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Sunday, March 7, 2021

Bittersweet 4th of July for Bank of Eastern Oregon

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Grand Marshals of Condon’s cancelled festivities deserve recognition this year

This was supposed to be the year that the Bank of Eastern Oregon staff in Condon took their victory lap at Condon’s Fabulous Fourth of July festivities.

Celebrating 75 years of community banking, the Bank of Eastern Oregon had been selected as Grand Marshals for the Fourth of July celebration. Staff were excited to hold court at the Fourth of July Breakfast, to mingle with old friends and to go all out on decorations for their parade float.

That was before the world turned upside down from the coronavirus.

Nobody could have foreseen the changes that were to come this year. Condon’s Fabulous Fourth of July has been cancelled for 2020.

A thousand people will not line the streets to wave back at the Grand Marshals who throw candy. They will not be the toast of the town at the Fourth of July Breakfast or at the Elks Beer Garden.

But this year more than ever, the Bank of Eastern Oregon in Condon deserves recognition for their leadership and for their service to the community.

During the closure of schools and businesses that started in mid-March, the Bank of EO staff continued to go to work every day and provided the community with a sense of stability. As essential workers, staff at the bank showed up and made sure that people had support and access to funds.

The hard work and sacrifices made by employees deserves the community’s recognition.

“It’s a privilege and honor to be selected as the Grand Marshals,” says Condon Bank Manager Jessica Barnett.

Mrs. Barnett says that the Bank of EO had plans to go all out on their float for the parade this year and wanted to make a splash for the bank’s 75th anniversary.

“It’s kind of sad that we don’t get to celebrate in that way. We had people coming this year from several branches that were going to get involved and to represent the Bank of Eastern Oregon,” says Mrs. Barnett.

This was also a year when the Condon Blue Devil debit card was rolled out, an initiative that Jessica worked on with others at the Bank of EO. There was excitement around the new cards in several communities that were offering the debit cards to showcase school pride, but this initiative also took a hit because of COVID-19.

Still, Mrs. Barnett says that she and her staff have been moved by the support shown in the community. “We’ve gotten cards from so many people,” Mrs. Barnett says and is happy that staff decorated the bank to welcome people inside after having to limit walk-ins for nearly three months.

“It’s sad that we don’t get to spend that day all together, but we will represent the bank in other ways this year.”

Employees at the Bank of Eastern Oregon will celebrate the 4th of July with their families, as people are encouraged to do this year.

Still, it is important for people in the area to recognize that the bank is a crucial institution for the region.

“The Bank of Eastern Oregon is committed to the community. We’re here for the community even during this, the unknown, we’re here and will be here,” says Jessica.

“We came to work every day. During all of this we were here. We have a great team and I appreciate each of them for stepping up and coming to work.”

Rhonda Shaffer is the Vice President Consumer Lending Manager at the Bank of Eastern Oregon in Condon. Mrs. Shaffer has worked in banking since 1976 and has seen many changes in the industry over the past four decades.

“Getting to the Bank of Eastern Oregon was like getting back to how banking used to be,” says Mrs. Shaffer. “Banking used to be personable. When banks get too big customers become numbers and not names,” she says.

“It’s nice to get back to where your CEO knows who you are, they know your busband’s name and they know who your kids are.”

Mrs. Shaffer says that the employees at the Bank of EO in Condon are a strong team and that although things have been scary during the COVID-19 pandemic, the staff has remained committed to the community.

Even during the closures in April, staff remained committed and upbeat.

“Our customers still needed us here. They still had business to conduct. They still had transaction to do. So we were the essential people that needed to be out here.”

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