By RUBEN LOWMAN
Competitive wakeboard riders and the Ocean Drive Elementary School were honored during the North Myrtle Beach City Council meeting this Monday night, November 2, as well as a section of the city’s land development regulations being amended in order to make it easier for the public and the planning commission to view and alter street design standards going forward.
Five members of the North Myrtle Beach Wakeboard Team competed in the World Wake Association (WWA) World Championship held from September 20-22 at the Valdosta Wake Compound in Valdosta, Georgia. The city’s wakeboard team is based out of the Shark Wake Park at the North Myrtle Beach Park & Sports Complex. Each of them received various awards at the competition, and council honored each of them with special certificates expressing the importance of their achievements to the city. Wakeboarders Brandon Nixon, Charlie Pfahler and Ethan Bellamy were awarded with their certificates at the meeting, while Tristen Cannon and Will Hall were unable to attend.
“The Shark Wake Park is one of the best additions that we have had in our community at the Park & Sports Complex, and it has become quite a sport in itself,” North Myrtle Beach Mayor Marilyn Hatley said. “We are so proud because this is such a new sport for our community and our young men have done a fantastic job because they were just introduced to this sport a few years ago.”
Nixon competed in the Open Men’s Wakeskating competition and achieved two perfect scores of 100, bestowing him with the title of “World Champion”. Bellamy also was honored as a “World Champion” after finishing first in the Kids Features Division with scores of 100, 96 and 91. Pfafler and Hall both finished third in their respective competitions, the 18 & Under Junior Men’s Traditional Division and the 18 & Under Junior Men’s Features Division. Cannon qualified and competed in the 18 & Under Men’s Features Division.
Hatley reiterated the importance of the wakeboard team’s achievements to the city and its residents and encouraged the team to continue to compete and accomplish great things in order to grow the sport here locally.
“We’re just honored that you came and that you are here with us, and what a fantastic show all of them had in this championship competition. We are very proud of you and we just want you to keep going and keep working and spread the word to all the young men and women around here in our community. It is such a great sport and so many people can get involved in it,” the mayor said.
While wakeboarding has been around since the early 1960s, first called “wakesurfing” because it was invented by surfers, it still remains an emerging sport. It has experienced a tremendous amount of growth over the past decade, especially in this area and with the younger generation as a result of the Shark Wake Park at the Park & Sports Complex.
Mayor Hatley expressed her interest in setting up a demonstration of the sport and the talented wakeboarders here in our community to display the dedication, sacrifice and ability required to compete in such a demanding sport.
“It would be great if, at the wake park, there could be an exhibition for the public just to see what our young people do out there at the park,” Hatley said. “We can advertise it and ask people to come and spread the word. I think it would be great because I really don’t think a lot of our citizens realize that this is such a great sport and it takes a lot of work and a lot of talent to do something like this.”
During the council meeting, the Ocean Drive Elementary School was also honored with a proclamation deeming the week of November 16-20 as “Ocean Drive Elementary Blue Ribbon School Week” within the city.
The school, located on 11th Avenue North, was recently designated as a National Blue Ribbon School by the Department of Education, the highest honor in the nation. O.D. Elementary was one of just six schools in the state to receive the national honor, earning distinction for Exemplary High Performance, signifying their status in the top 15 percent on state testing for math, English and language arts.
“This is unbelievable, thank you so much,” Mayor Hatley told Principal Renea Fowler and a few of her teachers and faculty that were honored with the proclamation. “And I just urge all businesses, if you have a sign, just put it up to say ‘Congratulations’ to Ocean Drive Elementary School for being a Blue Ribbon School because that is such a wonderful accolade for our community.”
“If I was thinking about moving to a city and they told me they had a Blue Ribbon elementary school in it, I would move there in a heartbeat because I knew that that school cared about the education of my children. Thank you so very much,” Hatley concluded.
City Council then voted on an amendment to the city’s land development regulations that pertain to the street design standards. Previously, having the standards within the regulations ordinance caused difficulty for the public and planning commission to view and alter them. The amendment eliminates that and it will now be easier to share the information and for city officials to approve any revisions to the Street Planning Manual that will be made in the future.
There was also an executive session held directly prior to their meeting, in which they evaluated two potential appointments to the city’s planning commission, as well as the possible purchase of city property by Horry Telephone Cooperative (HTC) and a potential acquisition of property for the city. The next scheduled council meeting is for Monday, December 7.