When is the Right Time to Hire a Criminal Defense Lawyer?

Criminal Defense Lawyer in Murrels Inlet, SC


If you have been accused and charged with a crime you are in need of a seasoned criminal defense lawyer in Murrels Inlet, SC. Having a skilled and dedicated criminal defense lawyer on your side is key in order to protect your freedoms and to ensure that a proper legal defense is built to shield you. Dealing with legal charges in Murrels Inlet can be a highly distressing ordeal with even minor violations causing considerable impact on an individual's personal and work life. The repercussions of having a criminal record can be severe, leading to loss of employment, severed relationships and alienation from loved ones.

At Theos Law Firm we offer trustworthy legal representation to those who need it most. Our criminal defense team has over 50 years of combined experience and is committed to ensuring our clients maintain their freedom and move forward with their lives. From handling drug-related charges to more nuanced federal cases, sexual misconduct offenses and murder cases, we take a personalized approach to every case. By utilizing cutting-edge legal strategies and decades of combined experience, we provide the best opportunity to achieve the best possible outcomes for our clients.

Service Areas

We help clients overcome criminal charges in a wide range of cases, including the following:

  • Homicides
  • Drug Crimes
  • Juvenile Crimes
  • Sex Crimes
  • Theft Crimes
  • Violent Crimes
  • Misdemeanor Offenses
  • Federal Offenses
  • More

If you are facing one or more of the charges above, it's imperative that you establish contact with a legal advocate ASAP. At Theos Law, you can rest easy knowing our phone line is always open. When your future is up for grabs, let our team of criminal defense lawyers fight for your rights. It all starts with a free consultation at our law firm in Murrels Inlet where we will educate you on the particulars of the charges you're facing and explain the next steps in our representation.

At this point, you probably have many questions in mind. Keep reading for more information on criminal law in South Carolina and some of our criminal defense specialties at Theos Law.

Criminal Defense Lawyer Murrels Inlet, SC

Understanding Criminal Defense Cases in South Carolina


In South Carolina, criminal cases are classified into different categories based on the severity of the crime. Generally speaking, offenses that carry a maximum penalty of less than one year are considered misdemeanors. On the other hand, crimes that carry a punishment of more than one year in prison are generally classified as felonies.

State and Federal Criminal Defense Cases in South Carolina

Crimes in The Palmetto State are usually split into three categories: (1) Magistrate or Municipal Level Offenses; (2) General Sessions or Circuit Court State Charges; and, (3) Federal Crimes. Classifications are based on which prosecuting body has jurisdiction to prosecute a particular charge or offense. Regardless of which court your criminal charge is in, the Theos Law Firm has decades of experience protecting individuals from prosecution and assuring that the best possible outcome is achieved.

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The Difference Between Misdemeanors and Felonies in South Carolina

Understanding the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony crime can be challenging for someone facing their first charge. Misdemeanors are generally considered minor offenses, and can result in punishment by incarceration up to one year.

Conversely, felonies are more severe crimes which are punishable by incarceration of more than one year. Those charged with a felony may face significant fines and a prison sentences of over a year in a federal or state institution. Convicted felons may face difficulties after their release such as losing the right to vote and the right to carry a firearm. These penalties make it crucial to have a reliable criminal defense attorney in Murrels Inlet, SC.

Plea Deals in South Carolina

It is not uncommon for legal cases to be resolved without a trial through a plea deal. In order to assure that the best possible plea deal become available it is crucial for your legal defense to properly build your defense and prepare your case for trial. Deciding to represent yourself or not hiring the best legal team will likely result in exposure to unnecessary penalties, fines and jail time.

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When is the Right Time to Hire a Criminal Defense Lawyer in Murrels Inlet, SC?


At Theos Law Firm, we often receive questions from potential clients about when they should hire a criminal defense attorney for the charges that they're facing. Although each situation and client are unique, there are some common criminal situations to keep in mind. In general, it's always best to reach out to an experienced attorney as soon as you're charged or have been arrested.

Below are some guidelines to help you decide when it's necessary to retain a criminal defense attorney for your case in South Carolina.

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When You've Been Accused or Charged

Thinking about hiring a criminal defense lawyer when you're charged with a crime is a no-brainer for most, and for good reason. Our team of experience criminal defense attorneys can offer assistance with various offenses, ranging from minor crimes to more serious ones such as sexual assault and manslaughter. Regardless of the charges, navigating the legal system can be complex, and without the guidance of an experienced criminal defense lawyer, the situation can escalate rapidly. It is critical that you engage an experienced attorney as soon as possible!

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When Investigators or Police Question You

As you may have observed in movies or television shows, the police might request you to provide a statement, giving the impression that you are not under arrest. Remember, it is within your rights to have a criminal defense attorney in Murrels Inlet, SC, present during questioning, and you should absolutely use that to your advantage. If possible, consult with an attorney before answering any questions or participating in any discussions with law enforcement.

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When Authorities Search Your Residence

In the event that law enforcement officers arrive at your residence with a warrant, it indicates that a judge has determined there is reasonable suspicion that evidence related to a criminal offense is present in your home. Regardless of whether they discover and confiscate anything, it is advisable to seek the guidance of a seasoned defense attorney to discuss the situation and receive assistance in determining any potential charges or locations they may investigate in the future.

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When You Are Wrongly Accused of Committing a Crime

Could you imagine being accused of something you didn't do? When you are accused or charged with committing a crime that you didn't commit defending yourself may seem straightforward but it can be an arduous task to see to it that the charges are timely resolved. It can also feel hopeless and like it's impossible for you to get someone to listen to your side. The truth is that anything you say or do can and will be used against you. To increase your chances of being cleared of charges, it's advisable to have a defense lawyer who can support your innocence and fight for your rights. Criminal defense attorneys at Theos Law don't just listen - we act swiftly and always with your best interests at heart.

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When Your Child Is Involved

The legal system for juveniles in South Carolina is different than it is for adults. It comes with its own complications and hurdles to overcome. If you your child has been accused of a crime it's imperative to get legal counsel swiftly. Failure to do so could be destructive to your child's life, your family or result in a exposure to jail time. Keep reading to learn more about just a few of the most common criminal defense cases we accept at Theos Law Firm.

Criminal Defense for DUIs in South Carolina


In terms of common criminal offenses in South Carolina, DUIs top the list, especially regarding mindful drivers with clean driving records and no criminal history. Unfortunately for these drivers, a DUI conviction in South Carolina stays on your record and cannot be expunged. Even first-time offenses with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent can be costly. Your insurance premiums go up for years, you may end up paying almost $1,000 in fines and fees, and there's a good chance you'll have to perform community service or serve jail time.

If your breathalyzer test result is more than .15%, you refuse the breathalyzer, or it is recorded as a refusal, your license will be automatically suspended, which complicates matters further. Throw in the possibility of interlock device rental, and your life may never be the same. For those reasons alone, it is crucial to approach such charges with the help of a DUI defense lawyer. At Theos Law Firm, our attorneys have years of experience in successfully fighting these types of charges.

Fortunately, if you or a loved one has been charged with DUI, there is hope. That's especially true if the accused has undergone a breath or blood test for DUI. In fact, cases that involve such tests are successfully beaten every day. At Theos Law Firm, we will thoroughly investigate your DUI case in Murrels Inlet and explore every possible angle to have it dismissed.

To begin that process, your criminal defense lawyer in Murrels Inlet, SC, may seek answers to many questions, including:

  • Was your DUI stop legal? If not, your case could be thrown out.
  • Is there enough probable cause or evidence for an arrest? If there is not, it's possible to file a pre-trial motion for your case to be dismissed.
  • Did officers explain implied consent rights? One of the most common errors police make is failing to take this step.
  • Did the police maintain your BAC and breathalyzer results? Breath testing often comes with inherent weaknesses. This can create doubt in a juror's mind.
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Criminal Defense for Drug Cases in South Carolina


If you are dealing with drug-related crimes in Murrels Inlet or another city in South Carolina, it is crucial for you to understand the potential penalties involved. Possession of a controlled substance may fall under the category of a misdemeanor, but many drug offenses are considered felonies. Even a minor drug offense conviction can result in long-lasting negative consequences. As such, it's always advisable to explore your options and seek the assistance of a Murrels Inlet drug crime attorney. A skilled criminal defense lawyer can help safeguard your rights and may help achieve a favorable outcome.

One of the most frequent questions we hear at Theos Law is, "What does possession mean?"

Drug charges based on possession in South Carolina are divided into three categories:

  • Simple Possession
  • Possession with Intent to Distribute
  • Drug Trafficking

However, the state also has other drug charges that are not based on the weight of the drugs. These include:

  • Drug Distribution
  • Manufacturing
  • Distribution Near Schools, Parks, or Playgrounds
Criminal Defense Lawyer Murrels Inlet, SC

Possession-based drug charges in South Carolina are deemed "graduated offenses" with penalties that grow more severe based on the weight of the drugs. It's important to note that the charges can be based on either actual or constructive possession. Contact a criminal defense lawyer in Murrels Inlet, SC, today to learn more about the complexities involved with drug cases in Murrels Inlet and other cities in South Carolina.

Some of the most common drug charges we see at Theos Law include the following:

  • Marijuana
  • Heroin
  • Ecstasy
  • LSD and Hallucinogens
  • Cocaine
  • Meth
  • Prescription Pain Killers
  • Fentanyl
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Can I be Arrested for Drug Paraphernalia in South Carolina?

The simple answer to this question is a resounding "Yes." Drug paraphernalia can refer to various items such as pipes, bongs, syringes, scales, grinders, and rolling papers which are linked to drug usage, preparation, storage, or hiding. Even though some of these items may have legitimate uses, like tobacco pipes or medical syringes, they can still be scrutinized by law enforcement if there is proof of illegal drug use or intent.

Criminal Defense for Assault and Battery Cases in South Carolina


If you are facing assault and battery charges, it is possible that you haven't actually physically harmed someone. Many people associate assault and battery with brutal beatings, but that is just one example. There are other situations that are less severe than what people typically imagine.

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It's a common misunderstanding that physical injury is required for assault and battery charges. The fines, penalties, and jail time you may face depend on the severity of your charges and the number of offenses. Regardless of the degree of your charges, Assault and Battery is a serious offense that should not be taken lightly. The consequences of a conviction can be life-changing, and as such, your criminal defense lawyer in Murrels Inlet, SC, should work relentlessly to fight the charges being levied against you.

Though this list isn't comprehensive, here are some of the biggest factors that dictate the severity of your assault and battery charges:

  • Age of Victim
  • Severity of Injuries Sustained
  • Size and Weight of Accused vs. Size and Weight of Victim
  • Whether or Not the Victim Presses Charges
  • Whether or Not Weapons Were Involved
  • Whether or Not the Victim's Privates Were Touched

Understanding the Degrees of Assault and Battery in South Carolina

Third Degree

Causing harm to someone or threatening to do so with the ability to carry out the threat can result in a charge of third-degree assault and battery. This misdemeanor offense is typically heard in municipal or magistrate courts and may carry a maximum sentence of 30 days in jail.

Second Degree

Causing harm or making threats to harm someone that results in moderate bodily injury can lead to charges of second-degree assault and battery. Additionally, touching someone's private parts without their consent can also result in charges of assault and battery in the second degree. This misdemeanor offense is heard in General Session court and can carry a maximum sentence of three years in prison.

First Degree

Assault and Battery in the first degree can involve a number of actions such as inflicting an unlawful injury when kidnapping, touching a person's privates "with lewd and lascivious intent," and much more. Contact Theos Law Firm for more info on the degrees of Assault and Battery in South Carolina.

Everyone Deserves a Reliable Criminal Defense Attorney in Murrels Inlet, SC


At Theos Law firm, we work tirelessly to ensure that our client's rights are not overlooked. Because unfortunately, the rights of everyday citizens are often trampled by law enforcement oversights and legal system failures.

That's why every criminal defense lawyer at our firm works hard to provide guidance and support throughout the legal process by keeping you informed of updates and as comfortable as possible during this trying time. Benefits of hiring Theos Law Firm include:

  • Thorough Knowledge of South Carolina Criminal Law & Procedures
  • Seasoned Legal Representation in the Courtroom
  • Years of Experience Structuring Plea bargains
  • Ability to Identify Due Process Violations
  • Fierce Dedication to Clients & Vigorous Representation
  • Skilled Negotiation Tactics Involved with Bail, Sentencing, Appeals, and More
  • Familiarity with Local Prosecutors

Unlike some criminal defense law firms in South Carolina, our team believes that everyone deserves a great lawyer when their freedoms are on the line. If you or a loved one has been accused of a crime in South Carolina, trust Theos Law to have your back without judgment.

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Latest News in Murrels Inlet, SC

Murrells Inlet MarshWalk is getting new higher-density development? Here’s what we know

The MarshWalk in Murrells Inlet is one of the capstone properties of the Grand Strand area. Known for its relaxing waters and restaurants, the area’s scenic views offer an attractive place to live away from the hustle and bustle of up North in Myrtle Beach.Many Georgetown County residents raised objections when government officials presented plans for the area’s future that locals felt would upend the region’s tranquil nature.At an ...

The MarshWalk in Murrells Inlet is one of the capstone properties of the Grand Strand area. Known for its relaxing waters and restaurants, the area’s scenic views offer an attractive place to live away from the hustle and bustle of up North in Myrtle Beach.

Many Georgetown County residents raised objections when government officials presented plans for the area’s future that locals felt would upend the region’s tranquil nature.

At an April 18, 2024, Georgetown County Planning Commission meeting, a proposal for future use of much of the county’s land was met with opposition from attendees, and the commission ultimately asked that the plan be reworked.

Georgetown County Director of Planning and Code Enforcement Holly Richardson said the commission is changing the future land use proposal to address residents’ concerns — adding that many made it clear they don’t want the area to become like Myrtle Beach.

The question is, what does the future land use proposal mean for the MarshWalk? How will the area change when a future land use proposal is adopted? Here’s what we know.

The current proposal for future land use provides maps of areas suitable for additional development in Georgetown County. In the proposal, the areas most suited to further building are along the Waccamaw Neck, including Murrells Inlet and Pawleys Island, as well as Georgetown.

Richardson said the Waccamaw Neck and Georgetown are best prepared because they already have the infrastructure—roads, water, and sewage—to support such additions. Indeed, the MarshWalk is within one of these suitable areas for development.

One project recommended for the US Highway 17 area includes a parking plan for Murrells Inlet and MarshWalk, but it also contains potential uses for the land itself. A map of the Murrells Inlet area within the future land use proposal shows that the MarshWalk area would be designated as a “Village Center,” with nearby plots of land designated as “Residential Mixed Use” and “Residential.”

The future land use proposal defines a village center as a small community that provides restaurants, retail, and other services, usually located near planned neighborhoods. The proposal also defines residential mixed-use as walkable single-family and attached housing with nearby low-impact commercial uses and residential as traditional neighborhoods.

Katrina Waugh with the Georgetown County Planning Commission said future land use and zoning are not the same, and future land use designations don’t have zoning attached to them. However, both village centers and residential mixed-use would allow for more units per acre than some of the areas surrounding the MarshWalk, making the area more densely developed.

Much of the area around and including MarshWalk is zoned as General Commercial, which Richardson said allows for about four units per acre of single-family homes or residential development. Parcels of land near MarshWalk are also zoned as General Residential, which currently allows as many as 16 units per acre.

The future land use proposal states that village center places would allow for 6-10 dwelling units per acre at a density of 1-3 stories tall, and residential mixed-use would allow for 4-8 dwelling units per acre 1-3 stories tall. Richardson said that areas designated as village centers could become more densely developed, but she added that residents objected to this part of the future land use plan.

“That’s something we anticipate to maybe have some tweaks or changes to when we present back,” she added.

Despite residents’ protests, some business owners along the MarshWalk are less concerned. Al Hitchcock owns Drunken Jack’s Restaurant & Lounge at 4031 Highway 17 Business in Murrells Inlet. Having operated the eatery for 45 years, Hitchcock has seen the area grow as once-vacationers became residents.

“They went from suitcases to UHauls,” he said.

He added that a land development plan is past due, but he believes the approved proposal won’t radically change the area.

“It’s a good thing we spread out,” Hitchcock added.

Ben Morse is the Retail and Leisure Reporter for The Sun News. Morse covers local business and Coastal Carolina University football and was awarded third place in the 2023 South Carolina Press Association News Contest for sports beat reporting and second place for sports video in the all-daily division. Morse previously worked for The Island Packet, covering local government. Morse graduated from American University in 2023 with a Bachelor’s Degree in journalism and economics and is originally from Prospect, Kentucky.

A Weekend Getaway to Murrells Inlet, South Carolina

We love exploring new places here at The Montclair Girl, and this Southern destination is one of our favorite towns to visit for a weekend trip. Nestled just under a half-hour south of Myrtle Beach lies Murrells Inlet, South Carolina. This town is a great coastal getaway for someone who would rather have a calmer vibe with still lots to do. Loaded with delicious Southern eateries, local shops, beaches, nature destination...

We love exploring new places here at The Montclair Girl, and this Southern destination is one of our favorite towns to visit for a weekend trip. Nestled just under a half-hour south of Myrtle Beach lies Murrells Inlet, South Carolina. This town is a great coastal getaway for someone who would rather have a calmer vibe with still lots to do. Loaded with delicious Southern eateries, local shops, beaches, nature destinations, and waterfront restaurants with bands and dancing, this destination is a fun, easy-going getaway for any time of the year. Read on to learn more about Murrells Inlet and to plan your weekend there.

About the Town

Murrells Inlet is one of the oldest coastal communities in the state. It’s located on the Southern part of the “Grand Strand,” a 60-mile stretch of the Carolina coast from Brunswick County to Georgetown County. Murrells Inlet is known as the Seafood Capital of South Carolina, and the seafood-and fishing-centric way of life here dates back to 1731, when it was founded by English colonist John Morrall, who historians believe is the town’s namesake. At the time, this convenient coastal location made it a go-to port for transporting various products to the Northern Colonies and Britain.

The location was also known to be a place for visiting pirates, where Blackbeard, Drunken Jack, and others stopped by from time to time. As the years went on and the land became more developed, this area blossomed from a small village to the fun destination it is today. Aside from being a historic fishing village, Murrells Inlet is known for its ghost stories, delectable hush puppies served with every meal, coastal vibes, abundant golf courses, Carolina Palmetto trees, and friendly neighbors.

There’s always something to do here and the winter months are mild. A visit during the shoulder seasons means guests can enjoy all there is to do without the Southern humidity. Murrells Inlet is about a half-hour’s drive from the Myrtle Beach airport. A direct flight to Myrtle Beach from Newark is about 90 minutes. The drive from North Jersey to Murrells Inlet is about 10 hours.

Read More: These 7 Destinations Are a Short Flight From Newark Airport

What to Do

Brookgreen Gardens has much to offer: botanical gardens, sculptures, and a small zoo, and it’s listed as a National Historic Landmark in addition to being on the National Register of Historic Places. It’s known as a cultural center for the community, with new events and exhibits for each season. The vibes are amazing here and the variety of Southern florals is beautiful.

Garden City is the closest beach to Murrells Inlet, with five miles of white sandy beaches. The beachfront is lined with colorful, coastal homes and the beaches are full of shells. Animal lovers can bring their dogs for a walk on the beach. Aside from the beach itself, the area surrounding the pier has several local places to grab coffee, boardwalk-style food, souvenirs, and more. Upstairs on the pier, visitors will find a large arcade to get out of the sun for a bit, and there is the option to walk to the end and take in the Atlantic Ocean views outside.

Another beach option is Huntington Beach State Park, which is also a campsite and a National Historic Landmark. There are three miles of beach and over 2,500 acres of land to explore at this state park, with tons of wildlife to see. Many species of birds frequent the beach here, along with alligators, turtles, and other species native to the area. The views of South Carolina’s nature here will not disappoint.

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If there’s one thing Murrells Inlet isn’t short of, it’s golf courses, and that includes mini-golf. At Gilligan’s Island, located at 3009 South US-17 Business, golfers can pick from two different 18-hole courses while surrounded by bright blue water and palm trees. Inlet Adventure, located at 3215 US-17 Business, is another tropical paradise and has an ice cream shop on-site for the ultimate beachy treat.

The Marshwalk is the highlight of Murrells Inlet, for good reason. There are a variety of waterfront dining options to choose from here, all with a view of the marsh that leads into the bay. There is always something to do, with a boardwalk to connect it all. During the day, choose from brunch on the water and shopping the local eateries’ branded apparel during the day, At night, visitors can dance to local bands, eat dinner al fresco, and more. The Marshwalk is also the starting point for several excursions, including a beer boat, jet skis, fishing charters, and more.

What to Eat

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Costa is an Italian eatery with a coastal twist (hence the name). The place has a casual vibe that can be romantic as well, making it a good spot for all occasions. The menu consists of coastal Italian fusion, with plates like crab cakes, calamari, and clams for starters. The main courses have options like chicken or veal saltimbocca on the land side, and pan-seared diver scallops on the sea side of the menu.

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Dead Dog is a typical Southern comfort food spot known for its bar and live music. The outdoor patio has great views of the marshwalk, in addition to the plentiful indoor seating. On the menu, patrons will find pub food like fried green tomatoes, wings, and blue crab nachos, along with rotating beers on tap and signature cocktails.

Almost all of the bars and restaurants in Murrells Inlet host live music, and the Hot Fish Club is no exception. Formerly called the ​​Hot and Hot Fish Club, this restaurant dates back to the 1700s, making it the oldest in the area. The menu here is huge and full of seafood — blue crab dip, lobster pot pie, a hot fish platter, and seafood steampots, to name a few.

J. Peters has an all-around good menu. The meal starts off with honey-butter croissants delivered to the table. The salads that come with the entrees are delicious, topped with egg, bacon bits, and more. Consider trying the blackened chicken alfredo with broccoli, tomatoes, and shredded Parmesan cheese for a non-seafood option, or seafood dishes like fried flounder or fresh Atlantic Salmon.

Luna is a casual eatery that’s off the busier Marshwalk area. The eclectic decor matches the vibe and the menu includes typical Mexican dishes. The chips with various salsas are a good starter, and entrees include fajitas, enchiladas, tacos, carne asada, and more. The guacamole is a must-try, and the bartenders have perfected the margarita, made by hand with fresh-squeezed lime juice.

This casual restaurant is a part of the golf course TPC Myrtle Beach, and it’s a great place for breakfast, lunch, and happy hour. Guests can enjoy Margarita Mondays, Wine Wednesdays, and a sports game on multiple TVs. The pub overlooks the 18th hole of the golf course, making it a pub with a view. The Pub is open to guests, with or without a tee time on the course.

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Wahoo’s menu highlights fresh-caught South Carolina seafood, which patrons can enjoy as a sit-down dinner while watching local bands play. In addition to featured fresh catch selections, there’s also fried shrimp, Bourbon BBQ Mahi, shrimp and grits, and more. The drink menu is endless, from specialty cocktails like Wahoo’s Lemonade and a Strawberry Lemon Drop Martini, to make-your-own mules, daiquiris, beer, and wine.

Where to Shop

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Jaws’ name doesn’t just come from anywhere. Shoppers can see live baby sharks here while browsing souvenirs, and the selection is endless. Shop for apparel, drinkware, keychains, and literally anything else you can think of here.

Lazy Gator is a popular local spot, and it’s the only place that carries exclusively Murrells Inlet-branded merchandise. It has an upscale vibe, with an entire section of coastal decor, gifts, art, and garden accessories. The store carries jewelry, mugs and cups, apparel, Christmas decorations, stickers, shells, fudge, and so much more.

See More: A New Jersey Getaway to Crystal Springs Resort + Spa in Hamburg

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Southern Splendor is a quaint local shop with a coastal ambiance. The store carries charming Southern merchandise, including home decor. Here, shoppers can find gifts branded with various names of South Carolina towns, including Murrells Inlet and Pawleys Island, along with candles, kitchenware, pillows, and more.

The Bookworm is a locally-owned used bookstore that is a favorite of the Myrtle Beach area. The books are sold at 50%-75% off the original cover price. The store carries over 25,0000 books and provides store credit for bringing your used books in. Some of the fun aspects of this spot include a $1 book section, a customer and staff recommendations shelf, a “Blind Date With a Book” section, and book-themed gifts.

Wonderland of Lights returns to Murrells Inlet MarshWalk with new features

Boasting eight restaurants and a vibrant live music scene in an idyllic setting along a natural saltwater estuary, it’s no surprise that folks come back to visit time and time again.But during the holidays a magical transformation takes place. Leaving a legacy: Lee's Inlet Kitchen celebrates 75 years in Murrells InletThe Ma...

Boasting eight restaurants and a vibrant live music scene in an idyllic setting along a natural saltwater estuary, it’s no surprise that folks come back to visit time and time again.

But during the holidays a magical transformation takes place.

Leaving a legacy: Lee's Inlet Kitchen celebrates 75 years in Murrells Inlet

The MarshWalk Wonderland of Lights features thousands of brilliant holiday lights, illuminated arches set to music, photo op areas, a 20-foot LED Christmas tree at the end of Veterans Pier – and that’s just scratching the surface.

This walk-through event is free and runs nightly from Nov. 24 through Dec. 31 from 5-11 p.m.

Prefer a more immersive, family fun experience? A Santa’s Village attraction and kids’ activities will be available on weekends (Fri.-Sun.) from Nov. 24 through Dec. 23, excluding Dec. 9. Hours are 5-9 p.m.

Black River park project's latest $6.4M injection could help revitalize Andrews

Last year, the event returned with a new and improved setup. Before that, the last Wonderland of Lights took place during the 2017 holiday season.

“We had a lot of people who were appreciative of us for bringing back the Wonderland of Lights last year,” said Christina Burzler of Brickyard Marketing, LLC and spokesperson for The MarshWalk Group.

Burzler said improvements for 2023 include additional lights on Veterans Pier and new placement for the photo op areas – a gingerbread house at the entrance of Neptune Bistro and Raw Bar, a candy cane arch at Creek Ratz, an ornament between Drunken Jack’s Restaurant & Lounge and Wahoo’s Fish House as well as the giant Santa at Bovine’s Restaurant.

Other MarshWalk restaurants include Dead Dog Saloon, The Claw House and Wicked Tuna.

As for the Santa’s Village attraction and kids’ activities, expect bounce houses, barrel cart train rides, vendors and artisans.

“We’re also adding a petting zoo this year. That’s a huge thing because people love the animals,” Burzler said, adding that holiday characters will be on rotation every weekend – The Grinch, Rudolph, Frosty the Snowman and The Gingerbread Man.

County faces suit over Murrells Inlet water quality

Murrells Inlet residents gave notice to Georgetown County last week that they are ready to go to court to enforce compliance with federal regulations that require the county to improve water quality in the estuary.If that happens, it will be the first action in the state to challenge compliance with federal permits for “municipal separate storm sewer systems,” known as MS4s, according to Amy Armstrong, executive director and chief counsel of the S.C. Environmental Law Project, which is representing the citizens group Prese...

Murrells Inlet residents gave notice to Georgetown County last week that they are ready to go to court to enforce compliance with federal regulations that require the county to improve water quality in the estuary.

If that happens, it will be the first action in the state to challenge compliance with federal permits for “municipal separate storm sewer systems,” known as MS4s, according to Amy Armstrong, executive director and chief counsel of the S.C. Environmental Law Project, which is representing the citizens group Preserve Murrells Inlet and Murrells Inlet Seafood.

Georgetown County is one of 70 small MS4s in the state that operate under federal permits administered by the state. The Department of Health and Environmental Control notified the county last April that an audit of its MS4 program found deficiencies. That included the failure to show that it had implemented a 2014 plan to reduce the amount of pollutants entering the Murrells Inlet watershed.

“Georgetown County is not some sort of outlier. We’ve seen it in other places, but not as well documented,” Armstrong said.

The MS4 is part of the county’s stormwater management plan, which went into effect in 2007 under a federal mandate. In addition to issuing stormwater permits for development, the county was required to create a plan for bringing water bodies into compliance with water quality standards. Murrells Inlet was already on the list of waters that didn’t meet those standards because of high levels of fecal coliform bacteria found in shellfish.

“Community members have expressed their concerns to both the County and DHEC regarding the current state of the County’s stormwater program and the resulting effects on shellfish waters,” according to the notice sent to the county.

Under the federal Clean Water Act, citizens are able to bring suit after providing 60 days notice of violations.

County Administrator Anglea Christian said the county is reviewing the notice, but was unable to comment further.

The DHEC audit of the county MS4 program also found that it was lax in its permitting and enforcement, citing 10 violations at the site of the Sunnyside Village development in Murrells Inlet. Those included failing to enforce “best management practices” to reduce stormwater runoff as required by the MS4 permit.

The audit also noted that while the development permit for the project was issued in early October 2021, the first inspection didn’t occur until late January 2022. Monthly inspections are required under the MS4 permit.

Sunnyside Village was the focus of an “independent compliance audit” by Preserve Murrells Inlet that was sent to DHEC.

While the S.C. Environmental Law Project has been tracking other small MS4 permits for compliance, “we have a robust amount of documentation in Georgetown County,” Armstrong said.

That is all cited in the notice sent to the county.

“This is what we would be telling a federal court,” Armstrong said.

After the DHEC audit, the county acknowledged that it needed to improve its inspection and enforcement. As for reducing pollutants entering the inlet, the county said it had been conducting the required monitoring and would include data in future reports. In included an example of the data, which was compiled by a consultant in 2020.

The notice of intent states that the county’s 2023 MS4 report merely repeated its previous claims that it was doing monitoring.

“The County has not assessed or analyzed trends in the monitoring data, despite the fact that long-term data is available, nor has it prioritized the area targeted for BMP implementation or provided underlying rationale,” the notice says, referring to best management practices.

The federal permit requires the county to change its plan for managing the “total maximum daily load” of pollutants if it can’t show improvements in water quality.

“It is crucial that the county provide this data,” the notice states.

It also notes that a vegetated wetland that was built by the county with a federal grant and intended as a best management practice to filter pollutants from stormwater was never inspected or maintained.

The shortcomings in the county MS4 program and its reporting “is evidence that staffing levels are not sufficient,” the notice states. The county’s annual MS4 reports says there are six staff members who work with the stormwater program.

The report also says the county is implementing best management practices and that “indicates progress towards reducing the discharge of pollutants.”

The notice says the county hasn’t done anything to reduce the discharge of pollutants since 2017 and “these projects have long-since been abandoned.”

Providing notice before filing suit gives the county an opportunity to make changes, Armstrong said.

“We need to see some concrete evidence that there will be pretty substantial changes made,” she said.

Leon Rice, president of Preserve Murrells Inlet, isn’t optimistic.

“They’re not taking it seriously,” he said of the county MS4 program. “We’ve tried to talk to the county about trying to get them to do their duty.”

Rick Baumann, owner of Murrells Inlet Seafood, served on a stakeholders committee that was formed in 2005 to help draft the county stormwater management plan. He argued at the time that it needed a water quality monitoring component.

That was left out because officials feared a stormwater program that was too aggressive would be too expensive to operate and restrict the ability of people to build on their property.

“We’re going to get sued,” the chairman of the Planning Commission said at the time.

Baumann said he hasn’t seen any change in the county’s attitude toward water quality.

“They promised no further degradation,” he said, but didn’t want to compile the baseline data that would allow that to be measured. “Thirty percent of the inlet’s closed right now because of fecal coliform.”

“Our inlet’s precious,” Rice said. “This is kind of a last resort to get the county to do right.”

Georgetown County Board of Education: First and third Tuesdays, 5:30 p.m., Beck Education Center. For details, go to gcsd.k12.sc.us. Georgetown County Council: Second and fourth Tuesdays, 5:30 p.m., Council Chambers, 129 Screven St., Georgetown. For details, go to georgetowncountysc.org. Pawleys Island Town Council: Second Mondays, 5 p.m. Town Hall, 323 Myrtle Ave. For details, go to townofpawleysisland.com. , .



Concerns linger as public comment period for Murrells Inlet dredging nears closure

GEORGETOWN COUNTY, S.C. (WPDE) — The days are numbered for neighbors who can provide input or raise questions in regard to the Murrells Inlet dredging project.The county-planned project would dig up more than 16 miles of creeks and channels in the Inlet. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is re...

GEORGETOWN COUNTY, S.C. (WPDE) — The days are numbered for neighbors who can provide input or raise questions in regard to the Murrells Inlet dredging project.

The county-planned project would dig up more than 16 miles of creeks and channels in the Inlet. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is receiving public input until Nov. 30 as the county needs certain permits for the project. It also will involve a first for the county and the state in how county-hired engineers plan to dispose of the dredged material.

According to county data shared by the Corps, 754,616 cubic yards of sediment, or 1.05 million tons will be dredged out of the estuary.

READ MORE: Georgetown County officials look to dredge Murrells Inlet

It's a project that's been in the works for years. Officials dredged parts of the Inlet near the Marshwalk 5 years ago. This plan would deepen more creeks and channels, but also impact more salt marsh and oyster beds.

"We have some concerns with the extent of the dredging," said Monica Whalen with the South Carolina Environmental Law Project. "We just want to make sure that this is fully assessed and that we aren't losing more than they would gain."

Engineers working on behalf of Georgetown County report that Inlet is seeing some deterioration of marshes and oyster beds already due to stormwater runoff and increased development around it.

"What I want to do is restore the water flow in Murrells Inlet to its natural state," said Rep. Lee Hewitt who's helped secure millions in state dollars for the dredging and calls the inlet home. "I'm afraid Murrells Inlet will be in a worse situation without this dredging."

Since the county is footing most of the bill for the project, years of studying have also led them to pitch a first in South Carolina; dumping the dredged material back into the ocean.

"It's going to be several hundred yards off of Huntington Beach. What it is, it's an area where you pump the sediments onto the ground and work on having the mud balls offshore and the sandy on the inshore," Hewitt said.

To do this, the Corps and county also say monitoring would have to take place to ensure the dredged material does not surpass a thickness of 5.5 feet. It would also have to stay out of the surf zone.

"This would be the first time that this technique has been implemented in South Carolina and we want them to look into more feasible alternatives," Whalen said. "We have talked to some other scientists who have raised questions."

Whalen says the questions that linger surround how the county plans to monitor the dump site, and if DHEC will be involved in case the dumping surpasses that 5.5. ft threshold. Also, they'd like to have a better idea of what the 'surf zone' is.

To counteract the impacts of salt marshes, the county is pitching the idea of adding sediment to dying or impacted marsh areas to promote regrowth.

"Putting some of that sediment on top of the marsh grass not much about 4 to 6 inches that will raise that up and will allow the Spartina to come back," Hewitt said. "I in no way want to hurt Murrells Inlet."

The county plans to also submit another plan to lay out their proposed mitigation plans that could include more living shorelines.

Still, environmentalists are requesting the county abandon some plans before the dredge craft hits the water.

"We think the project proposes dredging that is less than 10 feet from these areas [reefs and marsh vegetation] and it's SCELP's position that if the channels are too narrow to allow for a 10-foot buffer they should be excluded from the project," Whalen said.

The county, in its application, has promised to respect that 10-foot buffer between the dredging area and marsh areas.

READ MORE: Land along Black River in Georgetown Co. protected for recreational water trail, revitalization efforts

The project itself would not begin until Fall 2025, Hewitt says. It would take several months to complete. He supports neighbors sending in as many questions as possible.

Whalen and SCELP are asking for at least 20 commenters to request that DHEC and the county hold a public hearing on the dredging.

"This will allow community members to express their viewpoints in a direct manner. Whether they are in support of the project, or they oppose it, or if they want to request that the project is minimized," Whalen said.

You can submit comments in writing, identifying the project of interest by public notice/file number (SAC-2020-00449), to nathaniel.i.ball@usace.army.mil.

"Whatever we can do to restore a natural water flow to Murrells Inlet and mitigate some of the things that we are seeing out there now I think is a much better option than sitting there and letting it continue to deteriorate like what we are seeing," Hewitt said.


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