A group of 13 storeowners in Clarkstown were honored Tuesday afternoon by the Rockland Council on Alcoholism & Other Drug Dependencies (RCADD).
The stores were honored because all of them passed every compliance test given to them between last January and through September. The compliance checks are given to see if the stores will sell alcohol to minors, and the ones with perfect records during that time are called Unstung Heroes by RCADD.
“Over the past month, we’ve seen increasing articles pertaining to issues regarding underage drinking, and those are just the articles that make the paper. This issue of underage drinking has been around for a long time,” said Dornzella Milligan, prevention program coordinator for RCADD. “But today we want to write a different sort of article. Today we actually want to recognize those merchants in compliance with the state alcohol beverage control law.”
The tests are done regularly throughout the year by sending minors to try and buy alcohol. The minors can’t lie about their age and must not have their identification on them.
“You’d be surprised by how many people hear someone is just 17, doesn’t have an ID on them and will still sell them alcohol,” said Captain Elliott Boxer, of the Rockland County Society of the Prevention for Cruelty to Children, who has administered compliance tests for more than 30 years.
Failing a compliance test can result in a fine up to a $1,000 and a year in jail, Boxer said, adding that the liquor authorities are notified of the violation and it could also result in the store losing its liquor license.
“It’s about keeping kids safe and live,” he said.
The ceremony was held at the New City Library and only a few of the storeowners showed up, but they received certificates for passing each compliance test given to them that are intended to be put up in the stores.
“Everyone will know when they walk into stores will know what merchants are concerned with providing a safe and healthy environment for our children,” said Milligan. “We want people to come into the stores and see those certificates and hold each other accountable for the work we do. This is not done alone.”
One of the merchants in attendance was Wayne Hopper, who runs the Sunoco A Plus Mini Mart on Main Street in New City. He said he was happy to be honored at the ceremony and that he feels its important to not to sell to underaged kids.
“I will display [the certificate] in the store,” he said. “I want to show people I’m just trying to do my best job.
Along with local police departments, RCADD has teamed up with the Community Awareness Network for a Drug-Free Life and Environment (CANDLE), a non-profit that aims to prevent substance abuse and violence among youths.
Maureen Heller, a health education specialist with CANDLE, spoke at the ceremony about their program called Only 2 Will Do. CANDLE teamed up with the Orangetown Police Department, Pearl River and Tappan Zee High Schools to try and cut down on underage drinking. The program asks storeowners to ask for two forms of ID from those purchasing alcohol, giving them stickers to hang in their stores as well.
“Most teens or young people who have fake IDs only have one fake,” Heller said.
She added their hoping to expand the program to other areas, and Milligan said RCADD is looking to expand to other towns as well. She said they hope to get to a point where they can hold ceremonies in every town in Rockland to honor storeowners who pass all their compliance tests, and give them certificates to hang up. She said they started the ceremony either four or five years ago in Ramapo, which is the only other town they have done it in. Milligan said since this period went from January to September, the next ceremony will pick it up where she left off and go from there, adding she’d like to do one ceremony a year in as many different towns as RCADD can.
RCADD Executive Director Ruth Bowles also spoke at the ceremony, commending the storeowners in attendance for their help in trying to cut down underage drinking.
“Without you store owners, we would not be able to reduce underage drinking in Rockland County,” she said. “One of the environmental strategies we know does work is reducing availability of alcohol to minors.”
District Attorney Thomas Zugibe also spoke to the crowd.
“To see the vendors step up and show that level of responsibility, that’s what it’s going to take,” he said. “That’s a big piece that we’ve been missing. I’m so proud of them, and I’m so happy to be able to commend people for their action in that regard.”
- Sunoco A-Plus Mini Market - New City
- Best Buy Liquors and Wine - New City
- City Line Restaurant - New City
- DB Mart - Congers
- Food Mart USA - Nanuet
- Lucky Convenient - Valley Cottage
- Nanuet Mini Mart - Nanuet
- Quick Stop Convenience - New City
- Route 304 Liquors - New City
- Shell Mart
- Stop & Shop
- Pathmark - Nanuet
- Titanic Deli - Congers