Jane Watkins, 64, of New Washington, has worked as a teller at The New Washington State Bank for 35 years. In that time, she’s made more transactions than she can count, but the one that she will forever remember happened March 22, 1988.

That’s when the bank was robbed.

“I was standing right here,” she said, as she stood at the far left teller booth. “I looked out the front door and I saw them (the robbers) out there putting on their masks and I put my foot on the alarm and said, ‘Girls, we’re about to get robbed.’

“That was the longest 10 minutes of my life.” No one was hurt that day, but that, Watkins said, is definitely her most exciting memory from working at the bank.

When the bank opened 100 years ago this month, would-be robbers likely rode up on horseback. More than just the transportation has changed since that time. The banking industry has had a complete technological makeover.

“I’m sure when the bank first started, things were a little more simple,” said Pat Glotzbach, president of The New Washington State Bank. “They didn’t have ATM machines. They didn’t have debit cards and they didn’t have online banking.

“For our bank to be successful in the future, we have to stay in-tune to the technology needs of our customers.”

That meant adding all those features, as well as more locations.

“Over the last several years, we’ve added seven more branches,” Glotzbach said. “We had to do that to stay competitive, because there are so many other opportunities for customers out there.”

But more than that, he said bank employees strive to provide excellent customer service, to not only keep people coming back, but for those people to tell others about their experience.

“Everybody knows everybody and everybody is so friendly,” said Linda Siewert, 68, of New Washington.

She said she has been a loyal customer at the original location her whole life.

Her daughter-in-law also works for the bank. Lisa Siewert, 44, has been at the New Washington location for 26 years. She said she always does what she can to make the customers happy, even if that means granting what may seem to be a strange request.

“We had this one gentleman back in the 1980s who had to have his number 967 put on everything,” she said, explaining that the man said that number represented what God told him would be his turn to go to heaven.

“We added a hyphen and that number at the end of his name, so that he had that on all his transactions,” she said.

Lisa — who has worked as a bookkeeper, teller and in the loan department — said she has made a lot of friends over the years with not just employees, but also customers.

“They put so much trust into you when you handle their money and they talk about their lives. You can learn a lot about people just by lending an ear,” she said. “You can really get attached to a person. They almost become like family.”

Because of the bank’s position in the community, Glotzbach said it’s important to give something back.

Every year, the original location, as well as others, host cookouts to thank customers for their service. Since this year is the bank’s 100th anniversary, each location will have a birthday party to celebrate.

Today, in New Washington, customers will have a chance to win some money and eat ribeye sandwiches and cake. This is the first of the centennial celebrations. The rest of the parties will happen throughout the year at the various locations.

The employees also are compiling their top 100 recipes to put in a cookbook to sell. Proceeds of that will go to the WHAS Crusade for Children.

Glotzbach said all this is the bank’s way of saying thank you to the community.

“I don’t know how to say thank enough to all those people, because they really have been good to us,” he said.



COOKING FOR A CAUSE

• To buy the 100th anniversary cookbook created by The New Washington State Bank employees, contact Christy Riley at 812-256-7100. The cost is a $10 donation to the WHAS Crusade for Children.

• The New Washington State Bank branches will be having anniversary celebrations during the year. Call your local branch for details.



A LOOK BACK:

• The New Washington State Bank was founded in 1908 in New Washington by a group of 10 business leaders and farmers who wanted the town to have a bank of its own. The original branch opened March 6 of that year under the name New Washington State Bank, with an initial capital of $25,000. A law in the 1920s required that banks liquidate all their assets and close every 20 years. On March 2, 1928, the bank opened under a new charter and “The” was added to the name. Today, there are eight branches in addition to the original one (with date opened): Henryville, in 1940; Charlestown, in 1994; Borden, in 1996; Jeffersonville, in 1996; Sellersburg, in 1998; New Albany, in 2001; Charlestown drive-through branch, in 2002; and Scottsburg, in 2007.

— The New Washington

State Bank

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