Local News

Bike Vendor Permit Cut Passes 1st Reading

Horry County Council voted 7-5 Tuesday night, on first reading of an ordinance, to reduce bike vendor and special event permits from the current seven days to five, including set up and take down operations. Council members Harold Worley, Al Allen, James Frazier, Jody Prince and Bob Grabowski voted nay.

This is the second reduction in three years for the number of days for which permits will be issued. Three years ago, council reduced the number of permit days from 10 to seven. The cost of the permits ($800) has remained the same while the number of days has been reduced, effectively raising the cost of doing business per day, for vendors, by 100 percent over the three year period.

Sponseller Discovery – Questions, No Answers

The discovery of SC Hospitality Association CEO Tom Sponseller’s body yesterday left many who knew him in Horry County absolutely devastated by the news, but also asking questions about the circumstances surrounding his death.

Horry County Council member Gary Loftus, a longtime friend and associate of Sponseller in tourism industry circles, gave a moving tribute to his friend as the county council adjourned their meeting Tuesday night in Sponseller’s memory.

Other local area tourism leaders spoke all day of the kind, decent, loving family man and friend who they had rubbed elbows with many times through the years as Sponseller led the state’s tourism industry interests.

Council to Consider Further Reduction in Biker Vendor Permits

Horry County Council will vote tonight on first reading of an ordinance to amend county code reducing the number of days vendor permits will be issued for May Bike Weeks from the current seven days to five days.

Word has it that county council chairman Tom Rice has been working this issue hard behind the scenes with a series of private meetings with other council members, some of these meetings falling just short of a quorum. Initially Rice wanted to limit the vendor permits to three days, but fell short of getting commitments from council members to support such a measure.

There is no guarantee that the five day proposal will pass tonight, or that Rice would be able to hold a coalition supporting it together, while the ordinance winds its way through the three reading process.

May Bike Rallies Up for Discussion

Discussions on the May Bike Rallies by Horry County officials will begin Thursday February 23rd at a special meeting of the county’s Public Safety Committee. The meeting is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. at the Horry County Government and Justice Center on 3rd Avenue in Conway.

Called by committee chairman Brent Schulz, the only item on the meeting agenda is Biker Rally 2012. When he announced the special meeting during the regular council meeting of February 7th, Schulz said the committee would be prepared to stay the whole night for discussion and requested all interested members of the public to attend the meeting.

In addition to public safety enforcement, the only issue the county has direct control over is the number and duration of vendor and special event permits the county issues for the Harley Davidson and Atlantic Beach rallies.

I&R Committee Hears Railroad Update

The Horry County Infrastructure and Regulation Committee heard an update on the Carolina Southern Railroad last week as the railroad looks to restart service.

Carolina Southern voluntarily shut down operations August 30, 2011, after new Federal Railroad Administration regulations identified issues with bridges along the railroad’s lines.

“We have put millions of dollars into bridges over the last couple of years,” said General Manager Jason Pippin. “However, we still have issues with three strategically located bridges that are keeping us from running.”

Horry County Police Changing at Top (Updated 2/10)

With the SLED investigation of the Horry County Police Department complete and the Attorney General’s Office finding nothing of prosecutorial merit in the findings, the Horry County Police Department is now in position to move on to a new beginning.

With the investigation exonerating the police department and its evidence handling procedures, Chief Johnny Morgan will soon announce his retirement. Sources tell Grand Strand Daily that Morgan has been in the process of cleaning out his office and was just waiting for the investigation to be completed so he would not retire under a cloud of suspicion.

According to sources close to the department, Assistant Chief David Beatty’s days are also numbered. Beatty is rumored to not be the choice to replace Morgan and he has been applying for positions in other departments around the state.

County Employees Could See Pay Raise

Horry County employees have not had a raise in the past three budget years, but that could change in the upcoming year. A majority of council members currently seem inclined to include an employee pay raise in the FY 2013 budget.

The county has weathered three difficult budget years and is currently running an approximately $9 million surplus in this year’s budget. It’s not that revenues are making a real comeback, it’s more that county government has significantly cut expenses over the past three years.

Much of the blame for local budget shortfall in the past three years can be laid at the feet of the state General Assembly. When Act 388 was passed in 2006, eliminating owner occupied homes from property taxes that funded school operating budgets, the state raised the sales tax one penny, promising to fund school operating costs from the state budget.

Council Approves AvCraft Incentives

Horry County Council approved a $100,000 incentive package and reduced rental on three hangars at Myrtle Beach International Airport for AvCraft Technical Services, Inc., during its regular meeting Tuesday night.

The vote was 8-3 with council members Jody Prince, Carl Schwartzkopf and Marion Foxworth voting nay and council member James Frazier absent.

The incentive package calls for AvCraft to add 150 employees within the next five years. This is the first job development package introduced by the newest version of the Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corporation and its CEO Brad Lofton. When Lofton was hired in April 2011, he signed a contract to produce 500 new jobs in 18 months.

Council Votes on AvCraft Incentives Tuesday

Horry County Council will vote on approving a $100,000 incentive package and formalizing a reduced rental agreement for AvCraft Technical Services, Inc. at its regular meeting Tuesday night.

Council reconsidered the $100,000 incentive package after initially approving it for a code named company. When AvCraft was named as the recipient in late December 2011, some council members moved to reconsider the approval based on AvCraft’s past employment history.

The new incentive package calls for AvCraft to add an additional 150 jobs to its current work force, which is approximately 57 full-time employees.

Keetowa Indians Take Second Look at Casino

An Indian tribe that considered building a casino in Horry County several years ago is now looking at a location in Hardeeville, S.C. for the state’s first full gambling casino.

The United Keetowa Band of Cherokee Indians is planning to build a large gambling and entertainment complex just off Interstate 280 in Jasper County near Hardeeville, according to a report by the Associated Press news service. The complex would include a 400 room hotel, gambling casino and 2,500 seat event center.

According to the report, the Hardeeville City Council approved a resolution Thursday night to move forward with the project.