Better planning makes Spring Bike Rallies success, Horry County official says

jrodriguez@thesunnews.comAugust 15, 2013 

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Horry County officials on Friday released an After Action Report for the spring biker rallies, and at least one official is touting it as a success.

Paul Whitten, assistant county administrator for public safety, said this is the second year in a row the county set a planning meeting to address the bike rallies, and credited the idea to Councilman Brent Schulz.

“We feel this has been extremely beneficial,” he said. “We get the rules out early in February so there are no surprises.”

The annual Harley-Davidson motorcycle rally was a bit calmer this year in comparison to previous years with no major issues and no motorcyclists killed during their travels in unincorporated Horry County, according to authorities at the time. There were, however seven deaths during the Atlantic Beach Bikefest. Five were people killed in three crashes inside the Myrtle Beach city limits, while the other two crashes involving two deaths were handled by troopers with the S.C. Highway Patrol.

Whitten said, from the county there were 10 special event permits for Harley-Davidson rally and six for the Atlantic Beach event. The county receives fees for those permits as well as for temporary vending permits.

Total revenue in special event permits fees and the vending fees were $96,155 – more than $22,000 above 2012. That amount does not include an increase in sales tax and accommodations tax for those who made their way to the Grand Strand for these events, Whitten said. Expenses, which include overtime and re-direction of emergency and law enforcement resources, reached $286,430, up from $257,000 in 2012.

“We did have an increase in expenses, which was offset by the increase in revenue, so it was pretty much a similar year financially,” Whitten said.

Horry County police issued 122 warnings and made 139 cases with bond or fine amounts totaling $37,508.50 between May 10 and May 19 in the unincorporated areas of the county.

Those cases included equipment violations, speeding, disregarding a traffic signal and vehicle license violations, according to the after action report.

Horry County Police were planned with specific zones for officers, strike teams and liaisons, and there was active involvement of the senior law enforcement staff, he said.

“In my opinion, they’re solving problems before they’re major crises,” Whitten said.

He also said the county staffed additional ambulances.

“There’s a lot of traffic and response times are impacted,” Whitten said. “If we don’t do this, the impact on the normal emergency calls would be significant.”

Whitten said the county plans the “same concept of operations in 2014,” and the closing of Suck Bang Blow-Four Corners in Murrells Inlet will help the county adjust.

“That will be a change that will allow some distribution of assets,” Whitten said.

Horry County awarded special achievement in GIS

Horry County Council learned this week that its Information Technology/Geographic Information System, or GIS, department received the Special Achievements in GIS award at the ESRI International User Conference in San Diego, Calif. More than 100 organizations compete for these awards annually.

The awards acknowledge vision, leadership, hard work, and innovative use of ESRI’s GIS.

Horry County’s project goal was to provide first responders, along with incident management teams, critical actionable intelligence when responding to 911 incidents, according to a press release issued by ESRI.

North Myrtle Beach Airport?

Grand Strand Airport, located in the city of North Myrtle Beach between Highway 17 Business and the Intracoastal Waterway, has been getting a facelift.

Bob Wernersbach, director of general aviation for Horry County Airports, said county workers have been “taking a very hard look at cleaning issues” in the Grand Strand Airport. He said due to a lack of attention for years, the hangars and general area has had trouble with birds, lighting and even the floors of the hangars. He said further plans include replacing part of the ramp with concrete paving.

Horry County Advisory Committee member James Arnot said he has heard it is “very noticeably cleaner up there,” referring to the airport.

The airport serves private and corporate aircraft with parking, refueling, and maintenance.

Further discussion at an advisory meeting this week unveiled the possibility or re-naming the airport the North Myrtle Beach Airport, which is why signs for the Grand Strand Airport have not been updated. Directions signs to the airport, if re-named, would likely be provided by the city of North Myrtle Beach.

Contact JASON M. RODRIGUEZ at 626-0301 or follow him at Twitter.com/TSN_jrodriguez.

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