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Positive signs for First National Bank of Long Island

After an exemplary year in an industry that had tremendous problems in 2009, First of Long Island Corp. president and chief executive Michael Vittorio could afford to joke at Tuesday's annual shareholder meeting in East Meadow.

The corporation, which owns Glen Head-based First National Bank of Long Island, honored the grandchildren of bank founder G. Thomas Powell and gave them roses and gift bags.

"We gave you some samples," Vittorio said, as the bags were handed out. "We're in the money business, and we had some loose change."

Jokes aside, Vittorio and shareholders had plenty to smile about. Net income was the bank's highest ever at $13.5 million and assets grew by almost a third, to $1.4 billion. The bank opened two new branches, bringing the total to 31, and three more are in the works.

Still, Vittorio said the shaky state of the economy troubles him, and he told shareholders the bank would continue to lend conservatively, even though the bank has hardly any bad loans -- unlike most banks.

High unemployment, office vacancies and the uncertain future encourages Vittorio to hold tight onto capital, he said.

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