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Benchmark Community Bank welcomes new loan specialist

Benchmark Community Bank on Thursday announced that Janice Puleo has joined the bank as a vice president and loan specialist concentrating on agricultural lending.  In this role, she will reach out to agricultural businesses and producers in Southside Virginia and help them with their financial needs. 

A native of Lunenburg County, Puleo recently retired from the U.S. Department of Agriculture after a 35-year career with the Farm Service Agency. While at the USDA, she was promoted numerous times and most recently held the position of agricultural loan specialist, providing an avenue of opportunity for both established and beginning farmers throughout the commonwealth.  

By joining Benchmark, Puleo is returning to familiar territory. 

She said, “My first job in banking was in 1974 as a teller for this bank, known then as Lunenburg County Bank. My career has come full circle, and I am again fortunate to have the opportunity to be part of a team providing the type of banking services that Southside residents want and need.” She went on to say, “Having grown up in this rural part of Virginia, agricultural lending is indeed special to me. It will be my sincere pleasure to serve the farmers and producers of the area as well as related businesses, both existing and new.” 

Mike Walker, CEO and president, said, “We are excited to add a resource like Janice to the credit team at Benchmark. Her expertise and knowledge in agricultural lending will allow the bank to broaden its credit programs for farm businesses and producers. This strategic hiring underscores the importance of the agricultural industry to our local economy.”

Puleo lives in Kenbridge with her husband, Barry. They have two adult children, Joe and Kristin, and are members of the Episcopal Church of St. Paul and St. Andrew.   

Although she will travel throughout Southside to meet with customers and potential customers, Puleo is based in the Kenbridge office at 100 S. Broad Street. 

She invites anyone interested in the agricultural future of Southside to visit her there or to contact her at 434-676-2666, ext. 1135. 

Founded in 1971, Benchmark Community Bank is a $455 million locally owned and operated full service bank mainly serving Southside Virginia. Branch offices are located in Kenbridge, Victoria, Farmville, South Hill, Crewe, Lawrenceville, Clarksville, Chase City, Blackstone, South Boston and Halifax. 

In 2013, the bank was named one of the top 200 community banks in the nation by American Banker magazine for the seventh straight year. The ratings are based on performance.  

Additional information about Benchmark can be found at