By Paul Gable
The Horry County Community Violence Subcommittee made some headway toward connecting with citizens at its meeting Tuesday.
Committee members discussed restarting Crimestoppers in the communities, re-establishing school programs to learn decision making to counter drugs and crime and a 311 information system for Horry County.
Horry County Council member Johnny Vaught, who attended the meeting, told committee members he believed the discussion was a positive step toward identifying recommendations to report to council.
The meeting featured lively discussion among committee members for the first time since the committee began meeting last spring.
The committee also heard a presentation by 15th Circuit Solicitor Jimmy Richardson regarding the heroin epidemic affecting Horry County.
Richardson told committee members the Horry County Coroner’s Office currently handles an average of two heroin overdoses per week resulting in death. Richardson said Horry County is a center of distribution for heroin which originates in Mexico, travels to the New York metropolitan area, then to Horry County.
Richardson began a pilot program for 5th graders in Conway Elementary School to teach about the dangers of the use of opiates and proper decision making to avoid this choice. The program is expected to be extended to seven schools this year.
The committee plans to develop a questionnaire to be circulated among neighborhoods to allow citizens to identify their major concerns about violent crimes, drugs and other issues affecting their lives.
A final report from the committee is due to county council in early 2017 with recommendations for making our communities safer.
A separate, but related effort toward making communities safer involves a series of community forums being conducted by a group of local pastors. The group has held three community forums to date, one for the Conway, Loris area, one in the Poplar community and one in Racepath to hear the concerns from local residents about issues affecting their lives.
A fourth forum will be held in the south end of the county in the near future, according to a source involved in the meetings.
The results of these meetings, direct conversation with residents about violence, crime, drugs and other concerns, is important for establishing plans to reduce these problems within our local neighborhoods.