It takes many different institutions to build and sustain a community. However, without a solid financial backbone, the development of any community will be futile. Citizens State Bank has been part of that structure for Cortez and Montezuma County for the past 75 years.
Chartered in May of 1936, Citizens first opened its doors for business on June 4 of that year with $25,000 in capital and 250 shares of stock issued. Today, the bank is owned by Community Bankshares Inc., though it still holds an independent charter.
The employees of Citizens State Bank have a combined total of 300 years in banking experience, the bulk of which was served in Cortez. The bank is the oldest serving in Montezuma County.
At the heart of the banks mission is a dedication to community.
The people who work for the bank really care about the local customers and want to serve the local people, said President Larry McGee. And, you know, I may not be a true local, but my family settled in the Montezuma Valley in the late 1800s. I understand community.
Citizens started its service to the community in the old Montezuma Valley National Bank building on the corner of Market and Main streets. The bank moved into its current building in 1977.
The bank was purchased by Charles Searle and family in 1960. The Searles were committed to a community vision of banking, McGee said.
The Searles and other local stockholders sold their interest to Community Bankshares in 2007.
Despite the shift in ownership, the bank prides itself on its dedication to traditional banking, where the relationship between the bank and the individual is still valued.
We care about the customers; the customer comes first, said Monica Dibsie, vice president of consumer loans. We are there and available to them.
We still have the priorities where they should be, added Bethany Turner, vice president of operations. Our focus is still on the relationship instead of just the business. We just dont run our business the way some larger banks do.
One part of that dynamic is the banks commitment to donations to the community, both through financial resources and time.
The bank has specifically donated resources to United Way, the Cortez Cultural Center, Montezuma Community Economic Development Association, Mesa Verde Kiwanis, Ute Mountain Rodeo, Montezuma County Fair, Relay for Life and Four States Ag Expo.
Agriculture in Montezuma County is also a major focus of the banks operations.
We have over 100 years of ag lending experience on our staff, McGee said. Many of us come from an ag background and that is important because agriculture is a major part of what this community is.
With such an expansive history, Citizens State Bank has seen many economic peaks and valleys. The strength of the bank is a testament to its ability to survive varying economic climates, Turner said.
If you look at the bank, this economy today isnt the worst time this bank has been through, Turner said. This bank has survived worse, and it is just part of life and the economy. This bank is strong.
McGee said through droughts, recessions and depressions, the bank has stood strong and never gave up on the community.
Senior Vice President Ken Perry noted the trust has been returned by those the bank serves.
We never gave up on the community, but the community never gave up on us. That is important, Perry said.
We are just a constant presence, and we are not hot or cold, McGee added. Weve remained in a position to extend credit on a sound basis year in and year out. We dont get whimsical; we just do business correctly.
Citizens will celebrate its 75th anniversary with a picnic lunch for the community at 11 a.m. Saturday, June 4, in the banks south parking lot. Bank employees involved with Relay for Life will host the lunch in exchange for a donation to the cause.
It is the banks birthday, and Relay for Life is about celebrating more birthdays, Turner said. It is a perfect fit.
Dibsie said the most important thing for the community to know about the local bank is its dedication to service for the foreseeable future.
We are going to be here for another 75 years, at least, she said. We want (the community) to understand we are here to help them and we are going to be here in the future.
Reach Kimberly Benedict at [email protected].