Gov. Haley: Time for Bikefest to come to an end

Governor Nikki Haley on Friday in Conway

Governor Nikki Haley says she will do whatever she can to end Bikefest.

Haley met with Grand Strand leaders Friday to discuss the Memorial Day weekend violence that led to three deaths and at least 10 injuries.

Haley was in Horry County for her annual hurricane preparedness tour, but also met with city and county leaders to hear their concerns about the bike festival.

The governor told reporters after the meeting that the government's job is to keep citizens safe. That didn't happen in Myrtle Beach last weekend, she said, and the problem was not law enforcement.

"The problem was the lack of a curfew, the lack of a noise ordinance, the lack of any sort of discipline or organization, the lack of any sort of ability to control the environment," said Haley.

NewsChannel 15 asked Myrtle Beach Mayor John Rhodes if he took that as criticism of Myrtle Beach.

He said he took it as acknowledgement that police did the best they could in a tough environment and offenses like noise and curfew were hard to enforce.

Haley said she will work with leaders from the town of Atlantic Beach and others to come up with a game plan to end Bikefest.

"It's time for this activity to stop."

That was just what some city officials wanted to hear.

"She basically said we've got to move this from not trying to control this event but to ending this event and to me that is music to my ears," said Myrtle Beach City Councilman Randal Wallace.

City officials showed Haley a five minute video of the violence and behavior on Ocean Boulevard last weekend.

They said that gave her a better feel for the problem, but didn't necessarily lead to a pledge for more boots on the ground.

"The only thing the governor pledged was to do whatever it takes to eliminate the problems we have," said Rhodes.

Other officials said the town of Atlantic Beach needs to be part of the solution, not part of the problem. But others need to take action, regardless of what the town does.

"Our residents are afraid to come out of their homes, our visitors are wondering if they're safe here. An event that kills people just isn't right for anybody, no matter how money it might bring to any one community," said Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce president Brad Dean.

Rhodes said public safety directors and city managers will meet with Haley's staff in Columbia and lay out a plan.

He said this isn't a knee jerk reaction, but a process that will continue through this summer and fall, to plan what has to be done to stop Bikefest.

For more on how residents and local business employees reacted to this, click here.