McCloud residents are up in arms over the impending closure of their only town bank, and a growing number are determined not to go down without a fight.

McCloud residents are up in arms over the impending closure of their only town bank, and a growing number are determined not to go down without a fight.

A loosely knit group is starting a “Save Our Bank” campaign is encouraging residents to write to PremierWest Bank President and CEO?Jim Ford “and tell him this is not right.”

“We have no other choice in McCloud, and we will be forced to drive to Mount Shasta to bank,” said Cherie Glynn, a long-time resident, former business owner, and one of the SOB promoters. “Does he want to lose all the McCloud customers to other banks? I for one will change banks if they don't keep the McCloud branch open. They are banking that none of us will do that because it is a pain in the butt, but I'm sticking to my guns!”

Five PremierWest branches in Siskiyou County are scheduled to be closed by the end of April as part of a consolidation announced by PremierWest Bancorp Jan. 12.

Branches in Dunsmuir, McCloud and Weed are being consolidated into the branch in Mount Shasta, which will remain open, according to a PremierWest news release.

The pending McCloud branch closure is being felt as another in a long string of economic blows to the once thriving lumber town. In the past year alone, McCloud has lost the railroad, Shasta Sunset Dinner Train, locomotive #25, its video rental store, and the historic McCloud Hotel.

“I think it's despicable, said Glynn. “... I definitely think they should reconsider. Where are businesses going to go to get change for their cash drawers? Where are organizations  going to go to deposit their money or to get money for their events when they are having an event?"

“I know that changing banks is a pain because lots of people have direct deposits,” Glynn said. “The only way they're going to sit up and take notice is if people threaten and follow through with changing banks.”

“I think it's going to be a real hardship, especially on seniors,” said 92 year old resident Mary Baldi. “Many of them don't drive.”

Margaret Stoner, also 92 and still driving, said she was very unhappy about the bank closing in McCloud.

“With the bank over there I won't be able to be treasurer of the McCloud Garden Club anymore,” she said. “Gas is too expensive to go running back and forth for deposits and withdrawals. I never keep someone else's money in the house. I always take it to the bank right away.”

Tony Reginato, owner of Reginato’s Mini Mart in McCloud, said, “The bank is not going to stay in town if there's no business; you can't blame them. We can thank those people who fought Nestles for everything closing. If we had Nestles here we wouldn't be having this problem. I just wonder where all the people that were against Nestles... where the hell are they now.”

Reginato, whose store has one of the two ATMs in town, said he fears more closures will be coming.

“It's going to be terribly inconvenient,” said McCloud Elementary School Secretary Sybil Stewart, who handles the school’s banking needs. “I haven't quite figured how I am going to get that done yet, having to go over there to do my banking, because I can't do it overnight, because I have a lot of cash and change. We have three accounts that we have to do that for.”

Stewart said the school had just had  received its “Customer Notice of Branch Closing” in the mail.

"In the letter it says," We continually analyze our branch banking network to ensure we are balancing the banking needs of our customers and their financial objective."

“There was no balance here,” she said. “It's purely a financial objective. This will not serve the customer at all.

“It's just going to be a hardship for working people and non-working people. We have so many seniors in this community who have no means of transportation. Now, when I have a moment and it's not too busy I can dash to the bank. Well I won't be able to do that. I'm going to have to be more specific in my window of time... it will take an hour out of my extremely busy work day to go over there and take care of five minutes of work,” Stewart said.

“It's going to be a very inconvenient situation for people in McCloud and I may personally look for another bank if I have to,” said Patricia Ballard Faulkner. “The personal service we got at our bank is amazing That's what I love about our bank. I don't like being herded through any of the other banks.”

Ballard said she holds three accounts at PremierWest Bank.

“If it's any consolation,” said one resident joking, “we'll never have a bank robbery. But wait a minute, isn't that what’s happening now.”

In the press release announcing the branch closures, CEO Ford stated that branch banking locations  nationally have declined every year since 2008 due to three trends which he said could not be ignored: the rapid increase in popularity of internet, mobile, and remote banking operations; the weakness in the economy; and increased government regulation affecting the costs  of operating community banks.”