Grandmother takes on powerful contractor/developer, gets arrested

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David Hucks
David Hucks
David Hucks is a 12th generation descendant of the area we now call Myrtle Beach, S.C. David attended Coastal Carolina University and like most of his family, has never left the area. David is the lead journalist at

Throughout May and into June, Horry County Council Chairman candidate, Katrina Morrison saw six Little River area signs along various highways asking those in traffic to VOTE JENNA DUKES.

On June 14th, Dukes beat District One Incumbent Harold Worley garnering 59% of the vote. Morrison informs MyrtleBeachSC News, that on June 15th, the message on the signs changed. The signs began messaging VOTE MARK LAZARUS JUNE 28th.

Morrison assumed the signs were traffic signs, but was not sure. She wanted to know if SCDOT owned the signs. She made inquiries to government, but could not get a clear answer on who owned the signs.

UPDATE July 19th: Morrison states the photo of her seemingly disconnecting the sign was staged by her to point attention to the political context and to determine who owned the sign. She says that she never pulled on the wiring. Susan Devens of Little River took the photo and will attest to this. Morrison later posted her photo on Facebook.

One of six political campaign highway signs around North Myrtle Beach.

Sea Mountain Highway sign


Morrison was served by Horry County to appear at J. Rueben Long Detention Center on June 18th at 8:30 a.m. A summons for her arrest was presented to her. The summons reads: “Upon arrival the complainant (Benjy Hardee/A.O. Hardee Construction) explained that someone had pulled the wire that ran into the bottom of the sign and it damaged the sign to the point that it no longer worked,” the report stated. “The sign in question is a road side, tower style, light up, letter board, typically used along roadways to assist in traffic control. The sign was sitting approximately 25 ft off the roadway on private property and not causing any visible issues with traffic in the area. The complainant provided information leading to the suspect.” 

That “suspect” information came from Morrison’s own Facebook post. Morrison posted a photo along U.S. 17 near North Myrtle Beach. Signs for Clark’s Seafood and Chop House and the Myrtle Beach Yacht Club are visible in the background.  Included in her post: “I was hoping to hear from SCDOT but no response so I tried to disconnect it myself,” Morrison wrote. “If anyone has a clue who to contact about [who owns this sign] please get in touch.” 


Morrison has been an ongoing critic of Hardee’s multiple developments and his methods. The issues began when Horry County Council voted in 2021 to approve a high rise in Little River.

The proposal allows for a 120-foot, 12-story high-rise on 4.3-acre piece of land between Highway 17 and Coquina Harbor in Little River with 336 residential units, 8,834 square feet of commercial space, 11,000 square feet of conference space and more than 700 parking spaces, many of them in five levels of a parking garage.

County Council Chairman Johnny Gardner and District 1 Councilman Harold Worley voted against the high rise. Despite this, the measure passed.

Morrison then chose to sue Horry County Council and the Horry County Planning Commission.

About Benjy Hardee

Benjy Hardee with Governor McMaster
Benjy Hardee (left) Governor Henry McMaster (right)

Benjy Hardee is President and Chief Executive Officer of A. O. Hardee & Son, Inc., a heavy/highway site contractor licensed in South Carolina since 1981 and North Carolina since 1985.

Key staff members of A.O. Hardee include Benjy’s personal assistant/secretary Kim Phipps. Phipps is the daughter of retired Horry County Magistrate Judge Dennis E. Phipps.

Another key staff employee is Doug Wendel. Douglas P. Wendel has occupied the position of Chairman at Coastal Carolina National Bank.

He is also on the board of Coastal Carolina Bancshares, Inc. (former Chairman) and Principal at Coastal Carolina University.

In the past Wendel occupied the position of President & Chief Executive Officer for Burroughs & Chapin Co., Inc. and Director at Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corp. Wendel was instrumental in the early formation of Grand Strand Water and Sewer.

Benjy Hardee is also Owner and Managing Member of Hardee Group Holdings, LLC.  He has been the developer of numerous residential and golf course communities in both North and South Carolina. He has built numerous golf courses in the Grand Strand area.

Benjy contracts with SCDOT constructing numerous roads including major sections of SC HWY 31 and SC HWY 22 and hundreds of miles of other primary and secondary roads and various airport and military facilities.

Hardee also is a board member on the CAGC/SCDOT Joint Committee as well as a Board Member of the South Carolina Alliance to Fix Our Roads.  Carolinas AGC (CAGC) is a trade association made up of contractors and construction-related firms that perform work in North Carolina and South Carolina.

CAGC/SCDOT Joint Committee

The CAGC/SCDOT Joint Committee focuses on policy and program issues with SCDOT operations. Members work on high level DOT participation.

Committee Roster

Marty McKeeCo-ChairKing Asphalt, Inc.
Sarah W. (Sally) PaulMemberSanitary Plumbing Contractors
Casey SchwagerMemberKing Asphalt, Inc.
Scott DominquezMemberRogers Group, Inc.
Brent E. EvansMemberBanks Construction Co., Inc.
Jason FerrellMemberEurovia
Daniel LittellMemberRogers Group, Inc.
Todd QuiggMemberReeves
John Jordan, Jr.MemberCherokee, Inc.
Ronald P. ShawMemberLee Construction Company of the Carolinas, Inc.
Brett MurrayMemberEurovia
James E. TriplettMemberUnited Infrastructure Group, Inc.
Ken Atkinson, Jr.MemberPalmetto Corp.
Benjy HardeeMemberA. O. Hardee & Son, Inc.
Grady WickerMemberEagle Construction Co., Inc.
George EllisMemberCrowder Constructors Inc. (Heavy Civil Division)
Benji VinsonMemberC. R. Jackson, Inc.
Chris DavisMemberSanders Bros. Constr. Co. Inc.
Leslie B. ClarkStaff LiaisonCarolinas AGC, Inc.

Benjy is also currently Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors of Grand Strand Water & Sewer Authority (a position he has been serving for over 32 years). He also currently serves on the Northeastern Strategic Alliance Board.

The Northeastern Strategic Alliance Board [NESA] is a regional, non-profit, economic development organization that serves nine counties in the northeastern corner of South Carolina. Their primary objective is to create jobs for the residents of the region by working within the existing industry base and recruiting new companies. NESA assists these companies by providing research assistance, infrastructure support, workforce training opportunities, regional site selection assistance and they work with their county partners and the state to help coordinate incentive packages.

Benjy is a partner of and supports the Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corp. From 2000 until 2008, Benjy was a member of the local advisory board of BB&T Bank and in 2015.

Benjy served on the Horry County Ride III Advisory Committee. The Ride Improvement & Development Effort is an Horry County penny tax initiative. The funds collected by Horry County government are specifically dedicated to the construction and improvements of certain local roads. Targeted roads were chosen by the Ride III Advisory Committee of which Hardee served.

Benjy is a founding member and director of Coastal Carolina Bancshares, Inc. and Coastal Carolina National Bank (CCNB). Benjy also serves on several committees within the bank.  


We reached out to Tammy Mishoe of SCDOT. Her role is to report to the Horry County Emergency Operations Center during hazardous weather events. Mishoe is also responsible for providing road closure updates, coordinating with other agencies, and relaying questions and information to SCDOT staff. As of this publish date we have not heard back from her.


It is now clear that the owner of the sign is A. O. Hardee & Son, Inc. Through his various relationships and contracts with SCDOT, Hardee uses these same signs when paving or improving S.C. roads. The questions we have for Ms. Mishoe?

  1. When allowing contractors, like A. O. Hardee & Son, Inc, to purchase these traffic signs, was it ever the intentions of SCDOT to also allow these signs to be used for political messaging?
  2. Should such restrictions be placed on signs routinely used for traffic information?


  1. Was the use of these signs listed by Hardee as an “in kind” contribution to the Jenna Dukes campaign?
  2. Was the use of these signs listed by Hardee as an “in kind” contribution to the Mark Lazarus campaign?

As all final campaign disclosures are not reported at this time, our news agency has no way of providing such.

We have been informed that renting one of these signs costs $750 per week. The Dukes’ messaging ran for 10 weeks minimum.


Katrina Morrison sues Horry by MyrtleBeachSC news

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