News and Announcements

Public news and announcements are brought to you by the Horry County Public Information Office.

Horry County News and Announcements


Horry County Government Weekly Update for April 20 - April 24, 2015

Click HERE for Horry County Government's meetings, agendas, releases and events for the week of April 20-24, 2015.

Quarterly Employee Awards Announced

Conway, South Carolina – Horry County announced the three winners of the Horry County Employee Quarterly Awards, and a winner from each of the three divisions was chosen.

Kenneth Urbaniak, Security Control Technician for the Department of Airports, won the Administration Division/Airport Quarterly Award for his leadership skills.  Mr. Urbaniak has over 20-years of civilian and military aviation experience.  He works in the Airport’s Communications Office which is staffed 24-hours a day, seven days a week.  Kenneth always conducts himself in a calm, poised and methodical manner no matter the situation.  He often takes the lead and manages stressful events.  He works closely with the Horry County Police, Horry County Air Rescue Fire, Myrtle Beach Dispatch and the Transportation Safety Administration to help keep staff and visitors at the Myrtle Beach International Airport safe.

Julius Graham, Volunteer Recruiter for Horry County Fire Rescue, won the Public Safety Division Quarterly Award for his work in expanding the volunteer component of Horry County Fire Rescue, which saves the county countless dollars by avoiding the cost of paid firefighters.  Due to Mr. Graham’s efforts, Horry County Fire Rescue has a total of 412 volunteers.  Julius has redesigned the volunteer recruitment program and instituting levels of volunteerism that provides a vehicle for the county to avoid waste in purchasing equipment by having volunteers serve in a internship phase to ensure their commitment and ability to be volunteer firefighters.   Mr. Graham’s outstanding dedication has made him an invaluable resource of Horry County Fire Rescue.

Jerry Brown, Heavy Equipment Operator III for Horry County Public Works, won the Infrastructure & Regulation Division Quarterly Award for his dedication, knowledge of his district and willingness to assist wherever and whenever needed.  Mr. Brown was hired in 1981 and has since become an integral part of Horry County Public Works. Over his years with Horry County Public Works, Jerry has operated backhoes, supervised inmate work crews and responded to several major disasters such as Hurricane Hugo and Hurricane Floyd.  Mr. Brown is retiring at the end of April after 34-years of service and will leave big shoes to fill.

These three winners of the Horry County Employee Quarterly Awards received $250, a designated parking space, a certificate of achievement, and are eligible for the Employee of the Year Award of $1,000.

Other outstanding nominees were:

  • Margaret “Peggy” Adduce-E911
  • Charles Deloach-J. Reuben Long Detention Center
  • Dennis Liu-Police
  • Robert Freeman-Parks & Recreation
  • Pat Griffin-Maintenance
  • Scott Sankow-Fleet Service
  • Susan Boyd-Library System
  • Lisa Gartner-Assessor
  • Cathy Gasque-Auditor
  • Crystal Smith-Finance

The Employee Quarterly Award Program focuses on an act or performance accomplished by an employee that is significant or of great value to the department or county organization as a whole and is beyond normal expectations of the employee. Considerations are also given to customer service, cost/time savings, recognized increased efficiency, and/or effectiveness, or revenue generated funds.

Armed Robbery Sentence Handed Down for John Johnson

Conway, South Carolina- Yesterday morning in Horry County General Sessions Court, criminal defendant John Johnson, 25, pled guilty to two (2) counts of Armed Robbery.  Johnson was scheduled for trial for April 20, 2015.

The Honorable John C. Hayes III accepted the guilty plea and sentenced the defendant to serve eighteen (18) years on each charge to be served concurrently at the South Carolina Department of Corrections.  Johnson must serve 85 percent before being eligible for parole.  Nancy Livesay, Violent Crimes Prosecutor for the Fifteenth Circuit Solicitor’s Office, represented the State of South Carolina on this matter.

On May 27th, 2013, officers responded to a report of an armed robbery at Sea Mist Motel on 309 12th Avenue South, Myrtle Beach.  Victims reported that three black males held them at gunpoint and stole their wallets and a cell phone.  A witness observed three men matching the description of the suspects running from motel and fleeing the scene in a red Dodge Charge.  The vehicle was stopped at the south end of Myrtle Beach and the victims’ property and two guns were located.

The co-defendants charged in this case have either pled guilty or are awaiting trial.

Felony DUI Sentence Handed Down for Gabriel Lee Gratto

Conway, South Carolina-Yesterday in Horry County General Sessions Court, defendant Gabriel Lee Gratto, 30, pled guilty to Felony Driving Under the Influence resulting in death, Felony Driving Under the Influence resulting in great bodily injury and Leaving the Scene of an Accident resulting in death.  Gratto was scheduled to stand trial on the aforementioned charges with jury selection to begin today.

Yesterday morning, the Honorable John C. Hayes, III accepted the guilty plea and sentenced the defendant to serve fifteen (15) years at the South Carolina Department of Corrections without possibility of parole. Senior Assistant Solicitor Bradley C. Richardson of the Fifteenth Circuit Solicitor’s Office represented the State on this matter.

This incident occurred on May 15, 2013, when Gratto met with a group of friends at a local golf course in the North Myrtle Beach section of Horry County; during the course of that afternoon of golfing, Gratto consumed several alcoholic beverages.  Upon leaving the golf course, Gratto and his companions travelled to a local bar where they then consumed more alcohol.  At around 6:30 p.m., Gratto paid his bar tab, got behind the wheel, and drove south on Highway 31 toward the south end of the Myrtle Beach where he resided.

While traveling on Highway 31, several witnesses observed the defendant’s erratic and reckless driving and attempted to call law enforcement, utilizing both Horry County 911 and Star HP (*47), to contact the South Carolina Highway Patrol.  Prior to the South Carolina Highway Patrol being able to intercept the impaired driver, Gratto exited Highway 31, traveled down Highway 544 and eventually to Secondary Highway 394 near the Prestwick Golf Course.

Unfortunately, at that time, victims Ms. Joan Errickson and her fiancĂ© Mr. Charles Roach were travelling along the same road in the opposite direction of Gratto when they observed his Jeep Wrangler veer over into their lane.  While Ms. Errickson attempted to escape the oncoming Jeep by pulling far onto her shoulder of the road, Gratto’s Jeep violently struck into her Buick LeSabre on the driver’s side door at a speed of approximately 51 MPH.  The collision was captured on a security video that was later provided to the State by Prestwick.

The video further showed Gratto exit his own vehicle, peer into Ms. Errickson’s Buick and look into her window to see she and Mr. Roach trapped in the vehicle, prior to running away from the scene on foot. Ms. Errickson was pronounced dead at the scene and Mr. Roach was rushed to the hospital for treatment of his injuries.  They were planning to marry that summer.

Gratto was located a short time later at his home and brought back to the scene where he was administered a field sobriety test, which he failed.

Thereafter, the defendant was charged with the aforementioned crimes.  The investigation revealed that the defendant’s Blood Alcohol Content was well above the legal limit for impairment.

Horry County to Hold Housing Fair

Conway, South Carolina – To honor April as Fair Housing Month, Horry County Planning & Zoning and the Horry County Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Office are holding a Housing Fair. The event will be held Saturday, April 25, 2015, from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Horry County Government & Justice Center located at 1301 Second Avenue in Conway.  Everyone is invited to this free event to learn about state and local programs that serve all income levels.  Exhibitors will include Habitat for Humanity, Mary’s Lighthouse, His Hands of Horry County, Coastal Carolina Association of Realtors, Wells Fargo, Myrtle Beach Housing Authority and more!  There will also be free workshops: 

  • 9 a.m.-SC Legal Services-“Landlord Tenant Disputes”
  • 9:30 a.m.-Coastal Carolina Association of Realtors-“First Time Homeownership”
  • 10 a.m.-Myrtle Beach Housing Authority-“Housing Programs 101”
  • 10:30 a.m.-Horry County CDBG-“Fair Housing Laws” 

For more information, contact John Danford with Horry County Planning & Zoning at 843-915-7909 or Diana Seydlorsky with Horry County CDBG at 843-915-7033.