Source: Lake Geneva Regional News

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Talmer to close Lyons branch

by Chris Schultz

February 23, 2012

LYONS — For the first time in more than 40 years, the crossroads community of Lyons may be without a bank.

Earlier this month, Talmer Bank and Trust of Troy, Mich., sent notice to its Lyons customers that it plans to close its branch office at 1479 Creekside Drive effective May 11.

According to the letter, starting May 14, Lyons customers will have their accounts reassigned to the Talmer Bank at 400 Milwaukee Ave., Burlington.

On Monday, Lyons Town Clerk Karla Hill said she was preparing to write letters to area banks asking if they might be interested in opening a branch in Lyons.

The bank closing has at least one local businessman up in arms.

Joe Schaefer, owner of Ye Olde Hotel Bar & Restaurant, 6070 N. Railroad St., and a County Board supervisor, is not happy with the bank's decision to close the local branch.

Schaefer was at the Feb. 13 Town Board meeting and suggested the town send a letter to the FDIC as well.

But Hill said letters would probably have more impact with the FDIC if they were from Lyons residents who are also Talmer customers.

The branch is convenient for local business owners to deposit their receipts and to get change for their cash registers, said Schaefer. He said he uses the bank five days a week.

"I'm a native, and the natives are restless," Schaefer said in an interview Friday at his restaurant.

He is urging local residents who are Talmer customers to contact the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Consumer Response Center to register their disapproval of Talmer's decision to move their accounts six miles down the road to Burlington. The FDIC insures bank deposits and watches over the operations of all federally-insured banks.

Schaefer said he believes the volume of business is adequate for Talmer to continue operating the bank.

He said he understands the bank will defend its decision on the basis of economics.

"They have three banks in Burlington and two in Lake Geneva," Schaefer said. "Why don't they close one of those?"

He said this was apparently a decision made at a corporate headquarters that had no contact with local customers.

But Shellie Maitre, chief marketing officer for Talmer, said she has visited the Talmer branch in Lyons.

"It's a great little community," Maitre said of Lyons. "It's sad. You hate to see that happen," she added about the branch being closed.

But she said it made better business sense for Talmer to consolidate its business in Burlington and Lake Geneva.

The closing also displaced two employees, Maitre said.

However, she said the employees were being encouraged to apply for positions at Talmer banking centers in the area, which would include the banks in Lake Geneva, Burlington and Milwaukee.

Talmer owns the branch bank building in Lyons, Maitre said. She said as soon as it's closed, Talmer will put it up for sale.

Talmer's management began looking at the business volume of its 52 branch banks shortly after taking over First Banking Center in November 2010, Maitre said. She said the Lyons branch was near the bottom in volume of business.

The branch has deposits of $6 million but only two consumer loans, she said.

According to Schaefer, Talmer is the third bank to locate in Lyons. The first was Lyons State Bank, which opened in 1905 and continued operations until 1947.

In 1969, shortly after Wisconsin allowed branch banking, First Banking Center, headquartered in Burlington, opened a branch in Lyons.

FBC was Lyons' bank until about 13 months ago, when Talmer bought out its assets.

When Talmer departs, the town of Lyons, population about 3,700, will be without a bank.

According to Schaefer, the mailing address for the FDIC is:

FDIC Consumer Response Center

1100 Walnut St., PO Box 11, Kansas City, Mo., 64106, attn. Ruby.

It's unknown whether Ruby is a first or last name.

Ruby can also be reached by phone at (800) 378-9581.