The Bank of Mingo is slated to close its branch in Matewan next week. In response, the town’s council voted Tuesday night to pull all of its accounts from that institution if they proceed with the closure.

Councilman Jeff Hatfield led the charge to take the aggressive stance with the Bank of Mingo and made the motion to pull the town’s accounts. The motion was a tentative measure with the caveat that the action will only be taken if the Matewan branch indeed closes. The bank’s board of directors was scheduled to meet on Thursday to make final plans for the branch.

Currently the branch is scheduled to close on Tuesday, March 3, according to Mayor Shelia Kessler, who was very limited to what she was able to discuss about the closure because she is also the president and chief executive officer of the Bank of Mingo.

“This has left a bad taste in my mouth and I’m tired of chewing on it,” Hatfield said. “If they are pulling out of Matewan, then Matewan needs to pull out of the Bank of Mingo. I know that our account won’t put them out of business, but I don’t want to help them either.”

While data was not readily available during the council meeting as to how much money the town passes through the bank on an annual basis, the town does keep significant average balances in its accounts.

In a letter drafted by the council on Dec. 17, 2019, to the Bank of Mingo, the members said: “This letter is to request the reconsideration of the closing of the Matewan Branch. The Bank of Mingo provides support for the town’s local economy.”

The letter goes on to explain that it would put an extreme burden on the town because of daily deposit needs as well as creating an undue hardship on the residents of the town and its surrounding communities. The letter also asked if the bank would consider modifying its services to at least offer drive-thru banking.

The Bank of Mingo responded with a letter of its own, stating, “The board has discussed alternative courses of action other than complete closure and has determined that closure is the best solution going forward. This decision was not specifically targeted at the town, current residents of the Matewan area nor the employees of the bank who are facing unemployment. Please, understand this was a ‘business decision’ and sometimes these types of decisions are not always popular.”

Kelly May, town accountant, asked the council if they had considered inviting another bank, such as Community Trust Bank, to fill the void in Matewan. The council agreed with the suggestion and asked her to make initial inquiries with the Community Trust on the town’s behalf.

Hatfield’s motion to pull accounts from the Bank of Mingo passed on a 3-1 vote with Hatfield, Kathy McCoy and Matthew Moore voting in favor of the motion.

“It is a big decision,” said Edward “Tag” Keith, who cast the only opposing vote. “I have to say no to moving the accounts.”

As mayor, Kessler does not cast votes on motions before the council.

The Matewan Town Council will meet in special session at 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 3, to consider any final actions taken by the Bank of Mingo board of directors.