Five Illinois community banks are helping local kids become authors.

The banks, which include Rochester State Bank, United Community Bank of Pawnee, and First National Bank of Pawnee, have sponsored visits by a Rochester publishing company to area classrooms.

The publisher, WeWrite Corp., takes notes and draws illustrations while the children spin a story together. The kids' story is later published as a soft-cover book and sold through bookstores nationwide.

Dennis M. Pierce, vice president of $38 million-asset Rochester State, said the bank got great exposure from co-sponsoring a session for some Rochester third-graders. Bank employees sat in on the book writing sessions and returned to the classroom to distribute the finished product. "The excitement registered by these children when they see their books come off the press and see their words in print is really wonderful."

He said he expects the bank to earn Community Reinvestment Act credit for financing the WeWrite book with several other local businesses.

When Timothy R. Siegle speaks, residents of Cavalier, N.D., are all ears.

The president of $47 million-asset First State Bank is known in town as the "Voice of the Tornadoes," the local high school's sports mascot, for hosting a popular weekly radio program. The Saturday morning show, which is broadcast live from a cafe, features coaches from Cavalier High School and other area schools.

Mr. Siegle, who starting hosting the program about 13 months ago after moving to Cavalier, said its purpose is to highlight young sports heroes. But he does try to get First State Bank some exposure as well.

"In some way, shape, or form, I'd try to subtly get the bank in there," he said. "But the program's not, 'Put Tim on the radio so he can talk about the bank.'"

Mr. Siegle said he didn't have any radio experience before one of the program's hosts-a First State Bank director-asked him to fill in one Saturday.

"It's given the bank a lot of visibility with the kids and the families," he said. "I just love it."

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