Press Releases


(Swansea, Ill., – April 1, 2021) First National Bank of Waterloo has announced it will be opening its fourteenth banking center. The new location will be in Swansea, Illinois.

“First National Bank of Waterloo is excited to become part of Swansea and to serve the banking needs of that great community with our first-class, personal service,” says President & CEO, Rick Parks. “We had a loan production office in Swansea years before opening our O’Fallon, IL banking center, so we are excited to soon offer a full-service location here. This expansion allows us to better serve the businesses and residents of St. Clair County from a convenient Swansea location.”

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(Waterloo, Ill. – February 16, 2021) First National Bank of Waterloo recently promoted Mark LaPlantz to Senior Vice President/Chief Lending Officer.

LaPlantz joined the bank in August 2011 and has consistently been one of the bank’s highest producing lenders, especially in developing commercial banking relationships.

“As with most banks, loans are our largest earning asset and Mark will oversee all areas of our lending function,” said Rick Parks, First National Bank of Waterloo President. “He is well-respected in the business community and has the skills to lead us forward. I am confident in his abilities and we are grateful to have him in this position.”

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SPRINGFIELD, ILLINOIS – Rick Parks, president and CEO of First National Bank of Waterloo, has been elected to serve on the Board of Directors of the Illinois Bankers Association (IBA). The election was held on June 16 during the organization’s virtual Annual Conference.

Parks has over 32 years of banking experience in the Metro-East area. Most of his focus has been in commercial banking, lending and cash management with small to medium sized banks including Magna Bank (n/k/a Regions Bank), Centrue Bank, TheBANK of Edwardsville (n/k/a Busey Bank) and now with First National Bank of Waterloo.

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(Collinsville, Ill. – June 29, 2020) Best Hometown Bank has officially merged into First National Bank of Waterloo. The bank’s two Madison County locations in Collinsville and Maryville, Illinois will now be First National Bank of Waterloo locations, which expands First National Bank of Waterloo’s reach to 10 cities in five counties with 13 banking centers.

First National Bank of Waterloo President, Rick Parks, said while the name has changed, customers will still see the same familiar faces and enjoy the same personal service they’ve come to expect.

“The same employees that customers enjoyed working with at Best Hometown Bank will still be there,” said Parks. “Best Hometown Bank has been serving the Madison County area for over 133 years. We value that history and are excited about the opportunity to build on the strong tradition. First National Bank of Waterloo has been serving its customers for 108 years and for all the reasons people were Best Hometown Bank customers, we think they’ll feel right at home at First National Bank of Waterloo, and we look forward to giving them many reasons to proudly say, ‘That’s My Bank!’”

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(Waterloo, IL – February 5, 2020) Gary D. Hemmer, President & CEO of First Waterloo Bancshares Inc., announced that the acquisition of Best Hometown Bancorp, Inc., the parent company of Best Hometown Bank, was completed on February 5, 2020. The bank has two banking centers serving Madison County in Collinsville and Maryville, Illinois.

“This expands our organization into Madison County,” said Hemmer. “Best Hometown Bank has been serving the Madison County area for the past 133 years and we are excited about the opportunity to partner with them and to build on their tradition.” Hemmer noted that Best Hometown Bank would remain a separate bank until systems are converted later in the year.

“This is a bitter sweet day, as we move forward under different ownership; however, we are confident we have found a great partner,” said Ron Shambaugh, President & CEO, Best Hometown Bancorp, Inc. “We are looking forward to expanding our product offering and to having increased lending limits. It is truly amazing how similar the philosophies are of the two organizations.”

As of December 31, 2019, First Waterloo Bancshares, Inc. had total assets of $492 million. The bank currently has 11 banking centers serving Waterloo, Columbia, Millstadt, Dupo, O’Fallon, Smithton, Effingham, and Stewardson, Illinois. Best Hometown Bancorp, Inc. had total assets of $112 million as of December 31, 2019.

Forward-Looking Statements.

This press release contains forward-looking statements. Any statements about our expectations, beliefs, plans, predictions, forecasts, objectives, assumptions or future events or performance are not historical facts and may be forward-looking. These statements are often, but not always, made through the use of words or phrases such as “anticipate,” “believes,” “can,” “could,” “may,” “predicts,” “potential,” “should,” “will,” “estimate,” “plans,” “projects,” “continuing,” “ongoing,” “expects,” “intends” and similar words or phrases. Accordingly, these statements are only predictions and involve estimates, known and unknown risks, assumptions and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed in them. Our actual results could differ materially from those anticipated in such forward-looking statements, including as a result of factors outside First Waterloo Bancshares, Inc.’s or Best Hometown Bancorp, Inc.’s, control, such as economic and other conditions in the markets in which the companies and their subsidiary banks operate; inability to complete the transaction announced today or delays in completing the transaction; managements’ ability to effectively execute their respective business plans; inflation, interest rate, cost of funds, securities market and monetary fluctuations; changes in laws and regulations; and competition. All forward-looking statements are necessarily only estimates of future results, and there can be no assurance that actual results will not differ materially from expectations, and, therefore, you are cautioned not to place undue reliance on such statements. Further, any forward-looking statement speaks only as of the date on which it is made, and we undertake no obligation to update any forward-looking statement to reflect events or circumstances after the date on which the statement is made or to reflect the occurrence of unanticipated events.     


Collinsville Banking Center


Maryville Banking Center

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(Waterloo, IL – January 27, 2020) The First National Bank of Waterloo and Robert Hoffmann, Chairman of the Board, announced that Rick Parks will succeed Gary Hemmer as the bank’s president.

“We are delighted to have Rick Parks join the First National Bank of Waterloo as the new president,” said Hoffmann. Parks will become the bank’s ninth president spanning the bank’s history of 108 years.”

Parks follows Hemmer who recently announced his retirement effective June 30, 2020.

Parks has over 30 years of bank experience. Most recently he was Senior Vice President, Commercial Banking at TheBANK of Edwardsville. He also has worked for Centrue Bank as Regional President and Regions Bank as Senior Vice President, Corporate Sales Team Leader. Parks has been active and involved with various community and civic organizations.

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(Waterloo, IL – January 21, 2020) First National Bank of Waterloo and President and CEO Gary Hemmer announced his intention to retire on June 30, 2020.  Hemmer began his tenure with the bank more than twenty years ago on July 1, 1999. 

“Hemmer has provided strong and steady leadership over the past 21 years as President and CEO of First National Bank of Waterloo,” said Robert Hoffmann, Chairman of the Board of Directors. “Under his tenure, the bank has grown from about $150 million in assets with three banking centers to about $600 million in assets with 13 banking centers at the time of his retirement.”

“It has been a real privilege to work for one of the premier financial institutions in Southern Illinois. I am proud of our organization, our board of directors, our staff and our advisory boards,” said Hemmer. “Banks are the economic engines that enable communities to grow.  They help people and businesses realize their dreams.  I am proud to have served this industry and to have been a banker. It has been a privilege to work with a great board of directors that has helped guide and direct this organization. It has been an honor to work with the bank’s outstanding staff which is to be credited with the success of the bank.  It has been a joy to serve our customers who are also our friends.”

Hoffmann said the Board of Directors has created an executive committee to identify Hemmer’s replacement and that announcement will be made shortly. Hemmer will remain on the Board of Directors and will assume the role of Chairman of the Board at this year’s Annual Meeting in February. Hoffmann plans to retire from the board and will become Director Emeritus. 

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First Waterloo Bancshares, Inc. to Acquire Best Hometown Bancorp, Inc. Collinsville, Illinois

Gary D. Hemmer, President & CEO, First National Bank of Waterloo and its parent company, First Waterloo Bancshares, Inc., and Ron Shambaugh, President & CEO, Best Hometown Bank and its parent company, Best Hometown Bancorp, Inc., are pleased to announce the signing of an Agreement and Plan of Merger. First Waterloo Bancshares, Inc., Waterloo, Illinois, will acquire all of the outstanding shares of common stock of Best Hometown Bancorp, Inc., Collinsville, Illinois. Pursuant to the merger agreement and based on the estimated book value of Best Hometown Bancorp, Inc. at closing, the shareholders of Best Hometown Bancorp, Inc. will receive cash consideration of $14.89 per share of common stock, subject to certain adjustments as outlined in the merger agreement.

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