FAIRMONT - It's been a long three years since Bank Midwest acquired the former VFW site in Fairmont, but on Friday the institution finally broke ground for its new location.
"We've spent two and a half years obtaining, cleaning and getting ready for today," said bank president Tom Lytle to a group attending a Friday morning ceremony.
Lytle said planning for the new bank actually began in June 2009, when Bank Midwest started the process to obtain the VFW site.
HAPPY?DAY?— Bank Midwest regional president Tom Lytle, right, addresses the group gathered for the bank’s groundbreaking ceremony Friday morning at the former VFW site in Fairmont.
The purchase became official in June 2011, but hit a snag that November when the excavator found creosote-treated wood buried underground.
Fortunately, a $33,660 state grant helped with the expensive cleanup.
There also was less contamination than originally suspected, and the bank was given the green light to proceed with construction about 10 days ago.
"It probably put us about 60 days behind the original schedule," Lytle said of the delays.
With construction beginning next week, he said the current schedule has a move-in date of May 2013.
Once the new bank is built, there will be a memento noting the former VFW site.
"When we took down the old VFW building, people were very emotional about it," Lytle said. "We managed to save some of the original brick, and there will be a memorial at the front door with the VFW bricks to honor the history, and those who were a part of it."
When the VFW sold its home of 70-some years to Bank Midwest last summer, the veterans organization moved to a site on Albion Avenue that was formerly Kak's Restaurant, next door to Dairy Freeze.
Lytle noted the bank's current location on Downtown Plaza has been purchased by Fairmont Farmers Mutual Insurance Company.
"They actually own the building now, and we're just leasing it from them until we have our new place," Lytle said. "They're already doing some remodeling with us still there. They re-did the roof and installed a new HVAC."
Lytle took note of everyone who helped make the bank project happen, from Bank Midwest staff, to committee members.
"We all dug in our heels to do what needed to be done," he said.