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First National Bank of Walker to close and move Jenkins branch

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First National Bank of Walker announced that the Jenkins branch will close July 11, and the building will be moved to Baxter.

Walker Banco, the holding company that owns First National Bank of Walker and Lakes State Bank, has decided the branch would be better utilized in a Baxter location as a Lakes State Bank branch, according to a news release. The entire building will be relocated some time after the closure and is expected to reopen in Baxter in the fall.

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Jay Cline, vice president and branch manager, and Toni Morrison, marketing officer, both declined further comment, stating the company would like to give people the opportunity to review the news release information first.

The banks have entered into an interbank customer service agreement. Current customers of the Jenkins branch will be able to conduct their banking at the Pequot Lakes office of Lakes State Bank starting July 14. Customers still have the freedom to bank at any other First National Bank of Walker office, including in Backus, Walker, Hackensack, Longville, Remer or Akeley.

Current employees at the Jenkins branch will work at the Lakes State Bank office in Pequot Lakes after the Jenkins office closes.

The Jenkins City Council discussed the bank closure Monday, April 14.

“The whole council agreed, the general feeling is we hate to see them go, but obviously we don’t have a say in it. It’s not just a tax revenue and a nice building. We’ve had a good working relationship with the bank over the years, so it’s not what we want to see happening, but business is business,” said Jenkins Clerk/Treasurer Krista Okerman.

Council member Donna Stricker said the bank has been a reminder of Jenkins’ lucrative railroad days.

“There was a time when it was a much more busy little town and it was really kind of a hub for the railroad. Having that bank in town kind of revived that feeling. It was kind of a nice thing in town. We’ll miss it being here,” Stricker said.

Stricker is also a customer of the Jenkins branch.

“Lakes will be our go-to from here. It’s another hometown bank, which is nice. It was just really nice having the bank in town. We really liked that,” Stricker said.

The Jenkins branch building was formerly a branch of the family-owned Woodland Bank. It was established after 1993 as part of a branching strategy. First National Bank of Walker purchased the Jenkins, Remer and Longville branch buildings from Woodland Bank in June 2012. In a 2012 news release, Woodland Bank President Brian Nicklason said the sale would allow Woodland Bank to raise capital to grow in Grand Rapids and Itasca County.

Travis Grimler can be reached at travis.grimler@pineandlakes.com. Follow him at facebook.com/PEJTravis and on Twitter @PEJ_Travis.

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