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Gregory, a small town in Livingston County, is losing its only bank in July

Janet Nimke, a teller at Eaton Community Bank in Gregory, Mich., works with a customer via phone, Wednesday, April 28, 2021, as the bank's lobby is closed due to the pandemic. The bank will close in the end of July and the future of the building is unknown. Nimke, who grew up in Gregory, says of the closure "It's hard, really hard. The bank's always been here." Previous to its becoming Eaton Community Bank, it was SSB Bank, and before that, Stockbridge State Bank, according to Nimke. (Gillis Benedict/Livingston County Daily Press & Argus via AP)

By JENNIFER TIMAR

Livingston Daily

AP Member Exchange

GREGORY, Mich. — A small Livingston County community is losing its only bank.

Eaton Community Bank officials announced the bank’s Gregory branch will close July 30.

Longtime Gregory resident and bank customer James Ball said it is a shame to see the branch close.

“It’s one of the linchpins of the town,” Ball, 67, told the Livingston Daily Press & Argus.

Gregory is a small incorporated community in a predominantly agricultural area. It has a small downtown of a few blocks with about a dozen businesses. It is a mailing address for about 5,200 people and the seat of Unadilla Township government, police and fire services.

In the 19th century, Gregory developed as a railroad stop. It is now a stop on the Mike Levine Lakelands Trail State Park, a non-motorized path that follows the old rail route.

Ball said when businesses close in small towns such as Gregory, locals feel the impact.

The community also lost a restaurant when Gregory Mercantile Inn closed more than a year ago.

“I think closing the branch is a mistake,” Ball said. “There really isn’t much in town. You see it all the time. First the bank closes, then other things close, and then you look around and say, ‘where is everybody?'”

Gregory repair shop owner Rod Munsell remembers when the bank was built in the early 1970s by his grandfather Paul Dancer and uncle John Dancer.

It was originally a branch of Stockbridge State Bank/SSB Bank, which was established in the early 1900s by the family and merged with Eaton Federal in 2018.

Eaton Federal then changed its name to Eaton Community Bank.

“Where that bank sits now used to be an auto and truck repair and the saw mill. There was a great, big garage. That was a town hang out,” Munsell said.

Why it’s closing:

Eaton Community Bank officials say fewer people were using in-person banking services before lobbies were closed due to the pandemic.

“The banking industry has been changing at a rapid pace for years with technology and security advancements, which has greatly reduced in-branch traffic throughout the industry,” bank president Tim Jewell said.

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