$100,000 for Whiteclay advances

Published Wednesday March 24, 2010

LINCOLN — State lawmakers, by a 25-15 margin,gave second-round approval Wednesday to devoting $100,000 to address the alcohol-related problems associated with Whiteclay, Neb.

State Sen. LeRoy Louden, who represents the Whiteclay area, had sought the funds to provide matching money for federal and private grants for increased law enforcement, alcohol-treatment facilities or other steps to address alcoholism in the area.

Some senators, including Lavon Heidemann, the chairman of the Legislature’s Appropriations Committee, said the state lacked the funds during the economic downturn to provide the money for Whiteclay projects.

But Wilber Sen. Russ Karpisek joined Louden in saying that some funds are needed to get programs started in Whiteclay, and that extra revenue is coming in from two other bills that increase fees on liquor licenses.

The unincorporated community of Whiteclay has drawn national notoriety because it has four, beer-only liquor stores that sell more than 3 million cans of beer a year. Almost all of those sales are to residents of the officially dry Pine Ridge Indian Reservation just across the Nebraska-South Dakota border, where alcoholism and other related problems are rampant.

Louden’s proposal, Legislative Bill 1002, was advanced to final round consideration following the adoption of the amendment.

He added that this week, officials with the tribe announced plans to build a 70-bed nursing home in Whiteclay that would provide 100 jobs.

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly indicated the bill had passed final round. The measure still faces a final vote.

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