OSAWATOMIE — First Option Bank, headquartered in Osawatomie, and Pony Express Community Bank, headquartered in St. Joseph, Mo., recently announced that an application to merge the two institutions will be submitted to the Federal Reserve Board for regulatory approval.
According to the announcement, the merger application is the first step in the required regulatory process. Final regulatory approval and merger is expected in the fourth quarter of 2019.
Following regulatory approval and the final merger transaction, Pony Express Community Bank’s name will change to First Option Bank, according to the news release.
“While the bank’s name will be changing, our customers will continue to be served by the same dedicated employees with a strong commitment to our communities,” Pony Express Community Bank President Robert Means said. “First Option Bank is an outstanding organization with a longstanding tradition of community involvement and excellent customer service. Their success is a result of their commitment to meeting customer needs with affordable, high-quality products and services. We are excited about the enhanced product and service offerings that our customers will enjoy with this merger.”
Steven J. Handke, CAO at First Option Bank, is coordinating the merger. Handke has 35 years of community banking experience serving customers in Brown, Atchison and Doniphan counties. He will office in the Horton branch after completion of the merger, according to the release.
“Pony Express Community Bank, like us, takes pride in outstanding personal service and community support,” said Blake Heid, First Option Bank president and CEO. “We plan to maintain a strong commitment to our communities and to meeting the customer’s needs in all of the locations we serve.”
First Option Bank currently has offices in La Cygne, Louisburg, Osawatomie, Paola and Spring Hill. Pony Express Community Bank has offices in St. Joseph, Mo., as well as Kansas offices in Elwood, Horton and Troy.
First Option Bank currently serves over 20,000 customers with offices in Miami and Linn Counties. Pony Express Community Bank’s primary trade territory covers Buchanan and southern Andrew counties in Missouri and Brown, Doniphan, northern Jackson and northwestern Atchison counties in Kansas.
Following the merger, First Option Bank will have more than $400 million in total assets. Both First Option Bank and Pony Express Community Bank are equal housing lenders and members of the FDIC, according to the release.
Dorothy Powell, First Option senior vice president and director of marketing, said local customers should not see a change in service.
She also mentioned that community members are invited to attend a ribbon-cutting and open house event at the recently remodeled Osawatomie First Option Bank location at 601 Main St.
The event will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday, Aug. 2, and there will be refreshments, giveaways and a collection of historical photos from the community’s past.
Powell said several First Option Bank locations recently were updated with the addition of solar panels.