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Marion Bank celebrates first year at location

At Marion Bank & Trust Co., the banking crisis seemed as distant as the moon.

Customers buzzed around the lobby drinking punch and nibbling cookies. The bank, located on Highway 80 West, celebrated its first anniversary Friday. City president Forrest Hatfield said business boomed in 2008, despite a poor economy.

“Better than we even anticipated,” Hatfield said.

Marion Bank & Trust Co. opened in Marion in 1934. The company opened a Selma branch in 2008 due to the high volume of customers banking at the Marion branch. Hatfield said while larger national banks struggle, community banks continue to thrive and grow. The Selma branch has more than 2,000 customers.

“We’ve been very well received in the community,” Hatfield said.

Frances Brantley opened a CD at the Selma branch as soon as it opened. She said the service is second to none. Brantley said she never feels rushed or out of place at the bank.

“They’re all so courteous and nice to you,” she said. “I love all the pictures they have on the wall.”

The building measures more than 5,000 square feet. Hatfield said the bank features all the amenities of larger banks such as multiple types of checking and savings accounts, safety deposit boxes and a freestanding ATM. He said the ATM sets the bank apart from many others in the area. Since it is not connected to the building, customers can avoid long lines at the drive-thru.

“That’s a little different concept,” Hatfield said.

Rhonda Caver, a loan assistant, said the bank prides itself on bucking trends. While many banks’ loan departments struggle, Marion Bank &Trust Co. receives multiple inquiries and approves loans each day.

“We’re doing loans daily,” Caver said. “Answering questions and making loans.”

Caver echoed the bank’s community approach. She said the staff cares about more than just the customers’ finances. It sounds almost like Cheers, with a vault.

“You’re never going to walk in here and not be greeted,” Caver said. “When you walk in, you become a friend.”