By Paul Gable
Reflecting back on the year’s events in these last days of 2016, several local issues stand out that will carry over unresolved into the New Year.
The International Drive project is a perfect example of what many citizens find wrong in the country today. The project is highly popular with a vast majority of citizens because of the ‘back door’ ingress and egress it will give to Carolina Forest neighborhoods.
Horry County spent the year winning one court hearing after another over environmental groups trying to block the project. Some construction work was done in the fall after permits were issued by SCDHEC and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
However, a temporary stay issued by a federal court, since removed, and now a stay against the permits issued by the state court of appeals leaves the project once again stalled awaiting further court dates.
I first rode with General Vaught in his four wheel truck on what is now called International Drive when it was nothing more than a dirt track through the woods. There is no vast environmental disaster waiting to happen if construction of International Drive is completed.
Nevertheless, a small group of environmentalists continues to thwart the wishes of a vast majority of the citizens while completion of a much needed road continues to be delayed.
Staying with the county, much needed changes in the Horry County Police Department have begun with the hiring of a new chief in the fall.
After a year in which the county and its police department was hit with a series of lawsuits over the conduct of officers, notably those in the detective division, over a series of years, hopefully those transgressions will be ending.
However, even getting all police officers to do the job for which they were hired is only the beginning of what is needed in Horry County.
Drug use, especially opiates, is on the rise and gun violence continues to be a major problem throughout the county.
Public Safety Committee chairman Al Allen appointed a Community Violence Subcommittee early in the year to address the needs of communities in helping to alter these problems.
Unfortunately, the subcommittee became mired in minutiae for much of this past year with little to show for its efforts.
Hopefully, the subcommittee will realize that only by working collectively with community leaders, schools, religious groups and parents can solutions be found to these continuing problems. It is time for the subcommittee to get out into the communities and forget what is happening in Orange County, Florida and elsewhere as it searches for solutions.
Finally, it’s time for some city officials in Myrtle Beach to get their heads out of Communist China and back into the local community.
Early in 2016, we heard about a major investment of Chinese money that was going to transform the former Hard Rock Theme Park into a Chinese cultural experience complete with Mandarin classes for locals. (There was even some speculation on whether the yuan (renminbi) was going to replace the dollar as the official medium of exchange)
That investment has now proved to be much more smoke and mirrors than reality, but, I guess the trips for local officials to Red China were nice.
The answers to reviving Myrtle Beach and its tourist economy rest locally, not with tourism promotion taxes and pie in the sky development projects, but with the foresight and hard work that earlier generations of Myrtle Beach entrepreneurs demonstrated.
There are a number of local business owners ready to help. It’s time for Myrtle Beach city officials to shut their mouths and open their ears so, hopefully, they will learn something of value.