Carolina Forest church sweeps for old bombs after finding Army shells

Celebration Presbyterian Church in Carolina Forest and the grounds that have been swept for any old bombs.

A pair of unexploded military shells were found on the grounds of Celebration Presbyterian Church in Carolina Forest during installation of a new lawn sprinkler system last year.

Now, the church is paying a hefty price to make sure workers won't dig up any more unpleasant surprises on church grounds.

Rev. Tom Dendy says the World War II-era shells were handed over to the Horry County bomb squad, which safely disposed of them.

But Dendy says to prepare the land for future development, the church felt the need to clear the thick woods on church property and have contractors sweep all 12 acres, to see if any more ordnance is still there.

The work will not be cheap.

"It's roughly in the neighborhood of a half a million dollars," Dendy said.

Local historians say what is now Carolina Forest was an Army bombing and gunnery range from 1942 to 1947.

Finding old ordnance in the area today is not unusual, but Dendy doesn't know why the church property wasn't completely swept for bombs when the church was built in 2002.

"It so predates me that I don't have an answer for that. It's a mystery," said Dendy.

Dendy hopes the federal government will reimburse part of the cost of the sweep, since it was the Army that caused the ordnance to be there.

How much the church might get is as well hidden as the old bombs.

"That's left to the lawyers, I guess, and the government," he said.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers spokesman Bill Birdwell says Army Corps officials will consider several factors, including the total cost of the project and whether the work meets government standards, but he says the kind of claim for reimbursement that the church plans to make is quite common.

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