2005 was a year depicted by adversity, strength, challenges and resiliency. Time and again, people persevered through difficult loss and devastation left by nature's wrath when hurricanes destroyed much of our country's Gulf Coast. The ongoing War in Iraq has also challenged the human spirit while Minnesota's own Army National Guard deployed 2,600 men and women to serve - the largest number of Minnesota Guard members to be deployed since World War II.
The Federal Reserve Board increased interest rates thirteen consecutive meetings to combat inflation. Mortgage refinancing has slowed compared to the last couple years, bankruptcy laws have changed, and Identity Theft has led people to become more careful about guarding their personal and financial information. Ben Bernanke was named to replace Alan Greenspan, the retiring Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board this January 31, 2006.
New concerns of Bird Flu flocked the country, and seniors were challenged to figure out the Medicare Part D program. Television's American Idol had everyone singing - or trying to sing, while Desperate Housewives gave new life and laughter to the concept of working at home. The Minnesota Timberwolves hired new coach Dwane Casey, and the Minnesota Vikings team was bought by New Jersey developer, Zygi Wilf.
Locally St. Peter's Brian Grey and his wife Peggy made their singing debut as, Sonny and Cher while they hosted the St. Peter Cares Benefit for hurricane survivors. Grey also spear-headed the first ever St. Peter WinterFest last February, while Peggy and the Retail Council sponsored St. Peter's first ever Girls' Night Out! Michael Riley and his St. Peter Cares committee organized truckloads of donations for hurricane survivors in Concordia Parish, Louisiana. The Minnesota Diabetes poster child was Coulton Davis, from St. Peter, and local folks rallied to raise monies for various organizations in need.
New businesses in town included: Skrove Automotive, E.I. Microcircuits, Good Samaritan Home Health, Southern Minnesota Signs, HyTek Wireless, Chippewa Packaging, Kreykes Kustom Welding, River Healing Therapies, Central Square Apartments, Blatz Law Office, It's In the Gift and The Spoke (bicycle shop).
Farmers in our area enjoyed a profitable year. However, the August 3rd wind storm destroyed a large number of acres of corn, which reduced the yields and greatly complicated the harvest on the affected fields. The corn yields on the tracts without wind damage were very good, and the soybean production ranged from above average to excellent. The large 2005 crop following a very good 2004 harvest resulted in lower grain prices than in the previous year. Both hog and cattle markets were relatively favorable. High energy costs increased operating expenses for the entire agricultural sector. Furthermore, we have been seeing more grain production utilized locally via bio-fuels and feed consumption. Lastly, the land market remained strong for both rentals and sales.
Nicollet County Bank had another busy year as we celebrated our first year anniversary of the Jr. Life Savers Club for kids age five through twelve. We also celebrated our 40th annual New Car and Truck Show in the fall, with St. Peter auto dealerships Nielsen Chev-Olds, Lagers and St. Peter Ford all participating. Our Customer Appreciation Party was moved to September, and we had a wonderful turn-out at Johnson Hall. Joel Hulke, with LPL Investments, has been located at Nicollet County Bank for four and a half years now, and Sam Sr. celebrated his 75th birthday!
Nicollet County Bank added a new drive-through ATM for your convenience, and we purchased a new message sign with full, bright color! The Saints Club tours (for customers age fifty and better) included trips to the Arboretum, Lake Minnetonka, the State Fair, the Black Hills and Branson. We've had several winners for our contests on our web site and have seen many new Internet Banking users and online bill-payers. Now you can see your check images via the internet when you use NCB's Internet Banking!
Nicollet County Bank's assets have reached $120 million this past year, and we were awarded our 65th consecutive Five-Star Bank Rating from Bauer Financial Reports. Our strength as a bank is mirrored by our outstanding employees, as well as our wonderful customers! Did you know that fifteen of our bank employees have worked here for fifteen years or more? As we enter the new year of 2006, we have decided to expand our lobby hours for your convenience. Our lobby hours are now 8:00-4:00, Monday-Thursday, and 8:00-6:00 on Friday. We hope the hours make banking more convenient for you, and thank you for banking with Nicollet County Bank.
Samuel B. Gault, President
Nicollet County Bank
St. Peter, MN 56082