After losing its century-old headquarters office in last year's Red River flood, a community bank has decided to move back into downtown Grand Forks, N.D.

First National Bank North Dakota was one of many businesses whose operations were disrupted when the Red River broke its levees in April 1997. Now the $475 million-asset bank has agreed to be the anchor tenant in a project being built across the street from its original site.

"It took quite a bit of convincing because we were afraid that downtown wouldn't redevelop," said Michael Winkel, First National's chief operating officer. "But we lent our name so the city could get other tenants in the building."

So far, the rebuilding efforts are going well, Mr. Winkel said. Several restaurants and theaters have sprung up, and the local newspaper-The Grand Forks Herald - rebuilt its headquarters. First National plans to move into its new home next summer.

"I don't think there will be a prettier downtown in all of the Midwest," Mr. Winkel said. "I think people in other cities will be jealous of what we've done here."

Industrial Bank sold the first Inflation-Indexed U.S. Savings Bond this week at a ceremony outside the $255 million-asset institution's Washington headquarters.

The I-Bond, the first new bond product offered by the Treasury Department since 1941, differs from others because its return is adjusted for inflation. Developed as part of a larger program to encourage minority group members to save more, the I-Bond is being offered in denominations ranging from $50 to $10,000.

Treasury spokesman Carl S. Lee said Industrial Bank was chosen to sell the first bond because it is a minority-owned institution and because it does business in the city where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous "I Have a Dream" speech.

The $100 bond sold by Industrial Bank bears a picture of Dr. King. Other prominent figures from American history, including Helen Keller and Albert Einstein, grace other denominations.

"It is rare for us to honor people other than presidents," Mr. Lee said. "But we decided to picture others who have made strong contributions to this country."

B. Doyle Mitchell, president of Industrial Bank, said it was a feather in the bank's cap to peddle the bond first.

"We feel privileged to have been selected to sell the bond developed in honor of Dr. King's achievements and are proud to provide our customers with such a sound investment option," he said.

As newspaper headlines announce mergers among banking titans, one western community bank is literally making its own news.

Olathe (Colo.) State Bank has produced a newspaper for residents of its native Uncompahgre Valley. The first edition of the Uncompahgre Independent features a story written by bank president Les Mergelman that's titled: "Is Olathe State Bank for Sale?"

The answer is yes ... sort of. In his article, Mr. Mergelman encouraged residents to buy shares of the publicly traded bank. "Olathe State Bank is for sale-to our friends and neighbors who want to buy stock in a community- owned bank," he wrote.

A spokeswoman for the $16 million-asset bank said the paper was mailed to customers and other residents of Olathe and neighboring towns. "With all the mergers and sales, we wanted to drive home the point that we are out there and that we are a local alternative," she said.

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