News & Alerts

News Releases and Updates

  

BRENDA LAWSON ELECTED TO SOUTHERN HERITAGE BOARD OF DIRECTORS

CLEVELAND, Tenn — Southern Heritage Bank announces that Brenda Lawson has been elected to serve on the SHB Board of Directors.

Brenda is founder of Brenda Lawson & Associates LLC, a management company formed for the oversight of businesses in which she is a majority owner.  As co-founder of two rent-to-own businesses and a deferred presentment business, she has managed the financial and organizational growth of companies serving 17 states with more than 1500 employees and revenues exceeding $100 million.  She and her husband, Stan, are principal owner/developers of Spring Creek Development, Cleveland’s first lifestyle neighborhood offering residential, retail and business park properties.  Mrs. Lawson is owner and chief executive officer of numerous companies across the state including Swing Perfect, Friendly Auto, Solutions Finance and Iron Doors, LLC.

Lee Stewart, Chairman and CEO of Southern Heritage Bank, said, “We are very pleased to have Brenda join our Board of Directors.  With her diversified business knowledge and deep Cleveland roots, she will make an outstanding board member.  We are very fortunate to have her associated with Southern Heritage Bank.”

Mrs. Lawson is an avid supporter of The University of Tennessee at Knoxville and Chattanooga, serving as a member of the UT Development Council and Executive Committee of the University of Tennessee Alliance for Women Philanthropists.  She has also co-chaired the Capital Campaign for the University of Tennessee.  She is on the UTC Foundation Board of Trustees and the UTC Advisory Board for the College of Business.  Currently, she is chairing a capital funds campaign for Tennessee Christian Preparatory School.     

Mrs. Lawson serves as President of Cleveland 100, an organization that lends financial assistance to families of emergency first responders who lose their lives in the line of duty.  She organized and chairs Diaper Love of Bradley County, a program to provide diapers to needy families.  She founded Creating Christmas Memories which works with local elementary school officials and provides Christmas gifts for those in need.  Mrs. Lawson is a past President of the Bradley/Cleveland Chamber of Commerce, past United Way Campaign Chair and serves on the boards of the Boys & Girls Club and the United Way of Bradley County.  She is also a member of the Bradley/Cleveland Public Education Foundation.

She is a past recipient of the Southern Conference Distinguished Service Award along with the local Junior Achievement Free Enterprise Award.  She is past recipient of the Sertoma Service to Mankind Award and a 2004 UTC College of Business Entrepreneurial Honoree and the 2006 Entrepreneur of the Year.  In 2006, she was awarded the Outstanding Philanthropist of the Year by the Association of Professional Fund Raisers.  In 2010, she was the recipient of the M.C. Headrick Free Enterprise Award from the Cleveland/Bradley County Chamber of Commerce.

She and Stan have three children, Steve McKenzie, Ashley Wallace and Zach Lawson, and one grandson, Tripp.

Southern Heritage Bank was locally organized in 1999 operating three banking offices in Bradley County and is a division of First Citizens Bancshares, Inc.  For more information about Southern Heritage Bank, please visit the web site at www.southernheritagebank.com.


Southern Heritage Bank Announces Retirement, Promotions (March, 2015)

 

 

 

 

 

Len Graham, Southern Heritage Bank Board Chairman

At the February meeting of the Board of Directors, Len Graham announced his plans to retire as Chairman of the Board effective March 31, 2015.  “It has been a privilege and joy to have served our fellow Bradley Countians as one of the thirteen founding directors of Southern Heritage Bank as well as with the succeeding new directors.  It is most gratifying to have had such wonderful acceptance from our community and shareholders in facilitating our growth and development during these past sixteen years,” said Chairman Graham.

“We have been blessed to find First Citizens National Bank of Dyersburg, Tennessee, an outstanding corporate partner with many shared values, to add additional strength and experience as we continue to enhance service and value to all in our market place.  It is with great appreciation and affection for all who have been so instrumental in the success of our bank, that I conclude my active service as Director and Chairman of the Board of Southern Heritage,” he concluded.

Lee Stewart commented, “We are very proud of our history of beginning as a local de novo bank of Cleveland and Bradley County.  Len Graham was one of our original founding directors.  Dr. Eddie Duncan was our original board chair, and when we lost Dr. Duncan it left a large hole to fill.  Len stepped up to accept the board chairman position in 2008 and has served us well for the past seven years.  Len was the right person for the job as he led the board through the tough economic times.  I sincerely appreciate his leadership and am very thankful that he will accept the director emeritus status as all of our original founding directors have.”

Chairman Graham also announced the promotion of Lee Stewart to Chairman and Chief Executive Officer and the promotion of Steve Ledbetter to President and Chief Financial Officer of Southern Heritage Bank, a subsidiary of First Citizens Bancshares, Inc.  Jeff Agee, President and CEO of First Citizens Bank and board member of Southern Heritage Bank, stated “We are blessed to have leaders on our Southern Heritage team with the vision, experience and talents to lead our company into the future.”

“Our Southern Heritage leadership team mirrors the First Citizens motto of:  Success is reached by being proactive, ahead of the crowd, aiming high, pushing ahead, climbing, digging, forgetting the past, using the present, trusting the future, honoring God, having a purpose and a can win attitude,” Agee continued.

Lee Stewart has more than 40 years of banking experience.  He began his career in 1972 at American National Bank in Chattanooga serving as Business Development Officer and Credit Officer.  In 1980, he joined First National Bank of Columbus, Georgia, to organize their internal loan review functions, and later he was promoted to Vice President of Commercial Lending.  In 1985, he joined First American National Bank in Bristol, Tennessee, as Senior Vice President for Commercial Lending and was promoted to City President in 1988 before being transferred in early 1990 to the Cleveland office of First American, where, until mid-1998, he was the City President.  In August of 1998, Stewart left First American to organize and capitalize Southern Heritage Bank which opened in April of 1999.  He has held the position of President and CEO since Southern Heritage opened.  Mr. Stewart is a graduate of Tennessee Wesleyan College, The National Commercial Lending Graduate School at the University of Oklahoma, and The Stonier Graduate School of Banking.  His civic activities include involvement with the United Way of Bradley County, where he has served as Campaign Co-Chairman, is a recipient of the William F. Johnston, Sr. Community Service Award (2000), and is a former Chairman of the Board.  He has been active in the Cleveland/Bradley County Chamber of Commerce, serving as Treasurer and Chairman of the Board and is a recipient of the Robert W. Varnell, Jr. Leadership Award (2003).  He serves on the Tennessee Bankers Association board of directors representing the East Tennessee division.  He has served on the boards of the Cleveland Family YMCA, Junior Achievement, and the Cherokee Council of Boy Scouts.  He is a founding member and past president of the Bradley Sunrise Rotary Club.  He and his wife, Cynthia, a retired teacher, are members of First United Methodist Church.

Steve Ledbetter began his career as an auditor in 1974 with Arthur Andersen & Co. working in the audit, tax and management consulting divisions.  He began his banking career in 1979 at Cleveland Bank & Trust as Vice President and Controller and was promoted to Senior Vice President and Controller in 1987.  In 1993, Mr. Ledbetter accepted the position of Senior Vice President and Division Manager of the Commercial Lending Group at First American National Bank in Cleveland where he remained until August 1998.  In August of 1998, Ledbetter left First American to organize and capitalize Southern Heritage Bank.  He has served as Executive Vice President and CFO since Southern Heritage opened.  Mr. Ledbetter is a graduate of Carson Newman College and the Stonier Graduate School of Banking.  He is a Certified Public Accountant.  He is active in the local community through membership in the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce and the United Way.  He is a past president of the Council of United Services where he received the Volunteer of the Year Award.  He is a past president and treasurer of the Cleveland Family YMCA and a recipient of the C. L. Hardwick Service Award.  He is a past treasurer of the Cleveland Sertoma Club and currently a member of the Cleveland Kiwanis Club.  He and his wife, Beverly, are members of First Baptist Church of Cleveland.

 


Southern Heritage Evolves into Financial Pillar for Bradley County (February, 2015)

Lee Stewart

Lee Stewart, President & CEO

CLEVELAND, Tenn — As Bradley County continues to grow and evolve, so does Southern Heritage Bank.

Over the past decade, the Ocoee region has repeatedly been recognized for luring some of the largest new industrial investments in Tennessee, if not the entire Southeast.  These companies and the local enterprises have grown and prospered, and they have required increasingly sophisticated financial services.   Southern Heritage Bank has met the requirements of these businesses that expect a difference from their bank.

Although it is important to take care of these new challenges, Southern Heritage Bank’s greatest satisfaction comes from doing what it has done best since first opening its doors in 1999 … taking care of individuals, families and businesses right here at home.

Southern Heritage was incorporated by a group of 12 local civic-minded individuals.  They shared a vision of establishing a bank that reflected the types of financial products and attentive personal service the community deserved.  Also, as part of getting started, Southern Heritage formally adopted core values, including that it would ”reflect Christian values in all our business relationships.”

Now, 16 years later, Southern Heritage has not only maintained its core values, it continues to be led by the same management team … and it has retained most of its employees who have built and maintained loyal relationships with customers.

“Our consistent vision, core values, management philosophies and customer-focused employees have paid off for both Southern Heritage and Bradley County,” said Lee Stewart, SHB President and CEO.  “We are very proud of the fact we first conducted business in a temporary modular facility, but we quickly evolved into a pillar of financial stability for Bradley County.”

Southern Heritage is now affiliated with First Citizens BancShares of Dyersburg, Tennessee.  First Citizens BancShares is a $1.5 billion community bank holding company with 22 banking offices across Tennessee.

There are literally dozens of highlights and accomplishments that could be listed to underscore SHB’s position in the market today. The following are a few examples:

  1. Market Share of Deposits in Bradley County – Ranked second among 14 banks listed by the FDIC (as of June 30, 2014), with $209 million or almost 15% of all deposits.  Top rated “local” bank.
  2. Top Spot in Mortgage Production – In this highly competitive business, the SHB Mortgage Team, led by Senior VP Joy Akins, is consistently ranked among Bradley County’s leaders in both numbers of mortgages closed and dollar volume.
  3. Safety and Soundness – Several national independent rating services have consistently given Southern Heritage high marks when compared with peer banks.
  4. Introduction of Time-Saving Technologies –Southern Heritage has invested in new technologies that allow customers to do banking “on their time” and not be restricted to traditional “bankers’ hours.”  Examples of customer-convenience technologies include: Online banking and bill pay … mobile banking for smart phones, tablets and laptops … mobile APP … and Business Cash Management Services
  5. Expansion of Business Banking Team – SHB’s Business Banking Team continues to expand its ranks and expertise. Tim Poteet, Senior VP and Lending Team Leader, makes a concerted effort to identify businesses – and business owners – that may be a good fit for SHB’s services and lending capacity.  Tim and his professional team have over 181 years of commercial lending experience.

As of Dec. 1, 2014, Southern Heritage had assets of $240 million, 63 employees and three banking offices, all in Cleveland.  The bank’s board of directors is led by Chairman Len D. Graham, a retired State Farm Insurance executive.


2014 Affiliate of the Year (December, 2014)

  
Southern Heritage Bank’s Joe Womac was recognized as the 2014 Affliate of the Year by the River Counties Association of Realtors  (RCAR).  According to RCAR, Joe was selected  for this prestigious award due to his demonstrated professionalism, contributions to RCAR, business achievements and civic involvement. We’re proud you can  Expect a Difference when trusting your home loan to Joe or another member of our market-leading Mortgage Department.  Congratulations Joe!

 


Southern Heritage Climbs to No. 2 in Bradley County Market Share (October, 2014)

CLEVELAND, Tenn. — Southern Heritage Bank continues its climb in Bradley County market share of deposits, having reached number two overall based on 2014 market share of deposit statistics released by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).  First Tennessee has the largest market share of deposits with 18.9%, while SHB has 14.9% of Bradley County bank deposits.

Southern Heritage has moved up one market share position each year since 2011 when it was ranked fifth.

The newly published report – based on deposits through June 30, 2014 – includes all 13 FDIC-insured financial institutions operating in Bradley County. Southern Heritage Bank’s deposits now exceed $209 million in Bradley County.

Lee Stewart, SHB president and CEO, credits the bank’s continuing upward market share growth to a combination of factors, beginning with “value-added deposit services combined with electronic access to money that fits the banking needs of residents right here in Bradley County.”  He also cites SHB’s consistent commitment to supporting the community with a broad array of financial services and loan services, along with supporting local events and organizations with contributions of SHB staff time and money.

“Our ability to evolve with the latest products and technology while emphasizing our personal services makes a difference for our customers,” added Stewart. “Our bank is continually improving so our customers remain successful in today’s constantly changing financial services market.”

Stewart continued, “Southern Heritage Bank has literally grown up in Cleveland since opening its doors in 1999.  We haven’t strayed from our founding financial, personal service and Christian values. We exist to improve our community by supporting businesses and using local dollars to help families buy homes, send their kids to college and build financial security.”

With assets exceeding $243 million as of June 30, Southern Heritage Bank is ranked in the top 5% of all U.S. community banks in Total Risk Index, as published earlier this year by Seifried & Brew, an independent financial consulting firm. During the last year, the bank has celebrated “top ratings” from three independent rating services:  Bauer Financial, Weiss Ratings and Seifried and Brew.

SHB is celebrating its 15th year in Bradley County in 2014.  As recently announced, Southern Heritage Bank is now part of First Citizens Bancshares, Inc., headquartered in Dyersburg, Tennessee, a system of 22 bank offices in Tennessee.  More than 63 employees work out of three Southern Heritage Bank offices – with the main office on Keith Street – and additional locations in Waterville Springs and Georgetown Road communities. 


Southern Heritage Bank Food Drive Helps United Way Partners (November, 2014)

For 15 consecutive years, Southern Heritage Bank has hosted its “Cleveland Helping Cleveland” food drive to help United Way of Bradley County partner agencies stock their pantries for the coming year.

The bank will continue that tradition this November with the special food drive being held from Nov. 10 through Nov. 14. The food will be distributed to United Way program partners, including its largest partner, The Caring Place.

“We have helped many United Way agencies over the past 15 years, and want to continue to do so,” said Southern Heritage Bank President Lee Stewart. “We also want to give some of the collected food items to The Caring Place so they can also help those in need in our community.”

The Caring Place is a United Way funded partner as well, with more United Way support than any other organization. Specific programs that United Way is involved in with The Caring Place are Neighbors in Need, the Sack Pack program and the Karis Dental Clinic.

“We appreciate how Southern Heritage Bank wants to help those in need in our community through this food drive,” said Matt Ryerson, United Way president and CEO. “We appreciate the bank’s support of our United Way campaign, and this is an additional way that they have helped our community since opening in the late 1990s.”

United Way partners that have been the recipient of food from the special event, including The Caring Place, have been the Cleveland Emergency Shelter, Harbor Safe House, Boys and Girls Clubs of Cleveland, and Signal Center. It is possible, depending on the amount of food collected, that even more partners might receive some of the donations.

The Caring Place will be able to distribute some of the food collected to those in need who seek help through the organization. The Caring Place helps with food and clothing, though only food is being collected in this drive.

“The Caring Place feels extremely honored by Southern Heritage Bank to be one of the recipients of the food they will be collecting,” said Executive Director Reba Terry. “The schools and businesses in Bradley County work hard to make this event successful, because they truly care about the less fortunate. We are blessed to live in such a giving community.”

Companies that have committed to holding internal food drives include Bender Realty, the Bradley County Sheriff’s Department, Cleveland Pediatrics, Cleveland Utilities, Cleveland Family YMCA, Manufacturers’ Chemicals and Peyton’s Southeastern.

A record number of schools are also involved this year in the “Cleveland Helping Cleveland” event, including: Charleston Elementary School, Cleveland High School, Cleveland Middle School, E. L. Ross Elementary School, Hopewell Elementary School, Michigan Avenue Elementary School, North Lee Elementary School, Oak Grove Elementary School, Park View Elementary School, Stuart Elementary School, Taylor Elementary School, Walker Valley High School, Waterville Community Elementary School and Yates Primary School.

The Cleveland Fire Department has helped in the past with loading the truck on the last day of the drive, and helping unload the truck at the United Way offices. Wholesale Supply Group has provided the truck which will be located at the Southern Heritage Bank main office on Keith Street the week of the food drive.

“We are so proud of all of these businesses being involved with this event,” Stewart said, noting that some of them have been a part of the food drive for each of the past 15 years. “To have a record number of schools involved is great, too, as these children are learning to help others less fortunate through this event.”

Stewart and event coordinator Denise DeArmond said that there is still time for other companies or schools to get involved, and individuals may make food donations at any of the three Southern Heritage Bank locations – Keith Street, GeorgetownRoad at Villa Drive, or Dalton Pike at Treasury Drive – anytime up to Nov. 14.

“The more we get involved, the more food we can collect, and, the more people we can help,” DeArmond said.

While the drive is near the holidays, it is suggested that any type of non-perishable food be donated. Popular items include pastas, macaroni and cheese, rice, canned tuna and chicken, peanut butter, cereal, canned fruits and vegetables and canned soup.

For safety sake, it is requested that no food products in glass containers be donated.

Other items such as soap, shampoo and personal necessities may also be donated, as several United Way program partners will have uses for them. Organizers ask that donors try to separate these items from food items when dropping off donations.

On Nov. 14, a remote broadcast by WCLE Radio will take place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., which will be a great time to drop off food and have your business or school recognized. The Cleveland Daily Banner has also been very generous with space in its paper for photographs of those bringing in food donations.

Monetary donations may also be made during the event, with checks made payable to the United Way of Bradley County.

If your business or school wants to get involved in the event, contact DeArmond at Southern Heritage Bank at 303-1732.


Southern Heritage Bank Holds Annual Shareholders Meeting (Septemer, 2014)

At the 16th annual shareholders meeting of Southern Heritage Bancshares, Inc., the Board of Directors (past and present) were recognized for their service.

Seated from left: Dr. C. A. Kyle (retired SHB board member), Judy Long (FCNB board member), Kay Burns (wife of the late Charlie Burns, SHB board member), Ann Duncan (wife of the late Dr. Eddie Duncan, SHB board chairman), and Lester Simerville, (SHB board member).

Standing from left:  Steve Ledbetter (SHB Executive Vice President and COO), Tom Briatico (founding SHB board member), Jim Williams (SHB board member), Larry McDaniel (SHB board member), Len Graham (SHB board chairman), Jim Workman (SHB board member), Roger Jenne (SHB board member), Dr. Danny Hays (retired SHB board member), Lee Stewart (SHB President and CEO), and Jeff Agee (FCNB President and CEO).

CLEVELAND, Tenn. Southern Heritage Bancshares, Inc., parent company of Southern Heritage Bank held its annual shareholders meeting on September 25th at the bank’s main office on Keith Street.  The meeting was held to approve the Agreement and Plan of Merger which was announced in March  whereby Southern Heritage will partner with First Citizens National Bank of Dyersburg, Tennessee through a cash and stock merger.  Following the completion of the transaction, Southern Heritage will retain its name and will remain a separately-chartered bank, operating as a subsidiary of First Citizens Bancshares, Inc.

With the merger, First Citizens will extend its branch footprint statewide while solidifying its position as the7th largest Tennessee-based community bank.  In addition, First Citizens will increase its statewide market share, improving its Tennessee deposit market share ranking to 16th.  The combined organization will have approximately $1.5 billion in assets, $1.2 billion in deposits, 350 associates and 24 branches across 10 Tennessee counties.

“We are incredibly excited about this partnership, which introduces First Citizens to the vibrant community of Cleveland and significantly expands our presence throughout Tennessee,” said Jeff Agee, First Citizens President and CEO.  “Southern Heritage has earned a reputation for exceptional, individualized client service, which is a testament to the strong leadership team in place.  We have long admired the banking culture of Southern Heritage which is extraordinarily similar to our own.  We have known the management of Southern heritage for quite some time, and we could not be more excited about the growth opportunities this partnership provides.  We look forward to earning the continued loyalty and business of Southern Heritage customers.  We also look forward to delivering significant long term value for our combined shareholders as a result of this transaction.”

Lee Stewart, Southern Heritage Bank  President and CEO, will continue to serve in this capacity and will join the First Citizens Board of Directors.  “We are very excited about the long-lasting opportunities that will be generated through this partnership between our very customer-oriented organizations,” noted Mr. Stewart.  “Our cultures, core values, and strategies fit very well, and we are both committed to the respective communities we serve.”  Mr. Stewart further commented “The structure of this merger is significantly different from any that has occurred in our market area in the past.  With this structure, Southern Heritage will be able to advance the mission and values we started with while becoming a part of a larger, high-performing, statewide banking company with a remarkably similar culture and customer focus.”

The transaction is valued at $24.50 per share of Southern Heritage common stock or approximately $32.2 million.

Also included in the annual meeting was the recognition of all the past directors of the bank and the election of the current panel of Board of Directors.

At the 16th annual shareholders meeting of Southern Heritage Bancshares, Inc., retiring board member Lester Simerville was honored for his sixteen years of service on the SHB Board of Directors.

Pictured from left:  Jeff Agee, President and CEO of First Citizens National Bank, Dyersburg, TN; Lee Stewart, President and CEO of Southern Heritage Bank; Simerville, and Len Graham, SHB Board Chairman.


Southern Heritage Reports Performance and Declares Dividend (July, 2014)

CLEVELAND, Tenn. — Southern Heritage Bank has reported its first quarter 2014 financial performance, and has declared a dividend for its shareholders.

Through first quarter 2014, Southern Heritage Bank’s assets reached $244.9 million, a record high for the 15-year-old bank.  This represented asset growth of 3.4% since year-end 2013.  Also, the bank experienced a 2.96% growth in deposits, while total loans decreased a like percentage during the same three-month period.  First quarter net income was $686,000, which is on track with 2012 and 2013 earnings.

As a result of the bank’s solid performance, shareholders of record as of May 31 are receiving dividends ranging from $.40 to $.44 per share, depending on the classification of individual stock held.  Dividends were paid on July 1.

“We are fortunate to achieve a performance level that rewards each shareholder for their faith, confidence and financial investment in Southern Heritage Bank,” said Lee Stewart, President & CEO.  “Our bank and the entire Cleveland community benefit greatly from the astute fiscal guidance provided by our board of directors, and the responsible lending and money management practices exhibited by our officers and staff.”

Another Top Rating for SHB                                        

In addition to its noteworthy financial performance, Southern Heritage is ranked in the top 5% of all U.S. community banks in Total Risk Index, as recently publicized by Siefried & Brew, an independent financial consulting firm.  Each year, S&B ranks all U.S. community banks and publishes its list of “Top 15th Percentile Banks.”  The S&B Index models capital risk, credit risk, earnings at risk, liquidity risk and national/regional economic risk.

“It’s always an honor to receive a superior rating from independent entities such as Siefried and Brew,” commented Steve Ledbetter, EVP & Chief Operating Officer.  “This particular rating validates that Southern Heritage manages risk in a manner that is appropriate for the market we serve.”

Since October 2013, Southern Heritage has received “top ratings” from three independent ratings services:  Bauer Financial, Weiss Ratings and now Siegfried and Brew.

Merger Progressing as Planned

As previously announced, the Southern Heritage Bancshares Inc. merger with First Citizens Bancshares Inc. will close by the end of the third quarter.  Following the completed transaction, Southern Heritage Bank will retain its name and will remain a separately-chartered bank, operating as a subsidiary of First Citizens Bancshares.


First Citizens Bancshares, Inc. creates statewide footprint through merger with Southern Heritage Bancshares, Inc. (March, 2014)

Dyersburg, Tenn. and Cleveland, Tenn. — First Citizens Bancshares, Inc. and Southern Heritage Bancshares, Inc. jointly announced today the execution of a Definitive Agreement and Plan of Merger whereby Southern Heritage will partner with First Citizens through a cash and stock merger.  Following the completion of the transaction, Southern Heritage will retain its name and will remain a separately-chartered bank, operating as a subsidiary of First Citizens Bancshares, Inc.

With the merger, First Citizens will extend its branch footprint statewide while solidifying its position as the 7th largest Tennessee-based community bank. In addition, First Citizens will increase its statewide market share, improving its Tennessee deposit market share ranking to 16th. The combined organization will have approximately $1.5 billion in assets, $1.2 billion in deposits, 350 associates and 24 branches across 10 Tennessee counties.

“We are incredibly excited about this partnership, which introduces First Citizens to the vibrant community of Cleveland and significantly expands our presence throughout Tennessee,” said Jeff Agee, First Citizens CEO. “Southern Heritage has earned a reputation for exceptional, individualized client service, which is a testament to the strong leadership team in place. We have long admired the banking culture of Southern Heritage, which is extraordinarily similar to our own. We have known the management of Southern Heritage for quite some time and we could not be more excited about the growth opportunities this partnership provides. We look forward to earning the continued loyalty and business of Southern Heritage’s clients. We also look forward to delivering significant long-term value for our combined shareholders as a result of this transaction.”

J. Lee Stewart, Southern Heritage President and CEO, will continue to serve in this capacity following the transaction and will join the First Citizens Board of Directors. “We are very excited about the long-lasting opportunities that will be generated through this partnership between our very customer-centric organizations,” noted Mr. Stewart. “Our cultures, core values, and strategies align very well, and we are both committed to the respective communities we serve.” Mr. Stewart further commented “The structure of this merger is significantly different from any that has occurred in our market area in the past.  With this structure Southern Heritage will be able to advance the mission and values we started with while becoming a part of a larger, high-performing, statewide, banking company with a remarkably similar culture and customer focus.”

“We are convinced this partnership will greatly benefit our shareholders, co-workers, clients and communities over the long run and look forward to joining the tremendous team of dedicated professionals at First Citizens,” added Southern Heritage COO Steve Ledbetter, who will continue to serve in this capacity following the transaction.

The transaction is valued at $24.50 per share of Southern Heritage common stock or approximately $32.2 million. Under the terms of the merger agreement, which was unanimously approved by the boards of both companies, shareholders of Southern Heritage will be able to elect to receive consideration in the form of 0.5751 shares of First Citizens stock, $24.50 in cash, or a combination of stock and cash comprised of 0.2876 shares of First Citizens stock and $12.25 in cash for each share of Southern Heritage common stock.  The allocation of the total form of consideration and the total and per share consideration amount is subject to proration and adjustment under certain circumstances as provided in the merger agreement.

The transaction, which is expected to close in the 3rd quarter of 2014, remains subject to approval by Southern Heritage’s shareholders and approval by federal and state regulatory authorities as well as the satisfaction of other customary closing conditions provided in the merger agreement.

First Citizens was advised by Olsen Palmer LLC and the law firm of Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis, LLP. Southern Heritage was advised by FIG Partners, LLC and the law firm of Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, PC.

About First Citizens

Originally founded in 1889, with $1.2 billion in total assets and 21 branches throughout west and middle Tennessee, First Citizens is the 7th largest Tennessee-based commercial banking institution and is the 17th largest deposit holder in the Volunteer state. For the second year in a row, Seifried & Brew, a national banking economic and consulting group, included First Citizens National Bank in the Top 15th percentile of community banks, based on institutions with assets between $100 million and $5 billion. In November 2013, First Citizens National Bank was recognized by American Banker magazine as the "6th “Best Bank to Work For in the U.S.” in the category of banks with assets less than $3 billion. For more information, visit the company’s website at www.firstcnb.com.

About Southern Heritage

Founded in 1999, Cleveland, Tennessee-based Southern Heritage Bank, the wholly-owned subsidiary of Southern Heritage Bancshares, Inc., has $237 million in total assets and $206 million in total deposits. Southern Heritage currently operates 3 full-service banking centers spanning Bradley County, Tennessee. 

Additional Information for Shareholders

In connection with the proposed merger, First Citizens expects to file a registration statement on Form S-4 with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Shareholders of First Citizens and Southern Heritage are encouraged to read the registration statement, including the proxy statement/prospectus that will be part of the registration statement, because it will contain important information about the merger, First Citizens and Southern Heritage. After the registration statement is filed with the SEC, the proxy statement/prospectus and other relevant documents will be available for free on the SEC’s website (www.sec.gov), and the proxy statement/prospectus will also be made available for free from the Corporate Secretary of each of First Citizens and Southern Heritage. 

Forward-Looking Statements

This press release contains certain forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These statements include, but are not limited to, statements about the expected timing, completion, financial and other benefits and other effects of the proposed merger, the extension of First Citizens’ footprint, the increase in First Citizens’ market share, the size of the combined organization, growth opportunities and continued service of certain offices of Southern Heritage. 

Forward-looking statements can be identified by the use of the words "anticipate," "believe," "expect," "intend," "could," "should," "forward," "future," "opportunity" and other words of similar meaning. These forward-looking statements express management's current expectations or forecasts of future events and, by their nature, are subject to risks and uncertainties and there are a number of factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those in such statements.

Factors that might cause such a difference include, but are not limited to: expected cost savings, synergies and financial and other benefits from the proposed merger might not be realized within the expected time frames and costs or difficulties relating to integration matters might be greater than expected; the requisite shareholder and regulatory approvals for the proposed merger might not be obtained; market, economic, operational, liquidity, credit and interest rate risks associated with First Citizens' and Southern Heritage's businesses, competition, government legislation and policies; ability of First Citizens and Southern Heritage to execute their respective business plans (including the proposed acquisition of Southern Heritage); changes in the economy which could materially impact credit quality trends and the ability to generate loans and gather deposits; failure or circumvention of either First Citizens’ or Southern Heritage's internal controls; failure or disruption of First Citizens’ or Southern Heritage's information systems; significant changes in accounting, tax or regulatory practices or requirements; new legal obligations or liabilities or unfavorable resolutions of litigations; other matters discussed in this press release and other factors identified in the proxy statement/prospectus. 

These forward-looking statements are made only as of the date of this press release, and neither First Citizens nor Southern Heritage undertakes an obligation to release revisions to these forward-looking statements to reflect events or conditions after the date of this press release.

Sources: First Citizens Bancshares, Inc., Southern Heritage Bancshares, Inc. and SNL Financial.


Southern Heritage Bank receives “Excellent” rating from Weiss (January, 2014)

Southern Heritage Bank has once again received an “Excellent” rating for financial strength from the independent bank rating firm Weiss Ratings because of their strong banking practices which offer customers “outstanding financial stability.”

According to WeissRating.com, “We take pride in being tough on companies, and we don’t give out ‘A’ (Excellent) ratings easily.  Our ratings place greater emphasis on a company’s future financial solvency and its ability to withstand severe economic adversity. Companies earning the top ratings … are truly the cream of the crop.”

The Weiss Rating system is a customer-oriented rating tool with the intent of informing risk-averse consumers about the financial strength of banks.  Each quarter, the ratings company evaluates more than 7,300 financial institutions across the U.S.     

“An Excellent rating is a distinction that is come by through prudent business practices, and it is a real testament to the dedication of our board, employees and customers that we are entering our 15th year in business on such a strong note,” remarked Stewart. “We are honored to have earned the trust of Cleveland and Bradley County, and we will continue to build on that trust and our stability in the years to come.”

Southern Heritage’s top rating is credited to their values and commitment to community banking and local ownership.  Southern Heritage has over 800 shareholders – more than any other local bank. 

“With so many interested shareholders at the helm, customers can rest assured that their bank will continue to work for the local community,” said Lee Stewart, Southern Heritage Bank president and CEO.”As a local bank, we provide exceptional value and security to our customers, their families and businesses during challenging economic times.”

This is not the only accolade that Southern Heritage Bank has recently received.  In October, Southern Heritage was one of only three banks in the Chattanooga region awarded the top 5-Star rating for strength and soundness by independent rating firm Bauer Financial.  


SHB Offers Fraud Monitoring for all ATM and Debit Transactions 

Did you know Southern Heritage Bank's Fraud Service Center monitors you transactions? This service monitors your SHB ATM and debit transactions day and night with a “high-tech, high-touch monitoring solution” that protects your accounts using state-of-the-art intelligence technology and skilled fraud analysts.

What does this mean for you? If suspicious transactions are detected on your SHB account, a fraud specialist will attempt to contact you … right away!

If fraud is confirmed, your card will be immediately disabled. If we can’t reach you … we will place temporary restrictions on your card until we can validate that all is well. It’s hard to put a price on peace-of-mind, but luckily you don’t have to.

The Fraud Service Center will now:

  • Review all debit card transactions using experienced fraud analysts.
  • Monitor your account 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – even during non-business hours.
  • Identify potential fraud early in the cycle.
  • Help SHB to minimize impact of fraud on our customers.
  • Allow positive action to reduce future fraud losses.

If the Fraud Service Center suspects fraud, they will attempt to call you between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. to verify the legitimacy of the transaction. In order to contact you in the case of a suspicious transaction, you must have a current phone number on file with SHB.

In the case of a legitimate transaction, the analyst will:

  • Remove any restrictions that may have been placed on the card.
  • Update the incident notes.
  • Email details to the bank indicating no fraud.

If the transaction is determined to be fraudulent, the analyst will:

  • Disable card usage.
  • Update the incident notes accordingly.
  • Email the details to the bank with confirmation of fraud.

If the analyst is unable to contact you, the analyst will:

  • Try alternate phone numbers associated with the account.
  • Leave a message asking you to return the call.
  • Place temporary restrictions on the card until contact is made and transactions are verified.
  • Send the incident detail report to the bank via email with notification of actions taken.

Very Important! The Fraud Service Center Analysts will identify themselves with their first name and tell you that they are calling on behalf of Southern Heritage Bank.  Your Caller ID will show an 1-800 number – not our regular bank phone number.  You will be asked to confirm recent transactions for your debit card. Our Fraud Analysts wil NEVER ask you for your account number or your ATM and Debit Card numbers.

It is recommended that you contact Southern Heritage Bank if you will be traveling out of town or out of country. One of our qualified Customer Service Representatives will make a note on your account to alert the Fraud Service Center Analysts to your travel plans so that they will expect transactions to post in that area.

ATM and Debit Card Fraud Monitoring is just one way that you can Expect A Difference at Southern Heritage Bank. For more information, call Southern Heritage Bank at (423) 473-7980 for more information.


Tennessee Bankers Association Elects New Leadership 

NASHVILLE, Tennessee – Jeff Agee, president, chief executive officer, and director of First Citizens National Bank in Dyersburg, Tenn., was installed as chairman of the Tennessee Bankers Association (TBA) during ceremonies at the closing banquet of the organization's 123rd Annual Meeting. More than 600 members of the financial services industry and related businesses attended the convention.

Agee accepted the chairman's gavel from Anderson "Andy" L. Smith, president and CEO of Jefferson Federal Bank, Athens, TN, who served as TBA chairman during the past year. Smith will remain a member of the association's board of directors for the next three years to help ensure continuity of leadership.

Each year, delegates to the TBA's annual meeting elect new executive officers and new directors. Executive officers for 2013–2014 are:

• Chairman – Jeffrey D. Agee, president and CEO, First Citizens National Bank, Dyersburg, Tenn.
• Chairman-elect – William B. Marsh, chairman and CEO, First Commerce Bank, Lewisburg, Tenn.
• Vice Chairman – David C. Verble, president and CEO, Citizens National Bank, Sevierville, Tenn.
• President – Bradley L. Barrett, Tennessee Bankers Association, Nashville, Tenn.
• Immediate Past Chairman – Anderson "Andy" L. Smith, pesident and CEO, Jefferson Federal Bank, Morristown, Tenn.

Delegates to the convention also elected directors from each of the three grand divisions of the state to serve three-year terms on the TBA board. New directors are:

• East Tennessee – J. Lee Stewart, president and CEO, Southern Heritage Bank, Cleveland, Tenn.
• Middle Tennessee – M. Terry Turner, president and CEO, Pinnacle Bank, Nashville, Tenn.
• West Tennessee – Gordon Majors, president and CEO, The Hardin County Bank, Savannah, Tenn.


Has Your Contact Information Changed?

If you have recently moved, updated your phone number, email address or other contact information, don't forget to let us know about any changes.  SHB wants to make sure you receive account statements, interest notices and other important communications from the bank without delay.  Come by, call or click to let us know of any changes or updates.


Bank Holiday Schedule

Southern Heritage Bank’s offices are closed on the following holidays:

  • New Year’s Day
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
  • Presidents Day
  • Good Friday
  • Memorial Day
  • Independence Day
  • Labor Day
  • Columbus Day
  • Veterans Day
  • Thanksgiving
  • Christmas

What Does Member FDIC Mean?

As a reminder, you receive $250,000 FDIC deposit insurance as Southern Heritage Bank is a member of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). If you have questions about how FDIC coverage affects your accounts with Southern Heritage or to ask us how you can increase your FDIC coverage, visit us or give us a call at 473-7980. For more information on the FDIC and to calculte your FDIC coverage, visit the FDIC's Electronic Deposit Insurance Estimator (EDIE)