Bank takeover raises questions in Carson

Kevin Clifford/Nevada AppealKimberly Gibson of Dayton leaves after making a deposit Monday afternoon during the first day of the new Mutual of Omaha Bank in Carson City after the 1st National Bank of Nevada was sold to Mutual last Friday.

Kevin Clifford/Nevada AppealKimberly Gibson of Dayton leaves after making a deposit Monday afternoon during the first day of the new Mutual of Omaha Bank in Carson City after the 1st National Bank of Nevada was sold to Mutual last Friday.

Mutual of Omaha Bank stationed greeters in the lobby and posted a welcome letter by the ATM, but some customers at the former 1st National Bank of Nevada in Carson City still had questions when the new bank opened Monday.

Federal regulators shut down 1st National Bank of Nevada's parent company on Friday because of its financial situation and sold the company's 28 branches Friday to Mutual of Omaha Bank.

Monday was the first day for the bank at the purple-trimmed building at the corner of North Carson and William streets.

Claud Butler and Mary Lou Lancaster of Silver Springs were two of several customers who went in that afternoon to learn about the new bank. They wanted to get answers to questions: Will the bank keep the same employees? Will ATM fees be the same? What kind of bank is Mutual of Omaha?

"I don't care who they are up in the office," Butler said. "You've got to prove to me you know how to run a bank."

But representatives for the company say nothing will be different for customers except the bank's name. All deposits, including those not federally insured, will be safe, they say.

Several customers who declined to give their names said they were satisfied with the new bank.

Jim Nolan, a representative with Mutual of Omaha, said his bank bid for the sale because it wants to expand in fast-growing markets like Nevada, California and Arizona, where First National Bank Holdings Co., had its 1st National and First Heritage Bank, N.A., branches.

The bank wants to be a part of the community and will work to earn the trust of customers, he said.

But Kevin Beall of Carson City said he's thinking about switching banks because he felt comfortable with 1st National as a small and personal bank.

"If I made a mistake or something in my checking account, they'd call," he said. "They don't just charge me. They give me an opportunity to take care of things."

The change has also worried customers at another bank that has no connection with the banks that were closed.

Heritage Bank of Nevada has gotten "a lot of inquires from customers," said Bank President Stan Wilmoth, because its name is similar to First Heritage Bank, N.A.

Heritage Bank has five branches, including one in Carson City, and its customers are unaffected by Friday's announcement.

Federal regulators never give notice before they shut down a bank, said David Barr of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC), so regulators couldn't have made the transition any easier for customers.

He said customers shouldn't worry, however, because no one will lose money. He compared the effect of the change to the merger of two airline companies.

But Dennis Drew of Stagecoach said he wasn't happy with 1st National and is certainly not going to stay with a new bank he's never heard of before.

"It's just the unknown," he said.

On the Net:

www.mutualofomahabank.com/nevada

- Contact reporter Dave Frank at dfrank@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1212. The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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