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Litchfield Exchange: Former retail center now offers wholesale justice
By Jason Lesley
The new Waccamaw Neck summary court facility at Litchfield Exchange is a far cry from the facilities magistrates used just a few years ago.
Pawleys Island Town Judge Alan Walters said he remembered when court was held in Magistrate Nathan Brown’s store on Highway 17 at Martin Luther King Road. “He would have to stop court to wait on a customer at the liquor store,” said Walters, who was a deputy sheriff at the time.
Walters also remembered holding court from behind the police chief’s desk at Pawleys Island Town Hall once a month. “People would wait under the trees for their turn,” he said. Pawleys Island municipal court proceedings eventually moved to the trailer on Parkersville Road that house the county magistrates and have been held at the new Litchfield Exchange courtroom for the past two months.
Chief Judge Isaac Pyatt said better signage is needed on Highway 17 for the courtroom, but he called the new facility state of the art. “We deserve nothing less than this,” he said.
“Citizens of Georgetown County will be pleased to have this facility.” It will accommodate Murrells Inlet magistrate John Benso and Pawleys Island area magistrate Dan Furr, soon to be replaced by Steve Pop. Pyatt thanked the judges for the patience as the facility was constructed by county employees and jail inmates working under Herb Puckett of the county facility services department.
Sheriff Lane Cribb was likewise thrilled with the 6,000 square feet of space for a substation. The Waccamaw Neck facility is as big as the old Cleland Street sheriff’s office. “We thought we were really uptown when we went from Screven Street to Cleland Street,” Cribb said. “I never would have dreamed all this would have happened, never dreamed we would have needed it. Just in case you need us, we are here.”
The county’s original plan for a new courtroom was to remodel the former Pawleys Island library. County Administrator Sel Hemingway said those plans were changed for the better with the acquisition of the Litchfield Exchange, which has room for tenants and a business incubator, Startup.SC.
Georgetown County Council proceeded with rezoning the former Waccamaw Library site to “neighborhood commercial” this week to make it more marketable.