LEXINGTON — Within days of the closure of James C. Nance Memorial Bridge that links Lexington and Purcell, First American Bank officials knew they had to find a way to better serve customers who had lost easy access to its branch in Purcell.
Norman-based First American estimates it has about 1,000 customers in Lexington and the surrounding area who must take a long detour to reach the Purcell branch from Lexington after engineers found structural deficiencies in the bridge in January.
With the emergency blessing of regulators, First American has set up a temporary branch in a storefront in Lexington that previously housed a carpet merchant at 117 W Broadway.
After deciding to set up the temporary branch, it took First American about a week and a half to open the temporary banking center, First American President Neil Schemmer said.
“We decided that we needed to do something to help these people,” Schemmer said.
“It has tested us and all of our resources.”
Staffed with two First American employees and a security guard, the branch is open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. It closes from 11 a.m. to noon for lunch.
Site opens for business
The branch opened Friday, and First American has received positive feedback from customers, Schemmer said.
The bank’s regulators, the Oklahoma Banking Department and the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, both gave permission to open the temporary branch, with the caveat that the Lexington branch must close when the bridge reopens.
“We strive to offer our customers outstanding service,” said Jim McAuley, First American Bank chairman.
“We hope to alleviate some of the stress caused by the closing of the bridge through this temporary First American Bank location.”