Freedom Bank Receives “Outstanding” Rating for Community Reinvestment Act Performance

Quote from Don Bennett: We don't view community investment as a regulatory requirement. For us, it is just how we do business.Freedom Bank received the highest possible rating for our performance in the Community Reinvestment Act during the most recent examination by the FDIC. The Community Reinvestment Act of 1977 requires federally insured depository institutions to support the borrowing needs of the communities where they do business, including low- and moderate-income areas.

The “Outstanding” rating is based on Freedom Bank’s performance under the lending, investment, and service tests. These tests examine mortgage, small business, and community development lending, community development investments, and community development services in the communities a bank serves.

Freedom Bank was recognized in these key areas:

  • 90.9% of home mortgage loans and small business loans, by number, were made to borrowers located in Flathead County.
  • 82.8% of small business loans were made to businesses with less than $1 million in Gross Annual Revenues, demonstrating Freedom Bank’s commitment to meeting the small business credit needs of Flathead County.
  • Good distribution of lending to customers of different income levels and business customers of different sizes.

“We don’t view community investment as a regulatory requirement,” says Freedom Bank President Don Bennett. “For us, it is just how we do business. Columbia Falls believed in us when we opened our doors as a single-wide trailer in 2005 and we work hard every day to return the favor.”

Just like many of our customers, Freedom Bank is a small business. We consider our small size and local character to be our core strengths. Bennett adds, “Freedom Bank remains committed to the continued vitality and successes of our customers, no matter where they are at in their financial journey.”

If you want the money you deposit at a bank to stay local, you can count on Freedom Bank. Give us a call or stop in today to learn more about what we offer. We want to be your bank!

Staying Cyber-safe on a Summer Vacation

Typical travelers heading out on their summer vacation check that they have the right supplies and clothes for their trip before they hit the road. Expert travelers will be also checking to ensure they are educated and prepared to be cyber-safe with their devices and data while on the road! Thinking of your smartphones and devices as being just as important as your wallet is a proper step in the right direction. These devices contain everything from your banking and payment information to your treasured family photos, and ensuring they are secure and protected when away from home is paramount. In partnership with the National Cybersecurity Alliance (NCSA), we have put together some key tips, strategies, and resources to aid you in being secure during your travels.

To do before your trip:

Update your devices: One of the most simple and effective ways to stay cyber-secure is to continuously update your devices. Those updates don’t just contain new features, but fix security flaws and keep you protected!

Password/Passcode protect your devices: Always establish a strong passcode with at least 6 numbers or a swipe pattern with at least 1 turn of direction when protecting the lock screen of your smartphone. On laptops, a minimum of 8 character password or phrase is recommended including uppercase and lowercase letters, special characters, and numbers.

Set your device to lock after an amount of time: Once you have the passcode, password, or swipe pattern established, you should set an automatic device lock prompting for the access code after a specified time of inactivity. This will prevent a criminal from getting onto your device if you accidentally leave it unlocked.

Book your trip with trusted sites: When planning your trip and booking transportation, lodging, and experiences, it is important to complete those transactions with trusted, known businesses. If possible, double check the reviews and reputation of a site you are unfamiliar with, but are considering to use for your booking. By sticking to reputable sites, you guarantee a higher standard of security for your data and transaction.

Staying secure and connected during your trip:

Keep track of your devices: Not only are your devices themselves worth a great deal of money, but your sensitive information that is accessible by that device is also valuable. Ensure that you keep your devices close at hand or secured away safely when not in use. Theft of mobile devices, from smartphones to tablets and laptops, is all too common and can spoil a fun trip to a great extent.

Limit your activity on public Wi-Fi networks: Public Wi-Fi that does not require credentials or logging in is not protected by encryption, so browsing and activity is not secure from prying eyes. To ensure your information is not put at risk, avoid logging into your personal accounts or making transactions while on public or hotel networks.

  • Use your phone carrier’s internet connection, or use your phone as a personal hotspot (if your cell carrier’s plan allows) when logging into personal accounts or conducting transactions.
  • Ensure your device is set to ask your permission before connecting to a wireless network while on your trip.
  • If you intend to use a hotel or establishment’s customer wireless network, verify what network is the correct one to use with a member of the staff.

Don’t overshare on social media: Consider posting updates about your trip after you return. Criminals may see that you are away from home based on social media content and attempt to steal from your home! If you also share too many details about where you are on your trip, some scammers may attempt to contact your family and friends with a variety of scam tactics. Additionally, consider setting your social media accounts to only allow friends to view your posts and content.

By following these tips and being a cyber-safe traveler, you will have a smooth and enjoyable vacation! There are more resources available from NCSA and our partners on staying secure on trips and at home, check them out below to learn more:

Heritage Days 2019

The Columbia Falls Heritage Days celebration dates back to 1956 when it was originally called “Progress Days”. The original event was organized to celebrate the prosperity brought about by the industrial expansion of the area. Decades later, Columbia Falls still enthusiastically celebrates our history, our heritage, and our future. This year’s theme is “There’s No Place Like Home”.

Look for Freedom Bank in the parade down Nucleus Avenue on Saturday, July 27th at 12:00 pm. After the parade, roughly at 1:30 pm, Freedom Bank sponsors a wild horse drive down Highway 2 from Columbia Heights to the Blue Moon. We are also a main sponsor of the Open Rodeo at the Blue Moon Arena, a team and prize sponsor for the 3 on 3 basketball tournament, and a sponsor of the Columbia Falls Community Market at the Coop.

Heritage Days is an adventure and celebration for the whole family. Take a look at the complete schedule below or visit the official website here:

Wednesday – July 24, 2019

  • 5:00 pm – 9:00 pm – 10th Annual Car Show
    • Location: Marantette Park
  • 4:00 pm – 7:00 pm – The American Legion Freedom Post 72 will be preparing food for the Car Show.
    • Location: Marantette Park
    • A nominal fee/donation will be requested to cover the costs of the food.

Thursday – July 25, 2019

  • 5:00 pm – 8:00 pm – Community Market
    • Location:  The Coop – 830 1st Ave. West
  • 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm – FREE Open Swimming
    • Location: Pinewood Park Pool.
    • 6:30 pm – 7:45 pm – Adults and kids to 12 years old
    • 8:15 pm – 9:30 pm – Adults and kids 13+ years old
  • 7:00 pm – Lion’s Club Concert
    • Location: Marantette Park

Friday – July 26, 2019

  • 5:30 pm – 11:00 pm – Wildcat/kat Athletic Endowment Auction and BBQ
    • Location:  The Coop – 830 1st Ave. West
    • 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm – BBQ and Social Hour. $10.00 per plate
    • 5:30 pm – 8:30 pm – Silent Auction
    • 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm – Live Auction
    • 8:30 pm – 11:00 pm Social/Cash Bar and Dancing with Music on The Move
  • 7:00 pm – Open Rodeo
    • Location: Blue Moon Arena northeast corner of Hwy. 2 and 40, just behind the Blue Moon Bar & Grille

Saturday – July 27, 2019

  • 7:00 am – Firemen’s Breakfast
    • Location: Don Anderson Fire Hall, 624 1st Ave. West
  • 7:30 am – early check-in for Heritage Days 3 on 3 basketball tournament
    • Location: Berube Physical Therapy
    • Teams will consist of boys and girls, grades 5-6, grades 7-8 and grades 9-12 and Men’s Open.
    • Registration forms may be picked up at the Columbia Falls Chamber Office, Berube Physical Therapy, Glacier Bank and Whitefish Credit Union. Completed forms must be turned in by July 22nd to any of the above locations. Contact Laura Gadwa at 892-2072 with any questions. Cost per team is $80.
  • 8:00 am – Boogie-to-the-Bank 5k & 10k Run
    • Location: North Fork to Discovery Square
    • Contact Ashley Campbell at 406-751-4758 for more information.
  • 9:00 am – JIM’S Rat Race
    • Location: A short race from Whitefish Credit Union down to the Boogie to the Bank finish line.
    • The race will start after the last runner is finished with Boogie. Open to children ages 4-13. Contact Ashley Campbell at 406-751-4758 for more information.
  • 9:00 am – 5:00 pm – Arts, Crafts, Food Vendors, and Activities for the Kids
    • Location: Marantette Park
    • **Note: Food Vendors have the option to set up by the 3 on 3 basketball tournament and then move to Marantette Park.
  • 10:00 am – 3:00 pm – North Valley Senior Center Fundraiser Luncheon
    • Location: North Valley Senior Center at 205 Nucleus Avenue
    • 11:00 am – 12:00 pm – North Valley High Steppers line dancing entertainment.
    • For more information call the Center at 406-892-4087.
  • 12:00 pm – Main Parade
    • Location: Nucleus Avenue (Railroad Street to 7th Street West)
    • Parade participants will stage along Railroad Street at the north end of Nucleus Ave. at 11:00 am.
  • 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm – Family Fun Day
    • Location: Glacier Bank parking lot
  • 1:30 pm – Freedom Bank’s Wild Horse Drive on Hwy. 2
    • Location: Along Highway 2 from Columbia Heights to the Blue Moon.
    • **Note: Wild horses can be unpredictable and don’t always follow a strict schedule.
  • 4:00 pm – 6:30 pm – Falls Fest Fundraiser by the Rotary Club, with music by the “Barn Yard Riot”
    • Location: Marantette Park
  • 7:00 pm – Open Rodeo
    • Location: Blue Moon Arena northeast corner of Hwy. 2 and 40, just behind the Blue Moon Bar & Grille
  • 7:00 pm – 9:45 pm – Falls Fest Fundraiser by the Rotary Club, with music by “The Brothers”
    • Location: Marantette Park


Cabin Fever Days 2018

Cabin Fever Days 2018

Schedule of Events

Friday – February 9, 2018

  • 7:00 PM – Mixed Doubles Pool – Southfork
    • Dart Tournament – Stonefly
  • 8:30 PM – Marshall Catch – Packers
  • 9:00 PM – Badger Hound – Stonefly

Saturday – February 10, 2018

  • 10:00 AM – Biscuits & Gravy – Packers
  • 1:00 PM – Barstool Ski Races – Sugar Hill
  • 1:00 – 3:00 PM – Moonshine Mountain – Stonefly
    • Arm wrestling Weigh-Ins – Stonefly
  • 1:00 – 4:00 PM – Killer Pool Tournament – Dam Town
  • 2:00 PM – Hog Roast – Packers
  • 3:00 PM – Shuffleboard Tourney – Southfork
    • Snowshoe Softball – Ball field
    • Mountain Man Competition – Packers
  • 4:00 PM – Craig Barton – Southfork
  • 4:00 – 7:30 PM – Arm wrestling Tourney – Stonefly
  • 5:00 PM – Larry Myer – Packers
  • 6:00 PM – Flathead V-8s – Deerlick
    • Dirty Old Men – Southfork
  • 8:00 PM – Pedacter Project – Stonefly
  • 8:30 PM – Comatose Posse – Packers
  • 11:30 PM Chach & Triple T – Stonefly

Sunday – February 11, 2018

  • 10:00 AM – Biscuits & Gravy – Packers
  • 11:00 – 2:00 PM – Hangover Cures – Stonefly
    • Free Soup – Deerlick
  • 1:00 PM – Barstool Ski Races – Sugar Hill
  • 1:00 – 3:00 PM – Moonshine Mountain – Stonefly
  • 2:00 PM – Hog Roast – Packers
    • Craig Barton – Southfork
    • Sonny King – Deerlick
  • 2:00 – 3:00 PM – Roshambo Sign Ups – Stonefly
  • 3:00 PM – Barstool Race Final – Sugar Hill
    • Mountain Man Competition – Packers
  • 3:00 – 5:00 PM – Roshambo Tournament – Stonelfy
  • 4:00 PM – Lary Myer – Packers
    • Dirty Old Men – Southfork
  • 5:00 PM – Mountain Man Finals – Packers

7:00 PM – 40th Annual Barstool Race Awards @ Southfork Saloon

Night of Lights Parade & Brunch with Santa







Chamber Business After Hours at Acutech

Acutech – Business After Hours

November 28 @ 5:00 pm7:00 pm

This month the hosts of our Business After Hours networking event is Acutech.  Acutech is a welding shop located in Columbia Falls.  They produce high quality, custom metal manufacturing projects.  Acutech joined our Chamber in January 2017.  We are proud to have them as members and are looking forward to seeing their facility and projects at our Business After Hours this month.

Business After Hours provide a place to network with other business professionals, unwind after a long day of work and socialize with free food and drinks! Bring donations for the Columbia Falls Food bank.  The more donations you bring, the more raffle tickets you get! Raffle items include a one night stay at the Whitefish Lake Lodge, a $100 gift card for the boat club, and a $100 gift card for Latitude 48.

See you at Acutech on November 28th!

Identity Theft Briefing

Freedom Banks Festively Decorated Employees

Why do we love “ugly sweaters”? Is it our inner child bubbling to the surface to express how goofy and individualistic we are? Is it that through these mats of cloth we deem to be ugly we can poke fun at ourselves and yet be  accepted for who we are? Or is it the simple fact that the holidays bring people together and people like to laugh?  Whatever it is that draws out our deep love for the Holidays, the Freedom Bank Crew personifies the zany spirit that comes with merry holiday traditions.


Our President carpeted in sheep’s wool to keep him warm this winter.


Michelle dawns her inner “squatch” this holiday season.


Kim shows that Santa may have had one to many cookies this holiday season.


Jerry clothes himself in his trusty rusty hunting sweater.


Nona as one of Santa’s elves taking a break from toy building.


Cameron as Santa brought holiday cheer to all the little boys and girls of Freedom Bank.


Meagan prancing around as a jolly young Rudolph.


Max proudly displays his not so ugly Freedom Bank Sweater!









Montana’s Notary of the Year

Jerry Burley, assistant vice president and loan officer at Freedom Bank on Friday was awarded Notary of the Year by Montana Sec. of State Linda McCulloch.

Burley has been a notary since the early ‘90s, getting his start in banking fresh out of high school.

He grew up in Broadus and, following his love of accounting, took a job bookkeeping at a bank in Ashlan.

The job required him to be a notary, so he became one.

The process as he recalled it was not difficult.

“Back in the day, it was just fill out a form, and the bank paid for the bonding, and I took a training and they sent the certificate,” he said.

Being a notary is fairly simple, he said. Any time a legal document needs notarized, he confirms the ID of the person signing, keeps a log, and adds a stamp to the document confirming he notarized it.

“Jerry Burley epitomizes what it means to be Montana Notary of the Year,” said McCulloch. “He was chosen from a strong field of nominees for demonstrating exceptional services and high standards of practice.”

Montana Notary of the year nominees were evaluated on their longevity, variety of documents notarized, use of notary journal, community service, and exceptional notary service.

McCulloch started the Montana Notary of the Year award in 2009 in an effort recognize the invaluable work done by notaries in Montana.

“Notaries are the first line of defense against many types of fraud as they are responsible for determining the identity of the person who signs a document, swears an oath, or performs any of the other acts that require a notary public. I’m eager to present this award to such a deserving notary public,” McCulloch said.

Burley is involved in the community, which factored in to being named Notary of the Year.

He was a member of the Columbia Falls Chamber of Commerce for 10 years, and has served as treasurer of the Gateway to Glacier trail for the past three.

Because he was named Montana Notary of the year, Burley is automatically nominated for the National Notary of the Year award given annually by the National Notary Association.

Burley’s wife, Joanne, their daughter Kristen and granddaughter Avery were all present at the award ceremony at Freedom Bank on Friday.

Although he now works as a lender at Freedom Bank rather than the accounting and bookkeeping that first got him interested, he says that his favorite aspect of being a notary has remained the same.

“I think mainly it’s the people that come through, the conversations I have with them while they sign. It’s just getting to know people,” he saidJERRY SEC DON

Affordable Housing for Columbia Falls

Stable, affordable housing is critical to education, health, and economic success across our area. Habitat for Humanity’s unique home ownership program allows hardworking, low-income families to build and buy a home.

Currently, Habitat for Humanity of Flathead Valley is in the middle of an affordable housing project in Columbia Falls. This 16-unit townhouse development will be completed by 2015 and to date they have placed 8 families into new homes. These homes are constructed by volunteers and materials are paid for by donations and earnings from two second-hand furniture stores.

Habitat for Humanity is always looking for more volunteers to help. If you are unable to help, consider a donation. Freedom Bank recently made a sizable donation to Habitat for Humanity to help them improve our community. Please consider helping this great organization achieve their goal of providing affordable housing to our neighbors in need.