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What’s the best way for a community bank to celebrate its 150th anniversary? For Jonestown Bank & Trust, it’s with a Community Fun Day.

The free event will be held 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. May 20 at Union Canal Tunnel Park, 25th Street and Union Canal Drive, Lebanon.

The day will feature a petting zoo, bounce house and bounce slide, face painters, balloon artists, free carnival games for both kids and adults and scavenger hunts — one hunt for kids 12 and under and a hunt for kids and adults age 13 and over. Food trucks will be onsite. Froggy Valley 100.1 will do a live remote with giveaways until 1 p.m. Lancaster Barnstormers Mascot Cylo will be onsite from 11 a.m. to noon and 1 to 2 p.m. Vouchers for free tickets to the game of your choice during the 2nd annual Lebanon Weekend at Clipper Magazine Stadium (June 2-4) when the Barnstormers will once again take the field as the Lebanon Ironmasters will be available at the JBT information tent while supplies last

For $1 per throw, guests can try their hand at sending one of the dunk tank celebrities into the water. Celebrities include state Senator Chris Gebhard, 2022-23 Lebanon County Dairy Princess Evelyn Troutman, and WWE alumnus Jesus “Ricardo” Rodriguez. Funds raised through the dunk tank will be used to support the Union Canal.

The bank’s anniversary celebration is part of the Lebanon County Historical Association’s 33rd annual Union Canal Days, a two-day event being held May 20 and 21. It also features craft vendors, live entertainment and narrated canal tours.

“Partnering with JBT to host their 150th celebration at the Union Canal Tunnel Park during the 33rd Union Canal Days is a great opportunity to increase visibility of the park and entice people to come to the event and perhaps they will realize the true gem the Union Canal Tunnel Park truly is,” said Suzanne Fry, Union Canal Days vendor coordinator.

She said the approximate 110-acre Union Canal Tunnel Park includes the Union Canal Tunnel, which is the oldest existing transportation tunnel in the United States. The park also has 18 well-kept walking trails.

“The 196-year-old Union Canal Tunnel and JBT have both been around a long time serving the needs of the public. We at the Union Canal Tunnel Park and the Lebanon County Historical Society hope the public coming to Union Canal Days and JBT’s celebration will not only appreciate the park but also help make sure it’s around another 196 years,” Fry said.

JBT president and CEO Troy Peters – who will also be taking a shift in the dunk tank – stressed that the bank will only be partnering with the historical association on May 20.

“As a community bank, we’re dependent on the community to be strong, so it makes sense to celebrate this milestone with the community. May 20 is the exact date of our founding,” Peters said, “We wanted to celebrate the date, and it made sense to be part of an event that’s already part of the community. The space at Union Canal Park is large enough for a big gathering, and it’s nearly in the center of the area we serve.”

JBT also has another connection to the Union Canal Tunnel Park. Ed Martel, JBT chief operating officer, is one of the volunteers that narrate Union Canal Tunnel boat rides sharing the history of the tunnel and the canal itself.

“Jonestown Bank & Trust is heavily embedded in the community, not only in their branches but also in the volunteerism of their staff. As a community bank, their funding and lending are local – making their investment in the financial health of the region a vital part of their mission,” said Karen Groh, president and CEO of the Lebanon Valley Chamber of Commerce.

JBT grew from a single location in Jonestown to 12 branches located throughout Lebanon, Lancaster, Dauphin (Grantville) and Berks counties (Robesonia).

Peters said at one time over 20 community banks were headquartered in Lebanon County; now JBT is one of the few left.

“One thing about being around for 150 years is the fact that no matter what the headline is, we’ve lived through it. There have been multiple wars, housing bubbles, periods of inflation, recessions and pandemics, so we try to take a longer term view,” he said. “Celebrating the past is important, but we also have a strong desire to remain relevant.”

Jonestown Bank & Trust’s logo was adapted for the bank’s 150th anniversary by Bachleda Studio, Schaefferstown.

He said some things have stayed the same such as JBT’s commitment to clients and to the communities it serves, but some things have changed.

“We still use cash but now we can move funds on our phones. I started my career in banking as a teller at another community bank, and at that time no one asked me how to move funds between accounts on their iPhone; they would hand me a piece of paper to do the transaction.”

JBT has seen technology changes including the introduction of ATMs, which Peters said some people believed at the time would replace banks; the manner in which checks are processed as well as mobile banking.

“Even though all the technology is in place, (for us) it still comes down to people having a banker they discuss their banking needs with and that carries over to our interactions with small businesses as well,” he said.

A relatively new segment of JBT’s business involves providing business services to the cannabis industry – medical marijuana and industrial hemp and CBD. JBT has three team members dedicated to serve the cannabis industry; two of the team members hold the Certified Cannabis Banking Professional (CCBP) designation, and one member holds the Accredited Cannabis Banking Professional (ACBP) designation.

According to JBT’s website, these certifications are the only ones of their kind in the banking industry and those who earn CCBP and ACBP certifications are recognized for their exceptional expertise and their commitment to supporting cannabis-related businesses.

Peters said this segment grew out of a discussion with a client who was considering entering the cannabis industry. He explained that cannabis for medical and adult use remains a schedule 1 drug in the eyes of the federal government, which makes it illegal. However many states, including Pennsylvania, have some form of legalized cannabis. This creates a conflict between federal and state law.

Prior to establishing its cannabis-related business segment, JBT carefully examined the issue.

“JBT is a state-chartered bank, with our primary regulator being the FDIC, but we also examined the state Department of Banking & Securities and the Federal Reserve Bank. A major concern for most banks is that engaging in the cannabis-related business will jeopardize their bank charter by their federal regulator,” Peters said.

“FinCEN (Federal Crimes Enforcement Network) issued guidance for financial institutions on banking marijuana-related businesses in February of 2014 in conjunction with the now rescinded Cole Memorandum. It outlined Band Secrecy Act expectations if the financial institution chooses to service the industry. We based much of our program on these two pieces. Much of the compliance work to banking cannabis-related businesses is related to Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) regulations. All banks follow these regulations. We at JBT have helped the state of Pennsylvania craft legislation, which was passed in 2022, that helps to protect banks in the state, but the federal risk is viewed as much more of a threat.”

Looking ahead, Peters said JBT will continue to roll out products and services for commercial and business banking clients to help businesses manage their cash flow. “One of the key services in both business and personal banking today is preventing fraud. We have solutions we can put in place to help prevent fraud; customers can sign up to get text alerts when their debit or credit cards are used,” he said.

For more information about JBT’s 150th anniversary celebration and banking services, visit www.jbt.bank.

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Rochelle Shenk

Rochelle A. Shenk is a writer with over two decades experience. Her work appears in regional business publications and lifestyle magazines as well as area newspapers. She writes about business and municipal sectors as well as arts and entertainment, human interest features, and travel and tourism. Rochelle...