Horry County officials have been working behind the scenes to make sure there isn’t a repeat of this year’s deadly Memorial Day weekend.
Horry County Council Chairman Mark Lazarus announced in June to the Coastal Alliance that task forces addressing Bikefest during Memorial Day weekend would be headed by Paul Whitten, the county’s assistant administrator for public safety, and Randy Webster, Horry County emergency management services director.
Lazarus said last week after Gov. Nikki Haley met with Atlantic Beach officials to try and curtail the annual event that preliminary meetings have occurred.
“Paul Whitten and Randy Webster have been meeting with public safety officials and started to set some plans of action and doing some research and just kind of putting some scope together,” Lazarus said, adding he doesn’t anticipate new restrictive ordinances. “We feel like we’ve got plenty of them already. It’s just a matter of how do we go about enforcing them with the right amount of personnel. I’m sure there’s going to be some consideration of traffic plans and things of that nature.”
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Community leaders have been reacting to eight reported shootings in Myrtle Beach that left three people dead and injured seven others on Memorial Day weekend. Thousands of people were on the Grand Strand that weekend for Atlantic Beach Bikefest and Military Appreciation Days in Myrtle Beach.
In June, the S.C. General Assembly approved an amendment that allows up to one-third of accommodations tax returned to Horry County – or municipalities in Horry County – to be set aside to pay for public safety during events held in May. That means up to $2.3 million the area can be allocated for events like Bikefest.
Atlantic Beach officials said despite the governor’s opinion, there isn’t a plan to end Bikefest. “There’s nothing on the table for us to get rid of Bikefest,” Mayor Jake Evans said last week after meeting with Haley.
Lazarus said Whitten and Webster will come back to county officials with a timeline and a final plan. He said he understands the public wants immediate answers, but vowed the county will cover its bases to ensure the community is prepared for next Memorial Day weekend.
“We’re still waiting for them to put it together,” Lazarus said of the plan. “I know the public is anxious, but a lot of it is not going to be noticeable or even known until it’s actually enacted when Memorial weekend gets here.”