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Expanded liquor store hours not a concern for Alle-Kiski police

| Monday, Sept. 16, 2013, 8:12 a.m.
Eric Felack | Valley News Dispatch
State liquor store General Manager Brandon Pitts stocks wine on the shelves of the New Kensington store in Central City Plaza on Monday, Sept. 9, 2013. The store has expanded its hours from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Several police chiefs say they don't anticipate that longer hours at state-run liquor stores will result in additional crime in the Alle-Kiski Valley.

The Liquor Control Board announced in late August that 102 liquor stores statewide will open earlier, stay open later or both.

Officials chose stores whose customer-traffic patterns seemed to warrant extra hours. They also considered the operating hours of nearby retailers for liquor stores that are in shopping plazas.

The move affects six local stores, among them one each in Buffalo Township and New Kensington and two stores in Lower Burrell.

The changes do not impact Sunday hours; the 25 percent of stores that are open on Sundays are limited to noon to 5 p.m. by state law.

Lower Burrell's Crossroads Plaza store and a store in The Waterworks shopping center near Aspinwall are the only nearby stores with Sunday hours.

Lower Burrell police Chief Tim Weitzel said the liquor stores at Hillcrest Shopping Center and Crossroads Plaza aren't usually the source of problems other than an occasional shoplifting complaint.

“We rarely get any calls about people disturbing the peace outside the stores,” Weitzel said. “I don't imagine it will be a problem.”

The Crossroads Plaza store will be open an additional hour in the evenings, with new store hours of 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday plus noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.

The Hillcrest store will open two hours earlier and stay open two hours later on Monday and Tuesday; store hours will be from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

The liquor store in New Kensington's Central City Plaza will have similarly extended hours on Monday and Tuesday.

“I really don't anticipate any problems,” said New Kensington police Chief Tom Klawinski.

He acknowledged there have been issues at the plaza — a barber this month was convicted of fatally shooting another man in the parking lot in 2011 — but said the liquor store hasn't been a source of complaints.

“I don't personally think that state store is a nuisance or a detriment to the community,” he said.

He noted half of the extended hours will be in the morning, which generally is not a high-crime time period.

Buffalo Township police Lt. Alan Behanna likewise said the liquor store in Buffalo Plaza hasn't been a problem. It also will have extended hours on Monday and Tuesday.

“With the state running the liquor stores, I love it,” Behanna said. “I'm more concerned if others are approved to sell liquor.”

Liz Hayes is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4680 or lhayes@tribweb.com.

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