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Group starting local bank

Seeking to provide personalized banking services to Carroll County customers, a group of area businessmen are working to establish a community bank in Westminster.

Penn Mar Bancshares Inc. recently received approval from the Securities and Exchange Commission to open Penn Mar Community Bank. Work has begun on the 4,500-square-foot building at Clifton Boulevard and Woodward Road.

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Kevin P. Huffman, president and chief executive officer of Penn Mar Community Bank, said recently that he hopes to open the bank by May or June. It will initially employ 10 people.

"We plan to open a second office in Frederick later this year," Huffman said.

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Penn Mar Community Bank will specialize in individual customers and small to mid-sized businesses. "What we're stressing here is names and not numbers," said Penn Mar treasurer Daniel E. Dutterer, who worked for 15 years at Westminster Bank and Trust.

Hundreds of community banks and thrifts have opened nationwide in the past five years, many of them in response to the mergers and acquisitions of small banks by big chains. From 1992 through the third quarter of 2000, 880 community banks and thrifts were opened nationally, according to SNL Securities LC, a Charlottesville, Va.-based research and publishing company.

Frank C. Bonaventure, head of the bank regulatory group at the Baltimore-based law firm Ober, Kaler Grimes & Shriver, said that since 1998, his company has worked on deals establishing six community banks, including Penn Mar.

During the past decade, there were 64 bank and thrift mergers and acquisitions in Maryland, according to Hamish J. Brookeman, a senior analyst with SNL Securities LC.

New Windsor State Bank is the only locally owned and operated bank in Carroll County, according to Kevin E. Dayhoff, a director with Penn Mar who also is a Westminster city councilman.

The bank's board of directors have raised $1 million to fund the bank. They hope that a stock offering will raise an additional $5 million.

Other members of Penn Mar Bancshares Inc.'s board of directors include: chairman of the board J. Geoffrey Sturgill Jr., Richard W. Geisendaffer, Jeffrey I. Hurwitz, Vishnampet S. Jayanthinathan and Dr. Ronald Krablin. Dutterer said the bank would provide Christmas club accounts, passbook savings accounts and school accounts, as well as general banking services for individuals and small to mid-sized businesses.

Instead of entering the bank and taking a place in line, customers will have a seat at a desk and be waited on by staff. "This is not cookie-cutter banking," Dutterer said.


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