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NBT Bank Gets Approval For Legacy Locations

Staff Reports
iBerkshires
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — NBT Bank said on Monday that it has received regulatory approval for the acquisition of four banking locations in Berkshire County currently doing business under the Legacy Banks name.

The banking locations being acquired by NBT Bank are in Great Barrington at 700 Main St.; Lee at 76 Park St.; North Adams at 331 State Road, and Pittsfield at 609 Merrill Road. These bank offices will undergo a systems conversion during the fourth weekend in October and open to the public as offices of NBT Bank on Monday, Oct. 24, 2011. All current employees at these locations have been offered positions with NBT Bank.

"Receiving the final regulatory approval for our upcoming branch acquisition in Berkshire County is an important milestone in the acquisition process," said NBT Bank Director of Marketing Florence Doller. "We are now engaging the employees and customers of these bank offices as we prepare to welcome them into the NBT Bank family. We are confident that our focus on top-notch customer service and quality financial offerings will be received positively in Berkshire County."

Legacy Bancorp Inc. closed a number of branches as part of a merger with Berkshire Hills Bancorp Inc. (Berkshire Bank) earlier this year. The State Road branch opened in 2007 in the former Pizza Hut location. The bank was approved for signage at the location at the last Planning Board meeting.

NBT Bank, headquartered in Norwhich, N.Y., offers personal banking, asset management and business services through two NBT Bank and Pennstar Bank, with a network of 123 branches in three states. NBT Bank has 30 offices in New York's Capital Region and a total of 87 offices in upstate New York and northwestern Vermont. Pennstar Bank does business from 36 locations in northeastern Pennsylvania. NBT Bank's parent company, NBT Bancorp Inc., had assets of $5.3 billion as of June 30, 2011.
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Bay State Senators: Stop The Presses

Staff Reports
iBerkshires

'All the perplexities, confusion and distress in America arise not from defects in their Constitution or Confederation, nor from want of honor or virtue, so much as downright ignorance of the nature of coin, credit, and circulation.'
Massachusetts' two U.S. senators may hail from different parties but they're in agreement that the presidential dollar coin series has to stop — and stop now.

The Currency Efficiency Act of 2011 was filed by U.S. Sens. Scott Brown and John Kerry to prevent a program they are calling "runaway waste" and stop minting a coin that nobody wants. The extremely unpopular coins have been piling up in vaults to the tune of $1.2 billion.

"The one dollar coin is misleading because it costs taxpayers so much more. A broken law requires taxpayers to spend millions of dollars a year minting and storing coins they don't want," said Brown.

Kerry said, "Streamlining the dollar coin program is a simple fix when we have over a billion excess coins sitting in a vault."

The presidential coins series started in 2007 by an act of Congress and is designed to honor the nation's presidents (at least those who have died by 2014), similar to the very popular state quarters. However, dollar coins have been a tough sell to the public — they don't fit in most vending machines and are often confused for quarters.

A dollar coin featuring Adams native daughter Susan B. Anthony had a brief unpopular run and was replaced in 2000 by the Sacagawea coin, which has continued to be printed alongside the presidential coins.

The unwanted $1 coins cost $300 million to produce and the overflow is forcing the Fed to build new vaults to store them, say the senators. Shipping alone will cost $3 million and the idle coins cost the government $37 million a year in lost investment income.

The Federal Reserve reports that it has more than $1.2 billion in excess $1 coins sitting in its vaults, growing every day toward an estimated $2 billion by 2016 when the program ends.

A Harris poll in 2008 found 76 percent of Americans prefer a folding bill, like the kind printed on currency paper made by our own Crane & Co. in Dalton.
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Berkshire/Legacy Bank Merger Complete

Staff Reports

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The merger of Berkshire Bank and Legacy Banks was completed Thursday.

Announced in December, Berkshire Bank purchased Legacy for $108 million, which created the biggest financial institution in the region with more than $4 billion in assets.

The Berkshire Bank name will remain the same and more than 40 of the two banks' 850 workers are expected to lose their job because of the merger.

According to a press release, the bank now has more than 60 branches reaching from Massachusetts to New York to Vermont. The merger is effective immediately.

"This acquisition results in improved market share and an expanded footprint in our attractive northeastern markets," Berkshire Bank President Michael P. Daly said in the release.  "It contributes to our strong momentum in revenue and earnings growth.  This partnership enhances our resources to support the needs of our regions and to provide exceptional locally based service.  We are very pleased to welcome the customers, employees, and shareholders of Legacy to America's most exciting bank."
 

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Greylock Credit Union Marks 70,000th Member

Tammy Daniels

Courtesy Greylock Federal Credit Union
Greylock’s Peter Mirante and Lee Member Service Officer Mindy Brown present Andrew Bravo, the credit union's 70,000th member, with a check for $1,000. 

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Greylock Federal Credit Union surpassed the 70,000 mark in April when it welcomed 18-year-old Andrew Bravo as a new member. Only 3 percent of the nation's credit unions have reached that number.

Since the Berkshires' population is only 131,000, the credit union can now claim more than half the county's residents as members.

Bravo, a recent graduate from Lenox Memorial and the school's valedictorian, opened his accounts at Greylock's historic Lee branch on 47 Main St. and got a $1,000 check toward his education.

"When we realized that our 70,000th member was a college-bound senior, we felt this $1,000 award was an appropriate way to mark the occasion," said Senior Vice President Pete Mirante.

Mirante said Bravo joined the credit union during Youth Week. "We had an excellent response to our promotions during that week, adding more than 60 members and opening more than 100 accounts."

Executive Vice President John Bissell said there are 7,442 credit unions in the United States and only 229 have reached the 70,000 mark in terms of membership, according to Callahan & Associates, a credit union consulting service.

"We appreciate the strong support of our membership in every area of Berkshire County," Bissell said, noting the credit union has had steady membership growth despite being confined to the county.

"We have built a billion-dollar institution one membership at a time," he continued. "The loyalty of our member/owners and their willingness to refer friends and family to the credit union is the key to our continued growth even as Berkshire County's population holds steady or declines. We thank each and every one of our members for helping us reach this milestone."

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Berkshire, Legacy Consolidating

Staff Reports

The latest round of consolidation in region's banking industry will see two of the largest teaming up.

The Berkshire Eagle is reporting that Berkshire Bank will buy Legacy Banks for $108 million, creating the biggest regional financial institution with more than $4 billion in assets. The Berkshire Bank name will remain (with Legacy added to it in the Berkshires) and Michael P. Daley will remain president and CEO. Legacy Banks President Patrick J. Sullivan will join the executive team.

Both financial institutions date back more than 150 years.

Employees were informed on Tuesday of the merger, which is expected to trim more than 40 of the two banks' 850 workers. Together, the banks have 66 branches in three states.

The merger is to be completed by June 2011. Sullivan told The Eagle that "it was no secret" Legacy had been losing money and talks between the publicly traded banks had been ongoing for several months. Berkshire Bank's acquisition of Legacy was described as a long-term, strategic move that will benefit shareholders and customers.

Customers should not see much of a change, said bank officials.

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