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Hampden Bank expands despite current economy

By G. Michael Dobbs Managing Editor LONGMEADOW At a time when some businesses are cutting back, Hampden Bank is expanding. The Springfield-based bank opened its ninth office last week in Longmeadow on 916 Shaker Rd. It's the bank's second branch office in Longmeadow in an area described by Hampden Bank President Thomas Burton as "underserved." The branch was described as "state of the art" and doesn't feature tellers behind thick panes of safety glass. Cash is counted by a machine and delivered to the tellers. It's a system that Senior Vice President William Marsh III, who is in charge of bank operations, described as "very safe" and "much more consultative." Burton said he hopes to open more offices as bank officials identify suitable locations. The bank will celebrate its 157th anniversary in April and Burton noted it hasn't had to apply for any of the federal bank bailout money. He said that 2008 was a "very good year" in which the bank saw growth in both deposits and loans. In an interview with Reminder Publications, Burton stated that he hopes the federal economic stimulus package will help the nation. He said that delinquent payments on loans are higher now than last year and he credited the change to a reduction in earnings through the loss of part-time jobs. "Overall, people are tightening their belts," he added. In 2008, Hampden Bank had only one foreclosure and Burton credited that statistic to the bank sticking to its established lending standards. He said traditionally a bank has to expect some foreclosures due to events such as health emergencies and divorce. Burton believes he is in what he calls "the circle of prosperity," in which local loans that help businesses and homeowners originate from deposits made in locally operated banks such as Hampden Bank.

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