Bald Eagle

Sheetz can’t sell alcohol near Centre County schools, judge rules

A Centre County judge upheld a state liquor control board ruling that denied Sheetz’s application to transfer a liquor license to its store located less than 300 feet from Wingate Elementary and Bald Eagle Area High School.

Judge Katherine Oliver’s 11-page ruling filed Aug. 20 could put an end to a nearly yearlong legal battle between the three organizations. It was the first time the PLCB refused a liquor license transfer application from Sheetz.

BEASD Superintendent Jeff Miles said he was “relieved” by the decision and believes it was the right one for the safety of BEASD students.

“I am hoping this is a win-win for the Sheetz corporation and the Bald Eagle Area School District,” Miles said in a statement. “This has never been about the Sheetz corporation; only the potential sale and consumption of alcohol in close proximity to our largest school building, especially during times when we know there will be a significant increase in the foot traffic in and around this location during school events.”

Sheetz did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday.

Sheetz sought to transfer the liquor license to its store at 820 S. Eagle Valley Road, which is about 240 feet from Wingate Elementary School and about 165 feet from Bald Eagle Valley United Methodist Church. Both are restricted institutions. Miles in June 2018 protested the application.

“This is not about Sheetz and what they’re doing. I appreciate what they’re doing, but kids will be kids,” Miles said during a hearing in August 2018. “Kids can — kids figure it out; (they know) how to snake the system.”

Bald Eagle Area School District Superintendent Jeff Miles speaks May 17, 2015 in the Dreibelbis Auditorium at the Mount Nittany Medical Center. CDT photo

Sheetz regional Director of Operations Peggy Faulk later testified the business has only been cited once since 2007 for selling alcoholic beverages to a minor. Despite their “exemplary record,” Oliver said that was not enough to convince her to grant the application.

“Although the nature of the evidence presented to support BEASD’s objection might fall short of that required to prove detriment to the neighborhood such as to require a denial, ... the law is well-established that evidence of detrimental effect is not prerequisite to a denial when restrictive institutions are present,” Oliver wrote.

The “model store” has been “very gracious” to the district on many occasions, including donations of food, drinks and supplies, Miles said.

“The decision to pursue this matter was only focused on the school and its surrounding community. They have been wonderful to the school district and I have no question that our relationship will remain the same,” Miles said in a statement. “In addition to the school district, the Bald Eagle community has been very supportive of Sheetz and will continue to do so in the future. We are hoping that this decision strengthens our relationship and we can work together to better benefit both organizations in the future.”

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Bret Pallotto primarily reports on courts and crime for the Centre Daily Times. He grew up in Lewistown and graduated from Lock Haven University.