- Associated Press - Saturday, October 11, 2014

PIOCHE, Nev. (AP) - The lone banks in two small rural Nevada towns are closing, and residents and merchants wonder how they will get by without them.

Washington Federal Inc. has announced plans to close its branches in the Lincoln County seat of Pioche and the unincorporated Nye County town of Beatty.

Pioche residents told KLAS-TV that the Seattle-based bank sent a letter saying it would move all of their accounts to its branch in Ely, about 110 miles away, and leave behind an ATM.

Pioche has appealed to the bank’s corporate office to keep the branch open, said bartender Joe Dunne at the Overland Hotel and Saloon.

“They said ‘too bad, the next closest is Ely.’ Unacceptable,” he said. “I have simple banking here, but a lot of retired persons have pensions, annuities. It’s not a simple deal for them.

“A business like this, if you need to get change, you go to the bank and get so many fives, tens, rolls of quarters, and you need to make deposits every day.”

Local government also relies on the Pioche branch for official business.

Washington Federal said the banks’ numbers didn’t “pencil out” in the rural towns, and it’s making arrangements to send someone to the towns once a week to pick up cash for merchants.

The bank also plans to leave behind “smart” ATMs that accept deposits.

The branches were among 10 in Nevada that Washington Federal acquired from Bank of America earlier this year. It had previously operated only four branches in the state.

When Washington Federal recently took over the new branches, it issued a statement stressing its “commitment to the communities it serves.”

“And in three months it’s all done. They had to know they were going to do it (close branches),” Pioche retiree Nancy Sprenkle told KLAS.

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Information from: KLAS-TV, https://www.klas-tv.com

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