The Sidney Sun-Telegraph - Serving proudly since 1873 as the beautiful Nebraska Panhandle's first newspaper

By Hannah Van Ree

Coalition works with groups to prevent underage drinking


Hannah Van Ree

Two members of Kids Plus Teens In Prevention, Amber Arellano and Annalise Lecher, presented an educational merchant guidebook created by members of Kids Plus Teens In Prevention and the Panhandle Prevention Coalition (PPC) to City of Sidney City Council members Tuesday night. The guidebook is now available for local merchants to pick up at City Hall, and they are also being distributed throughout the community to vendors. The guidebook was made to provide merchants with the tools and information to distribute alcohol to customers safely and responsibly. The two groups say that they hope merchants choose to apply the guidebook principles to help reduce underage drinking, binge drinking and drinking and driving.

Kids Plus Teens In Prevention members have partnered with Panhandle Prevention Coalition (PPC) officials to offer alcohol merchants a guidebook and other information materials to help them be safe and responsible vendors.

“Together with our many partners, the Panhandle Prevention Coalition serves communities throughout Western Nebraska by working to eliminate underage drinking,” said Faith Mills, the Regional Prevention Coordinator for PPC, in a recent press release. “Many alcohol retailers in the region share our passion for this cause and know the dangers and consequences of underage alcohol consumption. Together we make our community a safer place and together we are united for change.”

The chapter of Teens In Prevention that has joined in on this effort acts as a branch of the local Kids Plus Organization where teens create events for the community and provide feedback of events and efforts of the Kids Plus Board.

“The youth board is a group of teens who give their perspective and feedback on various events we sponsor, as well as other organizations in Cheyenne County,” said Cassie Challburg, Kids Plus Director and Cheyenne County Organizer.

“Teens In Prevention and Kids Plus has become an effective provider of support to our communities preventions efforts.”

Two members of Teens In Prevention, Amber Arellano and Annalise Lecher, attended the City of Sidney City Council meeting Tuesday night and presented a summary of the guidebook to council members.

“Each year we consider alcohol merchants in Cheyenne County for our Responsible Alcohol Merchant Award Program (RAMA),” said Arellano to council members. “The RAMA is designed to honor alcohol licenses that demonstrate a commitment to combating the growing problems of underage drinking, binge drinking and drinking and driving in our community.”

“The awarded merchant is determined by various aspects impacting the sale of alcohol to underage youth,” continued Arellano. “These aspects include model business and management policies, participation in employee training programs such as Responsible Beverage Server Training, store layout including signage and window coverings, identification checking practices, compliance checks, pass-fail rates and advocacy for a positive and healthy environment.”

Arellano said that this merchant guidebook is a way to take this program aimed to stop underage drinking, and drinking and driving a step further.

“This year we are supplying alcohol merchants with a tool that will assist them in being even more responsible,” she said. “This guide provides them with Nebraska state laws and helpful tips on how to be a responsible merchant – thus making our community safer and healthier.”

In response to the teens presentation council members endorsed the distribution of the materials and moved to make it a recommendation from the city to any merchant applying for a new or renewed liquor license.

“It looks like it outlines some good guidelines and training for people in the packet,” said City of Sidney Mayor Wendall Gaston.

Mills said that this merchant guidebook is needed in the Panhandle, and will help many retailers battle alcohol related accidents that could be avoided.

“Research shows that teen alcohol consumption is at the root of many social, health and legal problems, including alcohol poisoning, drinking and driving, illegal drug use, teenage pregnancies, memory loss and poor school performance,” she said.

“With the privilege of carrying a Nebraska liquor license comes many legal responsibilities for compliance. We know that laws can often be hard to understand and compliance can be difficult.”

Mills said that merchants need to be aware of the laws in place to protect themselves, as well astheir customers.

“Compliance with the laws is mandatory,” said Mills. “As a liquor establishment, you cannot serve alcohol to minors. If you do, your license will be in jeopardy. More

importantly, you hurt the lives of the minors you serve.”

PPC and Kids Plus Teens In Prevention members also partner with the Nebraska State Patrol to offer quarterly classes across the Panhandle for Responsible Alcohol and Tobacco Server Training.

“These classes are designed to provide individuals entrusted with the responsibility of serving or selling alcohol with strategies to avoid illegally selling to underage youth or intoxicated patrons,” said Mills.

The classes are free and offered to anyone who serves or sells alcohol or tobacco.


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