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EDITORIAL - New bank building is good for Denmark

The Denmark News - Staff Photo - Create Article
Photo courtesy of Bank First.
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By Jacob Heiser
The Denmark News

Last month, I was happy to report Bank First will be investing in the Denmark community with a brand new branch building to be constructed next year. I was once again disappointed to discover The Denmark News Facebook audience did not share my enthusiasm and instead filled the announcements comments section with negativity toward the project. I suppose at this point, I should no longer be surprised the attitude on social media is far more negative and critical than that which I encounter in person, but I was still shocked that barely anyone had anything good to say. For this week's editorial, I would like to outline why I believe a new bank is a good thing for the people of Denmark and the community as a whole.

It seems whenever I am tasked with reporting on changes or progress of any kind in our area, numerous commenters come out of the woodwork to complain and deride the decision. This was even more evident with the announcement from Bank First that a new building would be constructed on the same site as their current branch. The thread was quickly flooded with commenters voicing their distaste with the decision. Seemingly, they believe the current bank building is more than suitable and new construction is simply a waste. Many seem to share a borderline emotional connection to the current building and believe removing it will somehow destroy the integrity of our downtown. While I can understand wanting to preserve historic buildings in our town, the current bank building does not fit the description in my opinion. I was also floored by the amount of people who seemed to think the large addition to the bank was completed recently when, in reality, it was built in the early 1990s, before this reporter was even born.

What was most maddening to me about the negative comments was that none of the commenters seemed to have read the article in question. If they had before responding, they would have seen the reasons behind the decision were numerous and sound. When Bank First bought out Denmark State Bank two years ago, everyone with any sense knew they would not be occupying the current building permanently. While there was little wrong with the structure on the surface, it was simply too large. The building had been built and designed as the headquarters of Denmark State Bank but now is merely a branch of the larger Bank First. This left a large portion of the building sitting empty with no realistic options for its use.

Most importantly, the main reason I am happy to hear Bank First will be building a new branch in downtown Denmark is its location. When Bank First came to town, many speculated they would be building a new branch closer to I-43 and away from downtown. While this would have been more convenient for some,  it would have been disastrous for nearby businesses and residents and would have left a gaping hole in a downtown that does not need another vacant building. A new state-of-the-art branch building demonstrates Bank First's commitment to the community and a desire to not interrupt the way business is done in our town.

In closing, I strongly disagree with the legion of keyboard warriors who take issue with the new bank being built in downtown Denmark. While I, too, would have preferred a locally-owned and operated bank prevail, I am thrilled Bank First has shown such an interest and investment in downtown and hope the new facility will mean many more years of local banking in Denmark.

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