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Condon will take oath at Clocktower, Stuckart at MAC

Mayor-elect David Condon will take the oath of office in front of the Riverfront Park clocktower at 10:30 a.m. Dec. 30, the city announced this morning in a news release.

A reception will follow in the Carrousel.

Council President-elect Ben Stuckart will take his oath on Dec. 28 at the Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture, where he serves on the board.

Council members-elect Mike Allen, Mike Fagan and Steve Salvatori will take their oaths at 3:30 p.m. Dec. 29 in the City Council Chambers at City Hall, 808 W. Spokane Falls Blvd.

None of the new city officials will officially take office until midnight on Jan. 1, but under state law they must take the oath of office within 10 days prior to that time.

Murder suspect expected in court today

Spokane police search Riverfront Park on Tuesday. Romero Vivit's body was pulled from the river later that day. (Jennifer DeRuwe/Spokane Police Department)

A 21-year-old man arrested after his friend's body was pulled from the Spokane River with what police described as "visible injuries to his body" is expected to appear in court this afternoon. 

Yukio M. Rideb (pictured left) was booked into jail Tuesday at 4:42 p.m., hours after Romero J. Vivit III was pulled from the river in Riverfront Park.

Family members found bloody clothes belonging to Vivit Saturday after he was last seen about 3 a.m. following a visit to the Revolver Bar, 227 W. Riverside Ave., according to police.

 Rideb and Vivit (pictured right) attended North Central High School together.

It's unclear what led police to identify Rideb as a suspect in Vivit's death, but Vivit is believed to have been assaulted in the park early Saturday.

Park staff told police of cleaning up blood near the Louff Carrousel that day after hearing of the missing person case.

Rideb is on state Department of Corrections probation for a year after pleading guilty in September to third-degree assault and violation of a domestic violence no contact order. He was arrested in August and spent 26 days in jail. He was released after sentencing with credit for time served.

In June, Rideb was sentenced to 29 days in jail for two counts domestic violence malicious mischief, a misdemeanor.

Rideb is scheduled to be appear in Spokane County Superior Court at 1:30 p.m. on a second-degree murder charge.

Man booked after body pulled from river

A police dive team searches the Spokane River in Riverfront Park on Tuesday. (Jennifer DeRuwe/Spokane Police Department)

A body believed to be that of a man missing since this weekend was recovered Tuesday in Riverfront Park, and a 21-year-old is facing a murder charge in connection with the death, police said.

 Taken into custody was Yukio M. Rideb, who is being held at the county jail on a second-degree murder charge in the death of Romero J. Vivit III, 21.

Read the rest of the story here.

Today’s highlights

The Clock Tower in Riverfront Park originally was part of the Great Northern Railway Depot building. The depot opened on May 30, 1902. The structures were listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972. SR file photo.

Thursday brings you another edition of the Valley Voice on your front porch (or on your computer screen). In today's edition reporter Lisa Leinberger has a story on the Reading Buddies program at Opportunity Elementary School. The school brings in volutneers from Eastpoint Church to help third graders practice their reading skills.

There was an interesting twist at this week's Spokane Valley City Council meeting, where a council member said that Valleyfest organizers had been offered money in years past to not apply for lodging tax funding. The discussion was part of the ongoing debate over the council's decision to not grant Valleyfest any lodging tax money this year.

Lisa also has a story on several decisions made by the Liberty Lake City Council. The council voted to approve the 2012 budget, pay of a golf course bond and reduce the city's utility tax to 3 percent. The Clock Tower in Riverfront Park isn't in Spokane Valley, of course, but it is a regional icon. Correspondent Stefanie Pettit has a story on the landmark and the man who keeps it running.

Birds of a different feather

Walking through Riverfront Park alone on a chilly morning seems like the perfect occasion for some poetic reverie about life, the seasons and prospects for the future.

But what I found myself thinking, not for the first time, was this.

Those ducks at the park sound to me just like Burgess Meredith as The Penguin in that old TV version of "Batman."

It's a good bet that they aren't really trying to quack like one of the Caped Crusader's arch-enemies. But they still make me smile.

And who really knows when ducks are trying to be funny?


White Christmas wood duck returns to Riverfront Park

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WATERFOWL — She’s back! A wood duck once again is bringing the “White Christmas” spirit to Riverfront park.

The mystery has been solved about the wood duck bringing a white Christmas spirit to Riverfront Park.

Some speculated it was an albino, others suggested the duck with the pink eye rings was a leucistic bird in disguise.

The bird has been feeding among the mallards for several weeks in the Spokane River between the Opera House and Carousel. Local birder Buck Domitrovich photographed what likely was the same bird last year at the park (left).

Wild wood ducks normally migrate away from the Spokane-North Idaho area around mid-October.  Most birders agreed this woodie might be the product of captive breeding, but nobody seemed to know for sure — until local birding expert and breeder Dennis Dahlke chimed in.

"This white duck is a captive bred female wood duck," he said. "She is not albino, just a color variation.  Belonged to a friend of ours. Coyotes helped her escape when they killed most of the other ducks in that pen last winter."

The woody is smaller than the mallards she paddles around with, but she holds her own — she's not afraid to take after bigger birds that get in her way.

Freak show: One birder emailed me with an interesting observation about the way many of us view wildlife:  "It's interesting to me that human freaks freak us out but other animal freaks turn us on," she said.

Another ice age has arrived


So I walked over to Riverfront Park to purchase my 2011-12 Ice Palace pass. Opening day is tomorrow.

My picture on my pass this year looks as if it was taken during a disfiguring teleportation accident. But I'm looking forward to the season.

I don't think I can take a shot at being first on the ice tomorrow, as has been my off-and-on tradition. Got a lot to do Wednesday. But I will get over there soon and reacquaint myself with the fact that riding a bike doesn't totally prepare you for skating.

My former colleague Susan English introduced me to the Ice Palace more than 20 years ago. Her attitude was "Isn't it cool to have this right here in the midst of downtown?"

Yes. It is.


(Some of the other) Riverfront Park(s)

Salem, Oregon.


Mankato, Minnesota


Little Rock, Arkansas


Nashville, Tennessee


Laurel, Maryland


Williamsburg, Virginia


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania


North Charleston, South Carolina


Pig Out picked up additional traffic from social buzz, says Design Spike’s Bracken

Back to food blogging. A little retrospective on this year's Pig Out event, compliments of Laura Bracken, owner and president of Design Spike, a marketing and digital design company.

Design Spike was hired to pump it up, using social media to make Pig Out even bigger than usual.

According to an email from Bracken, it worked.

"This year's Pig Out showed a 17 percent increase in total food sales, and a 9 percent increase in adult beverage revenue," Bracken wrote.

About 89,500 folks attended the full event in Riverfront Park. 

The campaign used the usual social sites, including Tumblr and Facebook. In addition, a mobile site was launched to feed data to users of smartphones and tablets, said Bracken.

Video: Riverfront Park’s pike-catching teen featured in TV report

FISHING — It's cool that KHQ TV followed up on my Tuesday story about the Spokane teenager who surprised himself and a lot of onlookers as he hook,fought and landed a 42-inch-long northern pike in the Spokane River near the Loof Carrousel.

Joe Buster, who just turned 18, clearly is an ambassador for the sport of fishing.

A few other notes on why his story is special:

Peter Roundy at the General Store gives special attention to Joe in selecting the gear to feed his enthusiasm for the sport. Joe is a special ed student at a Spokane High School.  He's a class act.

Big fish story

Joe Buster, of Spokane, landed this northern pike in Riverfront Park across from the carousel while fishing for trout on Saturday, Aug. 13, 2011 — two days before his 18th birthday. He said the fish measured 42 inches long.

While little kids were reaching for the golden ring Saturday at the Looff Carrousel, a Spokane teenager hooked the fish of his dreams just outside the door in Riverfront Park.

Joe Buster rides the city bus regularly to fish the Howard Street section of the Spokane River and rarely gets much attention from passers-by as he casts for the occasional foot-long trout or bass.

But he rose to rock-star status after a 42-inch-long northern pike smacked his Mepps Agilia spinner and torpedoed across the pool. Full story. Rich Landers, SR

Took 3 guys to help him land it! Have you ever caught a fish?


Teen bags 42-inch pike in Riverfront Park

CITY FISHING — An 17-year-old boy fishing for trout and bass by the Loof Carrousel at Riverfront park surprised a crowd of onlookers and himself Saturday by hooking a 42-inch northern pike.

Passersby got in the water to help him get the lunker ashore after it made three surging runs over 30 minutes.

But then the bad part.  He had a 42-inch-long fish and14-inch-wide cooler. To get home he had to ride a city bus.

Click here for the rest of the story.

Noon: Riverfront Offers Pony Magic

The newest attraction at Riverfront Park provides modern city kids a taste of old-fashioned country fun. Now, in addition to riding the painted ponies on the Looff Carrousel, children have an opportunity to ride the real deal. On April 23, Story Book Farm Ponies began offering pony rides, just across the river from the Carrousel. The sweet Shetlands have proven to be a hit. On a recent Saturday morning, a steady stream of kids gathered under the rainbow-striped awning. Three-year-old McKenna Ewing ran to the corral and climbed up the gate. “Oh! Look at them!” she gasped. “Their hair are crazy!”/Cindy Hval, SR. More here.

Question: How often do you visit Riverfront Park?

Another view

"We had friends visiting from the Chicago area last week," wrote Jo Ann Cvengros. "They were here at Diamond Lake with us for most of the day but wanted to see some of Spokane before they left the area. I suggested Riverfront Park and the gondola ride. They were very impressed by the falls and really enjoyed it.

"The downside was that they were dismayed by all the litter that could be seen from the ride. I think they left with the impression that Spokane was a dirty city. This really hurt my civic pride.

"Having grown up in Spokane and always having been taught not to litter, I wonder what has happened.

"We are only in the area five months out of the year but Spokane is still a place I'm really proud of and love to show it off to friends who visit. I know times are hard but we can all work toward a clean city."   

Slice answer

What did your visitors from out of town think of the downtown river falls?

"We had friends visiting from Idaho Falls two weeks ago," wrote Mark and Darlene O'Bleness. "Thought it would be nice to go downtown to look at the falls. When walking through the very beautiful Riverfront Park we saw the gondola. What a great way to see the falls, we thought.

"Bad idea. When on the gondola it was like being in a sauna. We were all miserable and could not enjoy the view if we could see it. The glass is so scratched it is hard to see through. The only thing our friends could say when the ride/torture ended was, 'That was miserable.'

"Maybe someone high up in the Park Department should ride the gondola on a hot day and see what it is like.

"We did enjoy viewing the falls from the steps below the WWP building. It did not cost $7.25 a person.

"Our visitors still like our city, but the gondola is not the way to show it off."  

18 tickets remain for Aldo Leopold documentary at IMAX

CONSERVATION — Due to cancellations, more free tickets are coming available for the Thursday showing of Greenfire, the story of Aldo Leopld. The Forest Service encourages you to check back often at the Spokane event registration website. As of this posting there are 18 tickets available.

Green Fire, the first full-length, high-definition documentary film about legendary conservationist Aldo Leopold is coming to Spokane's Riverfront IMAX Theater Thursday, 7 p.m.  The show was sold out Monday morning but the FREE tickets have re-emerged. 

The late Leopold, known as the father of modern wildlife management, shares highlights from his extraordinary career, explaining how he shaped conservation and the modern environmental movement.

Leopold is the author of A Sand County Almanac, which should be required reading for everyone who steps foot outdoors.

‘Trashy’ Public Art To Be Removed

Jagger Black, age 7, of Moses Lake, Wash., plays on the dinosaur bone sculpture in Riverfront Park Wednesday. The Spokane Parks and Recreation Department plans to remove and demolish the sculpture because it has developed cracks and is considered unsafe. (SR photo: Colin Mulvany)\

When noted Pacific Northwest artist Charles W. Smith was creating a sculpture in what became Riverfront Park, he was often asked what it represented. “Nothing,” he told a Spokane Daily Chronicle reporter. “It can be anything a child wants it to be. Rather than a camel or a horse, it can be many things.” Nearly 40 years later, Spokane arts and parks leaders, however, may give it a label: trash/Jonathan Brunt, SR. More here.

Question: Which piece of public art in the Coeur d'Alene area would you consider "trashy"?

King Cole and Jimmy Carter

In honor of King Cole, whose memorial service is Thursday morning, I present what may be my favorite photo in The Spokesman-Review's great photo archives. It's from the grand opening of Riverfront Park.

Here's the caption:

President Jimmy Carter momentarily looks the wrong way as the flag is raised during his May 1978 visit to Spokane's Riverfront Park. King Cole, a major influence in bringing Expo '74 to Spokane points the direction to president should be facing. Interior Secretary Cecil Andrus (left) and former Spokane Mayor David Rodgers (2nd from left) watch the ceremony. File/The Spokesman-Review

Also to commemorate Cole, Spokane Mayor Mary Verner has ordered flags at city-owned properties to fly at half-mast on Thursday and is encouraging others to also fly flags at half-mast.

Spokane's CityCable 5 announced this week that it will replay chats between Mayor Mary Verner and King Cole. The programs originally aired in 2008.

They will be shown at:

  • 6:30 p.m. Friday.
  • 9 p.m. Sunday.
  • 6 p.m. Monday.

George Orr leaving Wildlife Commission

 WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT — George Orr, the always quotable Washington Wildlife Commissioner from Spokane, announced today that he will be leaving the commission when his term expires next year.

Orr, a retired fireman and former state legislator, made the announcement during a commission conference all meeting called for other matters.

“I told the commission today that I’m not going to reenlist,” Orr said. “I’ve served God and country pretty handily since 1960: went into the military, served on school boards, union offices, PTA and elected and appointed offices around the state. Now it’s time to spend time with my wife and good buddy, and perhaps spoil my grandchildren a little more.

“Something else might come around later, but for now I’m not reenlisting.”

Orr’s announcement came four days after Gov. Chris Gregoire proposed eliminating the wildlife commission or making it merely an advisory group instead of a policy-making panel responsible for hiring and firing the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department director.

Autopsy complete on body in river

A body found in the Spokane River on Sunday has been identified. Detectives are contacting family and expect to release the man’s name on Tuesday, said Officer Jennifer DeRuwe, spokeswoman for the Spokane Police Department.

Riverfront Park security staff spotted the body just north of the Skyride about 9:35 a.m. on Sunday and called police.

The corpse showed no obvious signs of trauma and did not appear to be in the water long, but officers said the cold temperature could be a factor. No identification was found.

Police said the man appeared to be about 30 years old. Investigation into his death continues.

Poundstone in the Park Saturday

The Spokane version of Jon Stewart’s “Rally to Restore Sanity” will feature comedian Paula Poundstone Saturday, organizers said.

Poundstone is in Spokane for a couple of shows. Organizers asked her to come by Riverfront Park for the event. She said yes.

The rally is Stewart’s send-up of the Glenn Beck gathering at the Lincoln Memorial last August. Groups around the country (including Spokane Democrats) are sponsoring their local versions.

The Spokane rally is at noon, apparently designed to give participants a chance to watch the D.C. version (which starts at 9 a.m. Pacific) on the tube before heading downtown.

Still unclear: Just when did we have this sanity folks are talking about restoring?

“Sanity” rally coming to Spokane

Jon Stewart’s mock protest gathering, the Rally to Restore Sanity, will have a Spokane version on Oct. 30 in Riverfront Park.

As seen below, Stewart announced a send-up earlier this month of the Glenn Beck rally at the Lincoln Memorial. Whether intended or not, it struck a nerve and people started making plans to go to the National Mall and setting up satellite rallies around the country. Local organizers have set their gathering at Riverfront from 9 a.m. to noon.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Rally to Restore Sanity
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

Possible discussion topic: Would it take more work to restore sanity to Spokane than elsewhere? Would we be a better location for a satellite version of Stephen Colbert’s March to Keep Fear Alive?

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
March to Keep Fear Alive Announcement
Colbert Report Full Episodes2010 ElectionFox News

PM: On A Carousel …

Wendy Kirbey, 66, of The Albany Brass Ring Historical  Carousel & Museum Project in Albany, Ore., takes a break from a gathering of the National  Carousel  Association in Riverfront Park to interact with “Geri” the giraffe, featured on the Looff Carrousel. Story here. (SR photo: Dan Pelle)

2 Victims Discuss Hoopfest Shootings

Item: Victims talk about Hoopfest shooting/Erik Loney, KXLY

More Info: As five suspects sit in jail for their involvement in Saturday’s shooting at Hoopfest, the two women who were shot in the leg are talking about the experience. “We were walking away and that’s when we heard the gunshot,” said one of the victims, who don’t want their identities revealed in fear of retaliation. The other victim, a 19-year-old woman said Sunday that she was still hurting and scared.

Question: What do you make of the Hoopfest shootings — a random act of violence? Or more evidence that Spokane is becoming too violent?

Man sentenced for Riverfront Park rape

By Thomas Clouse

A brain-damaged, homeless man could serve either four more months or up to five years in prison based on a sentence Friday for a rape that occurred in broad daylight on a Saturday in Riverfront Park.

Terry L. Thomas, 54, earlier entered a guilty plea to third-degree rape in connection to the incident that occurred May 23. He was sentenced Friday to 15 months in prison and given credit for 11 months already served.

Bystanders originally told Riverfront Park security staff they saw two people 60-year-olds were having sex in some bushes close to the playground near the former old YMCA building.

But The 27-year-old woman and Thomas turned out to be 27, the man brain-damaged and both had been drinking whiskey, according to court testimony.

Witnesses told police they saw the woman push Thomas away and try to collect herself, but Thomas continued to pull her off her clothes.

“We believe … this started as a consensual act,” defense attorney Al Rossi told Superior Court Judge Maryann Moreno. “They met on the bus. They both had been drinking. They both were going to the park. Mr. Thomas doesn’t remember a lot after he got off the bus.”

“Mr. Thomas, unfortunately, was not in a situation where he understood ‘no’ … as a result of his level of intoxication.”

Rossi said explained that Thomas, who has does have a previous sex crime conviction in Oregon, fell in 1993 and severely damaged his brain. Since then, he He since has had trouble finding his words, has been homeless and sometimes has trouble controlling his impulses, Rossi said.

“After his brain injury, Mr. Thomas’ life went to hell,” Rossi said. But “after the injury … he has pretty much abandoned his criminal career.”

Deputy Prosecutor John Love said the sentence could be as much as five years in prison because after Thomas serves the additional initial four months, the case will then go before the Indeterminate Sentencing Review Board, which could impose the higher sentence.

Thomas told Moreno that he remembered meeting the woman and sharing two pints of whiskey.

“I do not remember any of this after we got off the bus,” Thomas said.

The topsy-turvy politics of Conservation Futures and the YMCA

Spokane park leaders figured in November that the debate about the vacant downtown YMCA was about to end.

After all, the financial analysis demanded by City Council had just been released. It recommended accepting Spokane County’s offer to use Conservation Futures property taxes to pay off the city’s debt on the building. Councilman Mike Allen said the analysis had persuaded him to support the Park Board’s request to use the money, and Councilman Al French even sponsored the proposal for a council vote.

But opponents of spending Conservation Futures money on the Y successfully delayed action until Allen was replaced on the council by Jon Snyder, and French ended up siding against the resolution he sponsored.

That vote in late November sent the decision into extra innings, and city leaders decided to solicit bids on the property.

Park Board members never expressed much worry about the process. They said their work on the building over the years pointed to a bid process that would result in no proposals that would guarantee full repayment of the city’s debt. That guess turned out to be correct.

The question for supporters of securing the YMCA was finding a fourth vote.

Direction on YMCA becoming more uncertain

(First, because it’s not from our newspaper archives, I should start with information about the photo: It shows the Howard Street bridge and Havermale and Canada islands, sometime before 1927. There is vacant land southwest of the bridge where the downtown YMCA would be built in the mid-1960s. Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture/Eastern Washington State Historical Society, Spokane.)

It looks like March 22 will be the date the public will get to weigh in on the future of the Riverfront Park YMCA.

City Council President Joe Shogan announced that a public hearing will be scheduled for that date, though he added it could be delayed until March 29.

Councilman Steve Corker, who said earlier this week that it appeared that a majority of the council did not support the acceptance of Spokane County’s offer to use Conservation Futures property taxes to acquire the Riverfront Park YMCA, now says an outcome is unclear.

Council changed mind on Conservation Futures for Riverfront Park

First the Spokane City Council supported Conservation Futures, then it didn’t.

At the start of Monday, a majority of the Spokane City Council leaned in favor of accepting Spokane County’s offer to purchase the Riverfront Park YMCA, according to an e-mail Councilman Steve Corker sent to a constituent.

By the end of the day, however, the majority was lost.

So what happened?

It appears Chief Financial Officer Gavin Cooley successfully convinced at least one council member at a Monday meeting about the Y that a “third option” for paying off the city’s $4.4 million debt was better than using county Conservation Futures property taxes or development proposals that the city received late last month.

That third option isn’t yet defined, but, Cooley said, it could include higher hotel taxes, selling off park land or asking voters for more property taxes. He also reminded council members that the city once had a business and occupation tax to help pay for Expo ’74 improvements.

Responding to an e-mail from constituent Dawn Holladay, Councilman Steve Corker wrote on Monday afternoon: “I am in favor of using Conservation Futures monies for this site. I plan on voting the same this evening.”

(Not that the City Council could have voted for anything at the YMCA meeting because it was scheduled only for discussion.)

After Cooley’s presentation at the meeting, Corker appeared to have changed his mind.

The Mobius Project dies on the vine…

Good evening, Netizens…

Let us look at the history of Mobius in retrospect for a moment. While the announcement much earlier today that the rocky marriage between the Spokane Park Board and Mobius was ending effective immediately, its failure demonstrates quite clearly the power of the Internet. For, without the groundswell of public dissension and controversy surrounding the Mobius Project, perhaps it would have gone forward, a flawed and dangerous precedent for the City of Spokane.

There were a multitude of questions surrounding not only the lease agreement, which would essentially pose questions of illegal gifting of public lands, but agreements being made in violation of the Open Public Meetings Act.

Were it not for the persistence and research done by a handful of ordinary citizens interested in the truth, the flawed agreement between Mobius and the Spokane Park Board might have moved forward.

This is not to suggest that Mobius is not still viable nor even desireable, no. It is just now that it is free-standing, not bound to the City of Spokane or its Park Board. For a better history and understanding of the issues involved, please read http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2009/dec/18/mobius-and-city-part-ways/ written by Shawn Vestal of the Spokesman-Review.