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Winthrop upset at prospect of losing only bank

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WINTHROP — Key Bank. Farmers National. The Winthrop Bank.

For as long as members of the Stockholm Town Board can remember, a bank has been located in the hamlet. But that is expected to end May 10 when Key Bank closes its Winthrop branch. Key Bank customers with accounts at the Winthrop branch have been receiving letters this week informing them that the branch at 645 Route 11C will be closing, and the accounts at the Winthrop branch will be transferred to the Massena branch.

Stockholm Town Supervisor Clark S. Decker said he plans to contact local savings and loan institutions and credit unions to see if they have any interest in replacing Key Bank in the community. “There’s always been a bank in Winthrop. The Winthrop Bank loaned me the money to go to Cornell,” he said.

The town of Stockholm removed its accounts from Key Bank in August 2003 and transferred its funds to NBT Bank in a cost-cutting measure. While town officials voiced strong support for the branch’s employees at the time, they said corporate policies necessitated a change. “Their fee schedule for the work they did for us was quite excessive compared to NBT,” Mr. Decker said.

Brasher Town Supervisor M. James Dawson said all of the town’s accounts are still at Key Bank’s Winthrop location, but the town will take a wait-and-see approach to determine whether another bank will be moving in before making a decision to move its accounts elsewhere.

“All of our accounts are with Key Bank. My first instinct is to wait and see if somebody else is going to come in here,” he said.

Mr. Dawson said he had asked one of the bank’s representatives if she knew of any bank that might be coming in, but she was unaware of any plans for another bank to fill that location.

“They just did some extensive remodeling,” he said.

The town previously had used Farmers National, Key’s predecessor in Winthrop, before switching to Key Bank, according to the town supervisor.

“It has always been the local bank,” he said.

Mr. Dawson said it could choose to continue its relationship with Key Bank, but would have to do its banking in Massena, which would make it more inconvenient. If another bank comes to Brasher, he said, the town would not be able to do business with it if it’s a savings and loan or an investor-owned institution such as SeaComm Federal Credit Union.

“If we stay with Key, obviously we would go to Massena, except it’s inconvenient,” he said, noting the tax collector often makes night deposits at the local Key Bank and the town justices also have their accounts set up locally.

Altogether, Mr. Dawson said, the town has $1,666,205 in funds at Key Bank. That does not include the justice court account or casino gaming compact funds.

The St. Lawrence Central School District, Brasher Falls, previously had used Key Bank, according to Superintendent Stephen M. Putman, but it had elected to go out to bid before his arrival in the district and the school now banks with First Niagara, formerly HSBC Bank.

Johnson Newspapers writer Ryne R. Martin contributed to this report.

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