Horry County Council discusses lasers, jobs

Horry County Council met Tuesday to hear a presentation from the Coast Guard on green lasers.

"The problem is very, very significant. We're at the point we're going to get someone killed or hurt," Horry County Public Safety Director Paul Whitten told council.

Just five days ago, a Coast Guard helicopter had to ground because a laser was shone into the cockpit.

Whitten says more than 70 laser strikes have been reported at Myrtle Beach airport since mid-May.

In addition, the coast guard says this is the worst problem area on the coast for both indirect and direct hits into helicopter cockpits during drills and rescue missions.

"It illuminates the cockpit, can affect night vision, certainly a distraction. If we do get a direct hit the guys in the air crews have to landed immediately. They're grounded so the only I can get them flying again is by seeing an optometrist," Cmdr. Greg Fuller with the coast guard says.

Fuller's been hit a couple of times too, he describes it as disorienting and frustrating.

Council also approved a second reading in a special meeting following the committee of the whole meeting Tuesday. The second reading was for the issuance and sale of up to $8 million in debt in relation to Project Blue.

The top secret project is supposed to bring in jobs with earning wages of $14/hour or more, according to the Myrtle Beach Regional and Economic Development Corporation.

The bonds are linked to an incentive package to lure the company to the Grand Strand. If the economic impact is less than expected, the county may have to raise property taxes to make up for the bond debt, but that wouldn't be for at least another five years.

Now, with one vote and a public hearing to go, Myrtle Beach Regional and Economic Development Corporation's CEO is optimistic it will pass.

"We've provided all the information and have tried to educate the elected officials and it seems to me most everybody is on board and we're moving forward," Brad Lofton said.

If the deal goes through, the company is expected to be operational by late winter or early spring.

Council will hold a final reading on the bonds related to Project Blue, and discuss lasers again on September 4th.