The recent announcement by Affinity Credit Union of its impending branch closures in Muenster and Lake Lenore have activated one resident in Muenster who is hoping to reach others. Marie Pratchler, an active senior living in Muenster, has taken up the cause of rallying against the closure of the Muenster centre. Pratchler, in consultation with friends and area residents, has started a petition to call for the centre to remain open. 

As an Affinity member, Marie received a phone call, followed by a letter, announcing the intent to close the service centre and open a new hub in Humboldt. The plan as stated by Affinity is to begin construction of a new centralized service office in Humboldt in 2022 with an eye to opening in 2023. At that time, the rural branches in Lake Lenore and Muenster will be decommissioned. 

“When I looked at the letter, I just figured it wasn’t fair for our community,” said Pratchler. “I reached out to some friends, I talked to the mayor, and I asked about a petition. He said that’s good.”

Along with another local resident, Pratchler spoke to a representative on the Affinity Board who promised to relay the concerns expressed in the community at the annual meeting slated for April 20. Seeing that there was no petition in place, Pratchler did the necessary research and printed off a series of sheets that residents could sign. The petition simply expresses an opposition to the branch closures in Lake Lenore and Muenster. Copies of the petition are also in place in Lake Lenore. 

The impact of the closure will be immediate, Pratchler feels, and certain groups will be hit hardest, among them seniors.

“I know that there are seniors that live in Wolverine (Muenster’s senior housing complex) that don’t drive. I think the biggest impact will be our Co-op Store. I don’t think anybody has thought about community ball clubs, hockey, or local tournaments. To drive to the new building takes time and gas.”

Pratchler says people she has spoken to are united in their support of the branch. Some were taken aback by the supposition in Affinity’s letter to its members that Muenster residents are already buying groceries and dining out in Humboldt anyway, so now they could do their banking too. Pratchler says that community members are concerned that the messaging ignores outcomes for existing businesses in Muenster like the Co-op grocery store, gas bar, and the local hotel which is a well established community eatery. 

Petitions are located at the many Muenster businesses including the Village Office, the library, the Muenster Co-op, Eastside Liquidation, Muenster Hotel, Chadly’s Auto Body, and Dan Wheels. 

Affinity Credit Union has arranged for a pair of community meetings, one in Muenster on May 3 at 7:00 pm in the Community Hall. The second will be held in Lake Lenore in the Lake Lenore Rec Centre on May 4 at 7:00 pm.

“If people are concerned, show that concern by signing the petition and getting out to this meeting,” Pratchler says.