Current concepts for a new airport master plan for Myrtle Beach International Airport are in direct violation of an existing agreement between City of Myrtle Beach and Horry County governments demonstrating what must be considered incompetence by Horry County Government senior staff.
Approximately three weeks ago, Horry County Department of Airports officials appeared before the City of Myrtle Beach Planning Commission to share concepts to be included in a new Airport Master Plan the county will submit to the Federal Aviation Administration within the next year.
Prior to the appearance before the city, the airport plan was the subject of a virtual public meeting held by airport officials, a required step in the planning process.
The general overview being presented is that in the next 20 years, the required planning span for the FAA, Myrtle Beach International Airport will require more terminal and concourse space, approximately 28 passenger gates and expanded parking. For at least the past two years, airport officials have also discussed converting at least part of one of the current taxiways into a second runway for general aviation use only.
What hasn’t been discussed to date by airport officials or other county officials is the fact that this planning is in direct violation of a 2004 Planned Unit Development zoning district for the airport approved by city and county officials.
The 2004 Myrtle Beach International Airport PUD specifically limits growth of airport facilities to a maximum of 18 fixed passenger gates and one runway.
These restrictions are not only ignored in the new master plan, they appear to be unknown to many of the officials involved in the planning process.
Additionally, while airport officials felt the need to advise the city planning commission of concepts for the new master plan, this same information has yet to be presented to Horry County Council members.
The next 14 months are going to provide interesting political times in Horry County. During that period, the cities will hold elections this coming fall and county and state primaries will be contested in June 2022.
Electioneering has already begun.
Horry County School Board Chairman Ken Richardson is already making a strong bid to replace Tom Rice as the South Carolina District 7 representative to the U.S. House of Representatives.
Two people have been spreading the word around the county that they intend to challenge Horry County Council Chairman Johnny Gardner in the June 2022 primary.
Mark Lazarus, who Gardner unseated in 2018 with what is probably the biggest upset in Horry County political history, reportedly is telling supporters he wants a rematch with Gardner in the 2022 Republican Primary.
Johnny Vaught, the current County Council District 8 council member, and Dennis DiSabato, the current county council member for District 3, have also been broadcasting they will be candidates for the Republican nomination for county chairman in the 2022 primary.
What is interesting about these announcements is Vaught was a major spokesman for Lazarus’ reelection. Whenever Lazarus needed a surrogate to speak for him at a meeting or other campaign event in 2018, Vaught was the chosen spokesman.
If Vaught and Lazarus both contest the chairman primary, it will bring up another interesting dynamic. Both have used Crescent Communications, the political consulting firm of state Reps. Russell Fry and Heather Crawford and county council member Cam Crawford in past campaigns.
The lawsuit filed recently by Republican candidate John Gallman against his opponent Luke Rankin and a host of others who supported Rankin’s reelection raises important questions about protected political speech and other activities during a campaign.
The lawsuit alleges libel/slander, invasion of privacy (private medical records) and conspiracy among the various groups of defendants to destroy Gallman’s reputation.
Political speech has always been given the broadest of interpretations by the courts under First Amendment protections. However, making a statement you know to be false but publishing or broadcasting it anyway is termed “reckless disregard for the truth”, which the lawsuit alleges.
Gallman, Rankin and Carter Smith were the three candidates vying for the Republican nomination for S.C. Senate District 33 in the June 9, 2020 primary election. Gallman and Rankin faced off in a primary runoff to determine the nomination on June 23, 2020.
According to the lawsuit complaint, a 531-page dossier on Gallman was compiled containing documents from Gallman’s divorce proceedings and notes from a forensic interview conducted by the Children’s Recovery Center in Horry County. The complaint alleges the dossier was compiled by the Rankin campaign and distributed to media organizations throughout the state on June 2, 2020.
The forensic interview was conducted with Gallman’s 10-year-old daughter. The records of the interview are statutorily protected and confidential pursuant to S.C. Code § 19-11-95, S.C. Code § 44-22-100, and S.C. Code § 62-11-310.
Ken Richardson is a lifelong resident of Horry County. He has been married to wife Donna for 43 years. The couple has two children, Christi Richardson Hucks who has been married to Robert Hucks for 15 years and Christopher Jason Richardson, age 36. Christi and Robert Hucks have two children, Riles age 12 and Winston age 10. All three generations are products of Horry County Schools.
The Richardson and Hucks families have long histories of being involved in public affairs as elected officials, appointed officials and judgeships in Horry County.
Richardson attended Conway High School and was a member of the first integrated football team at the school. He was the smallest player on the team and the coach credited his determination with helping him win a spot.
After graduating from Conway High School, Richardson attended Horry Georgetown Technical College.
While studying at Horry Georgetown Technical College, Richardson was hired as a salesman at Fowler Motors beginning a 40 year career at the car dealership. Beginning the month he was hired, Richardson ran a string of 57 straight months as Salesman of the Month for the dealership before being moved to management. In 1998, Richardson purchased the dealership from Mr. Fowler and was the owner of the only Mercedes, BMW and Cadillac dealership under one roof in the country. He sold the dealership in 2009 to semi-retire and to concentrate more time on his passion – education.
Congressman Tom Rice (R-SC7) is sinking deeper into a quagmire of his own making as he attempts to explain his way around his vote to impeach former President Donald Trump.
Since voting to impeach Trump a month ago, Rice has been subjected to a continuous stream of criticism from voters in his Congressional District and suffered censure from the state Republican Executive Committee.
Even supposed allies of Rice such as state representatives Russell Fry and Heather Ammons Crawford, who never missed a photo opportunity with Rice in the past, have failed to offer support of Rice when given the opportunity by local media. Likewise, neither has come out with condemnation of Rice’s vote putting them at odds with most other members of the Republican Party as they attempt to hold firmly to the position of ‘fence sitters.’
Fry is reportedly considering a challenge to Rice in the 2022 Republican Primary for the nomination for the 7th Congressional seat. If he decides to challenge Rice, Fry is going to have to get off that fence.
In the month since his impeachment vote, Rice and his advisers have tried to tamp down criticism of his action. But they don’t seem they understand the local sentiment.
In his statements to media and votes in Congress Rice has flip-flopped on the impeachment question. Rice told local and national media that, in the days following the January 6th Capitol insurrection, the more he learned, the more upset he became with Trump’s actions before and during the insurrection.
However, on January 11th Rice issued a statement to local media outlets saying he did not support impeachment of Trump. On January 12th, Rice voted against two resolutions in the House, one calling for using the 25th Amendment to temporarily suspend Trump from the presidency and the other a procedural resolution to bring the resolution of impeachment to the House floor.
Less than 24 hours after voting against bringing the impeachment resolution to the House for a vote, Rice voted for the resolution to impeach the president. What really caused this 180 degree turn in Rice’s actions?