Originally created 07/17/04

Petitioners save Beech Island bank



AIKEN - When Beech Island residents received word they might lose their only bank in town, a petition to save the First Citizens branch office collected more than 1,200 signatures and the support of a state representative.

It was enough to convince bank officials to reconsider their plans for the bank, which has served the small town since the 1960s.

On Friday afternoon, a sign inside the lobby of the Beech Island branch read: "This bank will not close."

It had been scheduled to close Sept. 17.

In a written statement, First Citizens officials confirmed the branch would remain open.

The decision comes as a relief to Crossroads Caf owner Paul Sharpton, who launched the petition.

"Most businesses in Beech Island have an account here," he said. "I have my personal account there, my business account there, my kids have their accounts there."

Closing the Beech Island branch would have forced residents to drive more than 10 miles to the First Citizens in Jackson.

"With the prices of gas as they are today, that's a lot of gas, that's a lot of money," Mr. Sharpton said.

First Citizens also has a branch bank in Belvedere and plans to open one in North Augusta in September.

Aiken County Legislative Delegation Chairman and state Rep. Roland Smith, R-Langley, said he was pleased with First Citizens' decision to accommodate Beech Island's residents.

Reach Krista Zilizi at (803) 648-1395, ext. 106.