Carolina Southern Railroad Heist?
By Paul Gable
An unofficial committee of three local counties passed two resolutions Wednesday calling for new ownership for the Carolina Southern Railroad while acknowledging the railroad is essential for Horry and Marion counties in South Carolina and Columbus County, NC.
Grandly calling itself the ‘Interstate Railroad Committee of North and South Carolina’, this group of public officials representing several communities and three counties across two states, with no legal basis, has finally come out of the closet with its true purpose.
That purpose is to wrest ownership of the railroad from Ken Pippin and his family.
Since when, in America, is it the purpose of one government or a group of governments to decide who should own a private business?
The railroad has been shut down over most of its mileage for approximately 21 months, since new federal requirements for bridges went into effect. Since then, the railroad has been searching for funding with which to make the repairs.
Horry County joined with the railroad in two unsuccessful applications for TIGER grants from the federal government. According to Wednesday’s meeting, there will be no more help with TIGER grant applications from any of the three counties represented.
The attitude of the Horry County contingent on this committee is most telling. This would be some of the same group that, in the same time frame as the Carolina Southern shutdown, approved new incentive money and a $1.25 million rent reduction (over 5 years) for AvCraft, an airplane maintenance and completion facility at Myrtle Beach International Airport.
This was the third time in eight years that AvCraft received incentive money, rent reduction or both from Horry County, all for a company that has added approximately 20 total jobs in those eight years and, about whom, no one is claiming it is essential for economic development in the county.
But, in Horry County, it’s not about what the business is or how essential its goods and/or services are deemed. Rather, it’s all about who you know and get along with.
Ain’t that a helluva way to run a railroad, or a county?