President Clinton may have taken refuge from his troubles on Martha's Vineyard, but the 11 community banks and credit unions that bear the Clinton name have had no need to retreat from the connection.

In fact, these institutions are top performers, a Florida researcher has found, and could shout their name to the heavens.

Researcher Paul A. Bauer decided to examine how the 11 banks and credit unions with the Clinton name were doing. And his Coral Gables, Fla., firm- Bauer Financial Reports - found that they are top performers, with four- or five-star ratings on a scale of 0 to 5.

"They're small, plain-vanilla community banks that are strong as hell," said Mr. Bauer, who, by the way, doesn't rate politicians.

President Clinton, as he tries to regain the nation's confidence, might want to know that there is a Clinton Bank and Trust Co. in Louisiana. And just in case indictments fly, he may want to stay away from Dannemora, N.Y.-home of Clinton Correctional Facility Federal Credit Union. But he would probably be perfectly comfortable at Clinton State Bank in, you guessed it, Clinton, Ark.

- Matt Andrejczak and Louis Whiteman

When KK Federal Bank changed its name to Maritime Savings Bank in 1993, the thrift's president and chief executive officer joked to shareholders that it was only a matter of time before some nautical-themed nonprofit group came calling for support.

He was right.

West Allis, Wis.-based Maritime is helping finance a sailing ship being built by the Wisconsin Lake Schooner Education Association. The $200 million-asset thrift has supplied a line of credit to cover worker expenses and material costs, allowing the association to begin work even before it meets its pledge goal.

Ronald W. Jodat, Maritime's skipper and an avid sailor himself, said he hopes the project will help rekindle a part of his state's history that is often overlooked.

"At one point, Milwaukee was the largest wheat shipping port in the country, and schooners ran that wheat across the Great Lakes," Mr. Jodat said.

With a name like Maritime, it only made sense Mr. Jodat to get involved. "When you have a nautical theme, it is so easy to trigger colorful images," he said. "This project is a natural fit for us."

- Louis Whiteman

Banks have beaten out hospitals and police departments as Ohio voters' most trusted institutions in a statewide survey.

Of the 600 residents questioned, 75% gave the highest trust rating to banks; 70% gave the same rating to hospitals; and 68% gave police departments the highest grade.

The least trusted categories were lawyers and members of Congress, according to the research by Opinion Strategies Inc., Columbus, Ohio. National television news, local judges, and local daily newspapers also got low ratings.

Michael M. Van Buskirk, executive vice president of the Ohio Bankers Association, said the survey was good news for banks, which also beat out colleges and universities and the Ohio Supreme Court in trustworthiness.

But Mr. Van Buskirk warned that being trusted is not the same as being liked. "I don't think a lot of banks think about how to be liked by their customers and build up loyalty," he said. "We're going to have to continue to focus on responding to the individual." - Laura Pavlenko Lutton

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