In 2004, the only community bank in Clatsop County, Ore., was sold to Tacoma, Wash.-based Columbia Banking System Inc. Steve Ferber, a commercial lender in the county, knew this would be a problem for the local population.

“We are a community of small businesses without any big employers,” Ferber said. “And a community bank meets the needs of that community.”

Located on Oregon’s northern coast, Seaside staked claim to being the Northwest’s most popular ocean resort for over a century. Modern Seaside, now a common tourist destination for residents of the Portland area is a 5,000-person town that understands its eco-nomic dependence on tourism and offers outdoor activities, year-round events, shopping and dining.

Seeing both an opportunity and a need in 2006, Ferber and his team of 13 organizers began the process of applying to charter the Compass Community Bank. Organizer Doug Wiese, owner of a string of area restaurants, told a local newspaper, “I think the main reason I got into this is I believe our county, our area, has a need for a true community bank.”

They applied for an Oregon bank charter in late March 2007 and received approval in September from the state to organize and sell common stock in the venture. Not surprisingly, that development pleased Ferber, who will be the bank president when it opens its doors in early 2008.

“The organizing group is very excited to be one big step closer to serving the community, he said.”

Built from scratch

For now, the Compass Community Bank is operating out of temporary offices in Seaside while it builds its new 6,700-square-foot headquarters in the nearby business district. It will be the anchor tenant in a new 14,000-square-foot single-story building by Beach Development LLC, which is owned by Terry Lowenberg, bank organizer and director. Beach Development has developed, owned and operated multiple commercial projects in Clatsop County and is the developer and general contractor on the new building and bank build-out.

The bank will include an entrance/lobby area with a vaulted ceiling, a new account station, executive offices, conference rooms, a teller window/desk seating designation, vault, IT equipment facility, break area and lavatories. It also will include security protection and will be accessible to persons with physical disabilities.

Beach Development selected the Albany, Ore.-based Electrical Construction Co. to lead the project.

“We’ve worked with Terry and Beach Development a lot before,” said Ron Coffman, the Astoria branch manager for Electrical Construction Co., “especially on other retail locations.”

Electrical Construction is part of the E C Co., Portland, which also owns E C Power Systems, a firm that distributes industrial power products, emergency standby systems, engines and generators.

“We are doing the complete build-out of the bank,” Coffman said. “We will do the core-and-shell on the remaining parts and then go back and do those build-outs as the other three tenants move in.” Coffman also designed the electrical systems for the project.

Low-voltage specs

The bank’s low-voltage systems are being installed as a partnership between Electrical Construction Co. and the bank’s ownership team. On the telecommunications and security systems, Electrical Construction Co. will provide and install the cable and devices out-side the head-end terminations. For the closed-circuit television surveillance (CCTV), it will install the cable but no devices. The bank has secured its own providers to terminate the remaining portions of those systems.

“We’ve seen that approach before,” said Burt Higdon, an Electrical Construction 12-year veteran and senior technician. “Some-times our high-security clients, like banks and the military, prefer to have their own providers who are familiar with their systems do those terminations.”

The telecommunications system will consist of about 100 Category 5 cables for computer and telephone transmissions. The com-puter cables will be home-run to patch panels and the telephone cables to 110-style terminal blocks.

The security system will include door contacts, motion sensors, key pad and an eight-zone control panel. The CCTV system will use RG-58 coaxial cable for video transmissions with 18-gauge, two-conductor power cable for the cameras.

Electrical Construction Co. will install, program and certify the entire fire alarm system.

“In Oregon, a contractor must have a state license to install fire alarm systems,” Higdon said. “We will install and program it and then certify it in a walk-through with the fire marshal.”

The project also will receive 120/208-amp, three-phase electrical service from an external utility ground-mounted transformer, which Electrical Construction will handle. Electrical Construction also will install two 200-amp electrical panels in the bank portion of the building, and each of the other three tenants will receive its own 125-amp panel. The bank will have both direct and indirect standard recessed fluorescent lighting, using electronic ballasts with energy-saving lamps, all designed per Oregon’s energy code for buildings. Electrical Construction also is installing the parking lot lamps, custom-made to match the colonial-style fixtures on the “Prom,” or Promenade, the town’s famous 8,000-foot-long concrete boardwalk between the community and its ocean-front beach.

Work continues at the Compass Community Bank. By mid-October 2007, the facility had been Sheetrocked and painted, and the build-out of the bank-specific items, such as the teller row, began in mid-November. It expects to employ 14 people in the first year and as many as 26 by the end of its second year. In Oregon, the community bank is alive and well, thanks to concerned citizens and a top-notch electrical contracting company.

MUNYAN is a freelance writer in the Kansas City, Kan., area, specializing in business writing and telecommunications. He can be reached at www.russwrites.com.