Project Extra Mile Celebrates 25 Years

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Project Extra Mile Celebrates 25 Years
Fifteen honorees to be recognized for going the extra mile

Project Extra Mile will hold its Recognition Dinner on Thursday, October 21st at 6:00 p.m. at Champions Run in Omaha to celebrate twenty-five years of advocating for proven strategies to prevent alcohol-related harms in the Omaha area and across the state. The event is an opportunity to honor individuals and organizations that have demonstrated a commitment to public health and safety in Nebraska and across the country. Award recipients have gone the extra mile in their efforts to exemplify Project Extra Mile's mission to advocate for evidence-based policies and practices to prevent and reduce alcohol-related harms.

This month we are highlighting several awardees. The remaining honorees will be included in our September and October newsletters. We hope you can join us on October 21st in Omaha to recognize their extraordinary accomplishments. Please register here to attend the event.

John Lemen, Community Advocate Award

As part of the Florence Neighborhood Citizens' Patrol, John Lemen attended several Omaha City Council meetings over 18 months to speak out against the Reign Lounge and its impact on his community. Throughout the process, John and other citizens spent many late nights documenting problems stemming from the business. He later traveled to Lincoln for a hearing at the Nebraska Liquor Control Commission amid the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure the community's concerns were heard.

Chief Bryan Waugh, Law Enforcement Officer Award

Chief Bryan Waugh of the Kearney Police Department has worked closely with Project Extra Mile for over a decade, consistently demonstrating his commitment to enforcing underage drinking laws. While at the La Vista Police Department, he served as a trainer for alcohol compliance checks. More recently, Chief Waugh hosted a statewide training at the Kearney Police Department in 2020, which focused on liquor law enforcement and fake IDs.

Omaha Police Department, Law Enforcement Agency Award

Since 1997, the Omaha Police Department has partnered with Project Extra Mile and area law enforcement agencies to coordinate collaborative alcohol compliance checks of area retailers, playing an important role in increasing business's compliance with the minimum legal drinking age law from 59% to over 90% today. During the pandemic, OPD made several adaptations to ensure that these enforcement operations could safely continue. OPD has checked over 500 businesses since Summer 2020, demonstrating their unwavering commitment to preventing underage drinking.

Jim Timm, Media Award

Jim Timm has consistently been a strong coalition partner. His organization, the Nebraska Broadcasters Association, has helped Project Extra Mile launch new public service announcements as part of the No Free Ride campaign this summer, which aims to deter adults from providing alcohol to minors. The campaign is currently airing on radio stations across the state. Furthermore, Jim has frequently offered his expert advice as the organization attempts to improve its outreach to the community via a diverse range of media. He is also actively involved in both the coalition and work group meetings.

Senator Robert Hilkemann, LaVon Crosby Public Policy Award

Earlier this year, Senator Hilkemann led the fight against a provision in this session's alcohol omnibus bill that would have cut the alcohol excise tax rate for ready-to-drink cocktails made from spirits by 75% -- a move that will lead to millions of dollars in lost revenue and an increase in excessive drinking. He has attended coalition and work group meetings to offer his perspective in recent years. Senator Hilkemann also introduced legislation in 2019 that would have expanded the number of Liquor Control Commissioners to five with the ultimate goal of bringing public health and safety voices to the Commission's deliberations.

Ryan Wiesen, Marty Conboy Public Advocate Award

As one of his duties, Ryan Wiesen, senior attorney for the City of Omaha Law Department, handles liquor licensing issues before the Omaha City Council. Since taking on this role in 2019, Ryan has handled two high-profile liquor license cases (Reign Ultra Lounge in 2019 and The Good Life in 2021) and has earned praise for his attention to detail and commitment to presenting a comprehensive case. He has made it a point to go the extra mile to ensure neighbors are prepared for hearings at the Liquor Control Commission. Ryan has often sought information to better understand the latest research around alcohol-related policies and their effectiveness in preventing community harms.