Change is coming

CHARLES TOWN – Bank customers in the Eastern Panhandle will be seeing dozens more United Bank signs in the weeks to come.

At Centra branches across Berkeley County and elsewhere, work crews spent recent weeks putting up new United Bank signs that will be unveiled April 21 when the bank merger – first announced in late 2010 – takes effect.

For now, the United signs are under temporary covers that still feature the blue and white Centra logo.

New signs are in place at Centra Bank’s branch on the corner of W.Va. 51 and U.S. 11 in Inwood and at other Centra locations set to become branches of United Bank later this month. Workers in recent weeks have put up new, permanent United signs, then covered them with temporary Centra signs.

Customers will see a seamless transition as Centra folds into United, explained Ashley Stewart, the Martinsburg-based regional retail sales manager at United.

“Customers will be able to use their Centra checks and deposit slips until they run out,” she said. “They’ll be able to use the same ATM cards.”

United already has 112 banks – stretching from parts of Ohio, Virginia, Maryland and D.C. as well as throughout West Virginia, from Jefferson County to as far south as Man and Sophia in the southern end of the state.

Meanwhile, Morgantown-based Centra has 15 branches and a loan office in parts of West Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania. The Centra locations are in Morgantown, Martinsburg and other parts of Berkeley County and in Hagerstown, Md., and Uniontown, Pa.

According to a news release from United, the deal completed on July 8, 2011 is worth $185.4 million.

According to United officials, the bank today known as United dates to March 17, 1839. The bank originally was the Parkersburg branch of the Northwestern Bank of Virginia. In 1865, it became Parkersburg National Bank; the United name has been in place since 1984.

“After 28 acquisitions, we have grown from a single-office, $100 million bank to an $8.5 billion regional banking company with 126 offices in five states and the nation’s capital,” Stewart said.

– United Bankshares Inc., which maintains dual headquarters in Charleston and in D.C., is traded on NASDAQ as UBSI.

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