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It’s hard to believe, but we’re already in the midst of the holiday season and 2016 is within arm’s reach. Rather than lament about the passing of time, I’d rather take some time and reflect on ICBND activities this past year.

I’m happy to say that your association had a very successful 2015. The 64th North Dakota Legislative Session consumed much of our attention the first several months of the year. ICBND members fared well this past session including property and income tax relief along with ICBND-sponsored legislation changing the Good Funds Law to specifically allow funding flexibility at closing for certain real property transactions. While the state session adjourned in the spring, our advocacy work is never done enhancing the political presence, influence and reputation of independent community banking at the local, state and national levels.

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One of the many classic quotes from the late Yogi Berra was - “you can see a lot just by observing”. Well, I’ve seen it all now. Not really, but let me explain. The end of October marks my first full year serving as your association president. It’s been my pleasure. So, I’ve now pretty much experienced first-hand a full annual cycle of ICBND activities, sessions and events including the 64th Assembly of the North Dakota Legislature. I’m proud of the work we do and the trust our members place in us to provide quality and timely products, services and advocacy. There’s always room to improve and that remains our focus moving forward.

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It’s hard to believe July is nearly over. It’s been a very busy spring and summer at ICBND and it’s been my pleasure to witness firsthand some of the fabulous education and development programs that were established before my time as your association president. The Emerging Leaders summer conference in Fargo included a tremendous program with Steve Scheel delivering the keynote address along with a tour of Scheels corporate campus. The success of the Scheels organization is rooted in customer service, understanding customers’ wants and needs, teamwork, and accountability. It reminded me very much of the independent community bankers in our state. The talent, enthusiasm and camaraderie of the Emerging Leaders group is impressive and infectious. It’s not too late to get involved in Emerging Leaders for 2015 as the fall session in Riverdale on September 18 is sure to be another great event.

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The 2015 ICBA Washington Policy Summit was held the last week of April in DC, and it was my first time attending the event.  With our North Dakota contingent of 21, it was a great opportunity to network with nearly 1,000 other community bankers and industry advocates from around the country.  Congressional leaders, including Senator Richard Shelby, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, and regulatory agency heads provided informative and timely presentations as well.  As always, the ICBA did a fabulous job hosting the event and ensuring that attendees were prepared with the appropriate messaging and materials.  I felt a sense of cautious optimism during the event that maybe, just maybe, independent community bankers might get some regulatory relief in this 114th Congress.   I want to thank those of you who attended this year and I’m already looking forward to next year’s summit.  I hope you as bank members consider attending or having someone from your bank attend to once again advocate exclusively for independent community banks.

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Spring is in the air! I love this time of year because I know good things are just around the corner. Long days of warm sunshine, trees blossoming, green grass, and kids playing outside. I had a similar feeling of optimism in early March while attending the ICBA National Convention in Orlando with nearly 3,000 members of the independent community banking industry. It was a very impressive and uplifting event and North Dakota was well represented with nearly 50 bankers attending. Despite the current regulatory and policy burdens that have been unduly placed on community bankers, I could sense a passion and optimism for the future of our industry.

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