Area bank shifts executives

PJ Wharton takes over as new Yampa Valley president

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— Yampa Valley Bank will have a new top official as of Jan. 1.

Executive Vice President PJ Wharton will become president and chief executive officer, and President John Kerst will become director of business development, the bank reported Wednesday. The changes are part of a planned transition, the leaders said.

The bank has branches in Steamboat Springs and Craig. The branches were known as First National Bank of Steamboat Springs and Moffat County National Bank until this past summer. Yampa Valley Bank is owned by shareholders across the valley.

Kerst said he would focus more on bringing in customers in his new role.

"We're out there trying to attract people, as every business in town is, every bank," Kerst said.

He has been in banking for more than 40 years, spending 25 as a bank president and about eight in the lead role of what now is Yampa Valley Bank. His new full-time role gives him more time to travel and be with his wife, Patty, a news release stated.

Wharton joined the bank in 2004 as a senior lender after serving as president at a Wells Fargo Bank in Gunnison. He said he has enjoyed learning from Kerst and Board Chairman Tim Borden.

"To have those two as mentors and, frankly, bosses, I've had five years to learn about the Steamboat market and especially banking," Wharton said.

Kerst stressed that he was not going anywhere, and he and Wharton said they would remain involved in the Steamboat community. The bank encourages its employees to volunteer for causes about which they're passionate, the bank leaders said.

Borden acknowledged that economic times were difficult and stressed that Yampa Valley Bank would work with struggling clients.

"We're just the little guys doing conventional banking," as opposed to those tied up in the subprime mortgage crisis, he said. "We need to be there for our customers. We'll clearly be compromising and modifying our relationships because this is our market. This is not the time to start redlining in Routt and Moffat County."

Kerst and Wharton said they would be hitting the streets, aiming to attract business and individual clients.

"The community side of this business is in essence business development," Kerst said. "It's helping the community."

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