The battle of the Whiteclay liquor stores continued Tuesday as the issue was taken up by the Nebraska Supreme Court.
Last May, the Liquor Control Commission ruled there was not enough law enforcement in the community to provide safe alcohol sales. That decision was reversed by a Lancaster County District judge. On Tuesday, the owners of the liquor stores presented their case in front of the Nebraska Supreme Court as to why they should be allowed to reopen.
The four stores in Whiteclay sell the equivalent of five million cans of beer a year in the small, unincorporated town on the Nebraska-South Dakota border. Most of that beer makes its way across the state line into the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, which officially bans alcohol. A number of officials blame the stores for widespread alcoholism among reservation residents.
State Sen. Tom Brewer of Gordon insists the Liquor Control Commission got it right.
“I still think that part of the world is a better place because of that decision,” according to Brewer. “If you go there, there are no longer drunk people laying all over. There isn’t the accidents and deaths that were a constant part of life there. Even across the border on the Pine Ridge side the quality of life is so much better.”
Brewer says is confident the Supreme Court will make the right decision. He says Whiteclay is transforming. There are new businesses starting and there is a task force with the Legislature that is reviewing economic development and the need for medical services.
It may take up to several months for the Nebraska Supreme Court to announce its decision.