ShareThis Page

North Belle Vernon PNC cashing out

| Friday, April 5, 2013, 12:56 a.m.
Jim Ference | The Valley Independent
PNC Bank in North Belle Vernon on Broad Avenue is slated to be closed.
This photo of three parallel bridges: the original Belle Vernon-Speers Bridge, the newer Belle Vernon-Speers Bridge and the Belle Vernon Railroad Bridge, was taken in 1954.
McClure’s Restaurant and a billiard parlor at the corner of Main and Second streets in Belle Vernon sometime in the 1880s.

When PNC Vice President-Regional Manager Samuel Rotellini phoned North Belle Vernon Mayor Ed Lyons on Monday and said he needed to meet with him, the mayor guessed that it wasn't going to be good news.

“I was in Pittsburgh at the time, and I told him I could be in town at 1 o'clock,” Lyons said. “From the minute they walked in the door, I knew what was coming.”

PNC's North Belle Vernon branch will close July 19.

“The decision was rendered. It wasn't a negotiation,” Lyons said. “They're going to let their employees and the public know by a letter around April 14.”

“There wasn't any, ‘What if we do this for you?' or ‘How about we do that.' The shot was fired. They're pulling out, and that's it.

“It's the banking business now. They're retrofitting their business so they can make a profit.”

They told Lyons the decision was partially driven by the availability of online banking and new technology.

The meeting with Rotellini and Branch Manager Larry Golashewski didn't last long, but they did say an ATM machine will remain operational. The machine is frequented by many patrons of Jake's Pizza and the Foster House, which accept only cash as payment.

“They're forcing people to go to another bank. That's what they're doing,” Lyons said of PNC. “North Belle Vernon is unique. If you want a haircut, you can walk. If you want to go get a pizza, you can walk to Jake's. If you want to go grab a drink, you walk.

“A lot of people walked to do their banking. They're taking that away. Now the older people in town that don't drive will have to use the bus or make an appointment to go out (to Tri-County Plaza in Rostraver Township) to do their banking. It's a rat race out there. No one likes going out there.”

Lyons said he's heard rumors of the closing, adding there is a high possibility PNC will sell the building, which housed the former Bell Telephone exchange and the Mid-Mon Valley Council of Governments.

“A bank is a community staple,” Lyons said. “Who's to say that another bank won't buy the building and come into town? With the way the banking industry is now, I don't know if that will happen.”

Lyons, who is retiring April 30, said he is sad that PNC is leaving town. And he fears it's the beginning of a downward cycle.

Craig Ambrose, who was appointed by council to serve the remainder of Lyons' term beginning May 1, said he want to meet with Rotellini and Golashewski.

Ambrose is running unopposed for the Democratic nomination for mayor in May's primary election. There is no Republican candidate.

“I'd love to see them stay here,” Ambrose said of PNC. “The small towns are how all the banks got started. Now they all want to move from those towns.”

Ambrose said other banks have left the borough.

“We've always gotten another bank. I hope to try to find another bank,” Ambrose said.

“The shame of it is ... the people in this town have always stuck with the next bank that moves in there.

“PNC doesn't care that they're going to lose the people's money by leaving. It's going to hurt. There's a lot of people in town that have used that bank. The people were faithful. It's like they're just dumping on them.”

“Customer convenience isn't a concern of PNC,” Lyons said. “It's not very high on their list. It's all about reducing the payroll and the overhead.”

Lyons hopes the building won't sit empty for long.

“I never remember it being empty. It's been renovated a couple of times, and if it sells, there is some work that will need to be done,” he said. “Maybe a group of lawyers or another bank will come in there. That building is like Fort Knox; it's a big, strong building. It has potential.”

Jeremy Sellew is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at or 724-684-2667.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.