Hammond's Only Bank Closing - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Hammond's only bank closing

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Village of Hammond (WQOW) - Years ago just about every Wisconsin small town had a school, church, post office, bar and a bank.  But how times have changed.

Post offices are disappearing, many schools have consolidated and some banks have closed.

The Village of Hammond is losing its only bank.  Associated Bank will close its branch there next week.

"It's actually very much a cornerstone in our town," says Library Director Michelle Johnson.

Ask the residents of Hammond if they remember when they heard the news about associated bank shutting down their branch and they'll tell you it's the talk of the town.

"It's sad after 121 consecutive years of banking in Hammond, to not have that here right in our downtown," says Village Board Trustee Erin McComb.

"They know everybody that comes in there by name.  It's that personal touch that's going to be severely missed," says business owner Don Fowell.

It's not only the more than 11-hundred households the bank serves, it's also the businesses.

"For a community to be viewed as thriving, we need to have financial services to make us marketable," says McComb.

"It's a daily trip to the bank.  We use it for petty cash money everyday to get fives, ones, quarters, everything that we need to operate the business," says Fowell.

Now the nearest bank will be found in neighboring Baldwin four miles down the road.

"Our residents that have mobility issues for example:  moving their banking service four miles away, it might as well be 44 miles away," says McComb.

"That's still, you know, a 15, 20 minute trip everyday," says Fowell.

This move also affects the five "Hammond bank ladies' as they're so affectionately called by their friends and neighbors.

"Those five ladies represent the best of Hammond.  They communicate the news.  They listen to people's stories.  They bring people together," says McComb.

That's why the community is working hard to find an answer and keep Hammond's financial industry rolling.

"I'm doing something about it.  I'm actively trying to bring another institution in here.  The good news is there's a lot of interest," says McComb.

"It's going to hurt in the short term until we get it figured out.  I do have all the confidence in the world that we will get somebody," says Fowell.

They're hoping this is just a hiccup in the longstanding tradition of a bank in downtown Hammond.

Last fall, Associated Bank announced the Hammond closing along with 11 other branches in Wisconsin and Illinois.  The bank says in many cases branch traffic has been declining because customer banking habits have changed.  More people are doing their banking online.

The last day for the Hammond branch is next Thursday the 24th.

This Friday the village has declared "Hammond bank ladies day" in honor of the 57 years of service from the five bank employees.

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