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08/13/2019

BANK OF GRAVETT NOW BANK OF GRAVETTE

GRAVETTE — The Bank of Gravette hosted a large crowd of visitors Friday, Aug. 9, at their location on Gravette Main Street. The group included area politicians and city officials, banking officials, representatives of Gravette Schools and local businesses and many of the bank’s customers. The occasion was a “groundbreaking” ceremony and celebration one year from the date the bank celebrated their 120th anniversary last year, just a month after Legacy Bancshares acquired the Bank of Gravett.

The visitors were treated to a delicious catered luncheon but before the meal they were greeted with a welcome from bank president Brian Glenn. Glenn explained that the bank is embarking on a major renovation of the main bank location at 211 Main Street and the remodel will involve changing the bank’s front facade and updating the building. The Main Street location will be closed during the remodeling process, which is expected to take eight to nine months. Bank staff have been relocated to the bank’s data center, the old post office building, at 110 2nd Ave. S.E. and customers can enter the building from the door on the west side of the building. All bookkeeping staff are now working in the motor bank’s community room and that room will be unavailable for rental until approximately April 2020.

Glenn thanked all those who have helped get the remodeling project off the ground, including members of the bank’s board of directors; Milestone Construction, general contractors on the jog; and KSA Architects. He acknowledged that creating a new building out of an old building has presented significant challenges but said the “fantastic team” that includes Bank of Gravette employees and employees of the sister Legacy banks is up for the challenge.

Glenn began by showing a video presentation outlining a brief history of the Bank of Gravett. Chartered March 1, 1898, it has the distinction of being the oldest bank in Benton County. It has operated continuously since that time and was purchased by Legacy Bancshares in July of 2018. A sense of anticipation filled the room as Glenn continued his presentation since rumors of a change in the bank’s name had been circulating in recent weeks. He satisfied his listeners’ curiosity and brought an end to that speculation as he announced a name change and flashed an image of the bank’s new logo on the screen.

This marks a significant change for the bank, one of the oldest financial institutions in Arkansas, that after 120 years, it will no longer spell its name differently from the community it serves. Bank leadership says this demonstrates their commitment to Gravette and the effort to invest in the town, which has been its namesake since 1898. The Bank of Gravett was founded and headquartered in the town (with an “e”) well over a century ago and will now officially be known as the Bank of Gravette. Glenn says that, with the upcoming remodel, bank officials thought this was a good time to make the change and introduce the new logo.

“What’s with the ‘E’, anyway?,” he asked. “There’s no ‘I’ in ‘TEAM’ but there sure is an ‘E’.” Glenn said that, with the significant financial investment Legacy is making in the remodeling, “this shows that we are all in!”

The video presentation showed several architect’s renderings of the proposed bank building, with shots of the outside changes which Glenn said “will look awesome on Main Street.” New settings inside the building will feature much natural light. A new entrance will be constructed coming off Highway 72 with a new ATM and drive-through lanes.

The upgrades to the bank’s most visible location will include new customer-friendly waiting areas for “relationship bankers” to greet customers closer to the front of the lobby. According to President Glenn, all of these enhancements are being made in an effort to connect to the community and make banking easier and more enjoyable for customers.

After a general overview of the remodeling project, Glenn introduced Richard Page, superintendent of Gravette Schools, and announced that the bank was making a $5,000 donation to the Western Benton County Career Center. This donation reflects the bank’s desire to cooperate with the local schools and share in the progress seen in the schools and the community. Page graciously accepted the $5,000 check and thanked the bank for the donation, saying it would be an economic boost to the schools, to the bank and to the community.

“We are very fortunate to have a facility like the career center. It is very unique for a community of this size,” Page acknowledge. “It provides an outstanding opportunity for students in Benton County and will serve not only Gravette students but those from Siloam Springs, Bentonville and Bentonville West and they are able to come here at no cost.”

Page explained that the original 8,000 square foot career center building on the middle school campus is being expanded to a 20,000 square foot structure and will accommodate not only the previous heating, ventilation and air conditioning classes but a 3,000 square foot machining lane, a 3,000 square foot welding lab and a 4,000 square foot automotive lab. He said automotive classes will be offered for the first time this fall and 17 students are already signed up for the course. 

“We want to improve the banking experience at our downtown location. Our new color scheme will give the location a more current look and there will be lots of natural lighting, large TVs and a more efficient floor plan. As soon as you come in, someone will greet you and welcome you,” said Glenn. “We want to build upon the foundation built by previous leaders like John R. Meade and create an enjoyable place for members of the community to conduct business or just visit. Yes, we’re making some updates, but we’re still a community bank and we value relationships above all. That will never change.”

A large aluminum figure of an “E” has attracted much attention as it has appeared in several locations around town in recent weeks. The new focus on the missing “e” has had many in the surrounding area wondering, “Why was it spelled that way to begin with?” Longtime Bank of Gravett employee and Gravette resident Rickie Stark, the bank’s Vice President of business development, says the story is well known in the community and explains:

“As the story goes, the town was originally spelled without the ‘e’ at the end. The post office asked the town to change its name sometime in the 1920’s to avoid confusion with the town of Gillett, because it also ended in double ’t’,” said Stark. “For reasons unknown, the bank decided not to follow suit until now. We think it’s about time.”

Even though the bank has added an “e” and plans to remodel, Glenn promised the Bank of Gravette will remain a hometown bank.

“Everything our customers love about the bank will stay intact. We’ll just be able to serve the community better and further Bank of Gravette’s legacy,” said Glenn. “We’re making an investment in Gravette with this extensive remodel on Main Street, because we believe in Gravette. Sharing the name of our town down to the letter is just a perfect opportunity to let the community know we are all in.”

Bank of Gravette includes locations in Hiwasse and Centerton, all of which have been owned by the holding company Legacy Bancshares Inc. since the acquisition in July of 2018. The holding company also owns Legacy National Bank. CEO Patrick Swope said the name change and remodel is true to the holding company’s philosophy of supporting communities and locally owned, community minded banks throughout Northwest Arkansas.

“We want to build banking relationships and invest in the communities we serve,” said Swope. “It is important for us to have a welcoming banking center for our customers in Gravette. When the doors open next spring, I hope all the citizens of Gravette and the surrounding area stop by to see and experience the renewed and enthusiastic culture."

 

Susan Holland

sholland@nwadg.com