2012 reflected a politically charged nation. America was mirrored by divisiveness, accompanied by enthusiastic engagement. While the economy showed signs of recovery with the improving housing market, car sales the highest in five years, and record low interest rates, people still remained tentative looking toward solutions to better our 7.8% unemployment rate and a greater sense of economic stability. President Obama was re-elected in November, while technology and the social media strengthened individual communication throughout the world. “Fiscal cliff” became the new buzz words, and the Apple’s IPhone 5 hit the shelves, along with new versions of electronic notebooks and readers. Worldwide, Syria’s civil war continued, with more than 40,000 deaths reported. Morsi was declared the winner in Egypt’s first democratic election, and the war continued in Afghanistan. A Costa cruise ship crashed near the Tuscan coast, U.S. Ambassador Stevens was killed in an attack in Libya, and tragic shootings in a theater in Colorado and at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut stunned the world and ignited discussions on gun control regulation.
James Bond’s Daniel Craig and Queen Elizabeth lightened the mood dropping in on the Summer Olympics in Great Britain, and Michael Phelps and Gabby Douglas became America’s heroes. Penn State’s Sandusky was convicted of sexual abuse, Lance Armstrong was stripped of Tour de France titles and accused of using performance enhancing drugs, concussions became a national discussion in American sports, and the New York Giants won the Super Bowl. In 2012 we said “goodbye” to Neil Armstrong, Dick Clark, Andy Williams, Whitney Houston, Norman Schwarzkopf, Sally Ride, Andy Griffith, Larry Hagman, Etta James and the Hostess Twinkie.
Locally, Gustavus Adolphus College continued its 150th Anniversary celebration and was honored with a royal visit by the King and Queen of Sweden. St. Peter Regional Treatment Center CEO David Proffitt resigned amid controversy over his leadership style, and Nicollet County Administrator Bob Podhradsky retired after serving the county for twenty years. St. Peter School Superintendent Jeff Olson was named Minnesota’s School Superintendent of the Year, and our local National Guard soldiers returned home from Kuwait. In town, talk of the proposed Shopko retail development continued. New businesses in town this past year included Sew Boutique, Hesse Insurance Agency, Diamonds in the Rust, Inspire Bridal Boutique, Papa Murphy’s, Fantastic Sam’s, Bahama Mama, Bright Idea Marketing, Audio Addix, Simply Twisted Motor Sports and It’s About Time.
2012 was another very interesting and variable year for agriculture in the greater St. Peter area. After unusually mild January-March temperatures, substantial late winter and spring precipitation helped to recharge the soil profile from the dry conditions experienced in 2011. However, the summer and fall turned warm (hot!) and dry which resulted in limited moisture reserve for 2013. Despite the challenging environmental conditions, the crop production was generally better than expected. Some areas experienced significant storm damage (hail and wind.) The geographically large-scale drought caused an increase in grain prices which impacted the cost of feed for livestock producers and also affected the export and biofuels markets. Livestock continues to be a major component of area agriculture and is a huge consumer of grain. Both land prices and rental costs continued to escalate driven largely by increased grain prices and low interest rates. Agriculture is very important to Nicollet County Bank, and we enthusiastically look forward to 2013.
Nicollet County Bank had another good year! Banks have been challenged by continued regulatory changes coupled by the slowness of the economy’s improvements. These challenges reflect the reduced number of banks in the state of Minnesota---down to 380 banks from just under 500 banks ten years ago. Nicollet County Bank is proud to have received another 4-Star bank rating from Bauer Financial, Inc., and we had a few more celebrations this past year! Brian Kuiper and Tracey Anderberg both celebrated 25 years working here at NCB, and Nicollet County Bank was voted 2nd place in the Mankato Magazine’s Readers Choice “Best Bank” category. Peter Nelson, with LPL Financial Services has been located here for five years now, and he has just been named one of the Twin Cities 5-Star Wealth Managers this year! He is one of the few out-state area Wealth Managers awarded this honor in the January issue of the Minneapolis St. Paul Magazine. Clifford “Skip” Wenner retired from the bank after working part-time for thirteen years. Nicollet County Bank hired a new consumer lending officer this past year, and we invite you to stop by to meet Stuart Carlson at your convenience! As we move into 2013, we will meet the challenges ahead, and are eager to celebrate our 130th Anniversary! We have a lot of memories, and hear stories from customers, which makes banking here in St. Peter more than just a job. We are so fortunate to have great employees, as well as advice and reminders from Sam Sr. and our bank directors! Most of all, we are grateful for you, our customers, for choosing Nicollet County Bank.
Samuel B. Gault, President
Nicollet County Bank
St. Peter, Minnesota