HOWELL N. GAGE, Merchants National Bank's chief executive, is one community banker who tries to keep up with technology but won't spend himself into a hole doing so.

"We're not buying technology just to have the newest toy," said Mr. Gage, who is also chairman of the $172 million-asset bank, based in Vicksburg, Miss. "The main thrust needs to be doing a better job of serving our customers."

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