Pendleton Bank of America closing in November

<p>Bank of America will be closing its Pendleton  at 2 p.m. on Nov. 30 in a scale back that will shutter 750 branches nationwide.</p>

Pendleton will have to prepare for another hit to its downtown. Bank of America has announced plans to close its branch at 301 S. Main St.

The company sent letters to bank customers about the closure, stating it will become effective at 2 p.m. Friday, Nov. 30. Those letters were in mail boxes as early as Saturday.

Some customers Monday afternoon arrived at the Pendleton branch with the letter in hand. One man told a teller he wanted to remove items he had in a safety deposit box and close the account.

Branch manager Kara Taylor said the news has “been a whirlwind,” but could only discuss what’s in the letter.

Britney Sheehan, spokeswoman for the bank’s western region, said this closure is part of the plan the bank announced in 2011 to shutter 750 branches nationwide. Sheehan said lack of walk-in customers led to the demise of the Pendleton operation.

“The foot traffic didn’t make it viable to have it remain open,” she said. “These are difficult decisions to make, and we don’t make them lightly.”

Pendleton Mayor Phillip Houk said the closure would “leave quite a big hole to be filled” if it goes ahead as planned. He said he hoped Bank of American was open to communications to find an alternative to shutting down the branch.

“I think it’s terrible,” Houk said. “We would certainly like to see them reconsider.”

Pendleton Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Gail Nelson didn’t return a call seeking comment for the story.

Sheehan said she couldn’t reveal how many employees the closure will affect, but said the bank is trying to find jobs within the company for those employees. The bank employs several tellers at the Pendleton branch, as well as some loan and account managers.

The Pendleton branch is the only one in Oregon the bank is shutting down “at the moment,” Sheehan said, though the Baker City branch was already slated for closure. The bank will continue to operate its Hermiston branch at 305 E. Main St.

Sheehan said Bank of America gave advance warning to customers so they had time to decide what to do. Operations such as direct deposits and withdrawals won’t change, she said, and after the bank closes, customers still will be able to conduct business over the phone or online.

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Contact Phil Wright at pwright@eastoregonian.com or 541-966-0833.

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