Pony Express Community Bank has announced a proposed merger with First Option Bank.

Pony Express Community Bank could soon see a change of name.

The bank, headquartered in St. Joseph, has announced a proposed merger with First Option Bank, headquartered in Osawatomie, Kansas.

President and CEO of Pony Express Community Bank Bob Means said he was approached by First Option Bank about a possible merger at just the right time.

“My sons are not interested in continuing the banking, my nieces are not particularly interested,” Means said. “My brother has retired, my sister’s retired, and my dad has stepped down from the board of directors and as advisory director. This is just a good time for our organization.”

Pony Express Community Bank operates three location outside of St. Joseph in Elwood, Troy and Horton, all in Kansas. First Option Bank has five branches south of Kansas City in LaCygne, Louisburg, Osawatomie, Paola and Spring Hill, all in Kansas.

Once the merger is approved by the Federal Reserve Board, Pony Express Community Bank will change its name to First Option Bank. Means expects the merger to occur in the last quarter of 2019 or the first quarter of 2020.

All branches will stay open and all personnel is staying on. Pony Express Community Bank customers can look forward to a wider portfolio of services.

“Our customers will enjoy more enhanced internet and mobile banking services as well as instantly issued debit cards,” Means said. “First Option Bank will bring access to VA and FHA loans, something that we have not been able to provide. We bring to them a very solid commercial and agricultural lending group.”

Customer feedback has been positive so far, according to Means.

“This is a changing world, and they know that we have to be a little bit bigger,” he said. “It’s staying as a community bank, it’s not going to be a mega bank. I think that’s important to our customers because they have chosen to deal with a local community bank.”

Means’ parents John and Joann Means founded Pony Express Community Bank along with other principal investors as The First State Bank of Elwood in 1975 in Elwood, Kansas. First Option Bank has been owned by the Lewis family since the 1970s.

“We continue to be a family business,” Means said. “It’s just a different family.”

Jessica Kopp can be reached

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