LANDER — On Saturday, there was a run on Central Bank and Trust branches in Lander and Riverton. But this run was both expected and peaceful. Local police kept traffic moving, cars were lined up around the block, while people waited in a long row at the bank’s back door, visiting and joking.
According to Carl Hunke, the bank’s president, the ‘run’ was expected as tribal members received extra royalty checks that day. Central Bank and Trust is the only bank with a branch operating inside the Wind River Indian Reservation (at Ft. Washakie). Because of the bank’s connections with tribal members, Hunke said, they knew that people would receive and want to cash their substantial checks on Saturday.
Unconfirmed reports listed the amount received by each member of the Eastern Shoshone Tribe as $3,000, with members of the Northern Arapaho Tribe each pocketing $1,100. Calls to the Chairmen of both tribes to confirm the source and amount of the windfall were unsuccessful before presstime.
Knowing what to expect, Hunke prepared by calling in 11 extra tellers, having extra cash on hand, and promising to remain open until everyone waiting in line had been served. The bank’s normal hours are from 9 a.m. until noon, but the volume of customers was so great that the Lander branch remained open until 4:30 p.m. while the Riverton branch didn’t close until 5:30 p.m.
Inside the bank, tellers took no breaks, being very careful not to make any mistakes as the Federal Government requires special reporting when this much money changes hands.
“It was tough on the residents of the reservation waiting in line,” Hunke said, “some of them were there for three hours. If I was thinking, I would have provided music out there, and brought in a couple of charities to sell drinks.”
Only about 25 percent of the people waiting in line had accounts at Central Bank and Trust, but Hunke hopes that the remaining 75 percent will remember the service provided by the bank when and if they choose to get a checking or savings account.
“We had over $6 million on hand between the two banks,” Hunke said, noting that the Fort Washakie branch was closed as usual on Saturday.
“Talk about a stimulus package – this was it! It’s good for us, good for them, and fantastic for the local economy,” he said.
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