Postal Way Rezonings Back on Council Agenda with No Changes from Three Months Ago

Horry County Council will consider second reading and hold public input on the two controversial rezonings along Postal Way at its regular meeting tomorrow night.
The two parcels of land, Waters Tract and Chatham Crossing, will add 1,654 new residential units and some new commercial development in an already crowded area.
The rezonings were deferred for a period of 92 days at the request of council member Dennis DiSabato, ostensibly to see if criticisms of the rezonings, voiced by Carolina Forest residents, could be addressed in the development agreements associated with the projects.
According to the language in the development agreements, which will be considered for second reading, nothing has changed in either development agreement from what was presented to council three months ago.
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Sen. Stephen Goldfinch’s Gym Injuries

A few days ago, media from Myrtle Beach to Charleston and Columbia carried reports that Sen. Stephen Goldfinch was injured while on deployment in Africa with the S. C. National Guard. Goldfinch represents S. C. Senate District 34.
Goldfinch’s senate office put out a statement saying he was injured while on deployment in Africa with the National Guard. It said the injury was not life-threatening and Goldfinch was being transferred to a military hospital in Germany for treatment.
Several of the reports quoted a S. C. National Guard spokesperson as saying the injuries were non-combat related and were not life threatening.
Rep. Russell Fry commented on his social media account, “I’m praying for a quick recovery for my friend Senator Stephen Goldfinch who was injured in Africa while being deployed with the National Guard. Hoping he can get home safely to his family soon.”
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Consistency or Hypocrisy in Politics and Life

A week ago, I wrote an article about Conway Mayor Barbara Blaine-Bellamy and the proclamation she signed for Pride Month.
Included in that article were the statements, “Blaine-Bellamy has worked to help people of every background understand she cared about them and wanted them to be accepted and included in the community. Blaine-Bellamy said she studied the reasons behind Pride Month and she believes every person deserves to feel safe and not be ostracized.”
And, “People can disagree with Blaine-Bellamy for issuing the proclamation to people whose lifestyle they don’t agree with, but they cannot criticize Blaine-Bellamy for not having the courage to stand by the principles she holds.”
My point was that Blaine-Bellamy has consistently, throughout her professional careers, attempted to treat everyone as she would want to be treated and to help them feel included in the community.

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Increase Fees on New Residential Construction or No Reelection?

Two years ago, Horry County Council imposed impact fees on new construction for the first time in county history. Two years prior to the impact fee ordinance, 72% of county voters had said YES to impact fees in an advisory referendum.
During the first two readings of the impact fee ordinance, the maximum possible fee of $6,645 per single family home was passed with other types of construction also being charged the maximum fee allowed by state law formula.
On third reading, then council member Johnny Vaught amended the ordinance to reduce the fee by 81.4% to a rate of $1,236 per single family home. Seven other council members joined Vaught in bowing to pressure from the development lobby to make the fee nominal. Those same eight council members voted to increase property taxes that same year by 7.5 mills, the maximum allowed by state law formula. Five of those eight council members will be up for reelection next year. Two others have already been replaced on council.
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Everyone’s Mayor Barbara Blaine-Bellamy

Conway Mayor Barbara Blaine-Bellamy presented a Mayoral Proclamation last month to Grand Strand Pride in recognition of June as Pride Month.
In doing so, Blaine-Bellamy was acting totally in accordance with the principles which have guided her professional life. Blaine-Bellamy has worked to help people of every background understand she cared about them and wanted them to be accepted and included in the community. Blaine-Bellamy said she studied the reasons behind Pride Month and she believes every person deserves to feel safe and not be ostracized.
Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “Do what you feel in your heart to be right, for you’ll be criticized anyway.” And Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “My obligation is to do the right thing. The rest is in God’s hands.” Blaine-Bellamy did what she felt in her heart to be right.
A portion of the second paragraph of the proclamation speaks much about Blaine-Bellamy’s personal philosophy, “Our LGBTQ residents …as our relatives, neighbors and friends deserve to feel safe and respected in their homes, neighborhoods, schools and workplaces…”
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Benton Sworn In for Conway City Council Seat

Autry Benton was sworn in as the newest member of Conway City Council before the start of the council’s regular meeting Monday night.
The oath of office was delivered by Judge Alex Hyman. Benton’s wife, Amanda Benton, held the Bible for the ceremony.
Benton won a special election to replace Hyman after Hyman resigned from his council office in order to accept a judgeship. Benton will finish out the remainder of Hyman’s term, which ends December 31, 2023. Benton has already announced he will be a candidate for reelection in the upcoming November 7, 2023 non-partisan general election for Conway City Council.
A short reception was held immediately after the ceremony for Family and friends to greet and congratulate Benton.

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Benton Defeats Brown in Conway Special Election Runoff

Above: Autry Benton with wife Amanda
Autry Benton defeated Kendall Brown in yesterday’s special runoff election to fill the seat vacated when former city council member Alex Hyman resigned to accept a judgeship. Benton garnered 760 votes in the runoff to Brown’s 726.
Brown led the first leg of voting with 428 votes to Benton’s 401. Three other candidates in the special election first round were eliminated.
The runoff drew approximately 200 more voters than the first round of voting June 13, 2023, when there were five candidates in the race. Election commission members commented that both rounds of voting went very smoothly with no problems experienced.
Benton’s margin of 34 votes was slim but in excess of the one percent difference between candidates which would have required a recount.

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Conway Special Election Runoff Pits Benton v. Brown

Voters in the City of Conway will go to the polls Tuesday June 27, 2023 to elect a new member to city council in a special election runoff between Autry Benton and Kendall Brown.
Brown led Benton by a 428-401 margin in the first round of voting June 13, 2023. However, 462 votes were cast for three other candidates who were knocked out in the first round. The first round of voting saw 1,297 ballots cast, approximately 9% of the registered voters in the city. All registered voters are eligible to vote in the runoff regardless of whether they participated or not in the first round of voting.
Brown, an African-American candidate, drew approximately 61% of his votes from Racepath #1 and #2. two predominantly African-American precincts in the city, as well as early voting. Benton’s support was more widely spread among the city’s 13 voting precincts. He also outdrew the other three candidates in the Racepath precincts.
Both candidates said they were reaching to all citizens in the city for support.

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Conway City Council Special Election Candidates

Grand Strand Daily reached out to the five candidates for the vacant Conway City Council seat that will be contested in a special election Tuesday June 13, 2023. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
The candidates were asked to provide basic background information such as family, education, church membership, military service and experience. In addition, candidates were asked to provide a short answer why they were running for city council and to explain what issues they felt were most important for council to address.
Candidates Autry Benton, Kendall Brown, April O’Leary and Tyler Thomas responded. Candidate Bill Wiegand did not. Capsules from the candidates’ responses are listed below in alphabetical order.
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School Board Members Apparently Broke State Open Meetings Law with Email Messages

A series of email messages sent to all 12 members of the Horry County Schools Board of Education apparently broke state laws on open meetings by public bodies.
The email chain originated with board member Debbie Edmonds who sent a group email to the other 11 members of the board addressing an issue that she believed occurred during public comment at the regular meeting of the board the previous evening.
Two other board members, Janet Graham and David Koch, responded, again including their messages to all board members.
All email messages sent by and to public officials from a public domain are subject to the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act. In this case, the “@ horrycountyschools.net” email address was used. Furthermore, when such messages are sent to a majority (quorum) of the governing members of a public body, in this case every member, and responses are sent to these messages, the email string alone is considered to have been a meeting of the body without proper public notice or public transparency regarding the content of the emails.
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