Thursday, August 28, 2014
The Greater Burgess Community Association heard messages Aug. 23, about activities close to home and a bit farther afield during its quarterly meeting at the South Strand Recreation Center.
Leaders of the Horry County Police Department’s South Precinct gave a rundown of criminal activity in the area for the first six months of the year, and Paul Gayes, director of Coastal Carolina University’s School of Coastal and Marine Systems Science, provided an update of what’s happening with the school’s beach and marine science programs, with a particular focus on wind energy.
“It’s not sufficient anymore for us to just say, ‘this is an environmental problem.’ We need to bring better science to the table.”
The college already is brining bigger science to the table. Its doctoral program in marine science – the first doctorate level program at Coastal – debuts this year, a far cry from Gayes’ own introduction.
“When I got here in ’87, there were eight students in marine science. This year there are 900.”
But growth is not the only aspect that has changed, explained Gayes, whose students are integral in reconfiguring how scientists look at the coastal sciences, especially along the Grand Strand.
“It’s not sufficient anymore to just look at the land-based systems, that come to the beach and peter out, or ocean-based systems, that come to the land and peter out,” Gayes explained.
“We don’t pay much attention to the atmosphere and the society. So that has become our mission because so much of our economy is centered on the coast.”
He said that the school is bringing some of the best science to the area and to the nation, answering some questions close to home – what are the waves really like for fishing – to how to map hurricanes and track water quality.
“We want to bring the best science to the table,” he said.
Part of that spread includes providing information on the coastal area’s energy potential, mapping the ocean to show the potential for oil and gas exploration as well as wind energy.
He noted that Little River has embraced wind energy with rooftop turbines on some of the hotels along the shore. But he is optimistic that the area can yield additional opportunities, based on the school’s research.
“Because of the shallow water, we can go further offshore than other areas along the East Coast,” he said, warning that it is expensive to get it started. “But,” he said, “we have opportunities at Georgetown up to North Carolina. Our job is to provide the data.
“What we know though is that the Long Bay area of North Carolina/South Carolina has as much if not more potential than anywhere else because of the water level, the wind, the need and the population growth,” Gayes said.
The police department provided a different type of data and the competition, so to speak, is internal.
Capt. Lance Winburn; Lt. Rick Bonney; Mark Cooper, senior detective; and Cpl. Justin Wyatt, of the Beach Patrol, shared their views and the data on crime in the Greater Burgess Community area.
Kelvin Waites, who oversees the South Precinct, praised the community’s efforts. “There’s no way we can do our jobs without your cooperation,” Waites said.
Winburn, a 29-year veteran, said that when he first started out in policing, he thought that the way to decrease the crime rate was to put people in jail.
“Well, we continue to put people in jail and the crime rate has continued to increase,” he said, noting that it was a nationwide trend.
“You can blame it on the economy, you can blame it on ethics, you can blame it on morals. We discovered several years back that the best way to stop crime was to tap into people like you, people willing to give their time and effort to make it harder in your respective neighborhoods to make victims out of you,” Winburn said.
Bonney, who has been with the Horry County Police Department for 22 years, said that the South Precinct is the smallest in terms of Horry County precincts, but it has the highest number of calls for service.
He said that there about 4,300 calls for service in the first six months of 2013 and that number increased to 4,500 this year, a 4 percent increase in the Burgess community. He said that there has been a great increase in vandalism, larcenies and simple assaults.
“While last year there wasn’t enough of a problem to generate a report, now there is,” he said. “We’re getting better documentation, which helps the detectives,” he said.
Cooper explained that there have been 122 larceny reports this year, but not all of them merit investigation. Of the property crimes, the police department has recovered $32,750 worth of stuff in the Burgess area and arrested 42 people responsible for 17 crimes.
“Please lock your cars,” he cautioned the audience. “People break into cars as a crime of opportunity. They see an open door and use it.”
He noted that spare change and phone charges seem to be the items most often taken.
“Anything you can do to make our jobs easier, we appreciate it,” Cooper said.