WBTW: Federal Funds could push up dates on Beach Renourishment projects

Hewitt_-_WBTW.png“Grand Strand beaches may get help with beach renourishment sooner than expected. Congress approved a federal budget package on Friday and money has been set aside to put more sand on the shore.

…’I’m excited that congress realized the importance of that,’ said Lee Hewitt, the broker in charge at Garden City Realty Group.

Hewitt says the group manages more than 450 area rental properties and, ‘without good beaches, without quality beaches our tourists would go elsewhere.’

Rain, wind, and floods have stripped away lots of sand, and Hewitt worries that less space on the shore could hurt tourism.

‘It goes back to jobs, and us being able to say we’ve got a good healthy beach. Without that they’re not going to want to come which then effects jobs,’ said Hewitt.

Congressman Rice added, ‘the Grand Strand is the number one tourism driver in the state of South Carolina. I think 40 -50% of tourism dollars come from the Grand Strand.’

All the more reason Hewitt says erosion needs to be dealt with sooner rather than later, ‘its vital that the renourishment be done as quickly as possible.’”

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Hewitt applauds Murrells Inlet watershed plan for winning national award

MURRELLS INLET – Republican state House candidate Lee Hewitt Tuesday applauded the team that developed the Murrells Inlet watershed plan for winning an Innovation Award from the National Association of Development Organizations.

“The Murrells Inlet watershed plan is a great example of a cooperative community effort to improve water quality to benefit shellfish harvesting and our other fisheries,” Lee Hewitt said. “I was privileged to be able to serve on the steering committee in the development of the plan with many others and saw the dedication and hard work that went into this important plan.”

Initiated in 2012 by Murrells Inlet 2020 and completed last year, the plan was funded by a S.C. Dept. of Health and Environmental Control grant administered by the Waccamaw Regional Council of Governments. Other participants in the plan were Georgetown and Horry counties, Coastal Carolina University, and numerous community volunteers.

The plan identifies sources of fecal coliform bacteria in the water and guides implementation of best management practices that can significantly reduce sources of pollution.

“The estuary is what attracts visitors to Murrells Inlet and supports our commercial and recreational fisheries. We need to do the best job we can in protecting this valuable natural resource,” Hewitt said. “The watershed plan is one of the most important tools we can have for that protection.”

NADO announced the award in August and the projects were recognized at an October conference in New Orleans.

The watershed plan was also considered for the S.C. Association of Counties’ Barrett Lawrimore Memorial Regional Cooperation Award.

Hewitt is a Murrells Inlet realtor, SC-DHEC board member and former Georgetown County Planning Commission and Zoning Board of Appeals chairman.

He announced his candidacy for state House District 108 last month. His campaign website is www.hewittforhouse.com.

COASTAL OBSERVER: Neighborhood will haul in sand as erosion threatens homes

“There’s help on the way for owners of beachfront houses in Inlet Harbor on the south end of Garden City.

The Army Corps of Engineers issued a permit this week allowing the owners of property damaged by erosion this fall to bring in truckloads of sand between their threatened houses and the pounding surf...

…While scraping sand from the beach provides some short-term relief from erosion, it’s not really a solution, according to Lee Hewitt, owner of Garden City Realty and a member of the board of the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control.

‘Sand scraping is not ideal,’ said Hewitt, who is running for the state House of Representatives from District 108. ‘What you want is a sloped beach to allow the wave energy to dissipate over a wide area. When you scrape, the wave hits the dune harder because there’s nothing there to take away the energy of that wave. The solution makes the problem worse.’

October is the scheduled date for dredging the Murrells Inlet channel. Tons of beach sand are filling in the channel. Hewitt said clearance into the harbor is about 4 feet at low tide, and the fishing boats draw about 4 feet. The inlet dredging would solve both problems, he said, because the spoils would be pure sand.”

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COASTAL OBSERVER: GOP candidate comes out against drilling

By Jason Lesley
Coastal Observer

Lee Hewitt, a candidate for the Republican nomination for state House District 108, says he opposes offshore drilling in the Atlantic Ocean for oil and natural gas.

“I’m in the vacation rental business,” Hewitt, owner of Garden City Realty, told members of the Waccamaw Neck Republican Club this week. “I make my living renting oceanfront houses and condos, having a pristine environment. I’m going to do everything I can to be supportive of that. That might not be the popular thing to say, but it’s our biggest asset. It’s why we are all here: the beach, the marshes. We need to protect that and make sure it carries over to the next generation.”

Hewitt’s stance on offshore drilling differs from state Rep. Stephen Goldfinch, who plans on leaving the seat to run for the state Senate next year. Hewitt said it will be his job to represent his constituents, and he feels a majority oppose offshore drilling. Hewitt said drilling will ultimately be a federal decision, but he will do all he can to prevent it within 3 miles of shore. A bill sponsored by Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, the Offshore Production and Energizing National Security Act, includes a section called the “Southern Atlantic Energy Security Act” which mandates oil and gas drilling off the shores of the Carolinas, Virginia and Georgia and eliminates the 50-mile buffer proposed by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. Murkowski’s bill potentially opens the drilling area to all federal waters within 3 miles offshore at the states’ water boundaries.

U.S. Rep Tom Rice has said he would oppose drilling within the 50-mile buffer, but he supports seismic testing for drilling.

“It will be great if Mr. Hewitt opposes testing and drilling, and will actively work against it. We need his help, and look forward to talking with him,” said JeanMarie Neal, spokeswoman for the group Stop Oil Drilling in the Atlantic. “Offshore drilling is going to be an issue in all coastal South Carolina elections. Mr. Goldfinch’s recent comments at an energy forum were very pro-drilling. Yet, every coastal South Carolina municipality is on record opposing drilling.

“We hope Congressman Rice will clarify his positions as we have heard conflicting information. This is both a state and federal issue. Voters need to know the exact position of their candidates on what is a major issue facing coastal South Carolina. Rep. Mark Sanford is very active in his opposition. That is what we need. Once the final decision is made on drilling, it is forever.”

Hewitt said his top priority as a member of the House will be tax reform. “Owning a small business and understanding the regulation and taxation involved, I think we truly need comprehensive tax reform up in Columbia,” he said. He said the state just discovered $1.2 billion in unexpected revenue: $750 million of it recurring. “I wonder where that money came from and how they underestimated,” he said. “Most importantly, how is that money going to be spent?”

Hewitt said next in priority would be jobs. “It’s great to say we want jobs,” he said. “It’s hard to get jobs with everybody going after them.” Hewitt said Mercom, a Pawleys Island computer networking contractor, is an example of the kind of industry he wants to bring to the county. “They are bringing the jobs of the future here,” he said. We are not a smokestack community in Pawleys Island. We need to reach out to businesses like that and find out what we need to do to keep them happy, help them expand, and then reach out to their friends.” Hewitt said he has a son graduating from college this year, and he wants him to have job opportunities close to home.

He said he would be an advocate for roads. “With Horry County extending Highway 31 and a four-lane 707, all that hits the same congested Highway 17,” he said. “That’s where we need to be supportive of our friends from Horry County. We need to encourage them and help them get I-73 and build the Southern Evacuation Life Line.” Hewitt said those roads and a connector crossing Highway 701 and looping around Georgetown would take pressure off Highway 17. “A third of the traffic on Highway 17 is going north-south,” he said. “It’s not planning on stopping, just coming through here. If we could eliminate a third of the traffic on Highway 17 that would go a long way toward helping solve some of the problem.”

Hewitt said environmentalists have stopped highways by appealing to the courts. “The law needs to change,” he said. “They need to be prepared to participate on the front end of a project.”

Finally, he said the state has to get more dollars into the classrooms to improve education. Some of the state’s 86 school districts need to be consolidated. When asked specifically, Hewitt said he favors allowing state funds to go to private schools and letting parents choose where children are educated.

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SOUTH STRAND NEWS: Lee Hewitt of Murrells Inlet officially running for House District 108

By Anita Crone

Lee_Hewitt_Photo_copy_I.jpgBacked by a plethora of movers and shakers from Georgetown County, on Nov. 9, Lee Hewitt announced his plans to run for the S.C. House of Representatives seat from District 108.

“I’m humbled by the support I’ve received,” Hewitt said.

While he announced his first run for public office in a news release, he said that, since the release was posted online, he has been receiving emails of support, requests to volunteer and campaign funds.

His first business, he said, was to head south to McClellanville and the Mount Pleasant area, where he’s not as familiar a face as he is in Murrells Inlet, the Waccamaw Neck and Georgetown.

Hewitt, 55, an owner of Garden City Realty, said he intends to bring a small-business focus to Columbia. “I think about these issues every day – roads, schools, jobs, the environment,” he said. “I make my living from people who come here for the pristine beaches. My son is in school here. I have another son graduating from college, and I want him to be able to come back home and make a living.”

While the run for the House seat is Hewitt’s first, he is no stranger to public service. He was appointed by Gov. Nikki Haley to serve as the 7th Congressional District’s representative on the Department of Health and Environmental Control and has served as chairman of the Georgetown County Planning Commission, on the Board of Zoning Appeals and the Georgetown County Comprehensive Land Use Plan Committee. He was a member of the Grand Strand Area Transportation Committee and the Southern Evacuation Lifeline Road Task Force.

That familiarity has brought him support from current and past members of Georgetown County Council, including Councilmen Austin Beard, Steve Goggans and John Thomas, as well as former councilmen Glen O’Connell, Jerry Oakley, David Hood and Bob Anderson. Other supporters include restaurateurs Al Hitchcock of Drunken Jack’s, Charlie Campbell of the Dead Dog Saloon and Kelly and Dexter Dorman, owners of Lee’s Inlet Kitchen.

Others on Hewitt’s lists of supporters include former state representative and current Planning Commissioner Joe Young; Planning Commissioner Johnny Weaver; former Planning Commissioner Glenda Shoulette; former County Water and Sewer District Chairman Bob Plowden; retired judges Bill Moeller and Tom Barrineau; former U.S. Rep. John Napier; former County GOP Chairman Jim Jerow; former state GOP Executive Committee Member Joyce Jerow; former County GOP Executive Committee members Bill Hills and Ted Quantz; and community leaders Audrey Adduce, Don Thomas, Chip Abernethy, David Whitlock, Whitney Hills, Booty Shelley, Ronnie and Empie Gasque, Frank Causey, Gray Turner, Greg and Gail Lunn, Bill Chandler, David DuRant, Tim Onions, Carl Moody, and Buzz Freeman.

Hewitt and his wife, Whitney, live in Murrells Inlet.

No other candidate has announced plans to run for the seat. State Rep. Stephen Goldfinch, who holds the seat, has announced his intention to seek a state Senate seat.

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Lee Hewitt announces run for state House 108 seat, big endorsements

MURRELLS INLET – Lee Hewitt, a Murrells Inlet realtor, SC Dept. of Health and Environmental Control board member and former Georgetown County Planning Commission and Zoning Board of Appeals chairman, Monday announced his candidacy as a Republican for SC House District 108 and rolled out big endorsements.

“I care about our community and state and want to serve the district in Columbia, where I can use my experience as a business owner and in local and state government to be an effective legislator, one that will fight for low taxes, better roads, the best education for our children, more jobs, and to protect our natural resources,” Lee Hewitt said. “I share the conservative values of the district and ask Georgetown and Charleston County voters for their support and will work hard to earn their votes.”

Dan Stacy, a Pawleys Island attorney who is a former chairman of the Georgetown County Alliance for Economic Development and county Economic Development Commissioner, is serving as Hewitt’s campaign chairman.  

“I have known Lee personally and professionally for over 15 years. He is the right person to represent District 108 for the future. His time as a member and chairman of the county planning commission reflected the thoughtful and pragmatic problem-solving capacity he possesses that our district and state need to move forward,” Stacy said. “Lee’s conservative fiscal philosophies have allowed him to build a successful business, and those entrepreneurial skill sets and business-efficiencies will be essential both for the district and our state.”

Hewitt announced endorsements from Georgetown County public officials and GOP and community leaders such as:

County Auditor Brian Shult; County Councilmen Austin Beard, Steve Goggans, and John Thomas; former County Councilmen Glen O’Connell (a former county GOP Chairman), Jerry Oakley, David Hood, and Bob Anderson; former state Representative, SCDOT and Planning Commissioner Joe Young; Planning Commissioner Johnny Weaver; former Planning Commissioner Glenda Shoulette; former County Water and Sewer District Chairman Bob Plowden; Judge Bill Moeller (Retired); Judge Tom Barrineau (Retired); former Congressman John Napier; former County GOP Chairman Jim Jerow; former state GOP Executive Committee Member Joyce Jerow; former County GOP Executive Committee members Bill Hills and Ted Quantz; community leaders Audrey Adduce, Al Hitchcock, Charlie Campbell, Don Thomas, Chip Abernethy, David Whitlock, Kelly and Dexter Dorman, Whitney Hills, Booty Shelley, Ronnie and Empie Gasque, Frank Causey, Gray Turner, Greg and Gail Lunn, Bill Chandler, David DuRant, Tim Onions, Carl Moody, and Buzz Freeman.

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“I’m honored and humbled by the outpouring of support I’ve received for my campaign, particularly this early. I’m going to continue working hard reaching out to Georgetown and Charleston County voters and raising the money necessary to fund a successful campaign,” Hewitt said.

Incumbent district Rep. Stephen Goldfinch, R-Murrells Inlet, has announced that he will seek the District 34 state Senate seat of retiring Sen. Ray Cleary.

The filing period for the election is next March, with primary elections on June 14th.

Hewitt, 55, has lived in Murrells Inlet for nearly 40 years. He is owner of Garden City Realty and has served as President of the Coastal Carolina Association of Realtors and on the board of the state Association of Realtors. He is a Certified Residential Specialist, a Certified Professional Mediator, and a graduate of the Realtors Institute.

Last year, Hewitt was appointed by Gov. Nikki Haley and confirmed by the state Senate as the 7th Congressional District Representative to the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control Board of Directors.

Hewitt has served as chairman of the Georgetown County Planning Commission and Board of Zoning Appeals and on the Georgetown County Comprehensive Land Use Plan Committee, Grand Strand Area Transportation Committee, and the Southern Evacuation Lifeline Road Task Force.

Hewitt is a charter member of the Murrells Inlet Rotary Club, an AAU youth basketball coach, and a founder and current Co-Chairman of the Murrells Inlet 4th of July Boat Parade.

He is a 1982 graduate of Coastal Carolina University with a bachelor’s degree in business administration.

Hewitt is an active member of Belin Memorial United Methodist Church. He and his wife, Whitney, have two sons, William, a senior at the University of South Carolina, and Coleman, a sophomore at Waccamaw High School.

Hewitt’s campaign website is www.hewittforhouse.com

House District 108 includes all of coastal Georgetown County, except for the city of Georgetown, and the northern coastal portion of Charleston County to Mt. Pleasant.