Grand Strand Newsmakers

Caitlin Elliott
Caitlin Elliott

South Strand


Elliott awarded for committment to youth in the community

Caitlin Elliott, a Law Enforcement Victim Advocate for the Georgetown County Sheriff’s Office, was presented an award June 15 by the South Strand Optimist Club for her commitment to the lives of youth in the community.

Elliott was nominated for the club’s “Recognition of Law Enforcement Officers” citation by Georgetown County Sheriff Lane Cribb. “Law Enforcement Victim Advocates are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week and many times are faced with crisis calls involving children who are victims of exposure to domestic violence, neglect, child abuse and even sexual abuse,” Sheriff Cribb said in nominating her.

“Responding to these types of crisis calls are never easy and are very difficult to face especially when there is a child involved. As an advocate, Elliott is always there to afford emotional support for the child and the family that is affected and reaches out to community resources that will also provide an important service in building up and empowering the child throughout their recovery. Trauma is never an easy experience to overcome. However, having someone like Elliott there to receive you with a warm smile and comforting gesture really makes a difference to a child.”

As a Victim Advocate for the past two years, Elliott helps create a calm and safe environment for children at crime scenes utilizing resources donated by groups like the Optimists. “The sheriff’s office is grateful to community programs, churches and clubs much like the Optimist Club for the continuous donations of items such as cozy blankets, stuffed animals, children’s books and toys,” Sheriff Cribb said. “Because of those donations, Elliott is able to create smiles on children’s faces when they are in scary situations.”

Elliott recently went out to schools within the district and shared many of those donations with students just before summer break. Elliott also reads books to children in their classrooms as a way to promote literacy and shares body awareness tips to keep them safe, Cribb said.

Elliott is a full-time mom of three boys who keep her quite busy while working a full-time, on-call job. “Although the most difficult part of her role as an advocate may be being pulled away from her own family to respond to a call, Elliott offers selfless service. She demonstrates great leadership and integrity and as one of those peers whom Caitlin has inspired and motivated to service,” Cribb said.

Other honorees were Sergeant Robert Butler of the Horry County Sheriff’s Department/J. Reuben Long Detention Center, Investigator Johnny Fairfield of the Pawleys Island Police Department, Patrolman First Class Wilson “Willie” James of the Surfside Police Department, Officer Teresa Walker of the City of Georgetown Police Department and Sergeant Justin Wyatt or the Horry County Police Department South Precinct.

Central Strand


CCU president addresses education gathering in China

Coastal Carolina University President David A. DeCenzo today addressed a gathering of about 200 presidents and senior administrators of Chinese and American universities at a graduation ceremony in Dalian, China. His remarks concerned sustainability and best practices in people-to-people exchange programs.

During the ceremony, DeCenzo and the Chinese university presidents awarded double degrees to three students who completed the demanding Sino-American Cooperation on Higher Education and Professional Development (CHEPD) 1+2+1 double-degree articulation program.

Graduates of this program completed all the requirements to earn undergraduate degrees from both their Chinese universities and from CCU. A total of 179 students from 119 Chinese universities and 33 U.S. public universities were eligible to participate in the CHEPD program graduation ceremony this year.

CCU students receiving degrees were:

• Zi Ye, a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a major in accounting from CCU and Huaqiao University

• Yang Du, a bachelor’s degree in English from CCU and Huzhou University

• Yushang Xu, a bachelor’s degree in graphic design from CCU and Beijing Institute of Graphic Communication

All three students who were awarded degrees graduated cum laude from CCU and were recognized with “Excellent Graduate” titles from the CHEPD program.

This groundbreaking program allows talented students at major universities in China to spend one year studying at their Chinese institution, then transfer CCU for two to two and a half years to complete requirements for their Coastal Carolina degree, and then return for a year of coursework at their Chinese institution.

“This partnership brings exposure to the culture and experience of the Peoples' Republic of China to CCU's campus, provides opportunities for CCU faculty and students to engage directly through exchange in China, enables learning through exchange among the US and Chinese partners, and engages contact and strategic conversations that would otherwise have required far lengthier time and resource commitment to develop on our own,” said Darla Domke Damonte, associate provost for global initiatives. “Ultimately, it has brought talented students to work together on our campus who have excelled in their academic programs and extracurricular activities and contributed to a broadened worldview to the CCU community.”

CCU has been a member of the CHEPD 1+2+1 program since 2007. Since the first student arrived on campus in 2009, 15 students have completed the program and an additional 45 more are currently enrolled. CCU is the only college in South Carolina actively participating in CHEPD.

For more information, contact Domke-Damonte, associate provost for global initiatives, at 843-349-2129 or


Local hero and fiancée awarded the Ultimate Grand Strand Wedding and The Sun News partnered with local wedding professionals to give back to the Grand Strand community and award one local couple the Ultimate Grand Strand Wedding. Starting in May, the community was invited to submit videos of couples that were deserving of a free wedding.

On June 20th, D.J. Nance and Christy Gosnell were chosen as the winning couple. They were nominated by Kate Henry and Hayley Morris. In March of this year, D.J. saved Kate and Hayley from a submerged car in the water at the Wacca Wache Marina in Murrells Inlet. Since that day, the girls have built a special bond with DJ and Christy and thought they were the most deserving couple for this prize and our vendors agreed.

The couple won a complete wedding package valued at over $15,000. The wedding will take place after the Grand Strand Bridal Boutique on Sunday, July 23rd at the DoubleTree by Hilton Resort in Myrtle Beach.

The following local vendors have donated goods and services to make this wedding possible: Photography – Crystal Lee Photography; Custom Printed Invitations and Paper Goods - charlotte + lily; Outdoor Tent and Décor – EventWorks; Ceremony/Reception Venue and Catering Package - DoubleTree Resort by Hilton Myrtle Beach; Ceremony and Reception Music - Hubbell Entertainment; Wedding Dress - The Little White Dress; Wedding Coordination Services - Events by Santana; Marketing and Promotion of the contest – The Sun News and; Wedding Cake - Pawleys Island Bakery; Bouquet and Boutonniere - David Bryant Design Group; Bridal Hair and Makeup - Bobby Pins and Blushing Brides; Groom’s Tuxedo - Amanda’s Collection and Pink Pineapple Bakery – Wedding Favors.

North Strand


CCU and Masonic Lodge team up to paint mural

Grand Strand Masonic Lodge and the art department of CCU are undertaking a joint project in North Myrtle Beach to paint a rather large mural on the lodge building.

The images of George Washington and Benjamin Franklin are featured because they as Masons were historically instrumental in the war of independence with England. The center image is the Eye of Providence or the Eye of God and is a common icon for God looking over the affairs of man; this symbol has been used by many different groups, including Masons, throughout history. The images of the sun and the moon in the mural allude to the fact that God is watching mankind in the day as well as the night. The black and white mosaic tile is emblematic of human life, checkered with good and evil. The two columns support the globes of the earth and the universe.


47 graduate from North Myrtle Beach junior lifeguard summer program

On June 22, 47 people graduated from the North Myrtle Beach Junior Lifeguard summer program.

Now in its seventh year, the program is geared toward people ages 10-15 who enjoy the beach and ocean, and who want to develop ocean lifeguard skills. For successful participants, the program can also offer a path to eventual seasonal employment as one of the city's Ocean Lifeguards (age 16-plus).

The program is sponsored by the North Myrtle Beach Public Safety Department and is conducted by its Beach Patrol Officers. Several trained and experienced North Myrtle Beach Ocean Lifeguards assist in teaching the program.

This year's summer program participants engaged in fun physical exercises that encouraged them to work in teams, build confidence, and learn lifesaving skills. They also received CPR, First Aid, and other training.

Starting in January 2018, a Junior Lifeguard winter program will held at the North Myrtle Beach Aquatic & Fitness Center (AFC) . Registration will become available at the AFC later this fall.


Calabash Legion Post hosted blood drive

The Sons of the American Legion Squadron No. 503 located in Calabash sponsored a blood drive at the Legion post.

More than 58 people came to donate their blood. Sons commander Bob Molloy wants to thank all who came and those who helped make it a success.

The Sons will have another blood drive in November.

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