BERTHOLD - Bremer Bank announced Thursday it will close its Berthold branch this fall due to safety and security concerns.
Brent Mattson, president of Bremer Bank in Minot, said the Berthold branch, which was opened in 1965, will be closing at the end of the business day on Oct. 29, the last Friday of the month. The bank will operate normally until that time.
"This was an extremely difficult decision for Bremer as we recognize the important role this bank plays in the community," Mattson said in a press release.
He said the decision to close the branch was not made lightly, but ultimately he felt it was the right thing to do for the safety of everyone involved.
"It's a small bank and ... there's safety and security issues not only for our employees but also for the customers in those types of operations," Mattson said. "We've had some nasty situations in the Red River Valley like Gilby and things like that where there was a robbery there."
Two armed men robbed the Gilby branch in May of this past year. Luckily, no one was hurt in the incident.
Branches in St. Thomas and Hoople, both in northeast North Dakota, will also be closing the same day due to similar safety and security issues. As with Berthold, those are small banks located in a rural setting. Bremer is working with all affected employees to find other opportunities within the bank.
Impacted customers will have to drive 22 miles to Minot to find the closest Bremer bank once the Berthold branch closes. The closest free ATMs are also located in Minot. The press release stated customers do have many other options to do their banking business, including online banking, Bremer phone bank, ATMs, remote deposit and bank-by-mail.
"We recognize that this closure will present challenges to our clients, so we are identifying other ways to continue meeting their needs," Mattson said in the press release.
As for the bank building, Bremer will be actively trying to sell it, according to the press release. If Bremer is unable to find a viable business to take the building over, it will initiate discussions with the community and area nonprofits to see if a partnership can be forged for the benefit of Berthold.
Although he feels the decision to close the Berthold branch is the right one for a variety of reasons, that doesn't make it any easier to swallow for Mattson.
"Tough decision, it's one of those where we feel bad, that's for sure," he said.