Whiteclay Updates: Liquor Licenses Under Review - 12/20/16

A beer can floats in a muddy ditch in Whiteclay NebraskaDoes Paying Millions to Police a One-Horse, Four-Liquor-Store Town Make Sense?

In the midst of the ongoing public health and safety disaster in Whiteclay, NE, the four local liquor store owners have been asked to re-apply for their license to sell alcohol by the Nebraska State Liquor Control Commission. A legislative hearing last October revealed that Sheridan County, wherein Whiteclay is located, did not have enough law enforcement to adequately patrol the town. As adequate law enforcement is a prerequisite for the issuance of an alcohol license, the State Liquor Control Commission is expected to decide if the stores will be granted the licenses in late February.

In the meantime, the problems at Whiteclay continue. The town of 12 residents and four liquor stores remains a major source for alcohol—and alcohol-related harm—for the adjacent Pine Ridge Reservation. Health and safety threats attached to rampant alcohol abuse in the town include:

  • Public Intoxication
  • Selling alcohol to minors
  • Using food stamps to purchase alcohol
  • Physical abuse
  • Liquor stores exchanging alcohol for sexual favors
  • Prostitution

In addition, there have been five unsolved murders in Whiteclay. In neighboring Pine Ridge,Downtown Whiteclay Nebraska and its liquor stores one out of four children suffer from fetal alcohol syndrome.

The costs for enforcement, investigation, prosecution, and incarceration are bourn directly by Sheridan County. It is estimated that the county spends $1.7 million a year patrolling Whiteclay—a third of the county's budget. The taxes generated by beer sales, on the other hand, total a meager $120,000 yearly. This math does not add up—it doesn’t benefit the county, it doesn’t benefit the state, and it doesn’t benefit the residents of Pine Ridge. It only benefits High Plains Budweiser and the owners of the liquor stores.

TAKE ACTION: stand with the people of Pine Ridge Reservation to oppose the licensing of liquor stores in Whiteclay.