Joining the List of Heroes: Our Community Banks
Bank of Zachary, Bank of St. Francisville, Landmark Bank, Feliciana Bank

By Patricia Rachal Stallman
For The Feliciana Explorer and The Zachary Post

The PPP Fights COVID-19 

On December 31, 2019, the World Health Organization reported a “mysterious pneumonia” in Wuhan, China, and on January 30, 2020, declared it “a public health emergency of international concern.”

By early January, the coronavirus had already begun spreading throughout the United States.

As governors imposed quarantines and shuttered all non-essential businesses, the prospect rose of people escaping the virus with their lives, but not their jobs. The pandemic had brought with it an economic crisis.

The U. S. Congress earmarked, first, $350 billion and, later, another $310 billion for the Payroll Protection Program under the Small Business Administration. The intent: to keep employees on the payroll for eight weeks. Businesses could prepare for reopening; essential businesses could remain open, though customers were fewer; and employees could pay their bills, buy food, and avoid losing their homes.

As long as borrowers used at least 75 percent of the loan to pay their employees’ salaries, benefits, and related expenses, and no more than 25 percent to pay the business mortgage, rent and utilities costs, the government would forgive the loans.

But Here’s What Happened

The first round of loans began April 3, 2020.

The SBA’s list of “existing lenders” did not initially include most community banks.

The megabanks jumped in. 

The money ran out in less than two weeks.

The community banks prevailed on behalf of small business.

Nothing prohibited any bank from handling larger loans first. As the program unfolded, SBA officials learned that some large companies with multiple locations had applied more than once and received multiple loans. Further, the office of the treasury announced that it had never intended the PPP to benefit publicly traded companies that could negotiate their own loans. Voices rose from the halls of Congress and the public at large, calling for repayment of the funds. 

The best assessment of the first loan roll-out: It was fast. 

During the first week of the first wave of the program, however, some of the community banks lost time scrambling to join the list of approved lenders, then worked through nights and weekends from kitchen tables and home offices to submit their clients’ applications while observing the governor’s call to sequester during the pandemic. It was a case of David versus Goliath.

Commitment and Passion

Mark Marionneaux, Bank of Zachary, noted, “Knowing how important these loans were to our customers, we worked around the clock—nights, holidays, and weekends—to get it done. When the PPP reopened at 9:30 a.m. on April 27, we were 100 percent ready to submit. We had worked until 1 a.m. that morning to ensure that 100 percent of our applications were submitted. If there was ever a time when where you bank matters, it’s this pandemic. The loan program has been a monumental lift for the community banking industry across the country.

“While a lot of our economy has shifted to a transactional environment, community banks work off of relationships...and good, honest, hardworking people is what we thrive on, not only our communities and our customers but our employees as well.”

 Feliciana Bank’s president, Jaye Bunch, agrees with that portrayal of the people of Zachary and the Felicianas. Still, he was a bit surprised—but just a bit—when some of his customers who could have qualified for a PPP loan—the forgivable loan, remember—explained that they “didn’t want to take funds from those who needed the money more.”

Knowing the people the bank serves, Marionneaux says, “having a good relationship with our business community is what we’re about, what makes us who we are.

“Behind every great team is a really strong culture of passionate and committed people. I’m proud that the employees of the Bank of Zachary are passionate and committed to the communities we serve and to the relationships we hold near and dear to our hearts here locally.”

Echoing that commitment, Landmark Bank’s Ben Cavin reports that, like the officers and employees of the other community banks, he and his staff “have consistently worked 12-hour days, including weekends and holidays, to make sure we were taking care of all of our customers. We prioritized the loans in the order we received the completed applications, as opposed to putting those who had the most money in the bank at the head of the line...because in small communities like ours, every job is essential.”  

Carter Leak IV of Bank of St. Francisville adds, “While we’re not quite first responders, we feel that the government made a wise move in partnering the treasury and the SBA with the banking industry, primarily the community banks.” Community banks know their customers and their customers’ needs, he explains, and will fight to help them come out the other side of the pandemic with both health and income intact. The people of the community are what is important, not loan amounts and processing fees.

He emphasizes that PPP applicants don’t have to be customers of the bank. “Our goal is to help the entire community.”

Different Methods, Same End

Marionneaux describes more than a few customers who dealt with other banks—or tried to—and came back to Bank of Zachary. Elsewhere, they discovered, they were the small fish in the big pond. “Here, in our pond, they’re the big fish.”

Ben Cavin, of Landmark, had a similar experience. “We have had several customers who got their applications in early, but as money ran out, they received generic emails or letters from the larger banks, telling them they had not been processed during the first round.  

“We have had approximately 10 customers come back to us during this second round and ask if we would consider processing their request, because they have had no indication from the larger banks on their status. They were beginning to worry that the second round would run out and their applications would remain unprocessed.  

“We have been able to handle their requests, in many cases before the big banks even returned their calls.” 

Standing up to the megabanks meant outsmarting them, not only by investing more time processing applications—and at odd times of the night and day—but by calling upon individual strengths as well. The community banks developed processes that worked for each of them. The Bank of St. Francisville, Leak says, emphasized technology; it began with a communication that included “informative links with summaries about the program and answers to frequently asked questions.” 

Next, “we used our website to put out videos that explained exactly what our customers needed to do so that we could process the applications efficiently. If we had limited ourselves to one-to-one conversations, we couldn’t have helped as many people.”

In one video, Aimee Cook, vice president of commercial and residential lending at Bank of St. Francisville, takes the viewer through the PPP application form, cell by cell, line by line, explaining exactly which pitfalls to avoid and how to provide the correct information. She cautions the viewer, for example, to use a font small enough to fit the entire social security number within the cell that calls for it. Many applicants, she learned, stalled their application simply by using a font that was not readable. 

To demonstrate how to arrive at the loan eligibility amount, she explains how to enter payroll and other figures.

“The beauty of community banking when using the program,” Mr. Leak says, “is that we already know the businesses, and they know us. It’s easier for all of us—the banks and the businesses—to work with people we know.”

Landmark, too, has “taken a lot of steps to make this process as easy as possible for those who have applied with us.” Cavin designated Brandon Noel “our primary source for PPP information” and provided Mr. Noel’s telephone contact. “He emailed the application form and supporting information and walked each customer through the process. 

“We have allowed customers to sign the forms in their cars at our drive-through locations. We have delivered documents to their businesses while waiting outside to avoid exposure. We have done and will do anything necessary to make sure the process is as easy as possible.”

That gulf between the big banks and the local lenders just grew a few more miles.

Cavin offers another difference between community banks and the giants: During the opening days of that first wave of loans, when Landmark Bank and Feliciana Bank were busy working through those “system issues”—calling the government numbers to ask for inclusion on the list of official lenders—rather than hold up their customers, they referred them to what Cavin calls their “peer banks.” 

Mr. Bunch says he too “had to battle through the government telephone system for almost a week before we could reach a telecommunications officer for the SBA website...only to find out that all that person could do was answer the phone. You don’t want to tell your customers to wait on something you have no control over,” he says, explaining that successful loan applications for his customers was more important than who guided them through the process.

“We have direct dialogue,” Cavin continues, “with the other community banks to ensure that we are taking care of everyone.” 

While the larger lenders certainly fill a niche or two, Cavin doubts “you would ever see Chase and Bank of America calling each other to share ideas and help each other work through system issues. 

“That, however, is exactly what we have done with our local peers, and as a result, we have taken care of our communities, which is the most important thing.”

A Few Figures

Bank of Zachary’s Marionneaux shares a few figures: “In the first wave, we made 145 loans for a little more than $18 million; in the second, we made 84 loans for a little over $7 million. 

“Eighty-two percent of the loans we made in the first round were under $150,000, and the average amount was $127,000.” Those figures are an indication that the PPP funds went to small businesses, as intended. 

Though bank employees are still working to determine the number of loans “relative to the actual number of paychecks,” he estimates that Bank of Zachary loans could affect 1,500 to 2,000 paychecks. “That’s where the program is having its impact.”

At Landmark, Mr. Cavin estimates “approximately 50 applications since the program began, and another 20 to 25, depending on how long the PPP money lasts.” He estimates as well that the loans provided salaries for between 425 and 450 jobs.

“We have worked applications from a wide range of businesses, including, but not limited to, contractors, retailers, industrial customers, restaurants, and churches.”     

Landmark has processed loans “primarily from East Feliciana—including Clinton, Jackson, Slaughter and Ethel—and from East Baton Rouge, but also from Zachary, Greensburg, Amite, Pride, and several others in between.”

Bank of St. Francisville processed over 100 loans in round one, and again over 100 in round two. Amounts ranged from a few thousand to several hundred thousand, and affected the paychecks for a “wide range of businesses...from those with a sole proprietor to those with several hundred employees.” The types of businesses the Bank of St. Francisville served include retail, the hospitality industry, realtors, interior designers, hospitals, contractors, and churches.”

Jaye Bunch reports that Feliciana Bank approved 34 loans in amounts of $2,000 to $250,000 for a total of $1,360,000, for an average of $40,000 per loan. He predicts that the bank “will probably end up with about 50 loans before the money runs out.” A typical loan was $2,000 to a small local trucking company. 

The present moment, he says, “is not all gloom and doom.” Grocery stores and gas stations are “doing well,” and the local hardware store, while open fewer hours, is doing a pre-pandemic level of business. He calls attention to the many non-profits in East Feliciana, including RKM Clinic in Clinton and Dixon Correctional Institute, the veterans home, and Eastern Louisiana Mental Health System in Jackson, all of which employ large numbers of people. “Business is picking up,” he reports. “We’ve had a really strong month and a half.”

He lauds the banks as “pillars of their communities,” noting, “These four small-town banks have about 400 years of combined time serving this area. That’s impressive.”

Doing Their Part

Though nationwide the smaller lenders processed most of the PPP loans, Marionneaux cautions, “Numbers and statistics tell only a piece of the story. The anxiety our small businesses are going through now, and then the elation and relief they experience when they get that call at 10:30 at night...and just cry, just show raw emotion, because they won’t have to lay off their employees....

“Whether we do 10 loans or a thousand, we are going to do the best we can with all those who come to us—the best we can until the money runs out.”

Echoing the other bank presidents, he puts the efforts of the community banks into perspective: “We are in the middle of a huge medical crisis, and there’s a medical community out there fighting a much harder fight than ours.”

The four say they are honored to do their part.


Customer, employee and community health and well-being remain our top priority at Bank of Zachary. Beginning Thursday, March 19, our bank lobbies at all branches will be closed and we will offer full-service banking through our drive thru option only. Drive thru hours will remain the same: 9:00am to 5:30pm, Monday through Friday.

This decision was made after careful consideration of recent state and national mandates regarding the spread of COVID-19.  Our team is available by limited in-person appointments for customers needing loan assistance, new account services or access to safe deposit boxes. Please reach out to your local branch or banker for an appointment or urgent banking needs.

We also want you to have the confidence that you can manage your banking anywhere, anytime. We strongly encourage you to use the Bank of Zachary digital tools for 24/7 account access. You can access your accounts through online banking, with the Bank of Zachary mobile app or by calling Telephone Banking (225) 654-1516.

Thank you for your continued trust and confidence in Bank of Zachary. Again, our Main Office number is (225) 654-2701. Please call us at any time with questions or concerns.

At Bank of Zachary, the health and well-being of our customers, staff, and the communities we serve is our top priority. Like you, we are monitoring the latest news about the Coronavirus (COVID-19); and we understand the concern and uncertainty you may be experiencing. Bank of Zachary is committed to doing all we can to make sure our branches are open, our bankers are available and our account services center is staffed.

We also want you to have the confidence that you can manage your banking anywhere, anytime. We strongly encourage you to use the Bank of Zachary digital tools for 24/7 account access. You can access your accounts through online banking or with the Bank of Zachary mobile app. With these services you can view transactions, check balances, pay bills, deposit checks, and more. If you haven’t enrolled in online banking or downloaded the BoZ app, it only takes a few minutes. We would be happy to assist you with this process. Give us a call at (225) 654-2701.

Enroll in Bank of Zachary Online Banking 

Download the Bank of Zachary Mobile App 

Please remember, if we reach out to you, we won’t ask for confidential information such as your name, social security number, password, personal identification number or other account information. Also, for the latest information about Coronavirus (COVID-19), visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at

Should you find yourself in need during this time, we encourage you to call us to discuss options available for consumer lending and deposit products. We value the opportunity to be a dedicated partner to the communities we serve. We will continue to make ongoing assessments and will provide any updates on our website and also on our social media platforms.  Thank you for your continued trust and confidence in Bank of Zachary. Again, our number is (225) 654-2701.Please call us at any time with questions or concerns.


Mark Marionneaux
Bank of Zachary

Zachary, LA – December 30, 2019 – The Bank of Zachary is pleased to announce the promotion of Brent Bradley to Chief Administrative Officer.  Brent joined the bank in May of 2018 and most recently served as Senior Vice President of Retail Operations and Business Development.  In his new role, Brent will oversee several major operations departments of the bank including retail, marketing, training and human resources.  He will continue to serve in the business development role for the bank.

“Brent has been a strong member of our executive team and this promotion signifies the importance of his experience, leadership and vision for Bank of Zachary as we continue to grow and expand,” said President/CEO Mark Marionneaux.  “His new role as CAO echoes his growing responsibility at the bank over all aspects of administration.  From business development and retail operations to marketing and training, Brent plays a crucial role on our Bank of Zachary team.”

Brent is a graduate of Louisiana State University, the Louisiana Bankers Association Leadership School, and is currently enrolled in the Barret Graduate School of Banking at Christian Brothers University in Memphis.  He currently volunteers his time by serving on the boards of the Zachary Athletic Foundation, Legendz Sports Academy and the Americana YMCA.  Brent has been involved in numerous organizations in and around the region including the Zachary Chamber of Commerce, the Zachary Economic Development Council and the Livingston Parish Economic Development Council.  He is a 2016 recipient of the Excellence in Sales and Marketing award presented by the Sales and Marketing Executives of Greater Baton Rouge.   

He and his wife Mandy live in Zachary with their children, Lauren and John.


Bank of Zachary announced today that Judy Foreman, senior vice president of loan production, has retired after 48 years.

“Judy Foreman is the perfect example of what a community banker should be” said President and CEO Mark Marionneaux.  “Her dedication to customers, affection for her fellow employees and her selfless contributions to our community is a standard we all aspire to.  We will miss Judy and will be forever grateful for her commitment to Bank of Zachary.”

A lifelong resident of Zachary, Judy started her career at the bank in the bookkeeping department, worked on the teller line and served as executive secretary to former bank President Harry Morris.  She has been a loan officer for the bank for the last 25 years, before becoming senior vice president over loan production.  Judy’s community volunteer efforts include serving many years as Treasurer of the Zachary Rotary Club.

When asked about her time at the bank, Judy shared, “The wonderful friendships made through the years at Bank of Zachary are one of my greatest joys.  Memories will be treasured as always and held dear to my heart.  I am looking forward to spending time with family and friends and working on my bucket list.”

Judy has a daughter Ann Marie Boudreaux and husband Shawn, grandchildren Alexandra, Jules and Kaleb. Judy and her husband Michael plan to move to their lake home in Arkansas in the coming months.

(Zachary, LA) – Bank of Zachary announced a strategic initiative focused on expanding into new markets and renovating existing branches. The bank recently opened its first Loan Production Office at 348 Veteran's Boulevard in Denham Springs. In addition, Bank of Zachary acquired the recently closed Capital One location on Highway 16 in Watson, LA. The facility is expected to be renovated and open to the public in early 2020.

"We're a 115-year-old bank, and we're here to stay," stated Mark Marionneaux, the bank's President and Chief Executive Officer. "In fact, we're growing. We're continuing to make enhancements that allow our customers to bank the way they want."

The Bank of Zachary also recently purchased land adjacent to its Central branch location on Hooper Rd. in the City of Central. This land acquisition will allow the bank to renovate and expand the Central facility in 2020.

As the oldest chartered bank in East Baton Rouge Parish, Bank of Zachary continues to enhance its customers’ hometown banking experience. The birth of this initiative began in 2017 with the full remodel of Bank of Zachary’s Plaza location at 2110 Church Street in Zachary. The bank, which is headquartered in Zachary, is also planning a full remodel of its Main Office located at 4743 Main Street in Zachary.

"Bank of Zachary's latest expansion and remodeling efforts will enhance our customers' experience," Marionneaux said. "Whether our customers choose to bank online or at a branch, nothing pleases our team more than developing generations of loyal friends, neighbors, and family. Our goal is to serve our customers anywhere, anytime. Of course, none of these endeavors would be feasible without a committed and dedicated staff. Our Bank of Zachary employees make this momentous occasion possible. We are excited for what the future holds."


One of our wonderful customers recently posted a “rant” on her Facebook page, directed at a very large, out-of-state bank.  She ended her post with glowing remarks about the Bank of Zachary, writing “everyone always asks why I still do my banking with the Bank of Zachary. They are still hometown banking & everyone in there still knows you!”

While I am flattered and humbled by the unqualified endorsement of the Bank of Zachary, I am stung by the qualification that anyone would ask why she "still" banks with us, as if the Bank of Zachary is a relic of the past. Kind of like being surprised that someone "still" uses a flip-phone.

Well, I would like to think that our customer and many, many others are favorably impressed that we are "still" here on Main Street in Zachary as we have been since 1904, when so many community institutions have disappeared from the Main Streets of America. And that we are "still" owned, managed, and staffed by local friends and neighbors.

We are "still" fully invested in and wholly committed to our community, taking pride in being one of the leading corporate citizens, donating our time and money to virtually every cause and civic organization in the area.

We are "still" meeting the financial needs of thousands of households, small businesses, churches and non-profit organizations. We are "still" innovating by adopting "high tech" solutions while maintaining the "high touch" personal service that generations of our loyal customers have come to expect.

And unlike credit unions, we are "still" paying taxes that support our first responders and our military, build and maintain our roads, and contribute to essential government services.

We are grateful when a customer becomes an advocate for the Bank of Zachary but more importantly, we sincerely appreciate the trust bestowed in us to help meet financial needs.  We intend to keep earning the trust of our citizens for another 100 years and beyond.

Dear Zachary and Surrounding Communities,

The recent news of the Georgia Pacific, BASF and Thompson Pipe Group layoffs has hit our local communities hard. The Bank of Zachary is deeply concerned by the news of these closures and is actively laying out plans to help our customers and local communities navigate the fallout from the economic impact.

Bank of Zachary first opened for business on July 2, 1904, making it the oldest bank headquartered in East Baton Rouge Parish. Support for our community is the bedrock on which our bank was founded, and it remains our guiding principle. As a community bank, we are relationship driven and understand the needs of our customers and communities. It’s just the way we do business. In today’s world that means being ready for anything that comes our way. A natural disaster like the flood of 2016, or a financial and economic event such as a layoff is no exception.

We are in the process of reaching out to our customers to help them through this uncertain time. We encourage everyone affected by the recent layoffs to contact their financial institutions to communicate your specific needs, and to determine what resources may be available to you.

In addition, Bank of Zachary has commissioned an economic impact analysis for the Zachary community. The research is underway, and our intention is to make this information available to the public when complete. This public service will provide a detailed understanding of the economic impact on those directly affected as well as the potential impact on local economies and related industries. This will hopefully add clarity to the decision-making process of our governmental officials, small business owners and to the whole community while we navigate these uncertain times.

The worst circumstances often bring out the very best in our humanity and in our communities. When torrential floodwaters descended upon south Louisiana communities in the fall of 2016, individuals and communities united to provide comfort and support during a time of great uncertainty for many. As we’ve seen time and time again, this community has risen to the occasion, despite their own challenges.

I urge you to seek out the locally owned businesses and SHOP LOCAL at every chance you get. These business owners will need you now more than ever before. By shopping and banking locally, you and your community reap benefits you might not experience when frequenting big, national chains. More of the money you spend at a locally owned business will be reinvested in this community, YOUR Community!

On behalf of our Board of Directors and the entire Bank of Zachary team, have confidence that we will continue to stand strong with YOU.


Mark Marionneaux

On May 15, 1978, I reported for a summer job at Feliciana Bank, a community bank in downtown Norwood, Louisiana. My previous summers were spent stacking green lumber at a sawmill and shoveling, uh, by-product, at a stockyard. The bank job had the decided appeal of being clean, cool and considerably more prestigious.

One semester away from earning my LSU diploma, I was headed to law school the following fall. I received my degree in December, but I didn’t go to law school. In fact, I never left community banking. That is a decision that I have never regretted.

On the anniversary of my 40th year as an active community banker (Tuesday, May 15), I will step down as the Chief Executive Officer of the Bank of Zachary, allowing our president Mark Marionneaux to fully assume our leadership. As President Emeritus, I will advise and assist Mark and provide temporary oversight during the leadership transition.

I will continue to serve as President and Chief Executive Officer of our holding company, Zachary Bancshares, Inc., the parent company of the Bank of Zachary, and as Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors of both the Bank and the holding company.

This transition in leadership has been in the making for several years. Mark progressed from Vice President to Chief Lending Officer before being named President at the beginning of 2017. The transition culminates with Mark assuming the joint President/CEO title on May 15. Mark and I have worked together to make this as smooth and seamless as possible.

Successful organizations require effective leadership. Mark has proven himself to be the right leader for the Bank of Zachary, and I am certain that our outstanding staff will extend to Mark the same respect and loyalty that has been unfailingly afforded to me during my tenure at the helm of the Bank.

At the Bank of Zachary, the foundation for greatness - as well as goodness - was laid in ages past, carefully nurtured by generations of our predecessors. I am proud beyond measure to know that the legacy of the Bank of Zachary has been preserved and enhanced. It will continue to be as we go forward under the direction of a new leader.


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 Blog - Special New Year

This is a special New Year at the Bank of Zachary as we begin 2017 with a new leader at the helm. One day after his 38th birthday, Mark S. Marionneaux became the 8th President in our 112 year history. In addition to his relative youth, Mark brings enthusiasm and a clear-eyed vision to our venerable institution.

Central to that vision is our continuing commitment to remaining an independent, locally owned and locally managed community bank. The Bank of Zachary, with Mark Marionneaux as President, will be managed for the long-term, focused on meeting the financial needs of our community.

This is the tradition that was passed down to me in August 2006 when I was named the 7th President of the Bank of Zachary. Throughout the century-plus history of the Bank, dedicated men and women have built a reputation of service and I considered it my primary responsibility to maintain this distinction during my tenure as President.

I grew up in Zachary, as did my parents and grandparents. It is a point of family pride that added to the names of past Presidents of the Bank of Zachary – deBretton, Fields, Mills, Rhodes, Daniel and Morris – will be Kennedy. As a community banker and native son of Zachary, my ten years as President of the Bank of Zachary have certainly been the most enjoyable and satisfying of my career.

Thank you to Harry Morris and Ed Canning for giving me this opportunity, along with Board Members Russell Bankston, Sam Johnson, David Thornton, Tom Ed McHugh, Randall Brian, Dr. Howard Martin, Hardee Brian, and the late Al Mills.

During my tenure as President, the challenges to the community banking industry have been tremendous. The housing crisis that affected so much of our country was followed by an oppressive regime of regulations aimed at the unscrupulous but which landed the hardest on the innocent.

Congress and the regulatory agencies never seem to appreciate that community financial institutions have consumer safeguards built into our business model. If we take advantage of our customers, we go out of business. Heavy-handed government edicts are not as effective, and not nearly as permanent, as the discipline of the free market.

It is a sad fact that during the past ten years, a multitude of community banks have disappeared. A great many were sold or merged out of existence because their ownership and management were dispirited and overwhelmed by the unrelenting cascade of regulatory burden. Come what may, the Bank of Zachary is determined to meet and conquer any and all challenges. It will be my honor to continue as Chief Executive Officer, and I look forward to working with our new President and our excellent staff as we continue our tradition of excellence.

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