Abbeville First Copes with Building Concerns

Abbeville First CEO Andy Timmerman remembers how he found out about the structural concerns facing the building which the bank has for years called home.

“About three weeks ago employees and customers heard a loud noise in the lobby area. Loud enough that they thought a car had hit the building. But they could not find any damage. When I returned to the office and they described the noise I decided to check out the attic. That is when I noticed a couple boards were snapped apart.”

Timerman knew something had to be done.

“At first I thought about calling a contractor to take a look but in thinking about what had recently happened to that condo in Florida I called Keith Dunn with Dunn and Shirley Engineering,” Timmerman said. “He referred me to Brian Robertson, a structural engineer in Greenwood. Robertson, along with specialty contractor Phil Keown, inspected the trusses in the attic and recommended we evacuate the lobby area immediately, in which we did.”

The building was further inspected by the Abbeville County Building Inspector, City Zoning Manager, and County Fire Marshal along with a South Carolina Deputy Fire Marshal.

“It was decided that we needed to vacate the drive-through area as well but that the back portion of the building was safe to occupy,” he said.

Timmerman and company had to face a sobering truth. The Abbeville First bank had to cope with some structural issues afflicting the building in which it is housed.

“The prefabricated trusses across the lobby and teller areas are coming apart,” he said.

The Abbeville First bank building has been a mainstay of downtown Abbeville for years.

“The original building was built in 1965 and it was doubled in size in 1987,” he said. “It is the section built in 1987 that is the issue. The prefabricated trusses that were used to support the roof and hold the ceiling are coming apart. Numerous boards have snapped in two and the gussets connecting the joints have pulled out. The ceiling at its center point has dropped nearly six inches.”

Timmerman was asked how long it will take to correct the problem.

“The contractor has spent the past two weeks installing a temporary shoring system that had to be designed by the engineer. They have also removed all of the ceiling, lights, and installation. The engineer is finalizing the design to replace the support system through the lobby and interior teller area. We are hopeful, with the shoring in place, an inspection to be done soon will give us the okay to open back up the drive-through. It could take as much as three months to install the new support system over the lobby and bring that section back to its original condition. This is if we do not run into any unforeseen issues. Once the lobby is ready then we will have to close the drive-through back down so the trusses over it can be replaced.”

Besides closing the drive-through and the front lobby there have been other repercussions.

“We have set up temporary teller stations in our back loan department lobby and moved some folks to different offices. But all of our services are still operational and our Calhoun Falls office has been able to pick up some slack. The staff and customers seem to be taking it all in stride.”

“Our customers have been understanding and patient,” TImmerman said. “All of our employees have pitched in to make this difficult situation work. As we learned during the pandemic, a crisis will bring a good team together.”

Thanks to our friends at  The Press & Banner

Green, Henry (7/28/21). ‘Abbeville First copes with building concerns ’, THE PRESS AND BANNER and ABBEVILLE MEDIUM