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Saturday’s highlights

Greenacres Liquor Store manager Natalie Murphy and owner Keith Peterson are confident that their location and loyal customers will enable them to successfully compete against big-box stores when state-run stores close and liquor sales are privatized. SR photo/J. Bart Rayniak

If it's a Tuesday morning in a holiday week, it's time for the Saturday Valley Voice highlights. Liquor stores from Millwood to Liberty Lake to Greenacres are considering whether to stay open under the new rules in place under the intitiative that passed to remove the state from the liquor business. Everyone seems unsure how things will work under the new rules, but some are determined to stay open. Others are planning to close.

Repoter Lisa Leinberger talked to University High School principal Daryl Hart, who plans to retire this year. He has been at the school for eight years, topping off a 38 year career in education. The Spokane Valley City Council discussed the city's snow plowing policy and whether the rules about plowing the residential streets on the Valley floor should be changed.

Correspondent Steve Christilaw has a story on the girls basketball team at West Valley High School. It's a young team, but coach Loren Carlon appears confident that the team will rebuild.

Liquor Change Hits Oldtown, Post Falls

With Washington gearing up to privatize its liquor sales by June, Idaho state officials are worried about losing sales at their state-run liquor stores along the Washington-Idaho border and have tabled plans for new state liquor stores in Oldtown and Post Falls. ”I think we will continue to remain competitive,” said Idaho State Liquor Division Director Jeff Anderson, “but we really don’t know.” Last year, Idaho’s liquor division distributed $50 million in profits to the state’s general fund, cities, counties and courts. For now, Anderson said, Idaho won’t add any new stores, and will instead try to “get more out of the stores we have.” At least 13 of Idaho’s state liquor stores are within 15 miles of the Idaho-Washington border/Betsy Russell, SR. More here. (SR photo: Kathy Plonka)

Question: Should Idaho privatize liquor sales, too?

More booze outlets, but ‘not the Wild West’

OLYMPIA — Washington would go from having the second fewest liquor stores per capita to the fifth fewest if voters approver a ballot measure this fall, a new study concludes.

Initiative 1183 would likely result in a four-fold increase in the  number of retail liquor stores, the Office of Financial Management has said, and an increase of about 5 percent in total liquor sales. That would mean there'd be about one liquor store for every 4,709 persons, rather than one store for every 20,502 persons as it is now, the Washington Policy Center study concludes. That would be fewer stores per capita than any other western state.

“The bottom line is that the number of retail liquor stores would increase in Washington under I-1183 but this would not result in the state becoming the wild, wild west of liquor retail stores or sales,” the center's Jason Mercier writes.

I-1183 is this year's attempt to end the state's monopoly control of distribution, wholesale and retail liquor operations. It is backed by Costco, Trader Joe's and Safeway, Inc. Unlike I-1100, which voters rejected last year, I-1183 sets minimum size requirements for retail liquor stores that in many communities would confine sales to supermarkets, discount stores and other larger retail outlets and exclude mini-marts.

Washington is currently second only to Utah among 11 western states in terms of liquor stores per capita. Idaho, which also has state controled liquor stores, is fifth. It has 163 stores, but spread over its population that's one store for every 9,600 Idahoans.

OFM estimates the number of liquor stores in Washington would jump from the current level of 328 to 1,428 if I-1183 passes.. Sales would also go up slightly, based on the experience of Alberta, Canada, when that province ended its monopoly.

But Washington would have fewer stores per capita than Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado or Hawaii — other western states that don't have state-run liquor stores, the policy center concludes.