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New bank, old name
Home Federal seeking charter in S. Hall
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OAKWOOD — An application has been filed for the first new thrift institution in Hall County in half a century.

The new entity would be known as Home Federal Bank, which is the same name of a previous savings and loan association dating back to 1957. The new Home Federal’s applications are currently pending with the Office of Thrift Supervision and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

While the previous Home Federal and the newly proposed thrift are unrelated, the return of the old name was good news for James Mathis Sr., former president of Home Federal Savings & Loan.

"I think that’s just great," said Mathis, who was known for his festive promotional activities, such as serving cherry pie on George Washington’s birthday.

"We believe a thrift will serve a segment of the community that is not currently being adequately served," said Clyde McArthur, who is president and chief executive of the organizing group seeking the charter for Home Federal.

McArthur said that the new bank would focus on serving consumers with loans and residential mortgage products.

"We will also serve the business community, but that’s a smaller part of our business plan," he said.

The organizers are hopeful that the potential opening of the bank, in mid-2008, will come as the economy begins a rebound.

"Right now, there are some problems in the economy," McArthur said. "The down side started sometime back and we don’t know if the bottom has been hit. Hopefully by mid-summer next year, the economy will be on the upswing. We may miss it a little bit, but hopefully, not by much."

The new bank would open in the former Georgia Natural Gas location on Mundy Mill Road in Oakwood, which is the center of the proposed firm’s market.

"There’s no question that the South Hall market has had growth in households and deposits and we believe there is room for another banking institution," McArthur said.

Randall Crow, who is co-owner of Starboard Boat Sales in Buford, is serving as chairman of the board. Crow said his frustration with big banks was a motivating factor in his decision to become involved with Home Federal.

"I see issues with banks," Crow said. "I do business with a bank that I can’t call and get in touch with what is supposed to be my personal banker. Sometimes, even though I may have $1 million in their bank, my employees can’t cash their payroll checks without encountering a $5 fee."

Crow, a Hall County native, wants to see some of the customer service of the old Home Federal at the new bank.

The organizers hope to raise $15 million in capital through a stock sale, which would begin sometime in January, pending regulatory approval. The new bank would open with 15 employees and would serve a primary market of Oakwood, Gainesville and Flowery Branch.

The organizers have plans for constructing a permanent main office on the southwest corner of Mundy Mill and McEver roads.