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Two more Soderbergs join bank's board

A Soderberg family member has helped guide First National Community Bank in New Richmond for some 90 years.

Last week, a new generation of Soderbergs stepped in to be involved in the operation of the local financial institution, which has been part of the community since 1919.

Libby Soderberg and Scott Soderberg, children of current chairman of the board at the bank, John Soderberg, joined the Board of Directors Jan. 16 and attended their first meeting as voting members.

According to John Soderberg, who has been with the bank since 1964, he'd hoped all along that his kids would eventually become more involved in the banking operation.

"The time has come for them to get involved," John said. "I have no plans to retire, but we want the bank to stay in the family. It's a great relief to me to have them on board because I'm not getting any younger."

John's father, Henning Soderberg, was with the local bank from 1923 to 1987. In 1976, John formed a holding company to take over ownership of the community bank. He bought out the members of the board of directors at that time.

Through the years, John said, the fact that First National has remained a strong, independent bank has been a positive thing for the community.

"It's been a great thing for New Richmond," he said. "The decisions are all made locally, and that's pretty unusual now in the banking business."

Libby and Scott began interacting with the board of directors about six months ago to start getting their feet wet in anticipation of them joining the board.

"Now, they'll be the big decision-makers along with the board," John explained. "Eventually, the rest of my stock will be going to them (Scott and Libby). But I refuse to roll over and play dead for a while."

John will celebrate 50 years at First National on June 2, 2014. He said he expects to continue to play a role in the community's future growth for years to come

And, he vowed, he'll be standing on the new St. Croix River crossing when that span is finally completed in several years. John has been an integral part of the lobbying effort for the bridge for years.

"Once the bridge is done, New Richmond is going to really blossom," he said. "It's a very bright future for New Richmond, the bank and the whole area."

John has also played a major role in economic development efforts for decades. He expects business growth to pick up in the next few years and the bank is now poised to be part of that surge in activity.

As the region grows, John said he expects First National Community Bank to open new branches across western Wisconsin. Besides its New Richmond location, First National has branch offices in Hudson and Somerset.

Both Libby and Scott Soderberg come to their new roles with extensive legal experience.

Scott is a 1980 New Richmond High School graduate and a 1984 graduate of Hamline University with a degree in business administration. He received his law degree from the William Mitchell College of Law in 1988 and went to work for a large Minneapolis law firm for nine years. He's been part of a two-person Twin Cities law firm for the past 15 years.

Scott and his wife, Cathy, have two sons - Grant, 20, and Derek, 19. They live in Eden Prairie, Minn.

Libby is a 1985 graduate of Drummond High School in Drummond, Wis. She finished her degree in political science at Hamline University in 1989 and also worked on her law degree at William Mitchell, graduating in 1995.

She, too, went to work at a large Minneapolis law firm before taking a job at Optum, with UnitedHealth Group, seven years ago.

She and her husband, Andy Chollar, have two children - Sam, 11, and Sarah, 8. They live in Minnetonka, Minn.

"We need their expertise as far as legal issues are concerned," John said of the skills his children bring to the board of directors.

Now the brother and sister are getting a crash course in the banking business.

"There's a lot to learn," Libby said. "But everybody has been very helpful in teaching us the business."

"We're very excited about the opportunity," Scott added, "and pleased that he (their father) has placed his confidence in us to help direct the bank, which has done so much for this community."

Libby and Scott said they look forward to becoming more involved in the community and expect to get to know local residents a bit better in the coming years.

John said he's confident that the Soderbergs will remain a big part of the local bank for decades to come, noting that several of his grandchildren may also get involved in the operation later on.

"They're bright kids," he said.