I live in a small town, McCleary. We have a population of approximately 1,500 people in the city limits and about 500 in the outlying area.
We recently received word that our local bank, Sterling Savings Bank, will close in February 2013 and that all employees will have to find other jobs, and that all our accounts will be transferred to the Sterling Savings Bank in Elma (about 8 miles west).
We are served by a local credit union, Our Community Credit Union. We have one large company, Simpson Green Diamond Mill. We have had five business closures in the last year and several more will close at the end of the year. We have foreclosed homes and all the problems everyone else is facing in this economy.
A majority of our population is made up of elderly and low-income families. Many who do not know how to use a computer or can’t afford one. Many residences and businesses walk to the store, post office, city hall and do their banking at the same time. Now they will have to drive, take the bus or change banks to do normal, everyday things. The small business will have the same problems. It is very expensive to change banks, order new checks, drive to Elma and back and either close the office or business or pay someone or the cost of gas to go back and forth.
Many residents and businesses stuck by the bank in McCleary when it was acquired by other banks, which has happened five times in the first 30 years.
The people who work at the bank become people we trust and the banker knows us not by the paperwork we might submit but from personal experience.
I asked the mayor and the council if there was anything they could do. I asked the employees at the bank if there was anything they could have us do. I called and asked why this bank, and who made this decision. No answer, no nothing.
I bank at the local credit union and another bank in Elma as well as our local bank. and this will not affect me except for inconvenience and more expenses. But where is the loyalty from this bank to all the people who have done business with them and been loyal all these years?
Elma has two banks and one credit union and the population is about double ours.
Helen Lake Hamilton