Yorktown Financial to buy Century Bank holding firm
An old bank is getting a new name and ownership.
Yorktown Financial Holdings Inc. has received approval to acquire Pryor-based CNBO Bancorp Inc., the holding company of Century Bank of Oklahoma, and plans to rename the bank Yorktown Bank early next year.
The deal is expected to close Nov. 14.
The idea for the new bank took seed several months ago after longtime banker Steve Austin began contemplating the idea of buying a lending institution.
Austin, who previously worked at Commerce Bank, had left banking but found himself being approached and contacted by customers encouraging him to start a bank.
"It was planted in my brain. I'm not a very risky guy, but when you have enough people, individuals and business clients, that say that over and over," he said.
Century Bank of Oklahoma initially expanded into Tulsa's market in November 2008, operating out of a temporary site until it could move a year later into a permanent location at 5705 E. 71st St.
Then, last year, Century Bank opened a second Tulsa branch at 2201 E. 21st St., which had previously been leased by Bank of the West.
- LAURIE WINSLOW, World Staff Writer
AT&T activates 4G LTE services in Tulsa area
AT&T made a surprise move and activated 4G LTE services in metro Tulsa on Wednesday.
Customers with LTE-capable devices in the area including Oologah, Pryor, Wagoner, Muskogee, Coweta, Sand Springs, Owasso, Collinsville, Glenpool, Claremore, Sapulpa and Bixby woke up to the service upgrade.
Also, U.S. Cellular announced that its LTE service will become active Monday in Tulsa, Bartlesville, Miami, Claremore, Eufaula, Muskogee, Wilburton, Henryetta, Okmulgee and McAlester.
LTE, or Long Term Evolution, is the new generation of cellular technology that's being embraced by most providers. The service offers the potential for download speeds of up to 75 megabits per second, though actual speeds vary by company and signal strength.
Faster data transmission allows for a variety of improved services, such as clearer audio and video streaming, faster Web pages, lag-free gaming and more.
- ROBERT EVATT, World Staff Writer
Industrial group criticizes utility's deal with EPA
An industrial-sized opponent of AEP-PSO's settlement with federal regulators over regional haze rules contends that the utility's deal was premature and will unnecessarily cost ratepayers billions of dollars over the long haul.
Tom Schroedter and Scott Norwood, representing the Oklahoma Industrial Energy Consumers group, said Monday that American Electric Power-Public Service Company of Oklahoma ditched a reasonable plan worked out in-state with fellow utility OG&E and state environmental officials. Instead, they said, AEP-PSO erred in favor of a costly agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to shut down two coal-fired generation plans by 2026.
"We're urging them to delay this," Norwood said in an exclusive interview with the Tulsa World.
The state's second-largest utility filed testimony last month with the Oklahoma Corporation Commission asking for cost recovery methods to fund the environmental compliance plan. Hearings could start by Feb. 26.
AEP-PSO officials estimated that the deal to cut sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions could cost about $350 million and increase base rates by 11 percent in four years.
AEP-PSO decided on a plan to shut one of its Oologah coal-fired plants by 2016. The second Oologah coal unit would be installed with emissions control equipment and retired by 2026.
Steven Fate, director of business operations support for AEP-PSO, said the utility's compliance plan tried to cover a lot of bases at once.
"What we're trying to do with the environmental compliance plan is come up with a comprehensive plan that dealt with both regional haze and mercury and air toxins," he said. "We thought it made sense to come up with a comprehensive plan."
The OIEC disagrees that the plan is a cost-effective solution. OIEC officials pointed out that OG&E, the state's largest utility, teamed with Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt on a lawsuit against the EPA and that the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has issued a stay of the regional haze rules.
- ROD WALTON, World Staff Writer
Creighton economic index rates Oklahoma high
Oklahoma continues to benefit from the energy sector as a leading economic gauge for the state jumped again in October, pointing to growth in the months ahead.
The Business Conditions Index for Oklahoma advanced to 63.3 from September's reading of 56.6 and August's 53.6, economists at Creighton University in Omaha, Neb., said Thursday.
Oklahoma's index was the second highest in the nine-state Mid-America region, surpassed only by North Dakota, which posted a reading of 64.1.
The index, taken from a survey of businesses, is derived from new orders, production or sales, employment, inventories and delivery lead time. A number greater than 50 signals expansion in the next three to six months, and a number less than 50 points to economic contraction.
As in past months, Oklahoma and North Dakota, which depend significantly on the energy sector, will continue to expand while the rest of the region pulls back, said Ernie Goss, director of Creighton's Economic Forecasting Group.
Goss said the stronger numbers for Oklahoma were surprising because some other data, including that from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, point to slowing growth.
"Even as Oklahoma's economy has expanded at a solid pace, we are tracking somewhat weaker, but positive, job growth," he said. "Companies in the state report shortages of skilled labor even as some firms cut jobs."
Employers report the need for welders, machinists and skills connected to the energy sector, Goss said.
- LAURIE WINSLOW, World Staff Writer