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Murrells Inlet: Fireworks shows will make a curtain call

By Jason Lesley
Coastal Observer

Summer won’t end quietly in Murrells Inlet. Restaurant owners from the Marsh Walk are planning one last blast of fireworks Sunday night as a bonus to the 10-week “Monday Night Lights” shows that have stirred up some people in the community.

Scott Joye, attorney for two employees of Zambelli Fireworks accused of violating the county noise ordinance, said there would be one last fireworks demonstration for visitors to enjoy despite the charges being filed by residents opposed to the noise, litter and pollution of the inlet. The trials for Zambelli employees Kenneth Dean Roberts, 44, of Aynor and John Reese Tyler, 53, of Conway have been postponed until Sept. 18 in Georgetown County Magistrates Court to give Joye time to familiarize himself with the details.

He said opponents tried other avenues to stop the fireworks, including going to County Council, but resorted to noise violation accusations as a last resort. “Is it really about the noise?” Joye wondered.

He said convicting his clients will subject anyone shooting fireworks in Georgetown County to criminal prosecution if someone objects to the noise. “A noise violation is a misdemeanor, a crime on your permanent record,” Joye said. “One of these gentlemen is a career firefighter with Horry County and the other is a retired firefighter. This was not some fly-by-night deal. It seems a shame that a small group of people would go to these lengths to criminally convict these folks for putting on a show that everyone except a small group of people seems to enjoy.”

The arrest report from the county sheriff’s office noted that one of the men said he had a permit from the Murrells Inlet-Garden City fire marshal that covered the noise. Joye said the permit is a legal issue that the judge will decide when the case returns to court.

“I love Murrells Inlet being a lot of things to a lot of people,” he said. “Murrells Inlet is my home. They either need to legislate fireworks away or let people enjoy them.”

The Marsh Walk Group – restaurants Wicked Tuna, Dead Dog Saloon, Creek Ratz, Dave’s Dockside, Drunken Jacks, Wahoo Fish House and Bovines – hired Zambelli Fireworks for 10 shows this summer. The final show of the Monday Night Lights series was this week, and a show was added for Sunday of Labor Day weekend.

Judge John Benso asked last week when the cases were first called if there was any objection to his hearing the case in light of the fact he served on the board of directors of Murrells Inlet 2020 for three years, resigning in 2011.

“In my mind there is some connection,” he said. “I invite argument based on that disclosure if anyone feels my impartiality might be in question.”

Joye said he knows and trusts Benso. No one objected to his hearing the case, including the sheriff’s deputies who issued the citations.

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