The state panel focused on Whiteclay is moving forward after a Nebraska Supreme Court ruling has finally ended alcohol sales there.
State Senator Patty Pansing Brooks of Lincoln is chairing the legislative task force, which met over the weekend.
She says her hope is to bring better health, education, and jobs opportunities to the area.
“It’s one thing to treat people who are quite vulnerable and have addictions, but if you don’t give them any hope to move on and change their lives, you haven’t helped the whole situation,” Pansing Brooks tells Nebraska Radio Network.
Opponents of alcohol sales cited the high number of people who would leave the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, where alcohol is prohibited, and go to the state line stores in Whiteclay to buy beer.
Pansing Brooks says one in four babies are born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and there is a high rate of alcoholism. She says people struggling with addiction and other health problems need help and a way forward.
“A long term goal for me, and I think many of us, would be if we could work to create a treatment detox center that would be tied to a job skills training center,” she says.
Pansing Brooks says there are many opportunities to improve the community, including making it a tourist destination.
“I think a lot of things are possible and I’ve already heard a lot of great ideas from people,” she says. “I am very excited. We are not looking back at those stores anymore. We are moving forward to see how we can heal Whiteclay. There is nothing more hopeful or exciting than that.”