Cullman Savings Bank commits $100K to Cullman County Schools over next 10 years

W.C. Mann for The Cullman Tribune

Left to right: Cullman Savings Bank Executive Vice President T’aira Ugarkovich, Cullman County Schools Superintendent Dr. Shane Barnette, Cullman Savings Bank President/CEO John Riley III, Cullman County Schools Special Projects Coordinator Dr. T.J. Franey and Cullman Savings Bank Senior Lender Matt Townson pose for a photo on Friday. (W.C. Mann for The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN – On Friday morning, Cullman Savings Bank (CSB) President/CEO John Riley III, accompanied by Executive Vice President T’aira Ugarkovich, Vice President of Marketing Clara Kent and Senior Lender Matt Townson, presented a $10,000 check to Cullman County Schools Superintendent Dr. Shane Barnette and Special Projects Coordinator Dr. T.J. Franey.  According to the bank, it was the first installment in a 10-year, $100,000 commitment to the school system.

This is not CSB’s first contribution to Cullman County Schools; the institution, through its Cullman Savings Bank Foundation, has made numerous monetary gifts over the years, available for the system to use for various purposes. 

Barnette said about the use of the bank’s contributions, including Friday’s, “It’s not earmarked, so we can use it to sponsor different events that we do for students, that we do for teachers.  Some professional development that we do, that we bring in, we use some of it for that.  Our big in-service at the beginning of the year, we use some of it for that, and things like that.  So we have a lot of different projects that we can do out of this money.”

Riley talked about the bank’s decision to make the financial commitment, telling The Tribune, “Probably 15 years ago, we started a bank foundation where we take money each year and we put it into the foundation from the bank profits, and we use that money to put back into the community.  And we give away probably $75,000 to $100,000 a year to worthy projects.  And what’s more worthy than our school system?  So we try to help them in different ways, and our foundation does that in a lot of different areas of the community.”

Franey cited examples of how the bank’s gifts are used.

“Our Jeremiah Castille Camp, our character camp each year,” she said. “We (also) have numerous students who receive scholarships that enable them to go to college at Wallace (State Community College), and those things would not be possible without Cullman Savings Bank’s Foundation, and we really do appreciate their support and their partnership.”

Barnette added, “They help us in many areas; just this donation is one of those.  But they’re always here; I don’t think they’ve ever told us no when we’ve come and asked them to partner with us on some worthy cause.  And they’re always sponsoring students in whatever capacity we need them to, and they’re always there to help.  I’d just like to say how much I appreciate them.”

The partnership

Ugarkovich shared about bank’s partnership with the school system, “To me, it’s just an appreciation, working somewhere that gives back to the community as the bank does.  And we love partnering with the school system; to see the impact that it puts in our kids’ lives for the future of our community is a great thing.”

“As far as the kids in the community, that’s what it’s all about,” added Townson.  “And giving back, which the bank does, is hoping to give them a better future, so where they can come back and give back to the community one day.”

Kent concluded, “We do appreciate the job that the county school system does.  I think they do a great job with the funds that they have, and they have come up with several ideas that are really out of the box. That makes the most of the funds that they get, so it helps the entire school system.”

Barnette told the bank staff, “I appreciate y’all saying that.  And we are, we’re trying to think outside the box, because obviously, what is inside the box across our nation has not been getting it done.  And we’ve been able to accomplish some great things over the last couple of years, that I think affected kids and made a big difference in their lives, probably generations of lives.

“It’s exciting; it really is,” he smiled. “I know people get tired of hearing me say it’s exciting, but it is!”

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