City stops sale of soda, cigarettes at two gas stations

Midwest Oil blasts action by city

Leader Reporter/April 20, 2005
By Tim Ryan

Shawano police halted the sale of cigarettes and soft drinks Tuesday evening at two gas stations owned by one of the companies affiliated with the Samanta Roy Institute of Science and Technology (SIST).

The former Cenex stations at 716 S. Main St. and 1381 E. Green Bay St., which are now owned by Midwest Oil, were selling cigarettes and beverages without a license, according to authorities.

An official with Midwest Oil late Tuesday criticized the city’s action, calling it “outrageous” and promising a response.

Police chief Ed Whealon said the stations will be required to either remove or cover up the prohibited products until property licenses are obtained.

Naomi Isaacson, CEO for Midwest Oil, confirmed that the police department came to the gas stations early Tuesday evening and warned them to stop selling beverages and tobacco products. She said the station was given a warning ticket for selling soda and cigarettes without a permit.

Isaacson said that on April 8, Midwest Oil applied and paid for a permit to sell cigarettes and soda.

“Normal practice is that the receipt serves as a permit until one is received in the mail,” she said. “Eleven days later, without basis or justification, the mayor issues a warning ticket.”

Mayor Lorna Marquardt said that a citizen complaint was made to the city that the stations were selling beverages and cigarettes without a license. The complaint was referred to the police department.

“The mayor’s actions are prejudicial, discriminatory and outrageous,” Isaacson said. “I believe the mayor and the city have violated our civil rights, and rights to equal protection and due process as afforded by the Constitution and United States law.”

Isaacson said Midwest Oil “will definitely be taking action on it,” but she did not specify what that action would be.

City clerk-treasurer Marlene Brath said Midwest Oil had started to apply for the licenses about two weeks ago – and in fact had already paid the fees for them – but failed to provide all the necessary signatures.

She said a representative of Midwest Oil took the applications back so that the required signatures could be obtained but never returned with the forms.

Whealon said officers would return to the gas stations on Wednesday to see whether they were complying with the order or cigarette and beverage licenses had been obtained.

The stations were also anticipating beer sales to start on Wednesday with a shipment that was to be delivered, according to Whealon.

“That’s been stopped now,” he said, because the stations also did not have the required beer license.

The beer license, however, would have to be approved by the Common Council. That could halt the sale of beer at the stations for a month until the council’s next regular meeting.

Midwest Oil, which also owns the Mobil station on East Green Bay Street, apparently took ownership of the Cenex stations last month, but the deed showing transfer of ownership had yet to be filed with the Shawano County Register of Deeds office as of Tuesday afternoon.

Isaacson said the mortgage company involved in the transaction was responsible for filing the deed.

The Shawano Leader had not previously reported on the sale because it could not be confirmed with a warranty deed.

However, the city on Tuesday confirmed that the property is listed with Shawano Municipal Utilities as being owned by Midwest Properties. The sales permits applied for were in the name of Midwest Oil.

Receipts from the two convenience stores say they are being operated as Midwest East People’s Express and Midwest Oil-South. The East Green Bay Street store opened Saturday, while the South Main Street location opened on Sunday, Isaacson said.

A Shawano Leader employee on Tuesday afternoon went to both of the gas stations and purchased soda and tobacco products.

Midwest Oil is affiliated with the R.C. Samanta Roy Institute of Science and Technology, which has been buying properties in the area to fund a future international boarding school.

Over the past five years, SIST and its affiliates have purchased $8.3 million in properties in and around Shawano.

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