New director will guide community group’s return to normalcy
As the new executive director of Murrells Inlet 2020, Stacy Johnson is getting to meet a lot of visitors to the area.
The nonprofit’s office on Highway 17 Business has become a kind of visitors center.
“People come in and ask for hotel recommendations, or what’s the best restaurant on the Marsh Walk,” Johnson said. “We’re really here to just kind of help wherever we can or point people in the right direction.”
Johnson has lived in the area for 21 years and is a graduate of Socastee High School. She also graduated from Coastal Carolina University with a degree in political science and worked in the insurance industry for 14 years.
She took the job at Murrells Inlet 2020 because she was looking for a way to give back to something bigger than herself.
Her husband is also an inlet native
“It’s the town that I definitely love,” Johnson said.
Murrells Inlet 2020 is a nonprofit focused on conservation and preservation of the inlet, monitoring water quality, and education.
“We’re really about the community here, and community awareness,” Johnson said. “What are some of the things we can do to get the community involved and help out all the businesses here? What are things we can do to help commerce in our area?”
One of the projects the nonprofit is working on is the completion of the Inlet to Intracoastal multi-purpose path. Nicknamed “I2I,” phase one connected Business 17 at Macklen Avenue with Waccamaw Community Hospital and then across Bypass 17 to Old Kings Highway.
“One of the big things in surveys we’ve gotten back is places to be able to ride our bikes and to walk,” Johnson said.
Fundraising has already begun for phase two, which will extend the path from Business 17 along Wachesaw Road to Wacca Wache Marina.
When completed, I2I will be four miles long.
Johnson said she is working with the state Department of Transportation, which will fund part of the path, Santee Cooper and Georgetown County to make sure the I2I project’s construction fits in with all the other projects being worked on, and being planned, in the area.
Johnson’s goal for the next year is getting all the nonprofit’s events, which were canceled last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, back on track.
“Anytime you’re planning a community event it’s a 12-month process,” Johnson said. “When you finish the event you start planning for the next one.”
In September, Murrells Inlet 2020 hosted the annual Race for the Inlet, one of its primary fundraisers.
“It went better than expected,” Johnson said. “It was not as big of turnout as it has been in year’s past, but it was a great event.”
Johnson hopes to return the event to the spring next year, if the pandemic is over.
Three of the nonprofit’s most popular events are in the fall: an oyster roast, a Christmas tree lighting and a Christmas parade.
The 17th annual oyster roast is Nov. 20 and will feature individual buckets of oysters.
“We’re having to do things a little bit differently this year,” Johnson said. “We’re trying be more COVID conscious.”
Tickets are $45 through Nov. 3 and $50 after.
Santa and Mrs. Claus will be on hand for the Christmas tree lighting on Dec. 4 in Morse Park.
“It will be a little bit smaller scale event than they’ve done in the past,” Johnson said. “More focused just on the Christmas tree lighting.”
The Clauses will also be the stars of the Christmas parade on Dec. 5.
Johnson wants to reach out to the community to see what kind of events and projects they want to do.
“That’s what we are, we’re a community organization,” she said.