2017-10-04 / Front Page

Eustis selectmen address bank closure concerns

By Dee Menear Irregular Staff Writer

EUSTIS — Topping discussion at the Tuesday, Sept. 26 Board of Selectmen meeting was concern over a recent announcement from Skowhegan Savings Bank that the Stratton branch would be closing by Jan. 18, 2018. Once closed, the nearest bank would be nearly 20 miles away, in Rangeley. Also slated for closure are the Phillips and Pittston branches, along with the Waterville Road branch in Skowhegan.

Skowhegan Savings Bank is a 150- year old institution with recent roots in Franklin County. When Camden National Bank announced the closing of its Phillips and Stratton branches in 2013, Skowhegan Savings Bank stepped in, acquiring not only the two branches scheduled to close, but also the Rangeley, Kingfield and Farmington Camden National Bank branches.

Skowhegan Savings Bank had sent customers letters about the decision prior to releasing the information to media outlets.

Skowhegan Savings Bank will install upgraded, smart ATMs in Stratton and Phillips. The ATMs are capable of transactions, such as large deposits, that had required a teller in the past. Change orders and significant withdrawals will still need to be completed at a branch office.

Sue Fotter voiced her concern saying people had been asking her if she had any idea what was going to happen. “Now is the perfect time. Let’s get the ball rolling to find some solution,” said Fotter.

“Back when we withdrew from MSAD #58, we were referred to a couple of times as a ‘stand alone island.’ I got to thinking, when I heard about the closure, that maybe we could contact some of the islands off the coast to see what they do for banking,” suggested Fotter. She also suggested checking with Franklin-Somerset Federal Credit Union to see if it had any interest doing business in town.

“We are an island up here and it’s too bad they shut us off. I don’t know if a plea to Skowhegan would make a difference. I think the town would miss the opportunity to actually say something if we just ignore it,” said Chairman Steve St. Jean.

Concerns varied from elderly residents having to travel for banking needs, loss of safety deposit boxes, and change orders and deposits for businesses. “It’s not just an inconvenience as a business owner; it’s our business going south. Again,” remarked Fotter.

Barry Crafts said he would like to see the same thing happen with the bank that happened with the Eustis Post Office. “They cut back the hours. It was a compromise. That’s what I am used to dealing with in my world. You compromise and work with people,” Crafts said.

St. Jean suggested starting with a letter to Skowhegan Savings Bank and the State of Maine Commissioner of Banking. “We can also form a committee and start making phone calls,” he said.

The committee members will be Fotter, Crafts, St. Jean and Jeff Hinman. “I feel good. We will come up with something,” said Fotter.

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