A ruling may come as soon as today from the Sheridan County Commission on granting liquor licenses to four stores in Whiteclay, Nebraska.
The stores sell the equivalent of three-and-a-half million cans of beer a year, virtually all of it to residents of the dry Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, just across the border.
County Commissioner James Krotz says last Thursday’s hearing on the topic was very productive.
“I was really quite pleased and people were really very civil in the course of this discussion,” Krotz says. “There was obviously deep feeling on both sides of the issue but people were really very respectful. Testimony was, for the most part, helpful.”
During the four-hour hearing, there were passionate pleas made on both sides of the argument, free enterprise and supply-and-demand versus continued problems with alcoholism, public drunkenness and panhandling.
“I can’t say that a lot of it was really new but people spoke with clarity,” Krotz says. “The day seemed to go pretty quickly to me. There was a little bit of dread that it was going to go on and on, but it seemed to go quite quickly.”
The county commissioners did not act on the licenses following the hearing and instead, took the issue under advisement. Krotz says he and his two colleagues, will meet again today to try to reach a consensus.
The commissioners’ decision will simply be a recommendation to the state liquor commission, which has the final say on all liquor licenses but generally gives strong weight to recommendations from the affected local governing bodies.
By Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton