Leader Blues

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

TOP STORY >> Bank doubles branches with its acquisition

By SARA GREENE
Leader staff writer

First Arkansas Bank and Trust, headquartered in Jacksonville, will officially merge Nov. 1 with First Team Bank in Heber Springs, giving the bank branches in Heber Springs, Greers Ferry, Marshall, Damascus, Center Ridge, Greenbrier, Guy, Quitman, Concord and Pangburn.
All the new locations will become First Arkansas Bank branches.
“First Arkansas Bank and Trust’s customers will have access to automatic teller machines and branches near Greers Ferry Lake and other popular vacation destinations in the area,” said Larry T. Wilson, chairman and chief executive officer and president of First Arkansas Bank and Trust.

“We feel their (First Team Bank’s) customers will be excited by the new accounts and services that will be available to them, such as having a full-service mortgage company, a trust department and complete online banking capability,” Wilson said.

“This is an exciting time for both banks. We look forward to extending our bank family, and the opportunity to serve their communities in the same way we have served the Cabot and Jackson-ville market for years.”
Meanwhile, the bank is partnering with Lamar Outdoor Advertising by donating old vinyl billboard graphics to areas affected by hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

These vinyls will be used as cover from the sun during relief efforts and as tarps and temporary roofs on houses devastated by the hurricane.

The Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce has also established a Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund at First Arkansas Bank and Trust to aid in the relief efforts to this devastated region. Donations may be made to this fund at a bank location.

Chartered in 1949, First Arkan-sas Bank and Trust currently has 12 locations in Jacksonville and Cabot. First Team Bank, formerly Cleburne County Bank, was established in 1903. The merger creates assets of nearly $500 million and deposits of over $350 million for First Arkansas Bank and Trust.
On Nov. 17, First Arkansas Bank and Trust will be in Pulaski County Circuit Court’s 13th Division to argue against the state banking commission’s decision to allow Bank of the Ozarks to open a branch in Jacksonville.

Wilson says Jacksonville’s economy can’t support a new bank.
Donnie Farmer, a Jacksonville native and senior vice president of Bank of the Ozarks, is slated to manage the new branch at 901 W. Main St., on the site of the vacant Long John Silver’s restaurant. Little Rock lawyer Shirley Jones is representing First Arkansas Bank and Trust. “We’re going to aggressively pursue this because we think they (the banking commission and Bank of the Ozarks) are wrong,” Jones previously told The Leader.

Bank of the Ozarks submitted its Jacksonville branch application to the Arkansas State Bank Depart-ment in December 2004.

First Arkansas Bank and Trust filed a formal protest against the application with the department in January.

Arkansas Bank Commissioner Robert H. “Bunny” Adcock and the Arkansas State Bank Department examined the application, protest and responses before approving the application in May. First Arkansas Bank and Trust reviewed Adcock’s report approving Bank of the Ozarks’ application and filed an appeal in Pulaski County Circuit County in June asking the court to reverse the approval.