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New South Hall branch to open with team of rival banks staffers
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A Gainesville bank took advantage of a merger to hire a number of staff members of an Oakwood bank and plans to open a branch in South Hall.

First Century Bank, which has its corporate offices on Dorsey Street in Gainesville, said it will open a branch in about a month in the Merchant’s Crossing Shopping Center on Mundy Mill Road.

Chris England, the former president of Southern Heritage Bank, will lead FCB’s South Hall Division as the new president.

Southern Heritage, a division of Gainesville Bank & Trust, will become a branch of SunTrust, which merged with GB&T Bancshares this week.

Joining England are other former Southern Heritage staff members including Greg Merritt, senior vice president; Benny Fields, senior vice president; and Thomas Kimsey, vice president, all of whom are members of the bank’s lending team.

Phyllis Bryson will serve as First Century’s South Hall branch manager, Lisa McNeal is assistant branch manager and Keena Queen will be a customer service representative.

The bank also announced changes in Gainesville, as well.

Doug Patterson has been named senior vice president and head of the Gainesville commercial division. Previously with Regions Bank, Patterson has more than 16 years of experience in banking. He is active in the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce, United Way, Kiwanis Club of Gainesville, Challenged Child and Friends and Boy Scouts.

"I am pleased to be a part of First Century Bank, a bank completely focused on Hall County businesses," Patterson said.

The bank also announced new members of its board of directors.

J. Allen Nivens, R.K. Whitehead, William Bagwell and Chris England will serve as directors of First Century.

Nivens is a commercial real estate broker with the Norton Agency. He serves on the boards of numerous civic groups, including the John Jarrard Foundation, which he chairs. He also serves on the executive board of the Gainesville State College Fund and serves on the finance committees of both the Chattahoochee Country Club and the United Way.

Whitehead, president of Whitehead Die Casting Co., is the incoming chairman of the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce. He also serves on boards for the Quinlan Visual Arts Center, North House, Elachee Nature Science Center and the Northeast Georgia Health System where he is chairman of the finance committee.

Bagwell, a fourth-generation Hall County resident, is employed by Homestead Investments. A former economic development director for the Greater Hall Chamber, he remains active in local economic development. He is a member of the Gainesville and Hall County Development Authority, Gainesville and Hall County Economic Council and the Gainesville Art Council board of directors.

England, the new South Hall division president, has also been named to the FCB board. He is a lifelong resident of South Hall and is involved with a number of organizations in Gainesville and Hall County. He is an active member of the local Home Builders Association.

On Thursday , a new local bank moved one step closer to opening. Officers of the proposed Chattahoochee Bank of Georgia held a ceremonial ground breaking on their main office on E.E. Butler Parkway.

James A. "Jim" Walters, chairman of the bank in organization, said he believes regulatory approval is forthcoming and will allow the bank to begin the sale of stock.

Walters said the bank will open this summer in Townview Plaza and will move into the two story main office in the fall.

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