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Citizens closing Donora site; borough soon bankless

| Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013, 1:27 a.m.
Judy Thomas from the Donora Public Library talks to reporter about the closing of yet another bank in Donora, as she was going into the Citizens Bank which will be closing in April. Jim Ference | The Valley Indepndent

Donora Mayor John Lignelli thought his hometown had survived the worst of the economy a few years ago.

So when he received a call from the manager of the Citizens Bank informing him the Donora branch would close in the spring, the mayor could hardly believe it.

“I cannot understand it,” Lignelli said. “During the heart of the recession, Donora – as bad off as it was – still had three banks running.

“All of the sudden, within seven to eight months, all three banks in town are shutting down.”

Lignelli said he plans to talk to Citizens officials in Pittsburgh to find out why the branch is closing.

“They have to explain that to me,” Lignelli said. “I am devastated over it. I don't understand it.

“I won't stop until I get some answers.”

Citizens will close the Donora branch at 501 McKean Ave., 6 p.m. April 26, customers learned in letters most received Monday. The announcement comes just a week after PNC Bank announced it would close its Donora branch, just a block away at 601 McKean Ave., on April 19.

In October, First Federal Savings Bank closed its Donora branch.

In letters mailed to Citizens Bank customers, Angela Moultrie, director of retail banking, said, “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 at one of these nearby locations: 560 Donner Ave., Monessen; Monessen Park, 1731 Grand Blvd., Monessen; Fisher Heights/Giant Eagle, 1300 Country Club Road, Monongahela (Carroll Township).”

That was little consolation to bank customers who either have no ability to drive to those other branches or who are sympathetic to those who do not drive.

Judy Thomas said she considered the news to be grim last week when she received a letter informing her of PNC's decision to close – until she got the letter Monday from Citizens Bank.

“I think it's pretty awful,” Thomas said. “People who have (no cars) now don't have a bank.”

Barbara Kubena said she has banked with Citizens Bank since the 1970s when it was Mellon Bank. She said her mother has been a customer since the 1940s.

“It's terrible,” Kubena said. “What about the people in town who have to walk here to do their banking. That's ridiculous. It truly is.”

Michael Belek said he has been on disability since undergoing a back operation.

“That's a shame,” said Belek, who switched to Citizens after First Federal Savings Bank closed last year. “I guess I have to get someone to take me to Monessen.”

Judy Mrlack has been a customer of the bank for more than 40 years.

“I'm very disappointed,” Mrlack said. “It's going to be sort of difficult to either go to Giant Eagle or Monessen. They have two in Monessen. Why not close one of them and keep Donora open?”

Elisha Booth said closure of the Donora branch will make it inconvenient for her to bank locally.

“I think it's bad enough there a lot of other businesses closing,” Booth said. “I wish I could see more businesses opening in town.”

Citizens is located in a structure built by the Bank of Donora, according to the Donora centennial book.

The Bank of Donora began operations in a storeroom on Fifth Street on Jan. 2, 1902, and was liquidated in 1930.

Its assets were absorbed by the Union Trust Co., which merged with the First National Bank in 1932 under the title of Union National Bank of Donora – the only bank in Donora. It operated under the Melbank System with Mellon controlling 51 percent of the stock. In 1948, Union National stockholders approved acquisition by Mellon Bank.

Pittsburgh National Bank, now PNC, opened an office at 629 McKean Ave. in 1964 and completed construction of a new building at the intersection of Sixth Street and McKean in 1968.

First Federal Savings Bank opened in Donora in 1980, in a new building at the intersection of Sixth Street and Meldon Avenue.

Chris Buckley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2642 or