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Jefferson Security culminates 150th anniversary with community party

By Staff | May 24, 2019

Sophia Rhodes-Gemez, age five, of Sharpsburg, Maryland, plays corn hole at Jefferson Security Bank's community party on Sunday. Toni Milbourne

SHEPHERDSTOWN — The entire community was invited to join the 150th anniversary celebration of Jefferson Security Bank on Sunday afternoon. The event, held at the Shepherdstown Fire Department, was a culmination of 150 days of celebrating the oldest continuously run business in the state of West Virginia.

According to Director of Marketing and Community Relations Sara Wasson, it was last December when the committee began with 150 Days of Random Acts of Kindness.

“It was 150 days prior to the actual anniversary date, which is today [Sunday, May 19],” Wasson said at the party.

“We did random acts big and small,” Wasson said, mentioning each of the six branches were given a budget for their individual use.

Examples of the acts included the Inwood branch office providing lunch for the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office or the Shepherdstown branch taking lunch to the teachers at Shepherdstown Elementary School.

Larger acts include buying and donating 150 Christmas gifts to needy children in the area via various charitable organizations and holding a fundraiser for CASA of the Eastern Panhandle. The bank donated $1,500 toward helping to train advocates for the organization.

All of these random acts led up to Sunday’s party where attendees could eat, drink, enjoy games and entertainment-all as guests of the bank.

“It’s our way of giving back,” Wasson said. “The community is the reason we’ve existed for 150 years.”

The bank opened for business on May 19, 1869 as Jefferson Saving Bank. It changed the name in 1909 to Jefferson Security Bank and has been offering services primarily to Jefferson and Berkeley counties in West Virginia as well as to Washington County, Maryland and Frederick County, Virginia. Originally housed in and operated from the B.F. Harrison residence in Shepherdstown, the bank was relocated several times with the facility at the corner of Washington and Princess streets opening in 1975 with a renovation doubling the size completed in 1987.

The first branch office opened in Charles Town in 1986 with expansion leading into Berkeley County in August 2000. The newest office was opened in Sharpsburg, Maryland in 2006, making six branch offices in total, including Inwood and Martinsburg.

Dustin Branner, senior vice president and commercial lender in the Martinsburg office, was on hand Sunday to lead games and chat with those who came out to enjoy the event.

“I’ve worked for the bank for 10 years,” Branner shared. “It’s just a great company to be involved with.”

Bonnie Baugher, a resident of Sharpsburg, Maryalnd, agreed.

“I’ve banked with them for probably 35 years,” she said. “They are good people and they take care of their customers.”

Baugher came to celebrate with the bank, bringing five-year-old granddaughter Sophia Rhodes-Gemez to enjoy the activities.

Also celebrating with her bank was Betty Lowe, longtime Shepherdstown resident who has more than a passing connection to the bank.

Lowe’s husband, John, served on the Board of Directors for the bank and started the golf tournament hosted for the past 24 years benefitting Shepherdstown Volunteer Fire Department.

“I have to bank there,” Lowe laughed Sunday. “We always had our kids get the Christmas Club there, too.”

Her family, she shared now has the third generation serving on the Board as grandson Brant Lowe now serves. Previously, daughter-in-law Kelly had also held a board seat.

“It’s such a friendly place,” Lowe explained. “It has excellent management and it’s just a pleasure to go there.”

The bank has offered opportunities to many in the Shepherdstown area and extended community, whether it be through banking or loan services or through employment.

Jenna Kesecker, executive vice president and chief financial officer, has been with the bank for nearly 14 years.

“I grew up in Shepherdstown,” Kesecker said. “I knew I wanted to work at Jefferson Security and have that on my resume.”

She began as a teller when at Shepherd University, not intending to stay.

“It’s pretty awesome to find a career,” she said of her journey at JSB.

Denny Barron, whom many call the face of Jefferson Security Bank, also found the opportunity for his career within the walls of the Shepherdstown branch. After serving as an employee for 44 years, Barron retired in 2018 and began serving as a member of the Board-the first time a former employee has been appointed to the board.

Wasson shared that the bank plans to continue its celebration through the end of 2019 but that the community party falling of the actually anniversary date of the start of the bank was for all those who continue to make Jefferson Security Bank a success.