Councilman Jake Evans is set to take office as mayor of the tiny, troubled town of Atlantic Beach, but that may not be until after Thanksgiving because a handful of lawsuits have to be resolved.
One lawsuit is by a company that says it loaned the town money to avoid bankruptcy. Another is by a former councilwoman’s husband who is employed by the town. There’s even a lawsuit by one of the losers in the mayor’s race, who is appealing the special election. Retha Pierce, a controversial figure in the town’s government, has appealed the outcome to the SC Supreme Court.
Evans calls the suits frivolous and opposes more than $13,000 of taxpayer money spent on them. He says instead it is time for healing in Atlantic Beach.
“There are a lot of serious decisions that need to be made where Atlantic Beach is concerned. You just have to get the people involved and make them feel apart to make such decision. And I know right now that they haven’t been apart for the past year,” says Evans.
Evans says the situation he is inheriting as new mayor is quote “not comfortable” after the lawsuits, cases of arrests of public officials, and a state-supervised special election.
One of the pending lawsuits was filed against Gov. Haley and the State Election Commission for imposing the special election.
“Atlantic Beach needs help. We can’t do this by ourselves. I can’t do this by myself,” says Evans. “I need the county. I need North Myrtle Beach. I need the state. And these are the same people that we’ve condemned.”
Evans says one he will deal with immediately is the face of the beachfront town–which is pocked with abandoned and dilapidated buildings. This week, an empty building frequented by local homeless people burned down. Evan’s says within one year of being mayor there will be none of the eyesore buildings left.
Also, a question to be resolved is whether Atlantic Beach should become part of North Myrtle Beach, which Evans says he will leave that up to the citizens of the beachfront town that’s only point-2 square miles.
Pee Dee/Grand Strand reporter Kathy Andrews contributed to this story.