Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Wesbanco will close branch Jan. 22; Citizens Commerce says it's interested but needs a location

The bank occupies a prominent place in downtown Midway. (File photo, taken when it was United Bank)
By Lauren McCally
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media

By the end of this month, the only bank in town will have closed its Midway branch.

“WesBanco has indicated that they will not make a decision about what they will do with the property until they close the branch,” Mayor Grayson Vandegrift told the Messenger in an email. The bank plans on closing the branch Friday, Jan. 22.

In September, Vandegrift said he had heard WesBanco might put a deed restriction on the property to prevent another bank from moving into the building, to reduce the number of customers it would lose to a competitor.

WesBanco spokesman John Iannone said in an email, “There has been no material update since my previous conversation a few months ago” with the Messenger, when he said the bank had made no decision about the property.

If WesBanco does impose the deed restriction, Vandegrift says he still plans on using the strategy that he outlined for the Messenger earlier in November, acquiring the building and converting it into City Hall and a visitor center, “though we would have a long way to go as far as cost, logistics, etc.” He said he would be “perfectly happy” if a local bank was able to purchase the property instead.

Michelle Oxley, president of Versailles-based Citizens Commerce Bank, which says it has the largest share of deposits in Woodford County, told the Messenger, “Should an opportunity arise to branch into Midway, you know, we would certainly consider that. At this point in time, we’re not aware of any specific location that is available in the Midway community.”

She said the bank has looked at the area and “various buildings,” and there was “not a particular opportunity that we can pursue” for them to pursue, but the bank will “continue to assess the area and consider any opportunities.”

Another option for the city, as Vandegrift lined out in November, would be to find a different location for a bank. In November, he said the Rau Building, which houses City Hall, “could work for a bank,” but this week he said “having a drive-thru is likely going to be desired by most” people and it might not be feasible there.

“One obvious location is Midway Station,” he said, “although that would require a new build.”

The City of Midway started banking with Paris-based Kentucky Bank six months before the bank announced its closing in September. The city left only one account with WesBanco, but Vandegrift said in September that he did not think that helped lead to the closing, since other branches are being closed in the region.

Ken Glass, co-owner of the of Railroad Drug and Old Time Soda Fountain, was asked by the Messenger if he would provide any type of check-cashing service. “As of right now,” he said, “that’s not something I would do.”

Glass added that while he does a lot of banking in Versailles already, because that’s where he got his loan 10 years ago to start Railroad Drug, he still uses the bank in Midway. “I utilize them for things like change,” Glass said, “so not having them 150 yards away will be a palatable loss.”

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