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Bank Presidents Joseph Truskowski, left, and Charles O'Brien announced Tuesday that the two community banks will merge into one.

Adams Co-Op, South Adams Banks Announce Merger

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
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ADAMS, Mass. — Two community banks announced plans on Tuesday to merge to create one $400 million as yet unnamed entity.

The presidents of Adams Co-operative Bank and South Adams Saving Bank announced the move as a one that "made sense" to remain competitive in the long-term. The two independent community banks have each been in existence more than century.

"The merger is a natural fit. Our two banks share the same vision and commitment to the customers, employees and the community," Charles O'Brien, president and CEO of South Adams Savings Bank, said during a news conference at Town Hall at noon. "Together our goal is to become an even stronger bank for future generations by combining our talents and staff and resources."

The bank leaders said no branches will be closed nor will any of the combined 90 or so jobs be lost. The boards of trustees for each bank will join to create one 20-person managing board and Joseph Truskowski, president of Adams Co-Operative Bank, will be the president of the new bank. O'Brien will be the CEO.

Fast Facts
South Adams Savings
Established 1869
Three branches
$197 million in assets

Adams Co-Operative
Established 1895
Three branches
$196 million in assets
"No jobs will be eliminated as a result of this merger. In fact, there may be new opportunities for some of our staff for personal growth," Truskowski said. "Customers can expect to received the same exceptional service from the people they have known to grow and trust at their community bank."

The leaders have been discussing the merger since March and it was approved unanimously by both boards, O'Brien said. The move is still subject to approval from each of the banks' members and the state regulatory agencies but the two bankers expect the transition to go smoothly. The merger is expected to be complete by the beginning of next year.

"When you look in your 10- or 20-year horizon, and that's what we're paid to do and our board is organized to lead the banks into the future," O'Brien said. "There are a lot of competitive reasons and we thought now was a good time to come together. The timing was right, the people were right and the changing industry just pointed that this was the right time to do this."

The new bank will mark the second major merger in the county in the last year following the announcement in December that Berkshire Bank was linking up with Legacy Banks. O'Brien said bank mergers are happening in rapid fashion across the country and doubling the two banks' size will help secure both banks' futures.

"In order for us to be a relevent community bank here in the Berkshires, we felt this was the right time," he said.

Each bank has approximately $200 million is assets at seven locations. The headquarters that "bookend" the town at the ends of Park Street will both continue to operate.

"It was very obvious that looking at the similarities that we belong together," Truskowski said.

The banks use nearly all of the same technology and providers, the presidents said, and customers should expect minimal disruption.

As for a new name, the boards have not yet decided but the bank leaders hinted that there are three names being considered — one that includes the town, one focused regionally and one that goes with a marketing package. A name is expected to be announced soon.

As a first move, each bank will donate $5,000 to the town of Adams to help residents affected by Hurricane Irene. Another $5,000 each will be donated to the American Red Cross, for a total of $20,000.

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'I Want You to Panic': Youths Lead Williamstown Climate Strike Event

By Rebecca DravisiBerkshires Staff

Williamstown Elementary School fifth-grader Adele Low speaks about needing adults to 'step up and act now to save our planet.'

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The petite fourth-grader made her way up to the microphone. In a voice that belied her small frame, she explained why she took the opportunity to speak in front of the several hundred people who came out to the front steps of the Paresky Student Center at Williams College for the Williamstown Climate Strike on Friday.

"When I learned about climate change, I wanted to cry," said June, a fourth-grader at Williamstown Elementary School. "All the animals are going extinct. And it's just terrible."

Then her voice broke, and tears started running down her tiny face.

It was a heartbreaking moment that clearly moved the crowd of people of all ages who came to Paresky to join more than 3,000 other climate strikes around the world on Friday and Saturday - including a joint rally just across the Paresky lawn at the First Congregational Church, where organizers hung an upside-down American flag to signal the country is in distress. June's tears came in the middle of an hour-long program that focused on the leadership of youths who are leading the charge to force the adults in power to take meaningful action on climate change.

"What we need is to demand from our leaders an aggressive response," said Kofi Lee-Berman, a sophomore at Williams College who emceed the event. "It's either extinction or action."

Ruby Leman, 14, of Long Island, N.Y., part of the Fridays for Future group of young people fighting climate change, targeted those leaders - and all adults, really - whose inaction has led to the crisis facing the world.

"I don't want you to be proud. I want you to panic," she said, urging those adults to vote - but not just for any Democrat, but for a candidate who has a serious "climate conscious," as she put it. "I want you to vote. Because we can't. 

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