boat stamp

The reopening of the S.C. Department of Natural Resources Conway office will help boaters get their stickers quicker.

S.C. Department of Natural Resources officers soon won’t have to work out of their vehicles, and Horryites won’t have to drive to Florence or North Charleston to get a sticker for their boats because Conway is about to have its DNR office reopened.

The Conway office closed in 2008 when the state had some budgeting problems and DNR was forced to do some cutting.

S.C. Rep. Jeff Johnson, R-58, said he was able to get $297,501 as a recurring appropriation for a new Conway office.

State officials took bids for an office, but didn’t get any that met their requirements, so the office was rebid. Now Capt. Robert McCullough, who oversees the department’s media and outreach, says if all goes well the office will be in place and ready to do business by the summer.

“Everything’s kind of sitting on G, waiting on O…” he said.

The department plans to have its staff trained and ready to start work just as soon as an office site is finalized. McCullough said the office will have four new staffers and one supervisor, a seasoned DNR employee, who is ready to step into his new assignment.

Johnson said there are a lot of hunters, fishermen and boaters in Horry County, who have needed the office during its 12-year absence.

A big problem has been securing stickers for boats. Boat owners either had to send to Columbia and wait for a sticker that could take as much as a month, or drive to Florence or North Charleston to get one.

During the hiatus between offices, wildlife agents have been working out of their cars when they come to Conway, but now they can use the office, Johnson said.

Johnson said he’s excited about the new office and thinks it’s something that Horry County with its large population needs.

“Boating is very popular along he waterway inlets and rivers,” he said.

Matt Varnadore, concessionaire for the Conway Marina, is also excited about the new office.

“I think it’s a great thing. We have, in Horry County, we have a very, very large boating community,” he said.

Varnadore also pointed to the drive or wait to get a boat registration. People either had to mail their information or Columbia and then wait as much as a month to get the needed documentation or drive to an office where the necessary stickers can be printed, he said.

He also likes the idea of changing the duration of the registrations from one to three years.

During the years that the Conway office has been gone, he says he’s heard a lot of grumbling about how long it takes to get a sticker.

“If that’s what’s coming, that’s awesome. That’s huge,” he said.

McCullough says his agency is just as excited about coming back to Conway as Conwayites are to see it coming.

“It’ll be good to get back in there,” he said. “We want to get all this done to…Hopefully it’ll all come together. I just hate these times. It’s tough,” he said of dealing with the impact of the coronavirus.

In regard to the new office, he said, “Oh, we think it’s great. We think it will be a good opportunity to serve the constituency down there.”

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I'm the editor of the Horry Independent, a weekly newspaper in Conway, South Carolina. I cover city hall and courts, among many other subjects. Know of a good story? Call me at 843-488-7241.

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