End of an era
The small town of Huntley says goodbye to another piece of its community.
Last year the historic Huntley Depot was donated and hauled away.?This year a different fixture in town will be saying farewell.
The bank, which has been in Huntley since 1916, will be closing its doors on Feb. 14, leaving a big gap in the close-knit community.
“A lot of people are upset,” Elain Kiehm, office/retail branch manager says. “They do not want to see the bank go.”
The Huntley bank, a part of Alliance Bank which has a total of 10 branches, received word their branch would soon be closing.
Kiehm, one of three staff members, has been employed at the Huntley location for 37 years.
“We know almost everyone who walks through those doors,” she adds. “They’re like family.”
Stephany Rosillo and Dulce Pettit are also tellers at the bank and agree, leaving the customers behind is going to be the hardest part of closing their doors come Feb. 14.
“You get to know your customers so well, you remember which days they’ll be in each week,” Pettit adds.
Rosillo says she’s also formed strong bonds with the many customers.
“You watch people grow up,”?she says.
The customers’ accounts will be transferred to the Madelia branch of Alliance Banks and the building in Huntley will be put up for sale.
“For a lot of older people in the community, this is the only place they’ve ever banked,”?Kiehm adds.
Now many people don’t know what they will do. The bank had been nearing it’s 100th year in Huntley; but now, it will never reach that milestone.
But, that’s not to say the bank in such a small town, didn’t see some big headlines every once in awhile.
On April 2, 1940, some master robbers snuck quietly into a side door and stole money from the safe.
“Of course they never really disclosed to the newspapers how much was taken that day,”?Kiehm says.
No one saw the burglars enter or leave the former bank location, the only indication they had been there was tire tracks in the dirt on the north side of the building.
Before coming to its current location, the Huntley bank was known as the Farmer’s State Bank and was located in a brick building along Main Street.
“They moved from that building into this current building in 1967,” Kiehm adds.
It was at the new building site where Huntley bank became innovators in the area, and were the first bank in Faribault County with a drive-up window.
Then, in 1998 the bank became a branch of Alliance Bank.
But, that wasn’t the end of the excitement for the small-town bank. Around 2005, there was another robbery at the bank.
“A lot of people asked why I’d want to work at a bank that’s been robbed,”?Rosillo jokes. “But I?love working here. I’m going to miss it so much.”
And after 37 years, Kiehm is really going to miss her career at the bank.
“Banking used to be so fun,”?she says. “Now so much has changed.”
Some of those changes include debit cards, online banking and the use of computers. And some of those changes makes it more challenging for smaller banks to thrive.
“It’s tough for a lot of banks our size these days,” Kiehm says. “We were pretty shocked about our branch closing at first, but then again we also kind of expected it.”
And while the employees have been able to find employment elsewhere, they are still not quite ready to say goodbye.
“It’s a sad thing all around. I really, really hate to see the bank close,”?Kiehm says. “I’m really going to miss the people. I?made a lot of friends here and hopefully I’ll see them in the community.”
As the building goes up for sale, and people begin switching their accounts from Huntley to Madelia or elsewhere, the small town is sad to see another building opening up.
What came as a shock to community members and other people in the area, really came as a shock to the employees.
“Anytime a business closes, it’s a blow to the community,” Kiehm says. “But, it was a real blow to me.”