The parent of Worthington-based Guernsey Bank announced today that is buying the Ohio State Bank in what could the first of a string of deals that the CEO of Guernsey wants to put together in central Ohio.

The parent of Worthington-based Guernsey Bank announced today that is buying the Ohio State Bank in what could the first of a string of deals that the CEO of Guernsey wants to put together in central Ohio.

"I'm on the pursuit of creating a strong community bank in the greater Columbus area that can and serve the greater Columbus market," said Robert Patrella, the Guernsey Bank's president and CEO.

Both banks are similar in size.

Guernsey Bank is based in Worthington and has offices in Worthington, Westerville and Cambridge. Patrella bought the bank in 1993 and re-chartered it Worthington in 2002. Guernsey Bank dates to 1902, when it was established in Guernsey County.

It has 37 employees and $125 million in assets.

The Ohio State Bank is based in Marion and has offices in Marion and Lewis Center. The bank has 35 employees and $110 million in assets.

Patrella said in today's regulatory environment, it's getting tough for smaller banks to stay independent.

"Teaming up like this is a smart thing for both banks," he said.

Patrella said he will look at other banks interested in becoming partners with the goal of creating a community bank with $300 million to $500 million in assets.

The deal involving Ohio State Bank is expected to close before the end of the year.

Patrella will be the CEO of the combined bank with the Ohio State offices converting to the Guernsey brand.

mawilliams@dispatch.com