The Grand Strand summer is getting a little hotter with a recent changing of power in Atlantic Beach, long known for hosting an annual Memorial Day weekend Bikefest which has been blamed for unleashing waves of crime across the entire Grand Strand. The town's last Mayor, Retha Pierce, has been accused of unleashing a crime wave of her own, with numerous arrests, one conviction and other charges pending.
Among the moves made by the new guard was the firing of the town's police department by a man who was once fired from the job of being the town's police chief: new Town Manager Benny Webb. The day before, the town's attorney and two judges were sacked. These events followed a long council meeting which was held mostly behind closed doors and questioned by some town residents.
Apparently Atlantic Beach hasn't heard of that transparency and ethics thing.
But Webb's not just been a source of controversy along the Grand Strand. Over the last year, Webb has come under scrutiny in the Pee Dee region.
He made a failed bid for State House District 60, presently in Sumter and Florence Counties, where his residency was questioned and was linked as an associate of the former Lee County Sheriff E.J. Melvin, who was removed from office after being snagged in a major drug sting operation.
Now he is running Atlantic Beach?
North Myrtle Beach State Representative Tracy Edge, who represents the town, responded to these events by threatening to "block and stop any state dollars from coming into Atlantic Beach". He warned that he'd be keeping a close watch on the town's affairs, promising to "watch this crowd like never before and not hesitate to seek indictments and bring charges if they don’t operate by the laws of this state."
Given the history of turmoil and the questions surrounding Webb, who is the apparent choice of the town's Council to run Atlantic Beach, as well as some of the town's past leadership and the chaos associated with its well-known annual event, Edge's caution seems well-justified.