Brianna Cortes, Personal Banker | SouthStar Bank Harker Heights Branch The SouthStar Bank team is growing with the addition of personal banker, Brianna Cortes. She is excited to be joining the Harker Heights branch, and can’t wait to help the bank grow and succeed. In her spare time, Brianna enjoys spending time with her son and doing water activities. One of her biggest accomplishments in life is that she has been skydiving. Welcome Brianna!
Congratulations to Trey Bertelson on his promotion to Vice President and Retail Banking Operations Officer! Trey Bertelson was promoted to Vice President and Retail Banking Operations Officer. Trey has been a part of the SouthStar Bank team for the last two years. Prior to joining SouthStar Bank, he spent 10 years working in financial services. During this time, Trey established his commitment to personalized service and a team-first mentality. Trey is excited to take on this new position at SouthStar Bank. He is most looking forward to “building on the team-first principles cultivated during his time at the Leander Branch.” As Retail Operations Officer, Trey will oversee bank-wide operations and growth initiatives, execute efficient workflow, and support the Chief Operations Officer. Outside of work, Trey maintains an active role in the community. Currently he serves as the Treasurer for the Cedar Park Public Library Foundation. Trey also enjoys hiking and watching sports.
Bryan Buck, Senior Vice President, Chief Technology Officer, Security Officer| SouthStar Bank Harker Heights Branch Bryan Buck is SouthStar Bank’s Chief Technology Officer, Senior Vice President, and Security Officer. Bryan has been with SouthStar Bank for 12 years and works from the Harker Heights Branch. He is a graduate of Sam Houston State University and the Southwestern Graduate School of Banking, at SMU. Bryan enjoys getting to help people achieve their financial goals. Maintaining an active role in the community, Bryan is a member of the Harker Heights Chamber of Commerce, Harker Heights Recreational Soccer League, Salado Community Chorus, and the Westside Church of Christ. He also serves as President of the Nolanville Economic Development Corporation which works to increase community development. Bryan enjoys hiking, gardening, singing, and spending time with his kids. Due to his musical background, he can sing and play at least eight different instruments. His dream vacation would be to travel to various natural environments such as the Redwood forests of California or the mountains on the Grand Tetons. NMLS# 469503
Danielle Sackllah, Personal Banker | SouthStar Bank Steiner Ranch Branch Danielle Sackllah is joining the SouthStar Bank Steiner Ranch team as a Personal Banker. This is her first time working in the banking industry and she is excited to bring her high energy to the workplace. Danielle believes her client focused attitude will help her be successful at SouthStar Bank. Welcome to the team Danielle!
Samalia Huggins, Loan Closing Coordinator | SouthStar Bank Harker Heights Branch Samalia Huggins joins the SouthStar Bank team as a Loan Closing Coordinator. She will be based in the Harker Heights Branch. Samalia brings three and a half years of experience to SouthStar Bank. She is most excited to bring her award-winning personality and drive to succeed to the SouthStar Bank team. Samalia is also looking forward to learning everything that the Bank has to offer. Samalia is a mom of three daughters and grandma to one grandson. She is originally from Wilmington, NC and has been living in Texas for the last three and a half years. During her free time, Samalia likes to cook, explore Texas, and ride the electric scooters in Downtown Austin. NMLS#1553685
Blake McNicoll, Credit Analyst | SouthStar Bank Leander Branch Blake McNicoll has worked in the banking and finance industry for over nine years. Previously working at a local CPA firm, Blake joined the SouthStar Bank team three years ago. He completed his undergrad at The University of Texas at San Antonio and received his MBA from Sam Houston State University. Blake’s favorite part about his job is his critical role in helping customers. In his community, Blake is a member of the Costal Conservation Association and Ducks Unlimited. He has also helped build houses for Habitat for Humanity and volunteered with the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program. When he is not at work, Blake enjoys grilling, working out, and spending time with family. Blake is a big sports fan and enjoys watching his favorite teams the Houston Astros, Dallas Cowboys, Texas Longhorns, and the Houston Rockets. One thing people don’t know about Blake is that he is an Eagle Scout. Blake enjoys traveling and hopes to one day take an Alaskan Cruise.
Blake Feste, Vice President of Credit Administration | SouthStar Bank Leander Branch Blake Feste is a VP of Credit Administration at our SouthStar Bank Loan Administration Building in Leander. A TCU graduate, Blake has been a part of the SouthStar Bank family for over four years. Blake personally enjoys using his problem-solving skills to identify potential solutions for challenging issues and creating efficiencies for the institution. Outside of work, Blake is on the board of the Young Men’s Business League of Austin (YMBL), where he serves as Co-Chair of Programs. Through this role he coordinates member volunteering with the non-profit’s affiliated entity, the Austin Sunshine Camps (ASC), and leads fundraising efforts each year to send low-income youth to summer camp at no cost to their families. In 2019, he assisted in sending over 1,000 kids to ASC. Blake is a big sports fan and likes to spend his time watching football on Saturdays and Sundays in the fall. He also enjoys traveling and hopes to one day take a ski trip in Japan. Blake and his wife welcomed their first child in 2019.
Congratulations to Deanna Whitson, recognized as the 2019 Salado Citizen of the Year! Deanna served as the Chair for the Salado Christmas Stroll Parade and under her guidance had the largest Christmas Stroll to date. The parade had over 60 entries and overcame literal construction obstacles. Whitson also played a significant leadership role in the Salado Rotary Club’s Second Annual ‘Que on Main fundraiser which brought hundreds of visitors to Salado on Memorial Day Weekend. When describing Deanna, Awards Chairman Claire Hartman said, “This person doesn’t have to be in charge, but will be if called upon. Her desire to give and help is genuine and authentic.” Hartman also went on to say “Deanna has been in our community helping, with a big H! From Chamber event to community events.” Deanna was taken by surprise when she received the award. “I absolutely love our community, everyone in it, and our Chamber team,” Whitson said. Deanna is involved in the Salado Chamber of Commerce and Rotary Club. She is a proud Aggie wife and mom and loves to attend the Aggie Football games. In her free time, Deanna likes to craft, read, and make her own jewelry. She looks forward too many more adventures with the Salado Chamber and community. Read more about the Salado Chamber of Commerce Awards Banquet from the Salado Village Voice. NMLS # 1103882
How Filing a Homestead Exemption Can Help Homeowners Are you a recent homeowner? A Homestead Exemption can be an excellent option to reduce your tax burden. Homestead exemptions have the potential to lower your taxes by removing part of your home’s value from taxation. From the Texas Comptroller: “For example, your home is appraised at $100,000, and you qualify for a $25,000 exemption (this is the amount mandated for school districts), you will pay school taxes on the home as if it was worth only $75,000.” While this is a law that exists in most states, property owners might not understand how the exemption works and who can claim it. In this article, we explain what a homestead exemption is, its benefits, who qualifies and how to file What is a Homestead Exemption and How Does It Work? With a homestead exemption, homeowners can deduct part of the property value from their taxes, lowering their overall tax bill. Typically, there is a fixed discount, and then the rest of the value is taxed at the normal rate. This favors homes that have a lower value. Exactly how much protection the exemption provides and how it’s applied varies by state. In some locations, the benefit is automatic. In others, including Texas, a homeowner must first file a claim with their state to be able to receive it. This means that if you’re eligible for a homestead exemption in Texas, you can potentially reduce your tax burden just by filing a claim. Other homestead exemption benefits include protection of a homeowner’s primary residence from creditors in the event of bankruptcy or a deceased spouse. It also helps the surviving spouse with continual tax relief. In addition to financial protection, this exemption offers physical shelter, in that it prevents the forced sale of the property. Benefits of Filing for a Homestead Exemption The benefits of filing for a homestead exemption include: Relief from property taxes – Since property taxes are based on the property’s assessed value, being able to reduce the home’s value on your tax statement makes the property tax significantly lower. Protection from a forced sale – Having a homestead exemption shields the property from a forced sale to pay off creditors. For example, if you had trouble paying bills, without the homestead exemption, creditors could try to seize your property to satisfy your debts. Exceptions are mortgage foreclosures and failing to pay property taxes. Advantages for a surviving spouse – Though state laws vary, in most cases, if the homeowner dies, their surviving spouse is guaranteed the right to stay in the home for their lifetime. They must, of course, continue to make mortgage and other payments in a timely manner. In Texas…. An Important Note: The homestead exemption protection from creditors will not prevent a bank from foreclosing on the home and taking possession of the property if the homeowner defaults on their mortgage payments. Who Qualifies for a Homestead Exemption? To qualify for a homestead exemption, you […]
Betty Singleton, Personal Banker | SouthStar Bank Calvert Branch Betty Singleton is a Personal Banker at our SouthStar Bank Calvert Branch. Betty has been a part of the SouthStar family for 30 years. Her favorite part about the job is helping customers. Outside of work, Betty is involved in multiple organizations including the Order of the Eastern Star and Aggie Moms, where she volunteers to raise money for student scholarships. Betty’s hobbies include scrap booking and traveling. Her travels include several destinations including Disney World, the Bahamas, and Africa. Betty’s dream is to one day return to Africa.