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Piece of Cake

Western Bank celebrates 100 years of striving to be the friendliest bank in the area. Plus: Faywood Hot Springs' future, San Vicente Home Health Care sold, The Marketplace expands and more business news.

 

Spotlight on. . . Western Bank

"Well, 100 years is a long time, so we had plenty of notice to get ready for this anniversary," Robert Martin jokes. "We planned it for a number of years, actually, so a lot has gone into celebrating our heritage."

The friendly employees at Western Bank¹s Silver City branch.

Looking back on this year of monthly celebrations — marking the 100-year anniversary of Western Bank in Silver City and Lordsburg — Martin has seen a fair number of cakes get cut. And he's certainly had time to reflect on the bank's long history in the community.

Now chairman of the board, Martin joined Western Bank's board of directors in 1988 and then became bank president a year later. Community banking must be in the family's blood, as Martin's father was on Western Bank's board for some 50 years, and his son Michael took over as bank president in 2001.

But the bank's roots predate even the Martin family's long involvement. Keep in mind that Western Bank was founded when Lordsburg was part of Grant County in the territory of New Mexico, pre-statehood.

The bank was originally chartered as the First National Bank of Lordsburg in July 1907. The institution opened its doors that fall — 100 years ago this month — and has offered uninterrupted service ever since. In fact, it is the oldest continually operating bank in Southwestern New Mexico, remaining in business even in the face of the Great Depression when every other bank in the area shut down.

The bank's name was changed to Western Bank in 1982, when a New Mexico charter was adopted. After 96 years of doing business in Lordsburg, where its main office was founded and still operates, the bank opened its Silver City branch in May 2003. The company also operates a small service branch, opened in the 1970s, in Playas.

In 1989, a one-bank holding company was formed. This holding company currently has 29 stockholders and owns 100 percent of the stock of Western Bank, with 88 percent of the company's stock owned by residents of Grant and Hidalgo Counties. An Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) was established in 2000 and currently owns about 10 percent of the stock. Western Bank is the only bank in the area whose employees have significant ownership, a factor Martin feels cultivates the sense of pride in Western Bank's staff members and is the cornerstone of their service.

And service — personal and deeply rooted in the local community — is Western Bank's key to staying afloat through tough times and on the ever-changing sea of "big boys," Martin says.

"It's definitely the key to our success," he says. "We're not going to be the biggest, we're not trying to be, but we do try to be the friendliest and most accessible banking institution around."

Dedicated employees, evidently, lead to dedicated customers. This past January, the bank kicked off its yearlong celebration by feting its longest-tenured account holders with a special celebratory reception.

Senior vice president Pam Archibald says the bank has numerous customers who've held checking and/or savings accounts for decades. She did a little digging into the record books and found that the longest account holder has a savings account that's been with the bank for its full 100 years of operation.

"She is the great-granddaughter of one of our Lordsburg founders," Archibald says. "It's the same account that the gentleman first established, and it has been handed down, and she still maintains that account."

Her husband, Bill Archibald, has been digging into the record books, too, crafting articles about the bank's long history, decade by decade. "No, he's not an employee of the bank," Pam Archibald says with a laugh. "But he was with the (Silver City) Daily Press for 30 years, and he offered to help us by writing these pieces. Maybe he got into more than he bargained for, but he's at the end of it now. He's writing our last piece next month."

 

Along with having a noteworthy history, Western Bank has kept up with the times and offers all the usual personal and business account options — checking and savings, IRAs, CDs and money market accounts, ATM and debit cards.

"We were the first in the area to offer online banking," Martin adds with obvious pride.

Community service and support, with a particular focus on giving away scholarships, is a key part of the company's mission. "We give away about 10 scholarships a year," Martin says. "Education has been our focus for the last 15-20 years."

As for future growth, Martin notes that the bank has just arranged a land-trade with the city that will enable Western to double the size of the Silver City bank.

"After that, we'll look to identify the next community we could serve well," he says, hinting a new branch is in the planning stage.

Though the parties have gone on all year — with sheet cakes and coffee mugs, T-shirts and special deals on new accounts — the bank hits its actual 100-year mark officially on Sept. 16. Organizers plan to roll out the biggest party yet to culminate the celebration in October.

"We're having twin barbeque celebrations, one in Silver City on Oct. 4, and one in Lordsburg the next day," Martin says. Award-winning western singer-songwriter Kip Callahan will perform at both events, he says, and there will be complimentary hamburgers and hotdogs for all comers.

Two grand prizes — a set of tickets and accommodations at the ProRodeo event in Las Vegas, Nev. — will be awarded, one at each barbeque.

Martin says the barbeques are a way to say thank you to the bank's customers, long-time and new. But he wouldn't be surprised if a few people drawn to the smell of burgers and some hot licks of Western music get sucked into the excitement and want to become new customers.

"When people see how friendly we are, and how involved in the community, well, that's attractive, I think," Martin says. And if folks who check out Western Bank during its celebration decide to come on board as new customers, well, that'll just be more icing on the cake.

 

Western Bank, 330 Hwy. 180 W., Silver City, 388-3521; 204 E. 4th St., Lordsburg (drive-up); 140 E. Motel Dr., Lordsburg (main office), 542-3521; and On the Plaza in Playas (Fridays only), 436-2231. www.bootheelbank.com.

 

Updates

Faywood Hot Springs is still up for sale. The nearly 1,300-acre property failed to sell at auction this past June through specialty real estate firm Higgenbotham Auctioneers International, and the hot springs' open real estate listing with Higgenbotham expired Aug. 19. Faywood's owner, Wanda Fuselier, confirms that the hot spring is closed to the public for renovations until at least the end of September, as posted on the Web site. Higgenbotham last listed the property at just over $2 million, and Fuselier says inventory, vehicles and more also are for sale separately. Dan Yurwit, brother of Fuselier's late husband Elon Yurwit, is now handling all contact for property inquiries. www.faywood.com, dyurwit@comcast.net, (609) 273-5900.

 

SOLD!

San Vicente Home Health Care, which was recently featured in Desert Exposure's Body, Mind & Spirit section (August), has just been purchased by Coordinated Home Health. In a decision she called "bittersweet," proprietor Nellie Sipko says it was hard to let go of the reins, but that she is pleased to sell to CHH, an established agency with a top-notch reputation. Sipko will remain as the company's administrator. The Las Cruces-based CHH has been providing care in southern NM since 1984. It has another Dona Ana County office in Sunland Park, and it operates an office in Deming and one on Pope St. in Silver City. The purchase of San Vicente adds skilled nursing care to CHH's local services, and an established skilled-care customer base, Sipko says. The company will retain the San Vicente offices at 200 N. Arizona, and all staff at that facility will remain. 538-0912.

 

Going, going, GONE

After 13 years in business, Hart's Furniture on Amador in Las Cruces is going out of business due to the owner's illness. Stop by and help them liquidate stock, and get a great deal at the going-out-of-business sale before the doors close, probably in October. 647-1100.

 

New in Town

Samaya Jones has opened a new personal-chef business, specializing in natural foods cooking for omnivores and vegetarians, special diets, nutritional recommendations and wine and food pairing. Jones, a nutritional major at UC Berkeley with a degree in viticulture and wine making, also attended the Culinary Institute of America. She offers meal planning, shopping, preparation and service in your home for you and your guests in the Silver City-Bayard-Pinos Altos area. www.winefoodadvisor.com, 538-5465.

Margie Espinosa has started an AtHome America business, selling home decor items like those seen on "Extreme Makeover Home Edition" through her store, Second Chance, 102 Hurley Ave. in Bayard, or on her Web site. Espinosa says there is opportunity for interested persons to earn discounts and free products by hosting home shows. athome.com/margieespinosa, 537-3116.

American West Properties, a real estate agency specializing in land sales and ranch properties, is opening a new office at 1609 N. Gold St., Silver City. "We are ranch brokers, specializing in ranches and in land," says broker Jeramie Nelson. "If we sell houses, it's on large acreage." The agency continues to operate its original five-year-old office in Datil. www.amerwestproperties.com, 534-1107.

Jason Caspersen, a structural engineer, has opened Caspersen Engineering at 515 W. Market St., Silver City, after relocating here from Albuquerque. The firm handles assessments, analysis, design, documentation, project management and construction support for commercial and residential projects. jrcasper@swcp.com, 313-6376.

Can we try that again? Michelle P. McWhorter is doing something of a business instant replay. After having owned ProFamily Haircuts in Silver City for a year and then selling the business, McWhorter has just recently bought back the shop at 1455 Hwy. 180 in the Lois Lane Plaza, offering complete hair and nail services. Two cosmetologists on staff. 534-4665.

Looking to get a hole in one? Silver Cityites have yet another place to turn for body adornment. Adam Jason Thomas has opened Sanctuary Body Piercing at 406 N. Bullard St., Suite D. 590-8290.

Dee Charles, who's been in the used truck and auto biz for 18 years, is doing business under a new CRS and license, operating Gila Auto Sales at 1775 Hwy. 180 E. in Silver City, near All-Glass MD. 388-5379.

New pretty things for sale! Ann S. Johnson has opened Selmer Creations at 302 E. 19th St., Silver City, selling jewelry and art. 388-8057.

John Ralston has started Serenity Home Inspection a Deming-based home inspection business, serving Luna, Grant and Dona Ana Counties. homeinspection@dishmail.net, 543-8375.

Bueno Title & Escrow has opened at 2802 Doral Court in Las Cruces. 521-8600.

Dr. Mark Beale has opened an office at 530 Telshor Ave., Ste. B, in Las Cruces, offering general medicine and psychiatry. Dr. Beale has worked in surgery, psychiatry and internal medicine, and also accepts patients as a primary-care physician.

Sherry White has opened Take 5 Fitness & Dance Center, offering dance classes and cross-training fitness equipment, at 705 N. Main St. in Las Cruces.

Courtyard Quilting has opened at 300 N. Downtown Mall in Las Cruces. It is a new outlet for the energies of Gail Mestas and Cynthia Clark, who opened the Unravel Yarn Shop and Gallery three years ago. They continue to operate Unravel as well. www.courtyardquilting.com, 541-5008.

 

On the Move

She ain't goin' nowhere — yet! Though her building at 507 N. Bullard St. in downtown Silver City recently has sold, Gail Willow, DDS, says her "Less Pain" dental practice likely will remain right where it is for the time being. Looking ahead, Willow has purchased property out Pinos Altos Road and plans to build in the next year or so. 388-2541.

Drs. Roland Snure, Frederick Wendler and Russell Kleinman have moved their Silver City general and vascular surgery practice, Surgical Associates, from 32nd Street to new digs at 2600 N. Silver Street, next to Hometown Oxygen. 388-3175.

Hear On Earth, an authorized center for hearing evaluations and digital hearing assistance technology, has moved to 920 N. Telshor in Las Cruces. 526-EARS (3277).

Adding to the quilting madness in downtown Las Cruces, Elizabeth Oliver and Vicki Rall have moved their one-year-old business, Organ Mountain Quilt Shop to the downtown area. 525-8025.

 

Coming Soon

A new 28,000-square-foot retail space is under construction at the corner of Espina and University in Las Cruces. Dino Cervantes of Cervantes Enterprises says restaurants will be among the commercial tenants, but would not release details yet. No opening date, but Cervantes is hoping for around Thanksgiving.

 

Bigger and Better

After being in business 10 months in the Hub Plaza at 601 Bullard St., Silver City, The Marketplace is expanding. The business soon will triple in space by annexing over 5,000 square feet of adjacent space, and accommodating more than two-dozen additional vendors from the Grant, Luna and Dona Ana County areas. The store features an eclectic mix of new and used items. The new space has entrances on both 7th and Bullard Streets, as well as a connecting inside entrance. Business manager Arthur Young, who owns the store with his children Ron Young and Kim Young, says, "Sellers do not have to be present to sell their wares. The store staff does the selling and we are interested in diversity." Additional vendor shop spaces are available for rent. 388-1860, 534-4150.

 

Need a Hand?

Career Services at New Mexico State University is seeking employers to participate in its 23rd Annual Career Expo, to be held Sept. 18 (focusing on students majoring in agriculture, business and liberal arts) and Sept. 19 (focusing on students entering engineering, science and technology fields), 9 a.m.-3 p.m. each day. careerservices.nmsu.edu, rbensley@nmsu.edu, 646-1631.

The New Mexico Women's Foundation has grant monies available for non-profits through the Women's Cottage Industries Program. Deadline Sept. 7. www.nmwf.org, 983-6155.

 

Send business news to Senior Editor Donna Clayton Lawder at
donna@desertexposure.com.

 

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