Pawhuska buys drive-through bank building

Robert Smith
Pawhuska Journal-Capital

Pawhuska city government has agreed to take out a $75,000 loan over five years, with an annual interest rate of 2%, from American Heritage Bank, to buy the bank’s drive-through facility on Main Street, just west of the police station.

City Attorney John Heskett said the bank initially wanted considerably more for the property, but dropped the price to help the city of Pawhuska.

“They have dropped that, in the spirit of being a good ambassador to the community, to $75,000,” Heskett said during a City Council meeting.

He said Interim City Manager Tonya Bright had been of the view that the drive-through could be used in the short term to allow citizens to make their utility payments.

Heskett said the bank recently spent money to improve the drive-through bank building.

Danny Ferguson, Pawhuska branch manager for American Heritage Bank, said he thought the drive-through bank building would be a natural fit for allowing citizens to make utility payments.

“I think that’s set up perfectly for that use,” he said.

Ferguson said the bank had been contacted several months ago by a group of people working with the city manager’s office. That group had conveyed the message that there might be some interest on the part of the city of Pawhuska in the drive-through bank property. Ferguson said there had been discussions with the bank’s owners in Sapulpa, and with Heskett, and the bank’s leadership had decided it would be a great way to help the community – to make the property available on terms favorable to city government.

Ferguson cited as a motto of American Heritage Bank that, “We’re only as successful as the communities we’re in.”

Ferguson said American Heritage had about $200,000 invested in the building, including approximately $50,000 in fairly recent repair and improvement costs.

The building was not in operation when the city agreed to acquire it, having closed at the end of May 2020 due to COVID-19 concerns, Ferguson said.

“We decided it would be better to have everybody under one roof,” Ferguson said regarding the bank’s reaction to the COVID-19 challenge. American Heritage's main location in town is at 239 E. Main Street.

American Heritage Bank dates back to 1905, when it opened with $25,000 in capital. The initial bank directors were mostly involved in the oil industry. American Heritage currently has more than 20 banking locations in 15 communities and employs about 300 people. It has added nine locations since Dec. 1, 2012. Banks in Pawhuska, Barnsdall and Cleveland were among those acquisitions.

Tonya Bright said she is excited about the city’s agreement to buy the Pawhuska drive-through building. She confirmed there has been discussion of using it in the short term to allow citizens to more easily make payments.