Bank closing branches, town officials hope to change that
PHILLIPS - Camden National Bank has announced its closing two of its five branches in Franklin County at the end of June. Officials in one town affected will meet with bank representatives later this week to try and keep the branch from closing.
The three employees working at the Phillips branch and the two who work at the Stratton branch will be effected, said Jennifer E. Roper, a spokesperson for the Camden National Corporation based in Camden. The bank is also closing a third branch located in a Hannaford store in the town of Kennebunk, which employs one person.
The decision to close the branches is because there's been a decrease in activity at the Phillips and Stratton branches, she said.
The six employees working at the branches set for closure "are receiving priority job placement within CNB if an opportunity is available, otherwise they will be provided with severance packages," Roper said.
Changing customer habits is to blame, Roper said. "They're not visiting (those branches) and instead are either using different Camden banks closer to where they're shopping or are banking online."
The three other Camden National Bank branches in Franklin County to remain open are located in Kingfield, Farmington and Rangeley. The bank has 50 branches and plans to close a total of three branches.
"This was a very difficult decision for the bank to make and we are currently working with community leaders to address any concerns they may have," Roper said.
Phillips Town Manager Elaine Hubbard has big concerns over the town's only bank closing.
If that were to happen, the closest bank would be 15 miles to Kingifeld. Other bank branches would be an 18-mile ride to Farmington or a 22-mile drive to Rangeley.
In any direction, "it's not an easy trek," Hubbard said. She pointed out two municipalities, Phillips and Avon, use the Phillips branch, which need to make bank deposits on a daily basis. "How do you accomplish that," she asked if the nearest bank is 25 minutes away in good weather.
In addition, a bank is needed for the local businesses, the residents living at the Shadagee senior housing center in town and the elementary school. The bank recently sent a letter to residents and businesses announcing the branch closures but also announced its opening two new branches in Augusta. Hubbard called that news "a slap in the face."
"Beyond all of that, we are rebuilding; trying to bring small and medium-sized businesses to this area. Not having a bank discourages business," Hubbard said. She added she remains "hopeful and optimistic" they can work something out to keep a bank in town. A meeting with town and business owners and representatives with the bank will be held later this week.
"Maybe they will realize the bank should remain open," Hubbard said. The Camden Bank branch in Stratton is also that town's only bank, an employee at Fotter's Market said.
Camden National Corporation purchased United Kingfield in 1999 and rebranded it to Camden National Bank in 2006. The Phillips branch is located at 124 Main Street and the Stratton branch is located 9 School Street.