy, as evidenced by his occasional laps throughout the office while on conference calls. Outside of work, he enjoys playing tennis, walking, and hiking outdoors. One of his proudest feats is climbing Mt. Ventoux in France, a mountain over 6,200 feet high, made famous by its bike trail in the Tour de France. Harmening and his wife are empty nesters, who are eagerly exploring the local restaurant scenes of Wisconsin. They have already discovered some favorite spots around Green Bay and Milwaukee. As any Wisconsinite can appreciate, Harmening raved about his newfound affinity for cheese curds — squeaky, fried, yellow, or orange — he loves them all.

By, Cassie Krause