Local, Regional and State Bullet Points
by Neal Witkin
LOCAL – NORTH MYRTLE BEACH
- Did you know? North Myrtle Beach was formed from 4 communities in 1967.
- Ocean Drive was the first community to be incorporated as a municipality in 1948. Luther W. Fenegan was the first town’s mayor.
- Cherry Grove Beach became a town in 1959. C.D. Nixon was elected as mayor.
- Windy Hill Beach was incorporated in 1964 and John T. Harrell served as the town’s first mayor.
- Atlantic Beach was incorporated in 1966. Emory Gore was its first mayor.
- North Myrtle Beach Created. In 1967 a steering committee directed by Elbert Jordan achieved pledges from the four municipalities (excluding Atlantic Beach which asked to be omitted) to support a merger. The new city, named North Myrtle Beach was headed by Robert L. Edge, mayor. Eli T. Goodman and J. Bryan Floyd were councilmen at large. Mance Watkins was a council rep for Cherry Grove, Jennings Livingston was a council rep for Ocean Drive and M.A. Thompson represented Windy Hill.
- Chiefs of Police – Merlin Bellamy having served as the chief of police for Ocean Drive was made chief of the new North Myrtle Beach Police, assisted by Johnny Causey who was chief of police at Crescent Beach.
- Post Offices Consolidated – Prior to the merger, each of the beaches had its own post office. In 1970 the four post offices merged into one known as North Myrtle Beach Post Office located on Ocean Drive and a substation was established in Windy Hill.
- The Palmetto Coast Industrial Park – The proposed development is slated to sit on 69 acres of Watertower Road near the S.C. 31 interchange and will consist of three warehouse buildings totaling 514,500 square feet of space. The developer, Development Resource Group hopes to attract major distributors such as beer or soda companies.
- Watertower Road Developments – Less than a mile from the planned industrial park, nearly 1,000 homes are coming to the former Waterway Hills Golf Club which closed in 2015. The proposed 94-acre development, Grande Dunes North, will have 998 single-family estates, cottages, villas and townhomes along with a clubhouse, a fitness center, a resort-style pool and a park that overlooks the Intracoastal Waterway when completed.
- Proclamation – Mayor Hatley Proclaimed May 1-7, 2022, National Travel and Tourism Week. According to the proclamation, travel to and within the United States provides significant economic benefits for the nation, generating more than $2.6 trillion in economic output. The city of North Myrtle Beach welcomes an estimated four million visitors annually, travel and tourism provide thousands of jobs. Visitors staying in overnight accommodations in North Myrtle Beach pay more than $12 million in local taxes, reducing the local tax burden for valuable city services.
- NO TAX INCREASES IN 2023 – The North Myrtle Beach City Council returned from its annual budget retreat and announced no tax increases for the 2023 budget.
- TRAFFIC LIGHT TO STAY GREEN LONGER – After receiving a request regarding the traffic light at the intersection of U.S. 17 and 46th Avenue North (Starbucks, Kitchen Table, Alligator Adventure and Prestons) traveling back from the beach into Barefoot Resort; the green light only allows one or two vehicles to successfully cross the intersection before going red. After writing to the North Myrtle Beach director of public works, my email was forwarded on to Joey Skipper, District Traffic Engineer at the S.C. D.O.T. for a response. Mr. Skipper advised an adjustment was made to the light’s timeframe for staying green; but noted that systems like this respond to vehicle detection to respond to traffic. He encourages drivers to make sure they are stopping at the correct locations (stop-lines) and that they do not become distracted as they wait for the green (which can create large gaps in traffic movement when green occurs); this could cause the system to think there are less cars present than are actually there. He is not saying that drivers at this intersection don’t already do this, but they have seen in other areas where these systems are used. With prompt movement now, more vehicles should be able to cross the intersection with this latest adjustment.
REGIONAL HORRY COUNTY NEWS
- In 1996 South Carolina voters turned down a one cent tax for roads. Horry County formed R.I.D.E (Road Improvement and Development Effort) funded by a 2.5 percent accommodations tax and a 1.5 percent prepared foods tax.
- Riding on a Penny program began in 2007 raised more than $400 million worth of highway projects that helped pay for the construction of Grissom Parkway, S.C. 22 and S.C. 31, and the Fantasy Harbour Bridge.
- RIDE II was formed in 2001 and identified 15 highway projects. Voters approved a one cent tax for 7 years. Funding provided for an overpass on U.S. 17 at the back-gate of the old Myrtle Beach Air Force Base, widening of S.C. 707, the Aynor Bypass, and paving International Drive from Grissom Parkway to S.C. 90. Paving of many rural roads were also included in this program. The tax
generated about $20 million over original projections of $425 million.
- RIDE III – 2016 voters overwhelmingly approved a 1 percent sales tax hike (to be collected for up to 8 years) to pay for nearly $600 million in road projects. It passed with nearly 70 per cent support. Projects include – widening U.S. 501, widening U.S. 701 North near Conway, extending S.C. 31 to the N.C. state line and widening Carolina Forest Boulevard.
- RIDE IV – Scheduled to go before county voters in a 2024 referendum. The incomplete Ride III projects would go to the top of the RIDE IV list. Two of the unfinished projects are improvements to U.S. 501 and extending S.C. 31 to the North Carolina state line. The RIDE IV commission is expected to be created by the summer of 2023. Half the members will be chosen by county council and half
will be appointed by local municipalities. By early 2024, the commission would present a prioritized list of projects to the council, which would decide whether to send that program to the voters in a November referendum. If a majority of voters support RIDE IV, the county would begin collecting the tax (1% sales tax) on May 1, 2025. The tax collection would last seven years, ending on April 30,
2032. County officials have estimated the RIDE IV program would generate $625-$650 million. The tax would have a shorter duration than the eight-year RIDE III tax.
SOUTH CAROLINA STATE NEWS
- Interstate 73 – When I-73 is ever built, it will traverse northeastern South Carolina, from the Grand Strand to Bennettsville. The current alignment will replace S.C. Hwy 22 and run parallel north of U.S. 501 and SC-38. In June 2017, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers approved permits required to build I-73. Now funding needs to be acquired, which may make I-73 a toll road in South
Carolina. On May 30,2006, the South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) announced its preferred routing of I-73 between Myrtle Beach and I-95. I-73 will begin where SC-22 starts at US-17 near Briarcliffe Acres. It will then proceed northwesterly, crossing the proposed routing of I-74 (currently SC-31, the Carolina Bays Parkway). After passing Conway, I-73 will leave SC-22 at a
new interchange to be constructed two miles west of US-701 and will then use a new highway to be built between SC-22 and SC-917 north of Cool Spring. I-73 will then use an upgraded SC-917 to cross the Little Pee Dee River. It will then proceed on a new freeway alignment between SC-917 and I-95 that would have an interchange with US-76 west of Mullins and then would proceed northwesterly
to an exit with US-501 near Latta, passing that city to the south before intersecting I-95 near SC-38. After crossing I-95, I-73 will use the chosen middle route, one of six potential alternative corridors that were studies all of which roughly paralleling SC-38 to proceed further north to the North Carolina state line. These alternative corridors were formally announced to the public on September 7, 2006, at a meeting in Bennettsville. The central route caused the least disruption to homes, farms, and wetlands.
- I-73 History – “We’ve been asking for this (I-73) for years”, said Karen Riordan, President and CEO of the Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce. According to Riordan, “a lot of pieces have come together in the past couple years.” Riordan also said, “the Grand Strand has lost out on a number of businesses that would have brought hundreds of non-tourism jobs to the area. All because there is no
major access to any interstates.” Horry County Council member Johnny Vaught said, “that with roads in places like Highway 22 and 31 – a route like I-73 would alleviate traffic off major roads like Highway 501. However, it would be a long process while waiting for construction to begin. “Vaught said, “Given the fact that we have to design the thing, buy the right of way – all of that takes time. I’d be
surprised if we’re putting shovels to the ground in less than five years.” Vaught further stated, “one of the nice things is that we wouldn’t have to disrupt any traffic to build it, which should make it a short build time. We need something to get us around Conway as more people move and vacation into the Grand Strand.”
- I-73 Funding Remains the issue. For years, South Carolina lawmakers have been itching to deliver on a major highway project that would finally connect a local Horry County highway to Interstate 95, giving Myrtle Beach its first-ever interstate access. Recently, $300 million asked for Interstate 73 slowed the South Carolina Senate’s budget debate. Ultimately no money was allocated for the project by senators before giving preliminary approval on the $12.4 billion spending plan. A formal roll call vote on the spending ended with no money for I-73. That means supporters of the highway project are out of luck to win funding from the state legislature this year.
NORTH MYRTLE BEACH POLICE & FIRE STATISTICS
Total calls for service April 2022: 3242 Police: 2753 Fire: 489
Total calls for service April 2021: 3334 Police: 2842 Fire: 492
Fire Down By: 3 Police Down By: 89
Fire/Rescue Division: responded to 59 fire alarms, 16 cardiac arrest, 24 public assist, 3 structure fires, 4 structure fire commercial/high rise, 2 mutual aid request, 11 brush fires, 243 first responder calls, 32 vehicle accidents, 3 traffic accident w/entrapment, 1 vehicle fires, 2 illegal burnings, 11 elevator entrapments, 2 vehicle lockouts, among others. Law Enforcement Division: responded to 120 business alarms, 24 domestic violence calls, 22 assaults, 10 shopliftings, 26 fireworks, 223 suspicious calls, 141 vehicle accidents, 35 larcenies, 109 loud music, 32 calls for property damage, 2 burglaries, 95 ACO calls, 6 B&E autos, 110 public disorderly calls, 18 narcotics violations, 145 public assistance, among many other calls.