Big shake-up at Atlantic Beach Town Hall

Atlantic Beach, SC (WMBF) - Only three council members showed up to Thursday night's special called town council in Atlantic Beach, but those three approved several big changes to the way the town is run.

Mayor Retha Pierce, Mayor-Elect Jake Evans, and Councilwoman Charlene Taylor voted to remove Interim Town Manager Calvin Blanton, who did not attend Thursday's meeting, from his job with the town; Blanton is now on administrative leave with pay pending a hearing to be held at a later date.

The trio also voted to strip Councilwoman Carolyn Cole, who also did not attend the meeting, of her title as Mayor Pro-Tem of Atlantic Beach, and replace her with Charlene Taylor. The three also voted to take away Cole and Blanton's ability to write checks using the town's bank account.

Pierce was guarded when asked why she believed the shake-up was needed, but did say the three council members in attendance came to Thursday's meeting expecting answers on recent events like the dissolving of the town's police department.

"We just came so we could have updates on the police department and other items that we're interested in," Pierce said.

Taylor said the changes were necessary following a rash of decisions she says hurt Atlantic Beach.

"We don't have a police department, we don't have a staff in town hall, and we don't have things that...we should have," Taylor stressed. "They say we don't have any money, we're going to find out whose got money, whether we have any or not."

Taylor said she hopes the removal of Cole and Blanton's responsibilities and access to the town checkbook will provide them with the tools to move Atlantic beach forward.

None of the council members was able to answer for sure why the police department was laid off nearly two weeks ago, or if they'll be back on the job anytime soon. On Thursday, Former Police Chief Michael Bordner told WMBF News he received a letter stating he had been laid off, but still is unsure himself as to the reason why.

In an interview immediately following the dissolving of the police force, Cole suggested the town wanted to revamp their police department because the current department was not responding to enough calls. She also said the town's police officers may not have been covered by the town's insurance policy.

For the time being, off duty Horry County Police officers are patrolling the town.

Neither Cole nor Blanton responded to calls for comment on Thursday night.

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