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Coastal Carolina University celebrates offensive-defensive line blocking drills during practice. The first home game is slated for 3 p.m. at Brooks Stadium with Eastern Michigan on Aug. 31. Photo by Janet Morgan/janet.morgan@myhorrynews.com

Horry County Government will hold an appreciation event for its employees, but it likely won’t involve tickets to a football game or stainless steel tumblers.

Council members on Tuesday postponed a vote to make Nov. 2 an appreciation day for county workers. Council members had discussed holding a nearly $60,000 tailgating party at Coastal Carolina University that day. The cost included football game tickets and purchasing stainless tumblers for the employees. But after the plans were announced, council members said some workers told them they didn’t want that kind of celebration.

“We want to make sure we do it right,” said councilman Bill Howard, who asked the council to postpone the vote. Howard said county staff told him they expected just 20 percent of the county’s more than 2,200 employees to attend the appreciation day. 

“That’s not going to make the rest of them very happy,” he said.

Council members have discussed other options, such as holding a cookout and having the elected officials prepare food for the workers. 

“Ain’t an Horry County boy that can’t cook,” said councilman Johnny Vaught, who said council members have talked about holding an employee event at the Peanut Warehouse in Conway.

“We’re going back to the drawing board,” Vaught said, adding that dropping the football game allows the county to consider other dates, although officials still want to hold the celebration in the fall. “It gives us a little flexibility.”

One idea that’s been floated would be a series of events where employees could participate on a department-by-department basis.

County officials initially discussed the proposed employee appreciation day last month at the council’s administration committee meeting. County staff said there had been a worker appreciation event years ago, but the county did away with the expense during the limited budgets of the last recession.

Had they moved forward with the tailgating party, the celebration would have been held on the day of Coastal’s homecoming game against Troy. 

To pay for the party, county officials had planned to use some of the money they budgeted for three top administrative positions that had become vacant in recent months. The county has openings for a finance director, an assistant administrator over infrastructure and regulation, and an emergency management director. By not filling those positions for five weeks, the county saved enough to cover the cost of the event, said Barry Spivey, the interim assistant administrator over the county’s administration division. 

Coastal had proposed allowing the county workers to hold their tailgate at the university's baseball stadium before the football game at Brooks Stadium next door.

Each package would have covered an employee and a guest and included vouchers for a game ticket, a hot dog, chips and a drink. County workers also would have had seating in the same area of the stadium.

The cost of the 3,000 tickets and food was expected to be $36,000 if all employees attended, according to the county’s records. The county also considered spending more than $17,000 on the tumblers, which would have featured the logos of both Coastal and the county.

The cost would have amounted to fewer than $30 per employee.

However, council members said the projections were based on the highest potential cost. They said the actual price tag would have been much lower, possibly in the $25,000 to $30,000 range, because some workers would not attend.

Although no new plans have been finalized, one thing is certain, Howard said. The event will be “something that’s not a football game.”

Contact Charles D. Perry at 843-488-7236

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I'm the editor of myhorrynews.com and the Carolina Forest Chronicle, a weekly newspaper in Horry County, South Carolina. I cover county government, the justice system and agriculture. Know of a story that needs to be covered? Call me at 843-488-7236.

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