A Pennsylvania community bank is trying to convince prospective customers that it is not looking for a buyer.

So it is offering those who open certain types of accounts a $1,000 bonus if the bank is bought in the next five years and its name is changed.

National Penn Bank of Boyertown has made the offer to businesses or individuals that open one of its new checking accounts before yearend.

"This offer is our way of enabling consumers to overcome their anxieties related to the recent wave of banking mergers," said Wayne R. Weidner, president and chief executive officer of the $1.7 billion-asset bank.

The offer is part of a larger print, television, and radio advertising campaign the bank kicked off this month, using the tag line "What's In It For Me?"

"We have seen the difficulties people face in the wake of all the merger activity, and we want to communicate to them that we're a caring, viable alternative," Mr. Weidner said.

The new checking products that qualify for the $1,000 bonus include a business account with discounts on long-distance telephone rates, volume pricing on office supplies, and free Web page design.

For individuals, there is an interest-bearing account with six months of free PC banking and a free car-buying service.

- Louis Whiteman

When banker Elbert Loewenstein wanted to raise money for his alma mater, Southern Valley Junior and Senior High in Stamford, Neb., he hit the road.

Mr. Loewenstein, retired president of $30 million-asset Community Bank in Stamford, walked 1,000 miles from his home in Pinetop, Ariz., to Stamford in time for his 50-year high school reunion in late May. Mr. Loewenstein, 67, took pledges-per-mile from Community Bank's competitors and other supporters, raising about $70,000 for the schools' charitable foundations.

"Most of the local banks pledged a dollar a mile," he said.

Mr. Loewenstein walked an average of 22 miles a day along the shoulder of roads taking him through Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska.

He recorded thoughts and observations on a tape recorder he kept in his shirt pocket.

Twice during the 51-day trip, blistered feet and bad weather nearly forced Mr. Loewenstein to quit. But he persevered.

"All in all, it was an experience, and I'm glad I did it," he said. "But I don't think I'll do it again."

- Laura Pavlenko Lutton

Don Bennett, president and chief executive officer of First Citizens Bank, witnessed a $14 million deposit surge at his Columbia Falls, Mont., bank in just 48 hours.

But three days later, almost all the deposits had vanished from his $97 million-asset bank, Mr. Bennett told Northwestern Financial Review.

The influx of funds occurred when Columbia Falls Aluminum Co. settled a lawsuit with 1,000 employees. The payout averaged $150,000 per person.

After initially depositing the funds in their First Citizens accounts, many shifted their newfound wealth into mutual funds and retirement plans. Others paid off credit card debt, mortgages, and other types of loans. A few bought pickup trucks or four-wheel-drive vehicles.

After the chaos, the bank's deposit total settled back to $37 million. But Mr. Bennett said he is not complaining because the town is now a lot healthier financially.

- Matt Andrejczak

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