On this first day of 2020, MyrtleBeachSC news looks back at 2019. Today, we remember what headlined during the year just passed.
Our ten biggest new items, which begin in descending order as follows:
The rise of Chad Caton –
From taking down former Horry County Council Chairman Mark Lazarus, to removing former Horry County Administrator Chris Eldridge, from being the voice behind the evils of a former deputy fire chief, or to being a moving force behind the 2019 Surfside Sweep, Chad Caton is a local media personality whose stock soared in 2019. He was an instrumental part of all things positive change in Horry County.
The Surfside Sweep
Fresh new faces swept into office in the Fall of 2019 in Surfside Beach. A change election, witnessed “residents first” candidates Mayor Bob Hellyer, Councilwoman Cindy Keating, and Councilman Michael Drake taking the oath of office.
Flood Families Organize
The hurricanes and floods of the past few years exposed the reality that too many Horry County homes were developed in flood plains. Thousands of flooded families organized in 2019 sharing one voice. Concerns of over development, poor planning, government – developer collusion, and ongoing development in wetlands became weekly news items. These issues will continue in 2020 and become hallmark campaign issues for at risk candidates seeking re-election.
Myrtle Beach Mayor Brenda Bethune kills I-73
Despite a press conference stating otherwise, the facts are Myrtle Beach Mayor Brenda Bethune and the City of Myrtle Beach sued Horry County and re-claimed the collections of the hospitality fees inside the city limits to fund the city itself. Horry County set aside $20 million annually for funding I-73. The City of Myrtle Beach’s lawsuit stopped the collections entirely. This required Horry County to cancel a contract with SCDOT.
Despite the efforts by the City of Myrtle Beach to confuse the issues here, the funding and the contract were in place until the City of Myrtle Beach sued to stop the funding entirely.
After initiating an orchestrated coup attempting to overturn the will of 300,000 Horry County residents, Chris Eldridge was first exposed by Horry County Council, then fired.
Chris Eldridge questioned newly elected Horry County Council Chairman Johnny Gardner on grounds of extortion in 2018. Items were selectively leaked to the press. Eldridge then called in SLED to investigate the newly elected Chairman.
The investigation proved Gardner’s innocence and the coup quickly fell apart in early 2019. Horry County Council terminated Eldridge. A new County Administrator was promoted and hired.
City of Myrtle Beach developers go “TIRD”
In response to ongoing social media posts from flood families, a group of insider developers organized a new Coastal Carolina University institution to counter that activism. The Institute for Responsible Development (TIRD) quickly changed its name to the Institute for Principled Development once the group realized the acronym spelled TIRD.
The group of developers pledged over $2 million to fund Coastal Carolina University in an effort to promote “official” publications about the positive need for ongoing development. The developers oppose Horry County’s Imagine 2040 comprehensive development plan because it limits their abilities to build homes in at risk wetlands.
NO RED FLAG HERE
After Myrtle Beach Mayor Brenda Bethune came out publicly in support for Red Flag legislation in the City of Myrtle Beach, residents responded online. Red Flag legislation allows family members, council members, workers, government workers, health officials, etc to question your rights to own a gun. With little due process, gun rights are then taken away by city government.
The issue quickly went silent locally. However, the City of Columbia, S.C. did pass that same Red Flag legislation.
Horry County Schools Sue Myrtle Beach
What Horry County calls a promised $20 million for a school in Market Common was collected and went missing.
A lawsuit between the City of Myrtle Beach and Horry County Schools continues over the missing $20 million.
Myrtle Beach’s continued decline
The second murder on the streets of Myrtle Beach in 2019 lead to yet another viral news article about crime in the city.
Articles concerning homelessness, heroin, prostitution and crime fill the daily news blotters of every local news outlet.
As is custom, Myrtle Beach City Manager John Pedersen, in turn, blames those same media outlets for negative media coverage which the city says harms the town’s image.
Residents demand Judicial Reform
Among dozens of others, former Myrtle Beach resident Lindsay Sellers spoke out at a recent Judicial Merit Selection Commission meeting stating S.C. needs judicial reform.
South Carolina is one of only two states in America where the judges are picked by legislators, who are most often lawyers. These same legislative lawyers then later try cases in front of these very same judges they appointed.
A rally demanding judicial reform is scheduled this February in Conway, S.C.