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OBSERVATIONS by Robert Gentry

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Some time ago, Tedd Dumas asked if I would be interested in resurrecting my "Observations" column as a weekly feature on bdcradio.com. I thought about it a few weeks, and then decided it would be something I would enjoy doing again.

I first started writing a column when I worked for the Natchitoches Times in 1963 and continued until I came to The Sabine Index in November 1964. I also wrote a column when I was editor of the Current Sauce at Northwestern in 1963-64. At the Index I wrote columns titled "From the Editorís Easy Chair" and "Ballyhoo," before finally settling on "Observations."

I intend to make this column of interest about a lot of different subjects. If you have suggestions, I would love to hear from you. Contact me at robertrgentry@gmail.com or call 318-332-8653.

And thanks to Tedd for giving me the opportunity to again write the column.

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You might say Ken Hale, president and CEO of the Bank of Montgomery, really knows how to throw a party. The recent Open House at the new full-service branch located on the Hwy. 171 Bypass in Many drew more than 500 persons.

Someone described the Bank of Montgomeryís entry into Sabine Parish as the arrival of "your new hometown bank." Mr. Hale stated, "We are a community bank that offers old fashioned bankingÖwhere we know you by name and not by account number."

The Bank of Montgomery was established June 9, 1903 in Montgomery, LA. The bank opened a branch in Derry in 1996 and in Natchitoches in 2000, where it now has three branches.

They opened an office in Many last year as a loan production center, but itís now a full-service bank.

Mr. Hale is a direct descendent of the Wardlow family, who was among those starting the bank more than 100 years ago. Mr. Hale represents the fourth generation of the family to run the bank, being the sixth president and CEO. The bank currently has about $170 million in assets.

Concerning the Open House, Mr. Hale said, "We were more pleased than I can put into words. I was personally humbled by not just the Open House and the turnout and support from the community, but also how nice, gracious and welcoming the whole Sabine Parish community has been to the bank and our staff from the day we decided to open. The residents and the local government have made our opening a huge success. My staff and I will work as hard as we can to serve the market and be a good corporate citizen and do all we can for the community as a whole."

Mr. Hale said his bank decided to come to Sabine because of the diverse market that fits the bankís niche of providing quality banking services to rural markets. He commented, "We felt Sabine wasnít being served the way Bank of Montgomery serves our customers. Sabine has a mix of agriculture, timber and consumer business thatís similar to the markets we currently serve."

Ground should be broken for a permanent building in late summer or early fall. The tract the bank owns once housed the old Hoagland Store. The lot is large enough to continue operating the temporary branch while new offices are being constructed. The new building will look like the bankís building located on University Parkway in Natchitoches. It will have a little different floor-plan to allow for more office space, but the exterior will be the same style.

Debra Funderburk is the Many Branch Manager, Daniel Bennett is Vice-President and Commercial Lender, Linda Guay is Vice-President and Consumer Lender, and Tiffany Miller rounds out the employees.

Stephen Van Sickle, son of Mrs. Don Burkett and stepson of District Attorney Don Burkett, has worked for a Bank of Montgomery Natchitoches location awhile now and recently received a nice promotion.

In closing, Mr. Hale said the Bank is very pleased with business thus far in Sabine Parish. Said he, "We are well above where we forecasted we would be, but weíll continue to work hard to grow our market share."

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Sabine Parish churches were all packed Sunday for Easter services, according to reports reaching Observations.

At the First United Methodist Church of Many, where my wife and I attend, Pastor Elaine Burleigh said she had been called a lot of things since becoming a minister, but said Sundayís experience topped it all. When she got to Church on Easter and walked down the aisle in her robe, a child approached her and said, "Hello, Jesus."

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We were very fortunate that someone didnít get killed or injured when the high winds came through our area Friday night, March 29. The citizens of Many were out en mass the next morning cleaning up debris.

A tip of the hat to Many Mayor Ken Freeman for the great job the Town did in getting the streets back open. And, last but not least, CLECO went all out to get service back to its customers.

There are those who say we had straight-line winds, others say it was a tornado, but my neighbor Paul Gewin referred to it as "Wind Bursts." We agree with him.

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Tractor Supply Co. continues to get things ready to move into the old Wal-Mart building on Hwy. 6 West in Many.

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The Rev. Ray Spiller was recently named Pastor-Emeritus of the First United Methodist Church of Many. We add our congratulations to this honor that has been bestowed upon him. He previously served for several years as pastor of the church. He and wife Nancy are great assets to our parish.

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Clarence (Bronc) Gewin of Pleasant Hill has been ill, but is now on the mend. It was good to visit with him recently. He said something has been getting in his cow feed, and he set a trap. He caught 16 coons, two possums and one housecat.

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Our good friend Pete Abington celebrates a birthday this week. We wish him many happy returns and a great upcoming year. One of Peteís sayings is, "Letís do it while we can." We agree wholeheartedly with that philosophy and trust Pete will enjoy doing all he can on his special day!

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Bob Gates in his Easter finery at Church Sunday: He was as sharp as a tack.

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The Rev. Daniel Lowe, pastor of the Many Church of the Nazarene pulled a cross through downtown Many on Good Friday, signifying the suffering, crucifixion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Rev. Lowe has pulled the cross through town for several years on Good Friday, and it is an inspiring reminder of what Jesus went through for the redemption of our sins.

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Thatís it for this week. Thanks so much for visiting us. Keep in mind that if you have a comment, suggestion or tip for a story, email me at robertrgentry@gmail.com or phone 318-332-8653.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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