Group opposes holiday alcohol abuse

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The holiday season is upon us, making liquor stores will be popular places to shop and business owners are gearing up for a holiday boom.

Bottles of wine and other alcohol-related gifts are used as easy solutions for gift-selection dilemmas. Those in the business of selling liquor are expecting their store aisles to be busy.

Kathy Kolbaba, sales associate for Loadout Liquors, said the holiday season keeps her cash register ringing.

"It's going to be crazy in here on the Friday and Saturday before Christmas," Kolbaba said. "I would say we do at least 20 percent of our sales during the holiday season."

Kolbaba said beer is typically the hottest seller during the holidays. Loadout Liquors always has some type of beer on sale, but it is too early to tell what will be on sale during Christmas week, she said.

Dark Horse Discount Liquors store owner, Clyde Hettinger, said the holiday season is critical to his business. This year Dark Horse will be offering special holiday packages.

"We've got the biggest selection of gift sets in town," Hettinger said. "This year we're offering a really nice Budweiser gift set that just about anyone would be pleased to get."

Hettinger said people need to be aware that liquor stores will be closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day due to state law. Stores will also be closed on New Year's Eve because it falls on a Sunday. People will need to plan ahead if they want to celebrate with liquor on the holidays.

Those who indulge a little too much during the holidays should make arrangements to get rides home.

Grand Futures Prevention Coalition is encouraging the use of sober designated drivers during the holiday season.

According to Grand Futures officials, the holidays are one of the deadliest times of year because of drinking-impaired driving. For this reason, Grand Futures is declaring December to be the National Drunk and Drugged Driving (3D) prevention month.

The month's events will include the National Holiday Lifesavers Weekend, Dec. 15-17.

The special weekend kicks off with Lights On for Life Day on Friday. On this day, motorists across the country will commemorate those who died in impaired-driving crashes by driving with their headlights on during the daylight hours.

According to the Grand Futures Prevention Coalition, many people do not realize the consequences of driving after drinking or taking drugs, even some prescription and over-the-counter medications.

"Impaired driving has a devastating effect on our community," said Cindy Biskup, Project Manager for Grand Futures. Grand Futures will play an active role in the "You Drink and Drive, You Lose" campaign. The organization's goal is to reduce alcohol-related traffic deaths to 11,000 by the year 2005.

Biskup said Moffat County has been fortunate that no alcohol- or drug-related car crashes have resulted in injuries or deaths in Moffat County in recent years, but with more than 125 citations given by local law enforcement agencies for impaired driving in 1999, the need for responsible drinking still exists.

"We want to make sure that people understand how important designating a driver or taking other precautions is," Biskup said. "People can still go out and have a good time."

According to Biskup, the purpose of the public relations campaign is to remind people there are safer alternatives to driving while impaired.

"We've never preached to adults not to drink. We just want people to drink responsibly this holiday season," Biskup said.

Grand Futures is also trying to keep children from drinking over the long holiday break. Grand Futures and the Youth Services Council will sponsor an ice skating party for fifth- and sixth-graders from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. Dec. 22 at Loudy-Simpson Ice Arena.

The organization will also hold a dance for high school students on night of Jan. 14 at the Holiday Inn.

For more information on how you can make a difference and save lives, please contact Grand Futures Prevention Coalition at 824-5752.

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