First Freedom Bank is proud to sponsor Gainesboro’s local Junior Pro Basketball team for their 2018 season. Team members are all Jackson County residents and the games are held every Saturday at Gainesboro Elementary School.
Pictured is John Roland, team coach, accepting the sponsorship check from Greg Scott, Gainesboro FSR Manager.
J.B. Owens, Director of Commercial Banking at First Freedom Bank, has been promoted to Executive Vice President, announced John Lancaster, Chairman and CEO. Owens will continue to serve as the Director of Commercial Banking, with additional responsibilities for the company’s secondary mortgage operations.
“Along with our president, John Bradshaw, and our Board of Directors, I am very pleased to announce JB’s promotion to Executive Vice President,” stated Lancaster, “He has been a great leader in our company and has contributed significantly to our success over the last 11 years. JB possesses a great work ethic, is highly intelligent and embraces opportunities to serve our communities. I am excited for him and his future as we continue to build First Freedom Bank.”
Owens started with First Freedom in 2006 as a Credit Analyst after a two-year stint with KraftCPAs where he focused on bank auditing. Owens quickly proved to be an asset to the bank and in 2007 was promoted to Assistant Vice President in the commercial lending division. In 2008, he was named Vice President and Relationship Manager. In 2010, he was promoted to First Vice President and Senior Lending Officer and assigned full management of the lending and mortgage divisions at First Freedom. With his success, Owens was promoted to Senior Vice President in 2013.
Owens stated, “In 2006, I changed career paths by leaving public accounting for an opportunity to become a community banker. I was excited about what First Freedom might become and hoped that I could grow with the bank. I am so thankful that John Lancaster, John Bradshaw, and Ken Howell took a chance on me by giving me an opportunity to join their team. It has been an absolute pleasure to be a part of the First Freedom story. Together, our employees have had a positive impact on the communities we serve while also providing a strong return to our shareholders. I am proud to have been a part of First Freedom’s history and look forward to being a part of its future.”
Owens earned both his Bachelor of Science in Accounting and his Master of Business Administration degrees from Tennessee Technological University in Cookeville. He maintains an active CPA license and is a member of the Tennessee Society of Certified Public Accountants and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. He is a graduate of the prestigious Stonier Graduate School of Banking at the University of Pennsylvania, the Southeastern School of Consumer Credit at Vanderbilt University, and the Southeastern School of Commercial Lending at Vanderbilt University.
An active member of his community, Owens has a long history of community service. He is currently the Chairman of the Board of the Lebanon/Wilson County Chamber of Commerce. He is past Chairman of United Way of Wilson County and past president of the Lebanon Kiwanis Club where he also served as a Little League commissioner for several years. In addition to his current Chairmanship of the Chamber, Owens serves on the board of the Southeastern School of Advanced Commercial Lending and the Accounting Advisory Board for Tennessee Tech University’s College of Business.
A native of Smith County, Owens resides in Lebanon with his wife, Bethany, and his daughter, Camille. They are members of Mt. Juliet Church of Christ.
FFB recognized seven employees this past quarter for exceptional job performance and exceeding their individual goals for enhancing and broadening customer relationships. Their outstanding performance earned them the prestigious honor of Chairman’s Cup Member for the quarter. Pictured above is John Lancaster, Chairman and CEO, with the Chairman Cup Team Members Kacey Nieves, Lebanon FSR, Karen Elmore, Lebanon FSR Manager, Bryan Sweet, Cookeville FSR Manager, Susan Nichols, Algood FSR Manager, Dawn Kidwell, Mt. Juliet FSR Manager, Tori Flatt, Lebanon FSR, and Katie Shaffer, Lebanon FSR.
Tori Flatt also received the MVP Award for Achieving the highest overall performance score among all FSR.
On Tuesday, November 14th, Ladell Medley, Vice President and Cookeville and Algood Office Manager, spoke at Sycamore Elementary School’s Vocational Day. Guests spoke to six classes about different careers and the importance of making good choices.
Medley’s theme was “Never Quit (School) – Sometimes you get set back but keep going forward!”
On Tuesday, November 14th, several employees from the Lebanon office attended a fundraiser for Wilson County 4-H Livestock.
The 4-H Livestock Program teaches its members about livestock selection, production, health, and animal showing.
Pictured from left to right is Katie Shaffer, Lebanon FSR, Nathan Sams, Natalie Shaffer, Kelly Ferrell, Lebanon Senior Personal Banker and Team Leader, and Kitty Cluck, Lebanon Personal Banker. Also in attendance but not shown were Maliea Oakley, Senior VP and Director of Human Resources, Karen Elmore, Lebanon FSR Manager, and Jenny Etheridge, Lebanon FSR.
First Freedom Bank organized a food drive in November in order to give back to the community for the holiday season. There was 829 pounds of food collected and donated to local organizations.
Pictured is staff with their decorated food collection boxes.
Maliea Oakley, Senior Vice President and Director of Human Resources, and Jenny Etheridge, Main Office FSR, attended Leadership Wilson’s annual Dare to Dine fundraiser on Saturday, November 11th. Dare to Dine has been a tradition of Leadership Wilson since 2006 and has nearly 200 host homes. All the money raised from this event supports Youth Leadership Wilson and the Lucy Lee Scholarship at Cumberland University.Pictured is from left to right is Maliea Oakley, Ricky Haskins, First Freedom Director, and his wife Kathy Haskins.
On Thursday, November 9th, Sycamore Elementary held The Great Shake, an event that is meant to boost fourth grader’s professional communication skills by having them interact with visitors from the community. The students introduced themselves to their guests and asked them several questions. In attendance was Ladell Medley, Vice President and Cookeville and Algood Office Manager.
The Equifax Data Breach
First Freedom’s Tips for Protecting Your Sensitive Information
Due to the recent Equifax breach 143 million Americans had their personal and financial information at risk of exposure. In order to help our customers protect themselves during this breach we have compiled several tips:
o To find out if your information has been exposed visit Equifax’s website, www.equifaxsecurity2017.com.
o Pull your credit report by visiting annualcreditreport.com. Any activity that you do not recognize may be indicative of identity theft.
o Utilize your Online Banking app to keep track of activity on your accounts. Maintaining regular review of your accounts allows you to promptly catch suspicious charges.
o Place a credit freeze or request a fraud alert with each of the four credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian, TransUnion, and Innovis. A credit freeze will not allow new credit to be opened in your name. A credit alert notifies creditors that you may be a victim of identity theft and they must take additional steps to verify anyone seeking credit in your name. Below are the contact numbers for the credit bureaus:
Equifax – 800.525.6285
Experian – 888.397.3742
TransUnion – 888.909.8872
Innovis – 800.540.2505
o If fraudulent charges appear on your account, visit a personal banker at any of our locations to file a dispute. Pending investigation, funds from the fraudulent charge may be refunded. This dispute must be filed within 60 days of the transaction.
o File your taxes as early as possible. By doing so the scammer will have less time to use your social security number.
As additional protection, First Freedom employs a company by the name of Falcon that monitors debit card transactions for suspicious activity. Falcon may call you to verify activity that is out of your normal transaction range. If they cannot reach you, they will place your card in “warm” status which will restrict the ability to use the card.
If you have further questions, please contact our Operations Department at 931.372.7999.
First Freedom Bank sponsored a hospitality tent at the annual Mt. Juliet Chamber Golf Tournament on Friday, September 15th at the Windtree Golf Course. Funds raised through this tournament benefit the Mt. Juliet Chamber of Commerce.
Kayla Holbert has been promoted to Personal Banker at the Mt. Juliet office, announced Kenny Beavers, Senior Vice President and Director of Retail Banking.
“Kayla is known for providing excellent customer service. She consistently ranks as one of our top performers for sales and service, earning the prestigious honor of Chairmen’s Cup Team member just this past quarter. We are excited to have Kayla joining our already outstanding team of Personal Bankers,” said Beavers.
Holbert has more than 12 years of customer service experience and has been with First Freedom since February of 2014. In December of 2016, Holbert was honored with First Freedom’s Red Carpet Service Award, which recognizes outstanding customer service.
Holbert is a 2005 graduate of Wilson Central High School and a 2013 graduate of the Genesis Career College. She regularly volunteers with Compassion International, an organization that provides children around the world with food, shelter, education, healthcare, and Christian training.
A native of Mt. Juliet, Holbert resides in Lebanon with her two children. She is a member of The Bridge Fellowship Church in Lebanon.
FFB recognized four employees this past quarter for exceptional job performance and exceeding their individual goals for enhancing and broadening customer relationships. Their outstanding performance earned them the prestigious honor of Chairman’s Cup Member for the quarter. Pictured above is John Lancaster, Chairman and CEO, with the Chairman Cup Team members Susan Nichols, Algood FSR Manager, Kayla Holbert, Providence FSR Manager, Dawn Kidwell, Mt. Juliet FSR Manager, and Greg Scott, Gainesboro FSR Manager and Chairman’s Cup MVP.
Greg Scott, FSR Manager at Gainesboro, received the MVP Award for achieving the highest overall performance score among all FSRs.
First Freedom sponsored a hospitality tent, hole #10, and a team at the annual Dr. Carey Harbrecht Memorial Scramble on Monday, July 18, 2017 at Five Oaks Country Club. This golf fundraiser is for the benefit of Lebanon Chamber of Commerce.
Christen Rabe, Mortgage Origination Officer, and Maliea Oakley, Senior Vice President and Director of Human Resources, attended the Wilson County Main Street Awards Breakfast on Wednesday, May 31, 2017. First Freedom Bank was a finalist in the Best Bank/Mortgage Company category.
First Freedom Bank’s long-time Personal Banker Christy Trammel has been promoted to Shareholder Services Representative, announced John Lancaster, Chairman and CEO. Trammel will continue to operate out of the company’s headquarters in Lebanon.
“Christy Trammel has had a very successful career here at First Freedom,” said Lancaster. “She understands and embraces our customer-focused standards. I am pleased to expand on her responsibilities with this promotion to Shareholder Services Representative,” he concluded.
First Freedom takes great pride in providing the highest level of quality customer service. As our Shareholder Services Representative, Trammel will be the bank’s primary contact for existing shareholders and will assist in maintaining the company’s shareholder records.
Trammel has been in banking for 22 years and has been with First Freedom Bank since its inception more than 11 years ago. In 2013, she was recognized for her outstanding service with the bank’s highest honor, the Red Carpet Service Award. Trammel is a graduate of Lebanon High School and has taken many banking and compliance classes through the Tennessee Banker’s Association and/or Volunteer State Community College.
A native and resident of Lebanon, she and her husband, Ryan, have two children. She has been actively involved in various charities in Wilson County and attends Cedar Creek Baptist Church in Lebanon.
First Freedom Bank attended the Mt. Juliet Senior Center Gala on April 1st, 2017. This event was organized as a fundraiser for the proposed new Mt. Juliet Senior Center building.
Pictured from left to right is Matt Kidwell, Dawn Kidwell, Mt. Juliet Financial Services Representative Manager, Ashley Montgomery, Mt. Juliet Personal Banker, April Jennette, Mt. Juliet Office Manager, and Robert Jennette.
First Freedom Bank donated school supplies to Sycamore Elementary’s incoming Kindergarten students on March, 24, 2017.
Pictured left to right: Donna Sloan, Kindergarten Teacher, new incoming Kindergarten students, and Ladell Medley, VP and Cookeville and Algood Office Manager.
On March 10, 2017, the Sycamore 4th graders that passed their reading requirements for the year participated in Bank Day at First Freedom Bank's Cookeville office.
Pictured above is Ladell Medley, Vice President and Cookeville Office Manager, giving a tour to the students.
John Hawkins and Phillip Vance have been promoted to Assistant Vice President at the Lebanon office, announced John Lancaster, Chairman and CEO. Hawkins will continue to serve as Portfolio Manager. Vance will continue to serve as a Relationship Manager.
As a Portfolio Manager for First Freedom, John Hawkins is responsible for managing a sizeable portfolio of loans in many different industries. He has ten years of banking experience and has been with First Freedom since February of 2014.
“John is very deserving of this promotion,” said Lancaster, “He governs a significant portfolio and manages it with a high level of accuracy and great detail. John’s many years of community banking experience gives him a great foundation for this significant role with First Freedom.”
Hawkins is a 2007 graduate of Tennessee Tech with a Bachelor’s Degree in Finance. He is a graduate of both the Southeastern School of Commercial Lending and of the Southeastern School of Advance Commercial Lending. Hawkins is also a 2016 Graduate of Leadership Wilson.
Hawkins volunteers in a number of community organizations, including Sherry’s Run, Relay for Life, and Jere’s Ride. He also serves as a board member for Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA).
Originally a resident of Gainesboro, Hawkins now resides in Lebanon with his wife, Kayla. They are expecting their first child in August. Hawkins is a member of College Hills Church of Christ.
Phillip Vance has been employed with First Freedom since July of 2014. As a Relationship Manager, he will continue to be responsible for managing existing customer loan and deposit portfolios, developing new customer relationships, underwriting loans for approval and originating new loans.
“We are excited about Phillip’s promotion and the role he plays in our bank and our community,” said Lancaster, “He is very intelligent, has the customer’s best interest at heart, and is creative in the way he approaches his customer’s needs. We are honored to have Phillip on the First Freedom team. “
Vance is a 2014 graduate of Tennessee Technological University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Accounting. He has extensive involvement in the community, including participating in Habitat for Humanity Builds and serving as the Treasurer for the Little Lights Pre-School at Maple Hill Church of Christ. He is currently the Fundraising Coordinator for the First Freedom Bank 2017 United Way Campaign and is serving on the 2017 Allocation Panel for Wilson County United Way. Additionally, Vance is a member of the Lebanon Breakfast Rotary Club and is an upcoming board member.
Vance resides in his hometown of Lebanon with his wife Emily and daughter, Hazel. He is a member of Maple Hill Church of Christ.
Kaitlin Wattenbarger has been promoted to Personal Banker in the Providence office effective December 2016, announced Kenny Beavers, Senior Vice President and Director of Retail Banking.
“Kaitlin has adapted extremely well to the First Freedom system, having progressed from Customer Service Representative to Customer Service Representative Manager, and now to Personal Banker. She is a valued member of the Providence Office, having worked at this location for the past 4 years. Kaitlin provides excellent customer service and always greets her customers with a warm smile and friendly hello. We are proud to have Kaitlin as a member of the First Freedom team,” said Beavers.
Kaitlin has been employed with First Freedom since 2013, when she started as a Customer Service Representative before being promoted to Customer Service Manager in 2015. Overall Kaitlin has more than nine years of sales and customer service experience.
Wattenbarger is originally from Hermitage, where she still resides with her husband Joshua. They are members of Crosspoint Church in Nashville. Active in the community, Wattenbarger has been the First Freedom Team Manager for Wilson County Relay for Life in each of the last four years.