2007 was a year filled with challenges, changes and economic instability. Nationally, the markets struggled. Interest rates continued to decline, and the American dollar fell to record lows against other world currencies, such as the euro. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was very unstable and oil prices climbed to nearly $100 per barrel. Economists voiced concerns of slower consumer spending, the sub prime mortgage debacle and the subsequent credit crunch weakening an already soft housing market.
The ongoing war in Iraq has created frustration, polarization and a dramatic escalation in federal spending for military purposes. The greatest sacrifices have been exhibited through our own soldiers, who have volunteered to serve, sacrifice and even die for our country. This past year, our local National Guard Troops finally came back home after serving a twenty-two month deployment in Iraq. St. Peter area residents welcomed them home July 21st with yellow ribbons while cheering them on as the Guards drove from Minnesota Avenue to the Armory.
The carefree times of years past have taken a more serious turn, while “Global Warming,” “Recycling” and “Foreclosures” have become the buzzwords. Scenes of the 35W bridge collapse last summer streamed over national television like a tragic movie, while stunned Minnesotans faced the reality of the disaster. Our Minneapolis airport became infamous when Senator Larry Craig created controversy and gave new meaning to a “little toe tapping.” Barry Bonds surpassed Hank Aaron’s record for all-time home-run hitting, but does the possible use of steroids taint the record? The internet has made the world smaller for everyone, yet have fraud and Identity Theft taken some of the wonder away from the World Wide Web? These are times where undaunted excitement is tempered by hesitancy and guardedness. This past year we said goodbye to Norman Mailer, Jane Wyman, Merv Griffin, Lady Bird Johnson, Luciano Pavarotti, as well as the young former Timber Wolves player, Eddie Griffin and celebrity bomb shell Anna Nicole Smith. While our Minnesota TWINS fell short of playoff contention, new Viking rookie Adrian Peterson stunned football fans by rushing 296 yards in the San Diego game for a new league record. Rookie Peterson exemplifies talent, strength and hope for the future while encouraging strong, positive attitudes despite difficult times.
Locally, St. Peter welcomed eight new businesses: Reflections Salon, China Town Restaurant, Banner Associates, Community Addiction Recovery Enterprise, Computer Sales, Service & Repair, Jocko’s To Go, The Pulse and St. Peter Martial Arts. Gustavus Adolphus College completed their new state-of-the-art football stadium, and the St. Peter Regional Treatment Center continued to work with changes of a campus becoming more secure.
2007 was a very interesting year in agriculture. The crop prices surged significantly higher driven largely by demand, biofuels and competition for future acres. The weak dollar also enhanced the export market. Weather also played a major role with a dry growing season impacting yields. The local rains were erratic with a sizable variance in precipitation amounts throughout our service area. The higher grain prices have a direct effect on the cost of livestock feed. Milk prices have been relatively strong with the cattle market reasonably stable. The hog sector enjoyed several positive months but was confronted with relatively low prices the latter part of the year. The value of farm land continues to increase and the rent market is very strong.
Nicollet County Bank had another busy year keeping up with new regulations and technology. Lisa graduated from the Graduate School of Banking, Colorado this past summer, and all the bank employees continued to participate in educational classes to keep up with today’s changes! Gift Cards were our newest product, and they were in very high demand over the holiday season!
Nicollet County Bank was proud to introduce our new Investment Representative, Peter Nelson, of LPL Investment Services! Mr. Nelson grew up in St. Peter, graduated from Gustavus Adolphus College and has more than twenty years experience in the financial service industry. Nicollet County Bank is very happy to welcome Peter Nelson aboard, and we invite you to stop by to meet him at your convenience.
The year 2008 is a special year for Nicollet County Bank, as we celebrate 125 years since our beginning in 1883. Zuriel Gault was hired by Hugo Stark and E.R. Moore to run the bank with them 125 years ago! Our family has been part of the bank for four generations, and we are proud to still be an independent community bank. Last December marked Nicollet County Bank’s Five-Star designation for the 74th consecutive quarter, which earned us the distinction of “Exceptional Performance Banks” from Bauer Financial Reports. Fewer than 16% of the nation’s banks can claim this distinction. We could not have earned this distinction without our outstanding employees and our loyal customers! Thank you for choosing Nicollet County Bank as your bank.
Samuel B. Gault, President
Nicollet County Bank
St. Peter, Minnesota