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Benchmark Community Bank

Brunswick Academy students awarded Benchmark Community Bank $mart$tart Scholarship

Recent Brunswick Academy graduates are shown receiving $1,000 $mart$tart Community Commitment Scholarships from Benchmark Community Bank.  Lawrenceville’s AVP/Branch Manager Nicole Young presents Hannah Waller (below right); Emporia’s VP/Senior Business Banker Jim Saunders presents Jonathan Paul (above); and VP/Area Manager Holly Blackwell of South Hill presents Lucy Smith (below left).

Kenbridge, VA – Three recent Brunswick Academy graduates were recently announced as recipients of $1,000 scholarships from Benchmark Community Bank. Hannah Waller of Brunswick County, Jonathan Paul of Greensville County, and Lucy Smith of Mecklenburg County were three of eleven recipients selected from a pool of over 75 applicants for the bank’s $mart$tart Community Commitment Scholarship named for Benchmark’s teen savings and money management program.

The awards were presented during Brunswick Academy’s senior awards program. The annual $mart$tart Community Commitment Scholarship recognizes dedication to community and extracurricular service throughout a student’s high school career. Waller (Medicine) and Paul (Chemical Engineering) plan to attend the University of Virginia. Smith plans to major in Nursing at Radford University.


“All of these students distinguished themselves through service with several community organizations, as well as involvement and leadership in multiple extracurricular organizations while at Brunswick Academy,” Benchmark President/CEO Jay A. Stafford said of the recipients. “We need young people like these to further their educations and return to Southside Virginia to contribute their skills and talents for the future of our region. It is Benchmark’s privilege to help these students succeed.”

“The goal for our $mart$tart savings and money management program is to help teens build the solid skills that will put them on the road to greater financial security,” explained Executive Vice President for Retail Banking LeAnne Emert. “Soon after the program launched, we began hearing great stories about some of our $mart$tart customers and other young people in our area who were contributing time, skills, and experiences to improve the quality of life in their schools and communities. We believe those contributions should be rewarded and cultivated to benefit our hometowns.”

Benchmark Community Bank, founded in 1971, is head­quartered in Kenbridge, VA, and operates sixteen branches throughout Southside Virginia and northern North Carolina. For the thirteenth consecutive year, American Banker magazine has named Benchmark as one of the Top 200 Community Banks out of over 5,000 community banks in the nation. To learn more about Benchmark, Member FDIC and Equal Housing Lender, please visit or stop by our area branches located at 220 W. 5th Avenue, Lawrenceville; 316 W. Atlantic Street, Emporia; or 905 N. Mecklenburg Avenue, South Hill.

Angel Tree at Benchmark Community Bank Helps Our Neighbors

Benchmark Community Bank is sponsoring a 2018 Angel Tree to benefit an Emporia family that recently lost everything they had. Each angel represents items needed by different members of the family. Branch Manager Gloria Robinson, pictured, invites the community to include this family as you give to a neighbor in need. To participate, stop by the branch located at 216 W. Atlantic Street in the Goodwill Shopping Center.

Hours are 9-5 Monday-Thursday and 9-5:30 Fridays. Donations will be accepted through Friday, December 14th. To learn more about the Angel Tree project, stop by the Emporia branch or call 434-829-2877

Benchmark Bankshares, Inc. Announces Quarterly and Year-to-Date Earnings

KENBRIDGE, VA, October 23, 2018 - Benchmark Bankshares, Inc. (BMBN), the Kenbridge-based hold­ing company for Benchmark Community Bank, announced earnings of $2,243,140, or $0.44 per share, for the third quarter of 2018.  This compares to $1,979,037, or $0.38 per share, for the third quarter of 2017. Net income through the first nine months of the year amounted to $6,505,576, or $1.27 per share, up from the $5,432,293, or $1.05 per share, reported through the first nine months of 2017.

Return on average equity of 12.46% and return on average assets of 1.43% year-to-date increased from 10.93% and 1.28%, respectively, reported for the first nine months of last year. Both ratios remain strong and are very competitive within the banking industry.  

Loan demand remains strong, as evidenced by the $63.6 million growth in loans over the past twelve months. A total of $43.3 million of this increase has occurred since December 31, 2017.  The bank’s yield on loans increased from 5.30% to 5.40% through the first nine months of the year as the Federal Reserve continues to increase the prime interest rate. Higher rates, combined with the increase in loan volume, drove the bank’s interest and fee income up by $2.2 million through the first nine months of the year.   

Total deposits of $545.3 million have increased by $21.5 million year-to-date and are up $53.3 million from one year ago. As with loans, interest rates are beginning to increase. The current 0.43% cost of deposits is up from 0.38% last September, increasing year-to-date AAQAinterest expense from $1.4 million to $1.7 million through the first nine months of the year. Overall, the bank’s net interest margin has increased from 4.56% to 4.71% when comparing the first nine months of 2018 to the same period last year. 

The bank currently holds $2.8 million in foreclosed property, having written down $748 thousand year-to-date to adjust the market value of properties the bank has owned for several years. Last year, the bank wrote down $191 thousand during the first nine months of the year. In addition, the bank has incurred a loss of $209 thousand year-to-date from the sale of foreclosed property, down from a gain of $12 thousand through the first nine months last year.

Net charge-offs for the first nine months of the year amounted to $309 thousand, down slightly from $325 thousand charged off in the first nine months of 2017. Despite the increase in charge offs and an increase in write downs of foreclosed property, overall asset quality remains very strong. During the first nine months of the year, a total of $706 thousand has been provisioned to loan loss reserve, compared to $502 thousand provisioned during the first nine months of 2017.  The current loan loss reserve of $5.2 million represents 0.98% of total loans.   

The common stock of Benchmark Bankshares, Inc. trades on the OTC Pink marketplace under the symbol BMBN. Any stockbroker can assist with purchases of the company's stock, as well as with sales of holdings.


Benchmark Community Bank, founded in 1971, is head­quartered in Kenbridge, VA. It is the company's sole subsidiary which oper­ates fifteen banking offices through­out central Southside Vir­ginia and northern North Carolina. Additional information is available at the company’s website,

Benchmark Community Bank: bringing customer-focused banking to Emporia-Greensville County

Benchmark Community Bank has come to Emporia. The Kenbridge-based institution opened its doors in the Goodwill shopping center on September 4th and is celebrating its Grand Opening from September 28th – October 5th.

Celebrating its 47th year in business, Benchmark got its start in 1971 when a group of Lunenburg County residents and business people joined forces to introduce a new community banking model in their home county. President/CEO Jay Stafford recalls the local dynamic that drove Benchmark’s business model.

“Lunenburg County was, and still is, populated by farms and small businesses,” Stafford recalled. “They’re all trying to balance growing seasons and the ebbs and flows of business with the financial needs of both their businesses and families. Many of them felt they were having to sell their souls to get a loan that would help them meet their obligations when things were tight.

“That’s why Benchmark was started – to help local people find solutions for the issues facing them every day. Benchmark’s founders listened to people they knew and trusted and created a banking model built to meet the needs. That philosophy is at the heart of who we are and what we do today.”

For Benchmark’s Emporia banking professionals, the institution’s banking philosophy is what brought them on board.

 VP/Senior Business Banker Jim Saunders works with business customers to assist them with solutions for their business needs.

“Community banks are founded to give back to the communities they serve. Benchmark is totally committed to the local community bank approach,” said Emporia native Jim Saunders, Vice President/Senior Business Banker. “In a community bank, the financial decision making is done on a local level by people who are dedicated to helping local people and their hometown economy thrive. Our roots were in finding ways to support area farmers trying to finance their agricultural businesses. We still operate that way today. I like that type of banking.”

VP/Branch Manager Gloria Robinson welcomes a new customer to Benchmark Community Bank’s new branch at 316 W. Atlantic Avenue in Emporia.

Vice President/Branch Manager Gloria Robinson agreed with Saunders. “Benchmark’s bankers are not just civic-minded, but are determined to support the communities they love, live in, and spend so much of their time serving. They approach banking with the same level of commitment.”

A longtime Emporia resident, Robinson is involved with the community as a member of Main Street United Methodist Church where she serves as Church Council Chair; the Board of Directors and member of the Annual Campaign Committee of the Family YMCA of Emporia-Greensville; and the Emporia Rotary Club.

According to both Saunders and Robinson, Benchmark’s customer-focused approach to banking was the key element that encouraged them to join the organization.

"People’s finances are personal,” said Saunders. “They want to work with a bank that appreciates their individual situations and works to help them find solutions to fit their needs. Benchmark was founded on that principle and it is a bedrock philosophy for Benchmark today.

“Our slogan is ‘With you for Life!’ We do our best to help our customers and the community we serve through the ups and downs life brings,” he continued. “I’ve never worked for a bank quite like this one.”

A member of the Emporia City Council for a total of ten years and longtime member of the Main Street United Methodist Church, Saunders was in banking early in his career before assuming the helm of Saunders Gas & Oil, Inc. until 2001. He rejoined banking as Market President for Gateway Bank & Trust and graduated in 2015 from the Virginia Bankers Association School of Bank Management at the University of Virginia. He joined Benchmark in September 2017 as Vice President/Senior Business Banker based out of the bank’s Lawrenceville branch.

Saunders is a member of Main Street United Methodist Church where he sings in the choir. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Family YMCA of Emporia-Greensville where he is also a member of the Annual Campaign committee. Additionally, he coaches youth basketball and is a member of the Emporia Rotary Club.

“When people are facing a financial crisis or trying to build their financial future, they need someone to listen to what they need and do their best to find a way to help them. Our customers are the reason we exist as a bank.”

Emporia resident and banking veteran Annie Poythress will be joining Robinson and Saunders in October. Serving as Customer Service Representative (CSR), Poythress looks forward to bringing a new style of banking to her hometown.

Emporia’s Benchmark branch will celebrate their Grand Opening weekdays September 28-October 5 with a remote radio broadcast on Friday morning, September 28th, from 11:30-1:30, and prize drawings throughout each day. The public is invited to visit the new location at 316 W. Atlantic Avenue in the Goodwill shopping center. The bank is open Monday-Thursday from 9 am to 5 pm with extended afternoon hours on Fridays until 5:30.

Including Emporia, Benchmark Community Bank has branch locations in 12 Southside Virginia communities, as well as Henderson and Wake Forest, NC. A new Youngsville, NC location is slated for opening later this year. To learn more about Benchmark, Member FDIC and Equal Housing Lender, its products and services, please visit the Emporia branch at 316 W. Atlantic Street or visit the bank’s website at

Saunders joins Benchmark Community Bank

Kenbridge, VA, October 30, 2017 –Benchmark Community Bank is pleased to announce that Jim Saunders has joined the organization as Vice President/Senior Business Banker. Based out of Benchmark’s Lawrenceville branch location, the Emporia native will be primarily working with businesses in his hometown area to assist them with banking solutions designed to meet the unique needs of their operations.

“Jim has been part of the Southside Virginia business community for over 30 years,” said Senior Vice President/Business Banker Steve Creedle. “He brings a wealth of community knowledge and involvement that is a perfect fit for Benchmark’s unique model of business banking.”

A 2015 graduate of the Virginia Banking Association School of Bank Management at the University of Virginia, Saunders most recently worked in commercial lending and business development for an area community banking institution. He began his career in banking with Pace American Bank in Lawrenceville before taking the helm of his family’s Emporia business Saunders Gas & Oil, Inc., a position he held until 2001. He re-entered banking in 2005 as Market President for Gateway Bank & Trust in Emporia until 2014.

An active member of his community, Saunders serves as an elected Emporia City Council member for which he previously served as President. He is a member of the Main Street United Methodist Church where he sings in the Adult Choir and is a member of United Methodist Men. He is the current Board Chair for the Family YMCA of Emporia-Greensville and is a member of the Community Youth Center (CYC), Ltd. in Emporia, as well as the Emporia Rotary Club. Additionally, Saunders is the boys’ junior varsity basketball coach for Brunswick Academy.

“Jim is an outstanding addition to our team,” said Benchmark President/CEO Jay Stafford in making the announcement. “His longstanding relationships throughout the Emporia area truly underscore Benchmark’s commitment to being part of the communities we serve through personal and institutional involvement, as well as our pledge to invest in the places we call home.”

Benchmark Community Bank, founded in 1971, is head­quartered in Kenbridge, VA. Along with its twelve banking offices located through­out central Southside Vir­ginia, Benchmark operates loan production offices in Wake Forest and Henderson, NC.  The Lawrenceville branch is located at 220 W. Fifth Avenue. Since 2007, Benchmark has been named one of the Top 200 Community Banks in the nation by American Banker magazine. To learn more about Benchmark, please visit www.bcbonline.comor call the Lawrenceville branch at 434-848-6552.

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