(Neb)-Most Whiteclay Alcohol Sales Shifted To Other Towns
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Figures from the Nebraska Liquor Control Commission indicate that those who said closing the 4 beer stores in Whiteclay wouldn't end alcohol problems on the Pine Ridge Reservation because people would just drive to other towns to get their beer were generally right.
Numbers given to the commission by distributers show beer sales tripled in Rushville, the closest town with alcohol, since the Whiteclay stores closed at the end of April....jumping from 3,700 gallons to nearly 13,000 while Hay Springs went from
Chadron, Gordon and Hay Springs have seen moderate increases -- 17,500 gallons to nearly 22,000 for Chadron...10,400 to over 13,000 for Gordon, and about 2,000 to over 2,500 in Hay Springs.
Still, that roughly 18,000 gallon increase is less than the 23,357 gallons of beer sold in Whiteclay in both March and April. Even adding in area dealers in South Dakota, total sales are down from just under 57,000 gallons in April to 50,673 gallons in June.
Liquor Commission executive director Hobert Rupe told the Lincoln Journal-Star that it's still too early establish any pattern in sales, adding that it's important to remember that renewal of the beer licenses was denied because of a lack of law enforcement, not because the sales were so high.
Rupert said Chadron, Gordon, Rushville, and Hay Springs all have larger population and more law enforcement than Whiteclay and have generated the type of complaints over vagrancy, violence, and drunken behavior that plagued Whiteclay.
John Maisch, an anti-Whiteclay activist and former Oklahoma liquor regulator, told the paper the new numbers show a win-win situation with alcohol sales down more than 10% but distributers still holding onto most of their previous business.
Opponents are still warning that all the closures did was hurt the store owners because alcohol will continue to flow onto the reservation from bootleggers. Rushville Mayor Chris Heiser told the Journal-Star that closure clearly is not solving the reservation's alcohol problems.
The Whiteclay owners successfully appealed the renewal denials, but Attorney General Doug Peterson appealed that ruling...a move that put denial back in effect until the case is heard by the state Supreme Court..A hearing before the high court is scheduled for Aug 29.
The Liquor Commission is also still moving forward with multiple citations accusing the beer store owners of engaging in illegal business practices, including selling to bootleggers. Rupe says hearings are expected but not yet scheduled.
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