Apache County Supervisors vote against sale of the Ole Red Barn Liquor license

NAHATA DZIIL - Approximately 300 people attended a public meeting July 22 in the community of Nahata Dziil during which the Apache County Board of Supervisors voted 3-0 to oppose the sale of two liquor licenses owned by Gary McDonald.

McDonald, a long-time resident of Sanders, owns four liquor licenses that were renewed at the end of May despite public outcry from the community.

He currently faces charges stemming from a search warrant executed at his residence in 2012, in which large quantities of a substance believed to be methamphetamine was found, along with 20 firearms.

Council Delegate Lorenzo Curley (Houck, Klagetoh, Nahata Dziil, Tsé Si áni, Wide Ruins), who has worked with community members to address the liquor licenses for several months, voiced his opposition to the sale at the meeting.

"The Navajo Nation passed a resolution opposing the sale of transfers of the liquor licenses, so, I ask the members of the Board of Supervisors for consideration of opposing the liquor license sales because it is not in the best interest of the Navajo people," Curley said.

In April, the Navajo Nation Naabik'iyati' Committee passed a resolution opposing the renewal and transfer of McDonald's liquor licenses, which McDonald is now attempting to sell to a close associate, George Ryan, for $2.50 each.

Also in attendance were Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly, Arizona Senator Carlyle Begay (Dist. 7), and representatives from the Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission.

Shelly strongly opposed the sale of the liquor licenses.

"I am going to express my opposition to the transfer of Red Barn and Lee's Liquor licenses to George Ryan. One of my main concerns is the children. There is no reason for children to be exposed to a situation of intoxicated people or domestic violence," Shelly said.

Begay said he had the opportunity to talk with the families affected by alcohol sales.

"To hear about the devastating stories that have impacted the families, it is just not about the alcohol sales, it is about the side effects that this issue has caused," Begay said. "My primary concern is to think forward for the future of this community, 10-20 years from now."

At one point during the discussion, County Supervisor Joe Shirley, Jr., asked Ryan why the prices for the liquor licenses were very low, to which Ryan did not provide a clear answer.

Commissioner from the Navajo Nation Rights Commission Jennifer Nez Denetdale said Ryan has been the manager of McDonald's liquor establishments since McDonald has been incarcerated.

"We believe there is no difference between these two individuals [McDonald and Ryan]. We contend that they consistently show a disregard for the well-being of the Navajo citizens of the Nahata Dziil Chapter. They show a complete lack of accountability and responsibility to the communities," Denetdale said.

Ryan now has the option to appeal the decision with the Arizona Liquor Board.

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