SILVER CITY - The writing has been on the wall for several months, but that doesn’t make a pending bank closing any easier to swallow for the Mills County community of Silver City.
On Friday, Omaha-based First National Bank will close what’s believed to be its smallest branch location - in Silver City.
“It’s kind of like losing a limb,” Silver City City Clerk Cheryl Evans said Monday. “Everybody hates to see it happen. It is a sign of a city dying when you lose a business like this.”
Chartered in 1883 as Silver City State Bank, the financial institution has been a staple of the Silver City business district for more than 125 years. The bank was part of a merger with Farmers State Bank in 1935 and later sold in 1968 when it became Mills County State Bank. With its main office in Glenwood, the bank later became Mills County Bank, N.A., before being sold in 2008 as part of Omaha National Bank’s acquisition of Mills County Bank.
Kevin Langin, director of public relations for First National Bank, said the decision to close the Silver City branch was based on traffic.
“It came down to maintaining two locations that are close to one another,” Langin said. “The hours and traffic at Silver City are not feasible to maintain.”
Silver City Mayor Lohn Roenfeld, a lifelong resident of the community, wrote a letter to First National Bank when he learned of the decision to close the bank.
“I asked if there was anything we could do to keep the bank open,” Roenfeld said. “I was told there was already some consideration given to closing the bank before First National Bank took over.”
The good news, Roenfeld said, is that First National Bank has tentatively agreed to give the property to the city of Silver City to use as it chooses. The bank building, Roenfeld said, will serve as a City Hall, something the city doesn’t have at this time. City offices are currently housed at the Silver City Community Center.
“It’s disappointing to lose the business, but it looks like there is something good coming out of it,” Roenfeld said.
The historic cashier’s window, in place since the bank’s original opening in 1883, will be donated to the Silver City Historical Society and be retained as a functional customer service counter at City Hall, Roenfeld said.