FORESTHILL, CA - Wells Fargo is about to shut down Foresthill's only banking option, forcing customers to travel several miles if they want personal banking service.
The bank is a major meeting place, according Kelly Scalan who's lived in Sierra mountain town of Foresthill since 1987. "When you go to the bank you don't just run in and out," Scanlan explained. "You're there for a half an hour hearing about whose kids are doing what and who's getting married."
Recently Scanlon received a letter from Wells Fargo saying it's closing down the town's only bank in March. "That's a big stresser," Scanlan said. "The nearest bank is 20 miles away from me so that won't be convenient. I won't see familiar faces."
Wells Fargo spokeswoman Julie Campbell said the company plans to consolidate the Foresthill branch with three branches in Auburn. "But we'll still keep our connection with Foresthill," Campbell explained. "We'll have an ATM machine in Foresthill and customers can bank online or by phone."
But Scanlan said that doesn't help her. "I don't do online banking. I don't do ATM's. I like to be able to write checks and pay with cash."
Alice Leffler said she doesn't think the bank took into consideration that she and several other Foresthill customers are in wheelchairs. "I go to the bank to pay my bills. I pay my rent and my mortgage," Leffler said. "It will be really hard for me to get my wheelchair and everything put in my car and go down the hill (to Auburn)."
Some customers are so upset about Wells Fargo's move that they're considering changing banks. "I'm really angry about this," Ned Zoller said. "I bank online but I'm going to have to get rid of my checking and savings account and my IRA just because I can't service it locally."
Others worry the bank shutdown will force some people out of work. "What about the people who clean the bank?", said Scalan. "And what about the people who work in the bank during the day."
Campbell said four Wells Fargo team members will be transferred to other locations and won't lose their jobs.
Scanlan pointed out that Wells Fargo was among the first to get a chunk of money out of the government's taxpayer bailout plan three years ago. She figured the bank would show customers some kindness in return. "Even if it's not profitable for them, they should maintain (the Foresthill branch) as a convenience to customers."
By Karen Massie firstname.lastname@example.org