From our News Partners at WCBD-TV:
ATLANTIC BEACH, SC -
Governor Nikki Haley met with Atlantic Beach officials Tuesday. In May, she met with local leaders and said Bike Fest should end after this year's violence that coincided with the Memorial Day Bike Fest. During the May meeting, she privately met with several Horry County leaders including Myrtle Beach Mayor John Rhodes and Horry County Chairman Mark Lazarus.
Haley said Tuesday morning she wants to propose working together to find a way to change the event that is known as Bike Week. She suggests working with the Director of Tourism to make sure it's a destination spot for people all over the country.
She pledged her commitment to make an event that works and still brings in revenue. Her goal is to create an event that won't turn violent. She once again mentioned the media attention from an article in USA Today that cast a negative light on the town after three people were shot and killed during Memorial Day weekend. She said South Carolina doesn't deserve that.
"This is not about bikers this is about lawlessness this is about the fact that we are having crime, that we're having arrests that we're having to bring in 273 state officers just to manage a weekend that it's spending 1.3 million that what this is about. any other tourist destination on any other given weekend is not requiring that. Just the fact that it requires that means there is a problem and it means that we've got to fix it," said Governor Haley.
Council members didn't have any questions and Mayor Jake Evans basically said they're not canceling Bike Fest.
"It's unanimous among the council members that actually putting something on the table to actually cancel bikefest is not something we're interested in at this time," said Evans.
However, Evans said they want to make it safer and he welcomes discussions on some of her plans for the area.
Some in attendance on Tuesday held mixed reactions to the Governor's visit and her plans.
"I think she really went out of her way to be here today and to express concern over how to work with them and I think they did not show enough respect in my opinion," said Jean Hampton, a resident of Myrtle Beach.
"The bike festival is very good and it has been good ever since we started it and we haven't had any problems and we still had no problems on Memorial Day weekend that was in Myrtle Beach," said Rosa Stanley, a resident of Atlantic Beach.
In May the governor said, "I was very blunt with the elected officials in this area - which is there is nothing worse that a governor wants to see than Myrtle Beach on the front page of USA today in a negative light. In a time when we are trying to improve the tourism in South Carolina, trying to bring jobs to South Carolina." Haley said the events of Memorial Day Weekend were not something to be proud of and Bike Fest needs to end. CLICK HERE for more of her comments from May.
Marc Jordan, the president & CEO for the North Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce, tells News13 he's glad the Governor came because up until this point, Atlantic Beach officials have not been a part of the discussion. He adds that Bike Fest is too big to just stop and any changes will take place over time, not in a year. He said any final decision everyone needs to be unified about because it impacts the entire coast.
Five people were shot and three were killed in downtown Myrtle Beach during the weekend of the Memorial Day Bike Fest. Jamie Williams, 28, of Ladson, Devonte Dantzler, 21, of Summerville, and Sandy Gaddis Barnwell, 22, of Summerville were killed.
Image courtesy of WCBD-TV.