Top stories of 2013 for the Murrells Inlet and Garden City areas

  • Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The cast of 'Party Down South,' which airs on CMT at 10 p.m. on Jan. 16.

Photos

The hot summer of 2013 in Murrells Inlet and Garden City started with the bang of fireworks — not all of them being shot off from the pier — and the repercussions from the explosions are still being felt six months later.

The quiet little fishing village of Murrells Inlet and its oceanfront counterpart, Garden City Beach, were not so quiet in the second half of 2013, thanks in part to the six-week invasion of a crew and cast for a reality show, created by 495 Productions, the same company that brought “Jersey Shore” to the small screen.

While other television shows and feature movies have been shot in Georgetown County, the outcry from the 24/7 filming in a residential area during July led to Georgetown County’s first film ordinance, approved in October. A similar film ordinance is being considered in Horry County.

But while “Party Down South,” which will debut at 10 p.m. on Jan. 16, may have stirred up the most noise, it was by no means the only event that had an effect on the area, and some other items that made news this past year may be felt for decades to come.

Cast members of the reality show from Louisiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Mississippi and Alabama stayed at Kings Krest, worked at Crazy Sister Marina, dined at local restaurants, drank at area bars, not to mention the house, rode personal watercraft and generally partied hearty. “Murrells Inlet will never be the same,” promised a trailer for the show.

Not everyone was happy to see the cast and crew in the Inlet, and their presence stirred the creation of a Facebook page that lauded businesses that said no to hosting the cast. One neighbor filed a complaint with the Board of Zoning Appeals, challenging the 24/7 filming just one house away from his residence. While Warren Stedman’s appeal was denied, Georgetown County’s new film ordinance sets restrictions on filming, the notice that must be given before production starts and other requirements.

Still pending is a noise violation issued to the cast. The show’s staff has asked for a jury trial but a date for that hearing has not been set.

Noise of a different type also split the Inlet, when the Marshwalk restaurants sponsored Monday Night Lights, fireworks from the Marsh Walk pier from July through Labor Day. Residents expressed concerns about the noise and the possible effect on the marsh.

Originally billed as a way to bring people to the Marsh Walk on a slower summer night, the shows instead became of way of “thanking the patrons and residents,” said Charley Campbell, managing owner of the Dead Dog Saloon. While there are no plans to repeat the weekly shows this year, there may be other lights on the marsh through laser shows.

Murrells Inlet 2020 took a stand against the fireworks, citing the lack of information about the effect on the marsh, a prime breeding ground for oysters and other shellfish, which already are under attack from pollutants and runoff.

MI 2020 not only took a stand to protect the marsh, it presented in June an economic impact statement that showed its wallop on the area.

The study, paid for by a grant from the Frances P. Bunnelle Foundation and completed by Coastal Carolina University’s Center for Economic and Community Development, showed the financial reach of those living and working within the 29576 ZIP code.

Most notable among the findings were the contributions of the restaurants within the study area to the bottom lines of Georgetown and Horry counties, as well as the boost in real estate income brought about by the marsh and the ocean.

That income may well increase in the next three years as the long-delayed expansion of the Carolina Bays Parkway and widening of SC 707 from the new terminus just west of Enterprise Drive and 707 to US 17 Business was dedicated in November amid much fanfare.

SC 707 will be widened to five lanes and curbs and gutters installed while SC 31, which stops at SC 544 will extend to the newly widened road.

Construction closer to home and to completion also took center stage.

The new community center is expected to open early in 2014. The former building was shuttered in late summer and then demolished.

With external walls in place, work on the inside of the expanded building is continuing and an opening is expected by summer.

One construction project that came to fruition during 2013 is the Jetty View Walk. The boardwalk runs from Morse Park Landing to Nance’s, and was built at a cost of about $189,000.

It was dedicated in September.

Another dedication was held on Veterans Day, this one for the S.C. Heroes Memorial.

Darryl Hammond, vice commander of Murrells Inlet VFW Post 10420, conceived the idea of honoring fallen military members, who lost their lives in the war on terror.

Using his own funds to get the project off the ground, Hammond sought donations for the granite monument that will bear the names of those from South Carolina who died fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

At the dedication, there were 109 names inscribed.

As 2014 begins, one more item is left unfinished.

The Murrells Inlet Garden City Beach Fire District is optimistic that the General Assembly will lift its millage cap on the district to allow the organization to increase its funding. That will provide the needed money to construct and staff a fourth station on McDowell Shortcut Road.

A move to lift the cap failed in the last legislative session, despite what appeared to be overwhelming support from district residents in a series of meetings held throughout 2013.

Because the district spans two counties, state lawmakers retain control over the cap, which is at 10 mills. District officials are seeking an additional 10 mills, but have promised to limit their request to 2 mills.

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