Conway notebook | Racing easier than opening a store

sjones@thesunnews.comOctober 21, 2012 

— Shannon Jordan said opening a sporting goods store on U.S. 501 Bypass in Conway early last year was more frightening than any of the 10 years she spent as a race car driver.

“You don’t know what to expect,” she said of her business venture. “You don’t know what the future will hold.”

Thursday night, Jordan was named Woman of the Year by the Conway Chamber of Commerce, an honor she found awesome but was hard pressed to say what she did to get it.

“I don’t deserve it,” she said.

A committee at the chamber disagreed. Kelli James, the chamber’s executive vice president, said Jordan stood out in the competition for volunteering for so many chamber activities, being very active in youth recreational sports and donations to various causes in Conway.

The award is sponsored by The Sun News and officially named The Sun News Rod & Harold McCown Community Service Awards. There’s also a Man of the Year, an award that went this year to Dr. Reginald Daves.

The McCown honors are just two of the 10 awards the Chamber gives out at an annual meeting where a new president and board members are installed. This year’s shindig was held at the Peanut Warehouse downtown near the Waccamaw River.

The other awardees were:

• Outstanding Board Member, John Trudeau

• Public Awareness, Waccamaw Publishers

• Community Service, Carolina Cool

• Volunteer of the Year, Ted Hayden

• Small Businessperson of the Year, Sallie Walbourn of Pet Pizzaz

• Youth Leader of the Year, Coach Bob Palmer

• LaVerne H. Creel Lifetime Achievement Award and Frank A. Thompson II Citizenship Award, Jimmie Johnson

The chamber’s new president is Joe Woodle of Tradd Commercial Real Estate.

Jordan said she raced cars at the Myrtle Beach Speedway and other tracks from the mid 1990s to 2005 because she likes speed and was getting a lot of speeding tickets. So, she figured, why not do it legally?

She started in the Street Car division and then moved up to the Charger class and finally Late Model class. The fastest she ever went was 170 mph through about 15 laps at the Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. She was the only fulltime female driver at the Myrtle Beach track, where she got the support of the men in the bleachers but not so much from those she raced against.

But Johnson is no one- or two-dimensional person.

An engineer, she ran Jordan Design, a company that specialized in developing subdivisions. When the economy tanked, there was not enough business to keep the doors open.

She is also a wife and mother, and therein lies the tale of her hanging up the keys to her racing cars.

It happened when her now 13-year-old son began school and started in sports.

“I knew raising a child, you only have one chance at that,” she said, “and I wasn’t going to pass it up.”

Spoken like a true woman of the year.

Like totally boo, man

Not all of Conway’s ghosts come from back when, and those on one of this year’s Conway Ghost Walks held Thursday through Saturday will hear stories of the spirits that visit the children whose family lives in a historic home at the corner of Ninth Avenue and Elm Street.

Hillary Howard, executive director of Conway Downtown Alive, said one of the family’s sons will entertain ghost walkers on the last stop of the tour with stories of the three ghosts that roam the home. Howard said she’s been told the ghosts are totally friendly and one even turns and smiles when one of the flesh-and-bones humans happens upon him.

The walk, titled Conway Ghost Walk: Spirits of the Lowcountry, will have nine stops and nine ghost tales on the approximately one-hour, one-mile trek.

Besides the modern-day ghosts, Howard said walkers also will hear the sad tale of Mary Beatty, who is still famous in Conway for protecting the town’s live oaks with her shotgun when the railroad first came to town.

But Beatty suffered through the untimely and tragic deaths of all five of her children. The four daughters were the first to go. Then one night, Beatty heard the ghost of one of her daughters singing, rushed upstairs and found her only son dead in his room.

The other seven ghost stories will draw on happenings from Georgetown to Wilmington, N.C., and all the tellers will be dressed in period costumes.

Tickets are $15 for adults and $7 for children age 12 and under. Tickets may be ordered by calling Conway Downtown Alive at 248-6260 or from its website at www.conwayalive.com. Tickets the nights of the walks will be available at the tour’s starting point, PCRX Computers at 909 Normans Alley.

Tours start every 10 minutes each night beginning at 7 p.m. and concluding at 8:30 p.m.

Concerts for the soul

The annual concert series sponsored by Conway’s First United Methodist Church has begun and there are still four more scheduled before the performances wrap up next fall.

All the concerts are free, except a 7:30 p.m. Holiday Concert on Nov. 27 by the Coastal Carolina Choral Department that will require tickets for entrance.

The other concerts all begin at 4 p.m. will be held:

Dec. 9: Gloria, with the choirs of First United, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church and Kingston Presbyterian Church.

Feb. 10: Festival of Hymns with Dr. Joby Bell of Appalachian State University.

April 14: Two Pianos Concert, a performance staged annually by the church.

Contact STEVE JONES at 444-1765.

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