Meet John Aarness, Mortgage Lender at Merchants Bank

John Aarness Merchants Bank Mortgage LenderWhen did you start your lending career?

John: I started my lending career in southern California in March of 1972. The bulk of my time was spent originating FHA and VA loans. Eventually I moved to Minnesota with my wife and started at Merchants in 2001.

What is your top tip for someone looking to build a home?

John: Be patient, talk to an experienced builder and know what you want. Knowing what you want is the hardest part. I would also suggest building a traditional house…remember, you have to sell it eventually.

What’s one thing your mom or dad taught you about money?

John: Earn it before you spend it. I always earned money to pay for something I wanted, whether it was shoveling sidewalks when I was younger or getting a part-time job when I was old enough.

If you won the Powerball what’s the first thing you would buy?

John: I have three boys and I would pay off their mortgages.

Besides money, what’s your favorite green thing?

John: I have a 1984 ugly green Vespa scooter. It’s a real beaut, despite the color. A fun machine.

Picture your dream house. What’s your favorite room and why?

John: I think it would be a luxury garage…heated, with a refrigerator, a large work bench and fully equipped with all the tools I need. Of course, it’d have a big TV too.

Contact John today to get start the application process for your home building or buying project. To find current mortgage rates and apply online, visit our website.

We Hope to See You at These March Events

Merchants Bank Community Events

Our staff invites you to join them at these great events throughout March. Be sure to follow us on our Facebook page for information on these events or pictures from other events you may have missed.

3/7 Eau Claire Home Buyer’s Seminar: 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
At Legends Title Services in Eau Claire, WI

Learn about the keys to successfully buy a home of your own:

  • What’s Title Insurance?
  • Home Inspection-Why?
  • Mortgage Process
  • Choosing a Realtor

RSVP by March 4 to Rick at (715) 855-0816.

3/7 Winona Area Home Expo: 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
At Riverport Inn & Suites

Buying, selling or renovating? You won’t want to miss Winona’s most extensive home event! Stop by and see us at the Merchants Bank booth. Admission is $5.00 for adults and free for children. Food and exhibitor giveaways available.

3/14 Lakeville Landscape, Home Expo and Consumer Show: 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
At Lakeville North High School

Stop by and see us at the Merchants Bank booth.

3/16 and 3/31 “Time to Switch” Evening Hours: 5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
At Merchants Bank Winona-Downtown

We make it easy to switch your checking account to Merchants. Stop in – and bring a friend – to enjoy a bowl of chili and open your account.

3/21-3/22 Winona Better Living Show
At Winona Senior High School

Stop by and enjoy a cookie on us at the Merchants Bank booth. Enter for a chance to win an outdoor fire column patio warmer.*

Show Hours
Saturday, March 21: 10:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Sunday, March 22: 11:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m

*No purchase or customer relationship necessary to enter to win. On person per entry. Drawings will be held the first business day after each Home Show. Winner will be notified by telephone. Employees or Merchants are not eligible to win.

Banana Bread

BlogRecipe-BananaBread

Ingredients:

  • 3 ripened bananas, mashed, to equal one cup
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 Tbsp water
  • 2 cups flour

 

Directions:

Blend sugar, salt and egg into bananas. Stir in butter. Dissolve soda in water and add with flour. Mix and bake in loaf pan for 45 minutes at 350 degrees. Makes 1 loaf.

 

Merchants Family Cookbooks are available at all Merchants Bank locations for $15. Proceeds benefit local food shelf programs.

New Staff Here to Help You

NewtoTeamPhotos2-15
At Merchants Bank, we are happy to welcome new employees and celebrate new positions filled by current staff. These frontline employees are all looking forward to serving you. Take a moment to congratulate them.
Kelsey Banicki has joined Merchants Bank as a Peak Time Teller in Winona. Kelsey previously worked at Fastenal in Scanning Support as well as WinCraft and Reds IGA. Kelsey is excited to be part of Merchants.
Dawn Buck has joined Merchants Bank as a Part-Time Teller in St. Charles. Dawn and her husband, Daryl, have three teenage boys who all love to bow hunt. They reside in rural St. Charles and have acreage to support wildlife and hunting. She enjoys cooking and hosting family events.
Veronica Colletti has joined Merchants Bank as a Part Time Teller in Winona. Veronica is a graduate of Winona State University with a Political Science major. She is excited to be able to now serve the community that has become her home with her new position.
Amy Engrav has joined Merchants Banks as a Teller in Winona. Amy previously worked at Perkins as the General Manager. She enjoys family time with her husband of 16 years, Eric, and their sons Graham and Ian. Amy loves to run and just completed one 5k every month in 2014.
Jorge Espinoza has joined Merchants Bank as a Part-Time Teller in Lakeville. Jorge previously worked at Office Max as a Sales Consultant and at Panera Bread as a Cook. Jorge is excited to be working at Merchants and is looking forward to getting to know everyone.
Julie Pearson has joined Merchants Bank as Correspondent Mortgage Account Executive. Julie previously worked at The State Bank of Richmond as a Loan Officer and at Security State Bank of Aitkin as a Real Estate Loan Officer. Julie and her husband, Paul, have four wonderful children and two grandchildren. She enjoys quilting and started a non-profit chapter in 2013 called “Just Because Quilting”. Julie and her husband love traveling, camping, dining out and getting out and meeting people.
Emily Werber has joined Merchants Bank as a Teller in Rochester. Emily previously worked at Kohl’s as a Customer Service Associate and in the cash office for the past 10 years. Emily is married and has a nine year old daughter. They also have three cats. Her family enjoys gardening in the Spring and Fall.

Chicken Wild Rice Soup

BlogRecipe-ChickenWildRiceSoup

Ingredients:

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 cup white rice
  • 1 can cooked wild rice (or 1/2 cup uncooked wild rice)
  • 1 small green pepper, chopped
  • 1/4 cup green onions, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 sticks margarine
  • 1 can mushrooms
  • 2 cans cream of mushroom soup
  • 3 tsp salt
  • 1 pint half and half (or regular milk)
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 cup pimento
  • 1 quart milk
  • 5 tsp parsley flakes

 

Directions:

Wash and cook rice. Set aside. Cook chicken. Set aside. Boil the green pepper, onions and celery with 1/2 tsp salt. Cream flour and margarine and add the remaining ingredients, including the rice and chicken. Warm through. Excellent served with croissants.

Makes a large batch. Leftovers may be frozen. Reheat slowly, stirring constantly. It may be necessary to thin with cream or milk.

 

Merchants Family Cookbooks are available at all Merchants Bank locations for $15. Proceeds benefit local food shelf programs.

Pay Your Bills Online and Enter for a Chance to Win $1,000

eNews-BillPay

During February and March, make three online bill payments and be entered to win $1,000. To get started, sign up or login to your Online Banking account to pay your bills today. Through Merchants Online Banking Bill Pay you can:

  • Set up individual and business payees easily and quickly.
  • Simply and securely track and manage your finances all in one place through your Online Banking account.
  • View and schedule your online bill payments in advance or on a recurring schedule for added convenience.
  • Set up payment reminders to help keep track of when your payments are due.

Make three bill payments to enter to win. Then, every bill payment after three qualifies as an entry to win. The more bills you pay online, the more chances you have to win.

Get started:

No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited. Click here for complete rules and additional important information.

Meet Deb Kemp, Credit Card Manager at Merchants

Deb and her husband, Sam

Deb and her husband, Sam

How long have you been with Merchants?

Deb: I’ve been here 23 years. Originally, I was hired to help with customer data clean up and sat next to the person in charge of Premier Club (now Events and Adventures). I’ve worked in a lot of different areas of the bank including Premier Club, Loan Servicing and as a Lending Assistant. In 2001, I started working in Credit Cards. I’ve worked in banking all my life. It’s all I know how to do! It all started when I was in high school and worked as a part-time Proof Operator.

What is your top banking tip?

Deb: Paying your bills on time helps keep your credit score up. You don’t want to wreck your credit score…it takes longer to fix a bad score than establish a good credit score. If you don’t have a credit score, a credit card is a good way to establish credit.

What’s one thing your mom or dad taught you about money?

Deb: My mom was very frugal and she didn’t waste money. I remember when graham crackers were kept in our oven because they were a treat. She was really budget conscious and taught me to think about my purchases. When I’m in a store, I ask myself if I really need something. Sometimes I even leave the store, walk around and come back to the store to give myself enough time to decide if I really wanted something.

If you won the Powerball (currently estimated at $194 million) what’s the first thing you would buy?

Deb: I would buy a new boat. Our boat broke this year and we go fishing as much as possible…so we really need a new boat. I would also take flying lessons and travel a lot.

Besides money, what’s your favorite green thing?

Deb: Plants. I have probably about 50 house plants – really! I also like spinach.

Click here to learn more about Credit Cards at Merchants Bank. Credit cards are subject to credit approval.