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MEEKER I Since a branch of Mountain Valley Bank opened in Meeker in 2004, Bruce Clatterbaugh has been the face of the bank.
That is changing.
Clatterbaugh, who has been the bank’s branch president, announced his retirement, effective July 31. Tawny Halandras will become the new face of the bank Aug. 1. She had been vice president.
“I’m excited about it, but it comes with a lot of responsibility, but it’s the next step for me,” Halandras said. “It’s a great opportunity, and I’m flattered I would have this opportunity.”
Clatterbaugh, 58, has been in the banking business for 35 years, 25 of those in Meeker. He previously worked at First National Bank of the Rockies, before moving to Mountain Valley Bank.
“This is something we’ve discussed for a while,” Clatterbaugh said. “I’ve been in banking for a long time. I’m ready to stay home and do something different. We have a ranch operation, and that’s a full-time job.
“I’m excited (about the change),” Clatterbaugh said. “It’s something I have hoped to be able to do, to be able to stay home and do our ranch thing, while I’m still healthy enough to be able to do it.”
Clatterbaugh will stay on with the bank through the end of the year.
“To assist with the transition,” he said. “But Tawny will have full responsibility and authority. I will step out of an active daily role as far as the bank is concerned. Lending, etc., will be the responsibility of the staff here at the bank.”
Clatterbaugh isn’t leaving the bank entirely. He will stay on as a member of the board of directors.
The bank is in a solid financial position, Clatterbaugh said.
“The bank is fine,” Clatterbaugh said. “We’re a $150 million bank, within those four offices. The bank is sound. It’s profitable, as best as it can be in these times. It continues to move forward, and we have every anticipation that it will continue.”
Meeker is one of four Mountain Valley Bank branches. The other three are in Hayden, Steamboat Springs and Walden.
Clatterbaugh and Halandras have worked together for years. In fact, Clatterbaugh hired Halandras when he was working at FNBR.
“He hired me straight out of college, basically,” Halandras said. “It seems like just yesterday. I can remember it perfectly.”
“She was born the year I started banking,” Clatterbaugh said, jokingly.
The first time Halandras met Clatterbaugh was when she and her husband, John — he was her boyfriend at the time — went to the bank to ask for a loan. Clatterbaugh approved the request.
“I was still a poor college kid then,” Tawny Halandras said. “So it was John’s creditworthiness.”
Halandras said no major changes are planned with Clatterbaugh’s retirement.
“From the bank’s standpoint, it will be business as usual,” Halandras said. “The experience, the expertise, they’re still here. It’s a major change at the helm, but from the customer, community standpoint, we won’t be any different. I share those same philosophies (as Clatterbaugh). The bank shares those same philosophies.”
“The bank will continue to function as it has,” Clatterbaugh said. “We’re extremely proud of our chamber award this year, and we want to continue to live up to that image.”
In February, MVB was named the large business of the year by the Meeker Chamber of Commerce.
Clatterbaugh said Halandras will be a good fit as his replacement.
“She has experience in all facets of banking,” Clatterbaugh said. “She’s extremely knowledgeable. She has local roots to Meeker, both with her family and John’s. She has a passion for the community. That’s very important to our bank.”
The bank will look for another lender, to take Halandras’ position.
“We are actively looking for a supporting lender for Tawny,” Clatterbaugh said.
Mountain Valley Bank is one of two banks in the county. The other bank in the county, FNBR, has branches in both Meeker and Rangely.
“(Meeker) has been a two-bank town, off and on, clear back to the bank robbery (in 1896),” Clatterbaugh said. “You can say what you want about Rio Blanco County, but it is a wealthy county, both from the private and public sector.”
While Halandras is excited about her new role, following Clatterbaugh will be a challenge, she said.
“He has a calm about him,” Halandras said. “A lot of people just don’t come in to talk to Bruce about a loan, but to bounce things off of him. Bruce is a listener. It’s incredible to work for someone like that. Those are some hard footsteps to follow in.”