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May 19, 2013 10:47 PM

Lease Revoked For Pine Ridge's Only Grocery Store

Pine Ridge, SD

The company that runs the only grocery store in Pine Ridge may be on its way out. It's been one year since the store Sioux Nation Shopping Center was temporarily closed after a health inspector found it was selling expired food, including rotten meat.

"Certain tribal council members received complaints of spoiled food being sold at the Sioux Nation Shopping Center," OST Economic Development Manager Lyle Jack said.

Hi-Way 20, the company that has operated the grocery store for more than 25-years says problems with the store have been fixed.

"They were promptly addressed, and those problems are non-existent down there at this time," the store's attorney Terry Pechota said.

However, persistent concerns with the business have led the Tribal Council to revoke the business's lease on the tribally owned building.

"They will have until August 4th of this year to be out of the building, and the tribal council approved that last week unanimously," Jack said.

But getting rid of the grocer may not be as easy as just revoking the lease.

"I don't think it will be over for a long shot.  There will probably be some sort of legal questioning, legal battles possibly," Jack said.

Pechota says he's optimistic an agreement can be reached, and that both sides can get a fair deal.

"We have always tried to let the tribe know that we are ready, willing, and able at any time to meet with them and discuss any problems that they've had with the store," Pechota said.

Tribal officials say that if the company does leave in August another one would likely step in and operate the grocery store.  For people in Pine Ridge, the nearest large grocery store other than Sioux Nation is close to 90 miles away in Rapid City.

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