Video Teller Brings Service to Your Car Window
Have you noticed our two newest tellers outside our Gainesville and Braselton locations?
We’ve added high-tech Interactive Teller Machines (ITM) to connect our offices and enhance customer service throughout the region.
The ITMs, dressed up in our Peach State colors, are a big step up from our former ATMs. The dollar bills are still the same, but you now have the ability to video chat – similar to a Zoom call – with one of our Call Center professionals from the comfort of your car.
You simply “Touch Screen to Speak with a Teller” to view and talk live to a customer service representative on a video screen to address any questions or transactions related to your account. For first-time users, the teller is also happy to guide you through the new service.
The ITM allows customers to conduct everyday bank business such as deposits, withdrawals, fund transfers and viewing account balances. The live video screen is connected directly to our Call Center in Gainesville.
Just need cash? Of course, our ITM would love to say hello but you can conduct a regular ATM transaction just like before and be on your way.
The new ITMs are available 24 hours a day for debit card transactions, while the teller-assisted mode is available 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday. We know you’ll enjoy this extra convenience in banking with us.
We’ll be opening soon – so stay tuned!
In the Eye of the Storm
Peach State Board Members Lead Community Through COVID-19 Pandemic
Three Peach State Bank & Trust board members have helped lead the battle against COVID-19 in our community and region.
Dr. Clifton Hastings, the former Chief of Medical Staff for the Northeast Georgia Medical Center; Tracy Vardeman, Chief Strategy Executive, Northeast Georgia Health System; and Joe Hatfield, Jr., Vice Chairman of Fieldale Farms, have all played key roles in the pandemic fight.
“We are proud of their leadership and crisis management, particularly under such stressful conditions,” said Stewart Teaver, board chairman. “This certainly demonstrates the depth of community involvement and diversity of talent on our local bank board.”
As head of the Medical Staff, Dr. Hastings helped organize the Medical Center’s response effort from the earliest days of the pandemic. He also worked at a state level with the Insurance Commissioner on a directive ordering all licensed health insurance companies to suspend pre-authorization requirements for post-acute treatments for 60 days. The order shortened the review process for discharging hospital patients to next-level care in order to free up more space for COVID-19 patients.
“We’ve had to adapt to each challenge,” Hastings said. “There are times we’ve had to change policy daily.” Hastings has seen the toll the pandemic has taken on the staff at the Medical Center.
“It almost hurts your soul,” Hastings said. “It’s a deep injury. We know we are doing the best that we can. We’ve been going at it for a year now. There is fatigue. It’s really heartbreaking for our nurses to take care of a patient for a month, and then see them die. It’s hard.”
Vardeman also holds a key role at the Medical Center, serving as a community liaison in communicating and coordinating the region’s pandemic response. She continues to work with the state’s top health officials and local Health Department as well as the area’s business community and school systems to lessen the spread of the virus through our community.
Early on, Vardeman pushed for free testing clinics across our community at sites such as the Good News Clinic where early signs of COVID-19 were identified and traced to slow the initial spread. Vardeman also initiated early testing, education and other outreach to at-risk populations, including the Latino community, and she most recently has led the hospital’s vaccine response plan.
“There is a lot of unknown still but there is science behind the vaccine,” Vardeman said. “We need to focus on the vulnerable people in the community now and in doing so take the pressure off the hospital. Then we can focus on vaccinating the community and keeping a low positivity rate.”
Hatfield and his company, Fieldale Farms, have developed numerous safety practices at their poultry processing plants to protect essential workers and the food supply. Due to challenging working conditions, the poultry plants had been an original hot spot for the virus spread. Fieldale quickly adapted, installing plexiglass barriers at workstations and other protective measures that were emulated by other poultry companies across the region. Working with the Georgia Poultry Federation and Northeast Georgia Health System, the practices have greatly curbed the spread of COVID-19 within the plants since the past spring.
We are very proud of all our board members and the positive contributions they make in Gainesville-Hall County and throughout the state.
LOCAL WINDOW ON THE ECONOMY
What We’ve Learned from Crisis
Back in 2005, the year Peach State opened for business, who could have predicted the next two decades would bring the Great Recession and a worldwide pandemic? If we had known in advance about either of these two economic earthquakes, I’m not sure anyone would have had the stomach to start a business, much less a community bank, here in our hometown.
But here we are, still in the throes of a healthcare crisis, and Gainesville-Hall County is as strong as ever – especially in comparison to the rest of the U.S. economy.
Our local unemployment stats, while not as low as 2.2 percent in pre-pandemic times, are still remarkable at around 4 percent. Just about anyone who wants to work should be able to find a job here, particularly with any of our manufacturers throughout the region who are begging on billboards and social media for more workers.
I’ve often said that Peach State Bank is a barometer for the area economy due to our local ownership. Indeed, the bank’s record-setting performance in 2020 certainly reflects the region’s economic strength and resiliency.
Local Confidence in Economy
Our loan demand, a key indicator of investor confidence, has been at record levels. In the final quarter of 2020, our bank closed out $50 million in commercial loans, and we already have another $50 million in pending applications since the start of 2021.
Meanwhile, our Mortgage division had its best month on record in December of last year. January 2021 already mirrored those results, signifying the strong housing and real estate market that exists currently in Northeast Georgia.
When the pandemic forced us all to shelter in place last spring, our management team identified a list of companies that we were concerned would be most impacted. We offered 90-day extensions on loan payments to about 87 local companies, mostly in the restaurant and hospitality sectors. Surprisingly, only a third of these companies accepted our extension, and that list whittled down to just two when we offered a second grace period.
Most importantly, we have had zero defaults on outstanding commercial and consumer loans – a clear indicator of the strength of our region in comparison with the rest of the state and nation.
Clearly, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP loans) helped these businesses through a tough stretch. But the adaptability and strength of our regional economy were just as significant.
Growing from the Recession
My theory is that we learned valuable lessons from the Great Recession that put us in a much better position to weather this most recent storm.
- Our city and county governments have done a much better job planning for growth that is more measured in approach in comparison to the halcyon days leading up to the last recession.
- Similarly, banks like Peach State have carefully built stronger, more stable loan portfolios to avoid the risks of another real estate bubble.
- Coupled with these perspectives, we have benefited from a regional healthcare system that has brought tremendous growth from an influx of physicians and support staff, including a new medical residency program grooming the next generation.
- Plans for an inland port to our north along the Hwy. 365 corridor have also driven expansion from area companies like Kubota and big new arrivals such as powered-vehicle manufacturer Fox Industries in Gainesville and SK Battery next door in Commerce.
- A bright future is also written in the rise of industrial warehouse space being built across our region by companies like Amazon, signaling more jobs and growth on the horizon.
Most Rewarding Lesson
Just like our recession hindsight, we will grow from our pandemic experience. We’ve all learned how to work remotely, which means our region should witness an even greater influx of professionals, most definitely younger workers, who no longer need to commute to the high-rise offices inside I-285 to be successful.
A more intangible insight from this pandemic is the “heart” of our community. While business at national retail chains is down here and across the country, we’ve seen local shoppers stepping up their support of area restaurants and small businesses.
Unlike the national GDP, no one measures civic pride and responsibility. But if they did, Gainesville-Hall County would be off the charts. Which is perhaps our most rewarding lesson of all in these difficult times.
We’re HOME – Now More Than Ever
With Expanded Call Center Hours
As part of our customer service effort to be more available to you, we have expanded our Call Center hours.
You can now reach a live Peach State Call Center professional by phone from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. during the week and from 8 am. to noon on Saturdays. (We’ll be taking Sundays off and hope you do, too!)
If you need assistance with anything at Peach State Bank, call us at 770-536-1100. We will work hard to address any question on the spot – and avoid transferring you if possible. Best of all, you will be assisted by one of our friendly Gainesville-based Call Center agents – not a recorded on-hold message. You can also talk to us now from your car through one of our new live video teller machines outside our Gainesville and Braselton locations.
Of course, we would still love to see you in person, but our Call Center is certainly a safe option during the pandemic to handle your banking business promptly. Check us out!
Digital Security Tips | Advice to protect your online assets
Beware of the ‘Money Mule’ Scam
The Money Mule Scam
This trick often is used with online dating apps, work-at-home jobs, or prize offerings.
- Scammers send money to you, sometimes by check, and ask you to transfer a portion of it to someone.
- They often ask you to use gift cards or wire transfers.
- They don’t tell you the money is stolen, and they’re lying about the reason to send it.
- In each case, there never was a dating relationship, a job, or prize. Only a scam.
If you deposit the scammer’s check, it may clear but will later turn out to be a fake check.
- The bank will want you to repay it.
- If you give the scammer your account information, they may misuse it.
- You could be in legal trouble for helping a scammer move stolen money.
How to avoid getting duped
- Never accept any online offer from an unknown sender asking to transfer money.
- The scammer may ask you to send funds to a “client” or “supplier.” Say no. You may be helping to move stolen money.
- Never send money to collect a prize. That’s always a scam, and they might be trying to get you to move stolen money.
- Don’t send money back to an online love interest who has sent you money. Always a scam – and another way to get you to move stolen money.
Cashen Philyaw is a member of the Peach State Bank Call Center team – one of our dedicated professionals providing extra special hometown service to customers.
Q: What do you do at Peach State?
I work in the Call Center. There are many tasks but primarily we answer and help all incoming phone inquiries to the bank. Our main goal is to help customers immediately – without having to transfer them to another department. We help with online banking questions along with any other account needs.
Q: How long have you worked at Peach State?
I’m going on almost six years. I left for a short period of time to try something different, but ended up making my way back... I just missed it too much!
Q: Tell us about your family.
I currently live in Habersham County with my boyfriend, Bailey, and our pup, Hudson. We are in the process of building our first home and looking to move in within the next few months!
Q: What’s your favorite thing about working at Peach State?
There is so much to love about working here! I love how everyone is always willing to help as a team. Peach State is one of a kind, and I love that everyone has our customers’ best interest at heart.
Q: What are your hobbies?
I enjoy spending time with my family, working out, and being outside.
How Well Do You Know Your Community?
1. What was Gainesville’s original name?
2. Which sports venue from the 1996 Olympics is still used for its intended purpose?
3. In 1902, Gainesville was the first city south of Baltimore to install what?
4. What year was Braselton created and who was its namesake?
5. What Guinness World Record did Braselton hold?
What is the one and only locally owned community bank in Gainesville-Hall County?
To Find the Answers...Read On!
Hawkins and Stanley Join Future Leaders Board
We are excited to announce the addition of Charlie Hawkins and Roland Stanley to Peach State Bank’s Future Leaders Board.
This local team of volunteers helps us stay plugged in to the needs of our hometown community, especially with younger professionals and families.
Charlie is a Commercial and Land Real Estate Consultant with the Norton Agency. He is a member of the Atlanta Commercial Board of REALTORS®, Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce and serves on various non-profit boards.
His wife, Abby Hawkins, is a teacher at Mount Vernon Elementary and they have three children: Charlie Hawkins, Jr (4), Lucy James Hawkins (3) and Jack Hawkins (2). Charlie is a lifelong resident of Gainesville. He is a 2011 University of Georgia graduate with a bachelor’s degree in business management.
Roland is the founder and owner of Cork It - Wine and Charcuterie in Gainesville and co-owner of Peyton’s Pie Company in Flowery Branch.
The Gainesville native and University of North Georgia graduate also is co-owner of RT Creative Group, amarketing company providing specialization in social media, photography, and graphic design throughout the state. In 2021, Roland will be opening another Cork It location in Buford.
Now Open for Business in Braselton
With the new year comes the opening of our new office in Braselton.
The Peach State-Braselton office handles commercial loans, mortgages and home equity lines for area businesses and residents. It is staffed by lending veterans Terry Evans, David Dyer and Rhonda Dellinger, who are well-known in the Braselton market.
A high-tech twist on traditional banking
The Braselton office is not a branch bank in the traditional sense. But there is an on-site ITM (Interactive Teller Machine) outside our office that allows regular checking customers to communicate directly via live video communication with our Call Center in Gainesville – sort of like a Zoom call with your personal banker!
Through our Braselton ITM, you can now conduct everyday bank business such as making deposits, withdrawals or cashing checks. We hope you’ll give it a try.
TRIVIA ... Answers!
- Our hometown area was established in 1818 as Mule Camp Springs – near a main watering hole and a network of Indian trails. Traders and settlers followed, and three years later, we changed our name to Gainesville in honor of General Edmund P. Gaines. He fought with distinction in the War of 1812, and was a military surveyor and roadbuilder.
- Lake Lanier Olympic Park, near Clark’s Bridge in North Hall County, is the only venue still operational from the ’96 Olympics. The rowing site continues to host competitive water sports events and athletes from all over the world.
- We were the first to install electric streetlamps, introducing electricity for the first time to the city and region. An electric trolley soon followed.
- Braselton was founded in 1876, taking its name from Harris Braselton, a farmer who bought 800 acres there and built a plantation. It was incorporated in 1916 with a long string of Braselton family descendants leading the city for nearly a century.
- Braselton once held the record for the longest family stake in a town or settlement. Since 1916, a Braselton continuously served on the Town Council until 2001, when Mayor Henry Braselton was defeated in an election.
EXTRA CREDIT: Peach State Bank, of course!
325 Washington St SW | Gainesville, GA 30501 | Phone: (770) 536-1100 | Fax: (770) 536-2525