Life in rural Nevada has its challenges.
Jobs can be scarce. A full-service supermarket is usually 70 miles from home. And a doctor’s appointment may be a two-hour trip.
For years the local bank branch has been a staple of rural life -- meeting the financial needs of farmers, ranchers and business owners. Now that’s even disappearing from rural Nevada, replaced by so-called smart ATMs.
Washington Federal is the latest bank to pull out. The bank is closing branches in Beatty, Pioche and Hawthorne. All three were purchased from Bank of America earlier this year.
Lynn Lundahl, division manager for Washington Federal in Nevada, says there just aren’t enough households to generate the income to make it work.
“I know it’s difficult. But it’s a business decision,” Lundahl said.
In a two-page letter to customers, Washington Federal said on “Friday, Nov. 14, our branch at 101 2nd Street in Beatty will be closing.” The bank will transfer all accounts to its nearest branch.
In Beatty’s case, the nearest Washington Federal branch is in North Las Vegas, or 109 miles away. Erika Gerling, a 30-year resident and treasurer of the Beatty Town Advisory Board, says a lot of residents can't drive 75 miles to Pahrump or 109 miles to North Las Vegas to go to the bank.
Gerling told KNPR she was worried Washington Federal would pull out the ATM if it didn’t do enough business. Once the Beatty and Pioche branches are closed, those communities will no longer have branches, while Hawthorne will still continue to be served by Financial Horizons Credit Union.
Banks aren’t the only businesses that are closing in rural Nevada. Brothels, once a stable business, are facing hard times in some communities. In August, Angel Lady’s brothel near Beatty closed its doors for good, a victim of the recession.
Mack Moore bought the brothel in 1997, and for years, business was good. He though it was a sure bet, making an investment in an 80-acre ranch, which included a brothel.
Moore said it was a difficult decision, but he doesn't regret closing Angel Lady’s.
Erika Gerling, treasurer, Beatty Town Advisory Board
Mack Moore, former owner, Angel Lady’s brothel