Banks leaving Donora

Citizens Bank closing its doors April 26

January 29, 2013
When Citizens Bank closes this branch in Donora April 26, the former steel town will no longer have any banks operating within its boundaries. - Scott Beveridge / Observer-Reporter Order a Print

DONORA – Citizens Bank will follow PNC’s lead by closing its Donora branch in April in a move that will put an end to one-on-one banking within the struggling borough’s boundaries.

The moves follow the decision to close the Donora branch of a First Federal Savings Bank in October in the former industrial town, borough officials said, where the abandonment of U.S. Steel mills in the 1950s ushered in what would become the collapse of steelmaking three decades later in the Pittsburgh region.

“It’s certainly distressing news,” Donora Council President Karen Polkabla said, responding to letters mailed Jan. 25 from Citizens to its Donora customers announcing the permanent closing of its branch at 501 McKean Ave.

“I cannot believe it,” Polkabla said Tuesday.

The letter from Citizens director of retail banking in Pittsburgh, Angela Moultrie, indicated customers’ accounts will not change after the branch closes at 6 p.m. April 26, and referred their walk-in business to branches in neighboring Carroll Township and Monessen.

“While we regret the need to close this branch and apologize for any inconvenience this may create for you, we do hope that you will continue to bank with us,” Moultrie stated.

The closing does not require any further action from Citizens customers in Donora, she stated.

Polkabla said she suspects the drop in local traffic volume as a result of the July 2009 closing of the aging Donora-Webster Bridge had something to do with the bank closings.

She said some people find it more convenient to bank at Citizens branches in Giant Eagle stores, perform their banking business online and have their Social Security and pay checks deposited directly into their accounts.

“All of this in combination makes it less likely for people to go into a bank,” she said.

Citizens spokeswoman Sylvia Bronner said the bank reviews customer traffic patterns and preferences to help it meet their needs.

“Given the increasing popularity of mobile and online banking, we significantly expanded those services last year and are continuing to invest in this area and to make improvements to our ATM network,” Bronner said.

Polkabla said the borough maintains its bank accounts with the PNC at 601 McKean Ave., which will close April 19.

“I am not crazy about driving to Belle Vernon every day to make a deposit,” she said.

The Belle Vernon branch is three miles from Donora, said PNC spokeswoman Amy Vargo.

She said the decision to close the Donora PNC branch followed conversations with its customers and evaluations of needs and cost-effective measures to consolidate branches.

“Overall customers are using branches differently today,” Vargo said.

Scott Beveridge is a North Charleroi native who has lived most of his life in nearby Rostraver Township. He is a general assignments reporter focusing on investigative journalism and writing stories about the mid-Mon Valley. He has a bachelor's degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a master's from Duquesne University. Scott spent three weeks in Vietnam in 2004 as a foreign correspondent under an International Center for Journalists fellowship.

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