by Cori Hilsgen – firstname.lastname@example.org
Liberty Savings Bank is celebrating the grand opening of its Sartell location in a unique way.
Instead of a grand-opening event, a $1,000 Grand Opening Grant will be awarded to a deserving Sartell community organization for each month in 2013.
President and chief executive officer Mark Bragelman said the first $1,000 will be donated to the Sartell Volunteer Firefighters for the month of January.
The Sartell bank, which opened Dec. 1, is the sixth branch opened by Liberty. Other locations include branches in downtown St. Cloud, south St. Cloud, Westwood St. Cloud, Waite Park and Monticello.
Bragelman said Liberty is the oldest bank charter in St. Cloud. It was founded in 1939 in the downtown location as Liberty Loan and shared space with the Jack Frost Hatchery.
Bragelman said the contributions and donations made to the community are what make Liberty stand out. He said two past owners of the bank are still involved in donating to the community and have been big supporters of the Paramount Theater, St. Cloud State University and many organizations. Many central Minnesota associations, charities and community festivals have benefited from the “hands-on” involvement of Liberty employees.
This is also the 25th anniversary of the annual Liberty Block party. Bragelman said during the past 25 years more than $1 million has been donated and more than 100,000 people have participated in the event.
When planning the grand opening of the Sartell location, Liberty management decided the money that would have been spent on a grand opening should instead be donated to the community. That reflects the importance of showing an appreciation for the community that Liberty employees serve, Bragelman said.
The Sartell branch is located on the corner of Pinecone Road and 2nd Street S.
Bragelman said Sartell City Administrator Patti Gartland and her administrative team have been very helpful.
“Whenever we ask them for anything such as parking and sign information or other issues, they have gone out of their way to help,” he said. “It’s been just a real positive experience.”
Gartland said Sartell is excited to welcome Liberty.
“Not only is their reputation within the financial community of the highest caliber, but they are certainly at the front of the line for leading and demonstrating a corporate culture that truly embraces service to community and supporting the overall well-being of the communities they are located in,” Gartland said.
Sartell Mayor Joe Perske said it is always encouraging to see the expansion of local businesses around the area and that all are pleased to see Liberty coming to Sartell.
“Mark Bragelman and Liberty Savings Bank has been a leader in being active in the community beyond the front door of their facilities,” Perske said. “They truly understand the importance of the community involvement and stepping forward in partnership.”
The Sartell Liberty bank sign will list local organizational announcements. Liberty will also sponsor the first Friday evening of Sartell’s annual SummerFest event. It will be a family-oriented activity held outside on the Bernick’s Arena grounds. The event will offer many fun activities for children.
The Sartell bank has six employees, the majority of whom are Sartell residents.
“The enthusiasm they have for the city of Sartell is phenomenal,” Bragelman said.
Bragelman, 56, has worked at Liberty more than 38 years. He was recently appointed to a three-year term on the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis’ Community Depository Institutions Advisory Council for the ninth district. That panel of 11 members was created as a result of the Dodd-Frank Act, which requires each Federal Reserve Bank to create an advisory board.
The Minneapolis district includes six states in the upper Midwest, including Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and certain parts of Wisconsin and Michigan. The council acts as an advisory to the Minneapolis Bank and the Board of Governors in Washington, D.C.
Council members are from institutions with assets totaling less than $10 billion.
Bragelman has previously served on advisory boards, locally and nationally, including the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp., the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency and many other local organizations.
Hilsgen is a contributing reporter for the Newsleaders. The central Minnesota native is a wife, mother and grandmother. She has a Bachelor's degree in Organizational Management and Communication from Concordia University – St. Paul, MN and enjoys learning about and sharing other people's stories through the pages of the Newsleaders.