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Bank to get new president

Former mayor to step down from Marion’s Central National Bank

Staff writer

Central National Bank president Todd Heitschmidt will step down from his duties at the end of the month.

Heitschmidt said he’s going to retire from the banking field completely and move back to his family farm at Hollyrood.

“My son, Tim Garth, is in the area,” Heitschmidt said. “We already have some cattle in the area and Tim runs a seed and chemical company.”

Heitschmidt, who came to the Marion branch as president, has been at Marion more than 15 years. During that time he’s seen the recession of 2008, agricultural recessions, strong economies, and a recession driven by a COVID-19 pandemic.

He served six years as mayor, being elected in 2014, and stepped down in 2020.

Heitschmidt said when he moved to Marion, the pool was being built as a partnership effort between the school district and the city.

One thing he’s been impressed with is the community’s commitment to the school’s extracurricular activities.

He said he’s proud of improvements to Central Park made during his tenure as mayor, such as adding a stage and restrooms to Central Park.

He’s also proud of having helped move the community food bank out of a single room in Valley Methodist Church and into its current location on E. Main St.

“Now look where we are and what we will have,” Heitschmidt said.

The food bank is moving to the corner of Cedar and Main, where it will open a larger facility featuring drive-through service.

He’s proud of the downtown streetscape project that gave a facelift to Marion’s beautiful downtown, he said.

One memory he’s not so fond of is the city’s skirmish with Lincolnville feedlot owner Mike Beneke, who bought a building that formerly housed an implement dealership and converted it to business space.

When Beneke added a silage pile on the property, a three-month feud began.

The city made a zoning complaint, which was dismissed and replaced with a notice that the silage was a health issue because of odor and drainage that would be released as it fermented.

The dispute then moved to the streets, with Beneke parking semis and farm equipment downtown and his six-door limousine on 3rd St. across from Central National Bank with the words, “Up yours, Mayor H” written in the dust on the car.

Heitschmidt gave Beneke written notices not to trespass.

Municipal judge Randall Pankratz warned Beneke that if he failed to comply with the court’s order to remove the silage, he could be fined $100 per day and ordered to serve time in jail. Pankratz then ordered Beneke to post $30,000 bond.

Beneke ran a classified ad offering to pay a reward of up to $200 to people who switched their bank accounts to a Herington bank.

Heitschmidt is proud to have been involved in the Circles program and being able to see financial difficulties from the other side through dealing with people in the program.

He’s also proud of helping establish a revolving loan for the Families and Children Together program to help people rebuild their credit after they graduated from Circles.

“It probably helped me more than I helped anybody,” Heitschmidt said.

Helping others is “really what life is about,” he said.

Sara Girard, president of the Central National Bank corporation, said the bank is sorry to see Heitschmidt go.

The plan is to bring a new branch president aboard as soon as possible, she said. Interviews for Heitschmidt’s replacement are being conducted and she hopes the position will be filled before long.

The corporation will need to find someone willing to relocate to Marion.

“When my grandfather started expanding into other markets, Marion was one of the first places we went,” Girard said. “In some communities, it’s more difficult to fill those positions.”

Heitschmidt’s replacement will have the title “president,” but will work primarily in the lending department, Girard said.

Last modified March 24, 2021

 

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