KETCHIKAN - Metlakatla has lost its only bank.
Wells Fargo closed its bank Wednesday in what brings new economic challenges to the island town.
Bond Stewart, Ketchikan community banking president for Wells Fargo, said the closure was tied to the downturn in Metlakatla's economy.
The bank cut back its hours in Metlakatla in 1999 as a result of reduced logging on the Tongass National Forest and the subsequent closure of Ketchikan Pulp Co.'s Annette Island sawmill, he said.
Wells Fargo had the only bank in Metlakatla.
Stewart said customers were notified of the closure three months ago. The bank had been open five days a week.
Wells Fargo worked with community leaders and business owners on a closure plan.
"We've gone to the community and done a tremendous campaign to educate individuals about direct deposit. They can bank by mail and online," he said. "And the Ketchikan stores will assist in any way possible to make the transition smooth."
The bank's three employees in Metlakatla have been given the option of transferring to other Wells Fargo locations, Stewart said.
"We remain committed to customers in Metlakatla," he said.
Wells Fargo's ATM is closing along with the bank, though Stewart said he has been working with people to establish new ATMs in town.
Local residents purchased an ATM that is scheduled to be installed at Leask Mini Mart next week, according to manager Ody Holbrook. The bank closure will affect the store's operations, she said.
"We have about 15 employees and a lot of people don't have (bank) accounts, so it will be difficult," she said.
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