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Only bank in Keedysville closes

September 20, 1997

By JULIE E. GREENE

Staff Writer

KEEDYSVILLE - Several Keedysville area residents said they were upset and saddened Friday at the closing of the town's only bank as a result of a corporate merger.

Bill Hawbaker, 47, of Park Hall Road, said it's a shame the Cumberland, Md.-based American Trust closed the bank.

American Trust closed its Keedysville and Halfway branches at 2 p.m. on Friday as a result of its June merger with Washington County National Bank. The remaining branches have been renamed American Trust.

"I've been coming here since I was a kid," said Hawbaker, who opened his first savings account at the 19 S. Main St. bank when he was 16 years old.

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Hawbaker said he would move his bank business from American Trust if another bank opened in the local area.

Jason Morrison, 20, who lives outside town, said he already moved his account to Chevy Chase Bank.

The two branch banks were closed as the result of a market analysis that said the bank could better serve its customers by consolidating, said American Trust Marketing Director Maureen Brewer.

"It's a real disappointment," said Cathy Lauri, 46, of 22 S. Main St., who lives across the street from the bank.

Many residents feel they've been abandoned by American Trust, Lauri said.

"The closing of the bank is the closing of an era for us," she said.

The bank and the neighboring post office were the heart of community relations where people met and chatted, she said.

The bank's employees are like family members, Lauri said.

As a member of the Keedysville Historical Commission, Lauri also is concerned about what will happen with the bank building, which was built in 1906 and sits in the town's historic district.

"We would not want something that would be inappropriate or in conflict with the historic district," she said.

Lauri said she and her husband already moved their bank accounts out of American Trust.

She was one of many area residents to sign a petition about the bank closing.

"We believe that our branch is vital to our community. The closing of this branch would be an inconvenience to all of us, but our senior citizens who do not drive, will be severely hampered. With no local taxi service, they will be forced to pay outlandish fees to do their banking business," states a petition hanging in the post office.

"We feel that the proposed closing is just business as usual with total disregard for many loyal customers."

The bank has received petitions, but the number of signatures was not available on Friday, Brewer said.

Brewer said she did not know if the company had received any petitions concerning the Halfway branch on Virginia Avenue.

Doris Roberts, who signed a petition, said it's not right for bank officials to take away the convenience of the local bank after it's been there so long.

"I guess we don't have a say so in it like a lot of things," said Roberts, 34, of Burnside Bridge Road.

"The reason why I'm here is to come and say goodbye to everybody," said Tammy Shankle, 33, of Main Street.

Shankle said the bank's employees look out for their customers.

Once when a business tried to cash a check in for $500 that she had written for $50, she had no problem getting the bank to stop the check, Shankle said.

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