Tuesday, December 31, 2013
The staff of the Georgetown Times reviewed the stories that made news last year (other than the Front Street fire), and came up with a list of nine to round out a top 10.
Here they are, in no particular order:
Reality TV show brings controversy
As the summer wound down, controversy heated up as a California production company began filming a reality TV show in Murrells Inlet.
495 Productions arrived in August to spend about one month filming “The Dirty South” at Kings Krest.
Within days, complaints about excess noise and lights at the house, and obscene behavior and the use of profanity by cast members at area restaurants began to swirl.
A Facebook page, “We ‘Just Said NO’ to the Dirty South,” was created and within 24 hours had garnered nearly 1,500 comments.
Warren Stedman, who lives next to Kings Krest, took his complaints to the Georgetown County Board of Zoning Appeals in early September, hoping the board would overturn the permits the county issued to allow filming.
Stedman had to pay $500 for the appeal, which was denied. By that time filming had ceased.
The controversy did however spur Georgetown County Council to pass a Film Ordinance to regulate filming within the county.
The production company also filmed parts of the show in Andrews. No public opposition was reported there.
The TV show, which was eventually renamed “Down South,” will debut on CMT on Jan. 16 at 10 p.m., the same time the latest season of “Myrtle Manor,” a reality TV show is set in Myrtle Beach, kicks off.
Opposition to Pawleys median explodes
A year after the South Carolina Department of Transportation unveiled a plan to fill in the median on U.S. Highway 17 in Pawleys Island, opponents started rallying the community against the project.
The Citizens Coalition for Ocean Highway was formed in February, and a very public “Don’t Strip the Neck” campaign began. Supporters were hoping for the same kind of success the “Don’t Box the Neck” group had in keeping big-box stores out of Pawleys Island.
Steve Goggans, co-founder of the coalition, began speaking to local property owners associations and at Grand Strand Transportation Study and County Council meetings. The group also hosted a public information meeting and a fundraiser.
The coalition hired its own traffic engineer to study the SCDOT plan and come up with an alternative. Goggans said the coalition would like the SCDOT plan delayed until its plan can be reviewed.
Don’t Strip the Neck members and supporters are adamant that their plan is better.
County Council members Bob Anderson and Jerry Oakley are just as adamant that the SCDOT plan go forward.
Drivers could see work begin in the fall of this year.
Three-year-old drowns in pool
Tragedy struck an Andrews family June 18 when 3-year-old Sophia Freeman drowned in a family swimming pool.
Police said she climbed out of a window and walked over to the pool.
Foul play was not believed to have played a role.
It was the first drowning reported in Georgetown County since October 2011.
Man who threw dogs in canal sentenced
Bobby Joe McConnell, 47, of Georgetown, was sentenced to ten years in prison in March.
McConnell entered guilty pleas to two counts of ill treatment of animals for the July 2012 incidents in which he tried to kill a black Lab by taping her mouth and legs and tossing her into the International Paper canal. Fortunately, people fishing in the canal heard her in the water and called for help.
That dog, named Dara by the St. Frances Animal Center, survived. Judge Larry Hyman awarded to dog to the center, where she has been staying since the rescue.
On July 5, 2012 two other dogs were found dead in the canal. They had been taped in the same manner.
Hyman called McConnell’s actions “the product of an evil heart.”
The dogs belonged to McConnell’s mother-in-law and his daughter. His attorney said he had been taking Xanax, Percocet and had been drinking alcohol when the crimes occurred.
He said McConnell killed the dogs because they would get out of their pen and attack a neighbor who was cutting grass in the McConnells’ yard.
Georgetown gets new administrator
Chris Carter was hired at Georgetown’s city administrator Jan. 17, He began his new job Feb. 7.
Carter left Williston, where he had been the administrator since Dec. 2010.
Before taking the job in Williston, Carter was the North Wilkesboro, N.C., town manager for six years.
Carter’s additional professional experience includes serving as interim finance director, planner and supervisor in Sylva, N.C. He also worked as adjunct professor of political science at the Spartanburg Community College.
He graduated from UNC Greensboro and later received a master’s degree in public administration from Appalachian State.
Man killed outside Pawleys club
Two men were arrested in connection with the Feb. 9 death of 37-year-old Thomas “Jay” Unrue Jr. who died outside Lumpy’s Bar and Grill in Pawleys Island.
The two men accused in the beating death — Ronnie Gene Ackley Jr., 41, of Pawleys Island and Chris Brian Campbell, 37, of Lexington — are both charged with murder in the incident that took place at the bar at 9259 Ocean Highway at about 3:15 a.m.
Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Carrie Cuthbertson said when deputies arrived, Unrue was found in the parking lot unresponsive.
One of the deputies checked for a pulse but a one could not be detected.
A trial date for the men has not been set.
Owner of Krazy Fish restaurant arrested
Kenneth Terry, 46, one of the owners of the former Krazy Fish restaurant on Front Street, was arrested in April charged with soliciting prostitution.
Police said they were tipped off by an anonymous source that minors were being served alcohol and were solicited for sex inside the restaurant. It was also revealed Terry may have been recording sex acts of males and placing them on the Internet.
Police Capt. Nelson Brown said search warrants were executed at four locations including the Krazy Fish restaurant, a boat behind the restaurant on which Terry was living and a studio on Front Street Terry was using. He said computers were seized as part of the investigation.
The restaurant closed several weeks later.
West Virginia pilot dies in plane crash
A July 29 plane crash killed 79-year-old John Prince Harris from Charleston, W.Va.
He was alone in the 1963 British Folland Gnat T.1 he was piloting.
The crash occurred about eight-tenths of a mile south of the Georgetown County Airport in a wooded area behind homes in the 5000 block of South Fraser Street.
Georgetown County Coroner Kenny Johnson said although the plane caught fire upon impact, it is believed Harris died from the crash.
The National Transportation Safety Board said the crash was an accident.
“According to witnesses the pilot radioed personnel at the airport on approach and they went outside to see him land,” the report states. “The pilot crossed over the midfield and entered a right downwind for runway 23. The airplane made a high speed flyby over the runway between 100-200 feet.”
At the end of the runway the airplane pitched up approximately 30 degrees and began an aileron roll to the left. The first 180 degrees of the aileron roll was uneventful according to the witnesses, but when the airplane reached about the 190 degree point it abruptly pitched down and to the right.
“The airplane collided with the ground and an explosion was heard followed by a plume of smoke. No distress calls were heard on the radio from the pilot prior to the accident,” the report continued.
Tim Scott makes history in Senate
Tim Scott was sworn in as a U.S. Senator Jan. 9, marking a dramatic political rise for South Carolina’s most prominent black Republican.
Scott was appointed by Gov. Nikki Haley to fill the term of former Sen. Jim DeMint. Scott will be up for re-election in November.
A North Charleston businessman, Scott was elected to Congress in 2010, two years after having become the first black Republican to serve in the S.C. House.
Before then, he had served 13 years on Charleston County Council.
Scott became the first black Republican senator in the South’s modern era at a time when the GOP is struggling nationally to win support among minorities.