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At tonight's Horry County Council meeting, Horry County Council Chairman Johnny Gardner provided the following State of the County address.
At the start of each New Year it is my privilege to share the highlights of the year ahead with each of you.
But before we look forward, I want to acknowledge that this last year was a challenging one for our community. Our fight against COVID-19 continues and we know that we have work to do to support our local business community and our local economy. We here on this dais are united in that mission. I am optimistic about resolving the hospitality litigation with the City of Myrtle Beach and look forward to the continued partnership with all our local municipalities to achieve our goals this year and to do the best work for the citizens of Horry County.
You all know that public safety has been my priority since I became your Chairman. Together with the members of Council we have worked to increase service levels for our community and support our public safety personnel. That work will continue in 2021. We expect to find ways to improve our response times on emergency calls, increasing efficiencies wherever possible from the time a caller contacts 911 to the moment our first responders arrive on the scene. We will be looking at our recruitment efforts to continue to hire the best employees we can and at our retention efforts to keep our well trained and exceptional staff here working for you.
As we continue to face so many unprecedented challenges every day, we will continue to find ways to increase our capability to provide public safety services during times of crisis and to be able to maintain services to support our residents during disaster events. Construction on our new Emergency Operations and Communications Center is underway. All of our public safety departments including the Solicitor and Detention Center are working together with our IT/GIS department to secure a technology solution that will increase information sharing across departments and promote efficiency and accessibility.
This year we are working to upgrade and migrate our main website, with a focus on ease of use, transparency, and making more services available to you online. We are in the planning phase for the Central Coast complex, adding another precinct for Horry County Police Department and making other, critical services conveniently available. We will deploy new software for the Assessor’s office and select a new tax software for the Auditors’ and Treasurers’ offices. We remain committed to providing you with the best service possible.
The former Santee Cooper building will be finished for occupancy in 2021. The Rural Civic Center subcommittee is working diligently to identify an appropriate site for a facility that we believe will bring a real benefit to our residents and a wonderful amenity for visitors. We will also complete construction on the Longs Fire Station.
Horry County Department of Airports earned the G-B-A-C STAR Facility Accreditation Myrtle Beach International Airport. This accreditation is the cleaning industry’s only outbreak prevention, response and recovery accreditation for facilities and is the new gold standard for cleanliness. MYR was the eighth airport in the world, and only airport in the Carolinas and Georgia, to achieve the accreditation. Despite a challenging year for travel, they remain committed to the safety and wellbeing of our passengers.
The Planning department is completing a major simplification of the zoning ordinance, removing hundreds of pages of text and streamlining processes. Parks and Recreation will install new ballfield lights at Michael Morris Graham and Green Sea Floyds.
Our RIDE III program continues with many major projects underway. In 2021 we anticipate the completion of the Carolina Forest Boulevard expansion. We also expect to pave an additional 25 miles of County roadways. We will resurface 27 miles of county-maintained roads.
We are undertaking a number of drainage improvements including upgrading seven bridges. Our Stormwater department expects to complete a major drainage improvement at Grier Crossing and to begin cleaning the lower portion of Simpson Creek.
We also remain committed to addressing flooding and flood damage in our area. The flood committee will be meeting to discuss the County’s flood resiliency plan, to search for solutions, and to build relationships with state and federal partners to address this crisis. We are working to identify, secure, and award funding for flood mitigation programs, including buy outs.
All of these efforts will take hard work by Council and significant planning from the departments involved, but I know that together we can achieve great things.
I want you, our community, to stay involved. Connect with us on social media, tune in on Tuesday nights, and keep in touch about the issues that matter to you.
Thank you for allowing me this time. I look forward to our bright future ahead.
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