By Cory Smith
Glasgow’s 1,100 residents enjoy a few amenities—a town hall, a library, a restaurant, a gas station, and a bank. Pardon, they had a bank.
The BB&T branch on Route 130 closed in August. It was the only bank in town. Residents are not happy.
“It’s almost like a death to me,” said Roberta Lyle, 84, secretary of the town’s concerned citizens group. “There’s been one here since I was born. It’s a blow to the town.”
“I’ve been here 60 plus years and I can’t ever remember this community without a bank,” said Michael Turner, 65. “Another thing that surprised me was how quick it closed, no prior knowledge or anything.”
BB&T Vice President of Corporate Communications David White issued a statement by email regarding why the bank closed the Glasgow branch.
“We recognize that any business closing can be an emotional issue for a community,” White said in the statement. “For that reason we do not take the decision to close a financial center lightly …. Based on many factors, including client usage patterns, the decision was made to close the branch.”
White said no layoffs occurred in the Glasgow closing. He was not sure how they were avoided, but he said that when the bank closes a branch its workers are usually offered work at a different branch.
The closest bank to Glasgow is now six miles away in Natural Bridge. The closest BB&T branch is in Buena Vista, about 10 miles down U.S. 501. But not everyone in Glasgow drives, and some rely on wheelchairs and scooters.
“It creates an awful hardship,” Lyle said. “I’m still able to drive, but some can’t and have to get transportation to get them to the bank.”
Natalie Harris, 50, does not have a car to travel to Buena Vista or Natural Bridge. She said it is not easy anymore for her to get cash.
“There’s no store in Glasgow that does cash-back,” Harris said. “Whereas you used to go to the bank and get your cashier’s check or money order or whatever, now that’s not an option. We really don’t have any financial services.”
Lyle said she still banks with BB&T because her insurance is through BB&T, and she did not want to “change all of that to go to bank in Natural Bridge.”
Town officials have received many complaints from citizens, but Mayor-Elect Ruby Clark says it will take a lot of work to change the situation.
“It’s more or less up to the town manager and council, not just one council member, to try to get another bank into the town,” Clark said. “It’s something we have to want to do and push for.”
So far, town officials have no plans to try to attract another bank.
“We don’t have a dog in the fight,” said Town Manager Paul Parker. “It was [BB&T] corporate who made the decision to close the bank. I just don’t see a local government role in any corporate decision like that.”
For now, the former BB&T building sits vacant. If another bank never comes to Glasgow, Clark says, Glasgow could move the town hall there.
“I think that we could use a better town hall building,” she said. “Our town hall building is pretty old. It used to be a bank years and years ago.
“But if it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t. It was just an idea.”