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No plans yet to remove the city’s original skywalk connected to Ridpath

Jack Heath, president and COO of Washington Trust Bank, said the bank has not decided what happens with the skybridge that connects the defunct hotel to the annex, which the bank recently bought for $2.6 million. Story on the sale was published on Tuesday this week.

The skywalk was the very first built in Spokane, approved by the city in agreements with Ridpath owners in 1961; it was finished in 1963 and allowed Ridpath guests at either the hotel or its motor inn to cross over First Avenue.

Under the conditions imposed by the city, the Ridpath was only provided a license for the space over the street (something akin to an easement). The city retains the right to revoke the license.

Heath and the bank could ask and request the city to revoke the license, allowing for the skybridge to be taken down.

Back in 1963, here’s what the skywalk from the Ridpath to the annex looked like

Yep, back in the first half of this decade, people had some grand plans for downtown Spokane. One was the proposed transformation of the Ridpath Annex (aka the Executive Court) into shiny condos. It was supposed to transform that area of town, until the recession sent it reeling, along with dozens of other efforts and grand plans.

Today's SR story catches up with the building, and the plans by its new owner, Washington Trust Bank.

In case you want some history, here's a photo from the Review archives, which showed how the skybridge looked, from the perspective of the Ridpath Hotel. At this angle, you get to see a bit of the recently completed annex. The skybridge is described in older stories of the Review as the first in town. It  was completed the week the photo was taken, March 8, 1963.

At that time, the annex was officially known as the Ridpath Motor Inn, and it was described than as a 77-unit motel.


How basic web searching can save your bacon: A Washington Trust case history

This story, in today's Spokesman-Review, may seem like a little love note to Google. It's not meant to be that.

It's more an example of your good ol' basic seek-and-you-may-find the answer if you keep looking.

It ran online on Spokesman.com. Here's the short version. The full version is here.

Tech managers, especially those keeping a large company’s computers working, tend to talk about “solutions.”

Computers or networks have issues. IT people go off and identify possible solutions.

Washington Trust Bank’s Chris Green ran into one thorny companywide network issue this year. But the solution that made his bosses happy didn’t come from high-priced consultants or an ingenious system workaround. It was way simpler.
The company was switching 450 workers from Windows XP to Windows 7 systems, plus moving all of their computers to a more secure, easier-to-maintain virtual desktop system. Virtual desktops have no hard drives; they connect to and access data stored in a local data center.
When the first dozen or so workers tested the new system, Green found the transition was moving smoothly.
But things didn’t go so well when the number of Washington Trust workers reached 90.
“At 90 users we ran into a tipping point,” Green said. “We saw the network performance take a big hit.”
The solution?  Searching on Google. 

Mentally ill robbery suspect still jailed

A mentally ill Spokane man accused of robbing a downtown bank for the second time in two years remains jailed on $50,000 bond.

David Donald Thometz, 49, was arrested in his room at the Carlyle Hotel, just down the street from Washington Trust Bank, 706 W. Second Ave., Friday morning after the robbery.

Investigators used a GPS device included with the stolen cash to track Thometz, who did not wear a disguise during the robbery and is not believed to have had a weapon.

Thometz robbed Sterling Savings Bank on North Wall Street in May 2010 and served time in jail and was placed on probation for five years.

He is supervised by the Special Needs Unit because he is a mentally ill offender. A corrections officer last had contact with him Feb. 21.

Thometz said in 2010 that voices in his head told him to rob the bank. He was also sentenced to a year in jail after burning down his Spokane Valley home in May 2008. He also told investigators a voice in his head named told him to do it.

Even if Thometz posts the $50,000 bond, he won't be able to leave jail because of a Washington Department of Corrections hold.

Cop responding to alarm busts ATM theft

A police officer responding to an alarm interrupted in ATM burglary in progress early today, according to the Spokane Police Department.

Officer Paul Buchmann arrived at the Washington Trust Bank ATM at 4500 S. Regal about 1:45 a.m. and saw two men by the machine who ran east when they saw him.

Buchmann (pictured) discovered the ATM had been burglarized. Backup officers arrived 7 minutes later and officers tracked the suspects to a home in the 4200 block of East 34th Avenue.

Sean W. McNally, 22, and Kiel A. Frey, 20, were arrested for second-degree burglary, police said.

Man gets 5 years for CdA bank robbery

A Spokane bank robber already headed to prison for 10 years was sentenced Tuesday to five years for orbbing a bank in Coeur d'Alene.

Michael Richard Kent, 40, is to serve the sentence the same time as his 129-month sentence in Spokane County Superiro Court for robberies Dec. 16, 2009, at Chase Bank, 822 W. Francis Ave., and Dec. 24, 2009, at Numerica Credit Union, 1916 W. Francis.

Kent pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Idaho in July for a Jan. 12, 2010, robbery at Washington Trust Bank, 218 Lakeside Ave.

Video and surveillance photos released after the robbery led several of Kent's acquaintances to tip the FBI to his identity. Agents searched Kent's Spokane home and found clothes matching those worn by the robber, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Man pleads guilty to CdA bank robbery

A man who robbed two Spokane banks will serve his 10-year prison sentence the same as a pending sentence for a Coeur d'Alene bank robbery.

 Michael Richard Kent, 39, pleaded guilty to bank robbery Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Coeur d'Alene for a Jan. 12, 2010, robbery at Washington Trust Bank, 218 Lakeside Ave.

Kent left with $3,175 after handing a teller a note that referenced a gun, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Kent already is due to serve 129 months in a Washington prison for robberies Dec. 16, 2009, at Chase Bank, 822 W. Francis Ave., and Dec. 24, 2009, at Numerica Credit Union, 1916 W. Francis.

He faces up to 20 years in federal prison when he's sentenced Sept. 27, but a plea agreement calls for him to serve the sentence concurrently with the Washington state sentence.

Video and surveillance photos released after the robbery led several of Kent's acquaintances to tip the FBI to his identity.

11 felonies for burglary, credit card theft

A Spokane Valley man was arrested on suspicion of burglary and theft after a police officer recognized him from surveillance photos.

Ryan P. Haddigan, 36, (right, allegedly) is accused of burglarizing a home in the 3600 block of South Vercler Lane and stealing credit cards and two Apple iPhones.

The woman discovered the burglary May 6 and said Haddigan was listed as a possible suspect. She said he'd given an iPhone to an acquaintance at the apartment that day and said the phone would only work for a day or two.

Surveillance video from Washington Trust Bank captured images of a man using one of the stolen credit cards. The victim said Haddigan sometimes babysat chidlren at his ex-wife's home at the Keystone Apartments on East Third Avenue.

Officer Ken Dodge was at the apartment complex Saturday when he spotted a man "who looked and dressed like the suspect in the security photo" and asked him to come talk to him, which prompted the man to throw stolen credit cards on the ground.

Police also found a syringe loaded with meth in Haddigan's clothing. Haddigan was booked into jail for residential burglary, possession of meth and nine counts of second-degree theft.

Camera catches man w/ stolen credit card

Police are asking for help in identifying a potential suspect in a residential burglary.

Surveillance photos at the Washington Trust Bank ATM on Sullivan Road in Spokane Valley captured images of a man in a black hat, dark glasses and jacket using the victim's credit card last Tuesday just before 9 a.m.

The suspect arrived and left southbound on Sullivan on foot.

Anyone with information on the man's identity is asked to call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233 or Spokane Valley police Detective Mark Renz at (509) 477-3330.

Bank robber charged w/ CdA hold-up

A man sentenced to 10 years in prison for robbing two Spokane banks faces additional time in federal custody for an alleged hold up at a Coeur d'Alene bank.

Michael R. Kent, 38, is charged with bank robbery for a Jan. 12, 2010, heist at Washington Trust Bank.

He's already pleaded guilty to robberies Dec. 16, 2009, at Chase Bank, 822 W. Francis Ave., and Dec. 24, 2009, at Numerica Credit Union, 1916 W. Francis.

He was sentenced earlier this month to 129 months in state prison for those crimes. The bank robbery charge was filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Coeur d'Alene.

Kent, who has at least 10 felonies in Washington and Idaho, also has a warrant in Kootenai County for forgery and grand theft charges from May 2009.

Valley man sentenced for bank robbery

A Spokane Valley bank robber arrested less than 90 minutes after the heist has been sentenced to nearly four years in prison.

Jesse R. Adams, 44, received 46 months in prison Monday after pleading guilty to first-degree robbery before Superior Court Judge Tari Eitzen.

He was arrested last April after a gunpoint hold-up at Washington Trust Bank, 301 N. Argonne Road.

Police reviewing surveillance footage recognized  Adams from a domestic incident investigation a week earlier. He was arrested after officers spotted him walking through the parking lot at his apartment complex, 10101 E. Main Ave.

The robbery apparently didn't net Adams much cash - he's only required to pay $139 restitution.

Adams has previous felony convictions for theft and forgery.

FBI mum on bank robbery suspect

A gunman suspected of robbing a north Spokane bank on Thursday remains in federal custody as investigators probe his possible role in a series of robberies since December.

Federal agents said they had no new information to release about the man, who has not been publicly identified. 

“I think it’s going to be Monday or Tuesday before we see him in court,” Frank Harrill, FBI supervisory senior resident agent, said today.

The FBI has been hunting for a bicycle-riding bank robber believed to be responsible for at least six hold ups since December. (A robbery at Chase Bank in April is pictured.)

The suspect arrested Thursday had a bike, wore a mask and displayed a gun, which is consistent with the other incidents.

“Clearly, there are commonalities,” Harrill said.

A Spokane police sergeant on his way home arrested the suspect, who witnesses say robbed the Washington Trust Bank, 1906 W. Francis Ave., just before 4 p.m.

2 banks robbed within 90 minutes Monday

A robbery suspect was arrested less than 90 minutes after police say he stole money from a bank at gunpoint Monday. The arrest occurred about the same time a holdup was reported at a Spokane bank.

Police reviewing surveillance footage from Washington Trust bank at 301 N. Argonne Road recognized Jesse R. Adams, 43, from a domestic incident investigation on April 14, according to a news release.

Adams was arrested after Officers Chan Erdman and Brett Hubbell spotted him walking through the parking lot at his apartment complex, 10101 E. Main Ave. Police say Adams had a handgun when he walked into the bank at 4:30 p.m., handed a teller a bag, then left with cash.

Adams, who has previous felony convictions for theft and forgery, was booked into jail and is due in Superior Court today on a first-degree robbery charge.

Investigators recovered the stolen money, the suspect’s clothing and the weapon used in the robbery, according to a news release. Police say the robbery is not related to a robbery that occurred at 6 p.m. Monday at Chase Bank, 2215 W. Northwest Blvd.

In that case, an armed man wearing a red ski mask left with an undisclosed amount of cash and appeared to possess a keen understanding of how banks operate, authorities said.

The robber, described as a 5-foot-6 white man with a medium build, held an unspecified weapon at his side and had the manager with him as he told Chase bank tellers at 2215 W. Northwest Blvd. to fill a backpack with cash, according to the Spokane Police Department.

The robber asked for specific cash draws and appeared to know which types of money packs could be tracked, police said.

The weapon was never pointed at anyone during the 5:59 p.m. holdup and no injuries were reported, police said.

The robber fled the bank on foot to the west. The robbery is being investigated by Spokane police and the FBI.