OSAWATOMIE — Founded nearly a century ago, First Option Bank is steeped in community history.

On Friday, Aug. 2, the public had a chance to explore the Osawatomie bank’s modern side — with its sleek interior and color schemes that would rival any new facility. The bank celebrated its remodeled building at 601 Main St. that morning with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and tours.

The building’s last remodel occurred about 20 years ago, Branch Manager Katie Stoecker told the throng of people who braved the rainstorm outside to attend the ribbon-cutting and open house.

“There was a lot of reasoning and thought behind this remodel,” Stoecker told the gathering. “It was six months swinging the hammer at most, but many months before that in the planning.”

Stoecker said one of the goals was to make the building more efficient.

“As you know we had the solar panels up on top, but there were some other pieces that needed to be addressed such as heating and cooling and electrical,” Stoecker said. “We took time to go through those steps to make sure that going forward we’re not only as efficient but also environmental-friendly here as well.”

The primary reason for the remodel was to make sure the bank could serve its customers and the community to best of its ability, she said. Toward that end, the bank relocated its loan processing team downstairs and moved its customer service representatives into the center of the bank floor to assist customers when they walk in.

Stoecker also thanked the Osawatomie History Museum for supplying the original photos for the 15 historic prints of the community that are on display throughout the building.

First Option Bank, formerly known as First National Bank, opened for business in 1923 in Osawatomie.

In 1970, Ted E. Lewis purchased the bank, which still operates under the ownership of the Lewis family today. A new facility was built in 1975 at its current 601 Main St. location.

The name was changed to First Option Bank in 1999 to create an image and identity separate from more than 50 First National Banks operating in Kansas at that time, according to the timeline on the bank’s website, www.firstoptionbank.com.

First Option opened a branch in Paola in 1993, as well as branches in La Cygne and Louisburg in 2000 and one in Spring Hill in 2007.

News Editor Doug Carder can be reached at (913) 294-2311 or doug.carder@miconews.com.

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