Commitment to the Community: WSB celebrates 125 years


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Watertown Savings Bank president given Founders Award by DPAO

JUSTIN SORENSEN n WATERTOWN DAILY TIMES The Disabled Persons Action Organization members left Pauline A. Donato, Joseph L. Rich, and Elva LaComb, right, present Watertown Savings Bank president and CEO Mark R. Lavarnway with the innaugural Founders Award Tuesday at the DPAO.

The Disabled Persons Action Organization members left Pauline A. Donato, Joseph L. Rich, and Elva LaComb, right, present Watertown Savings Bank president and CEO Mark R. Lavarnway with the inaugural Founders Award Tuesday at the DPAO.


Dozens came out to the Disabled Persons Action Organization to remember the organization’s decades of work, and remember those who made it possible.

On Tuesday morning President of Watertown Savings Bank Mark R. Lavarnway was presented with the first ever “Founders Award” by DPAO.

The now-retired founder and executive director Joseph L. Rich, presented Mr. Lavarnway with a plaque honoring him for his support and fundraising over the years. According to Mr. Rich, Mr. Lavarnway and Watertown Savings Bank have given over $100,000 to the organization in the last five years.

“This award is for your untiring dedication and support,” Mr. Rich said. “We could not have done it without (you.)”

The DPAO is a nonprofit organization that works with developmentally disabled children and adults in Jefferson and Lewis counties to provide specialized assistance and services. It was started in 1976, several years after Ronald P. Donato was shot in a hunting accident and left paralyzed and unable to breathe on his own. A community benefit concert was held with the help of Mr. Rich to raise money for the Donato family. DPAO was born out of those efforts and the desires of other families to be able to care for their loved ones in their homes rather than send them away.

Mr. Donato died in 2002 at the age of 41, but his mother, Pauline A. Donato, helped present Mr. Lavarnway with the award.

“It’s a great honor to be recognized by you when I look at your founders and the impact they’ve had,” Mr. Lavarnway said.

Longtime friend of the organization Mel Busler, who opened the ceremony, also closed by addressing the many disabled members of the crowd.

“The DPAO loves you and we know you love DPAO. It’s because of you that we do this. Thank you all,” the TV-7 sports editor said.

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WSB goes mobile

Scott M. Pooler, chief information officer and vice president of Watertown Savings Bank, displays the bank’s new smartphone app, which allows customers to deposit checks by phone, as well as view account balances and complete other banking transactions. Justin Sorensen/ NNY Business

Smartphone app enables check deposits by phone [Read more…]

Credit unions could get lending boost from proposed law

Small businesses that can’t get loans at cash-crunched community banks might soon have a good reason to do their shopping at credit unions.

If a federal law is approved this month, it will empower credit unions to lend more than double what they can now. By law, the amount of lending credit unions are allowed to make is locked at 12.5 percent of their total assets. If the proposed Small Business Lending Enhancement Act is approved, that limit would be increased to 27.5 percent.

Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand, D-N.Y., is among a large bipartisan contingent supporting the bill, which is set to be voted on in both houses this month. During a conference call Tuesday, Mrs. Gillibrand outlined how credit unions are set to play a critical role for small businesses in this state at a time when community banks still are hobbled by the recession. Statewide, passage of the bill could boost lending for credit unions by about $1 billion and create more than 11,000 jobs, according to the Credit Union National Association. The north country’s 20 credit unions, which have some 140,000 members, could stand to increase lending by more than $2 million. [Read more…]

Banks deploy consumer-driven tech: North country banks, credit unions offer plenty for on-the-go access

SeaComm Federal Credit Union Branch Manager Ryan J. McConnell holds a debit card in front of an instant issue debit card machine on at the Main Office located at 30 Stearns St. in Massena. Customers are able to walk into the bank and leave with a working debit card if their card is lost or stolen, rather than waiting for it to be ordered. Photo by Jason Hunter.

For many consumers, Internet banking via a laptop or iPad is the norm. But for those that still hold a leather savings account book and write checks regularly, online banking is a completely different world – and one that is evolving quickly. For Scott Wilson, president and CEO of SeaComm Federal Credit Union in Massena, having the most up to date technological advances is of utmost importance.

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