Crime & CourtsHeadlines

This Rural South Carolina Town Is Booming …

… but its leaders can’t seem to lay off the sauce.

The town of Aynor, South Carolina has defied the terminal velocity impacting so many rural municipalities in the Palmetto State. Most small towns outside of major population centers in South Carolina are shedding residents at an alarming clip – leaving corrupt local fiefdoms to pillage the remaining population.

Aynor is expanding, though …

After dwindling to fewer than 500 souls back in 1990, the town has more than doubled in population in the intervening years – including an 85.2 percent increase since the 2010 census putting its current population at just shy of 1,100.

Several new neighborhoods have been erected in the town, including a massive 140-home development surrounding Aynor Middle School to the west of the town as well as another 75-home complex off of Tolar Road to Aynor’s north.

While Aynor is inexplicably booming, its leaders continue boozing … if recent news reports are to be believed.

Readers will recall Aynor made headlines five years ago when its mayor – John Gardner – was pulled over by an Horry County police officer for driving with an open container. On a riding lawnmower …

Barefoot …

The scandal didn’t hurt Gardner – who doubles as the chief financial officer for Horry County’s government-run school system. He was reelected in 2021 with no opposition – and retained his educrat post.

Last Friday, news broke that yet another Aynor official was in hot water over his alleged affinity for cold brews.

According to reporter Christian Boschult of My Horry News, town manager Tony Godsey was arrested and charged with driving under the influence on May 7, 2022 after slamming his Chevrolet Suburban into a ditch while allegedly under the influence of alcohol (Natty Light, to be precise).

Why did it take nearly two months for news of Godsey’s arrest to break? Good question …

“I mean, I been drinkin’, yeah,” Godsey told S.C. Highway Patrol (SCHP) officer Mariah Moore, according to dashcam video obtained by Boschult.

Well, how much have you had to drink?” Moore asked him.

“Not sure,” Godsey replied.

(Click to view)

(Via: J. Reuben Long Detention Center)

At that point, Godsey (above) refused a field sobriety test and was placed under arrest on suspicion of driving under the influence. According to Boschult’s report, Moore noted Godsey “smelled of alcohol and had red, bloodshot eyes.” Also, the aforementioned can of Natty Light found in the crashed Suburban was “cool to the touch and still had beer in it,” she added.

Godsey had an unopened case of 24 fresh Natty Lights in the vehicle, too …

Look, I don’t begrudge anyone for enjoying a drink. Or for that matter a smoke or a snort. Especially if they live in Aynor. In fact, my personal views regarding “illegal” drug use are perfectly clear … and have been for some time. I believe drugs should be decriminalized – all of them.

But this libertarian worldview only extends up to a certain point – specifically the point where an individual’s behavior while under the influence of alcohol or drugs begins to impede upon the greater liberty of another human being.

“Your right to swing your arm leaves off where my right not to have my nose struck begins,” prohibitionist John B. Finch said during an 1882 address in Iowa City.



There is also a “thinning of the herd” component to consider here. After all, anyone who has read about the fentanyl epidemic in the Palmetto State and decides to risk a black market drug purchase … well … let’s just say I have a “slow Zebra” award with their name on it. One they will likely receive posthumously.

Again, elected or appointed leaders getting drunk on their own time in the privacy of their homes – or in other settings in which they do not endanger the lives fellow citizens – is no concern of mine. As long as they are discharging their duties honestly, efficiently and transparently … it is not my place to judge what they do in their private lives.

But when they cross the line and engage in behavior which puts their fellow citizens at risk? That is a big problem …

Unfortunately, far too many governments in South Carolina seem content with allowing that problem to fester as opposed to holding their “leaders” accountable.



(Via: Johanna Folks/ FITSNews)

Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children. And yes, he has LOTS of hats (including that St. Louis Cardinals’ lid pictured above).



Got something you’d like to say in response to one of our articles? Or an issue you’d like to address proactively? We have an open microphone policy! Submit your letter to the editor (or guest column) via email HERE. Got a tip for a story? CLICK HERE. Got a technical question or a glitch to report? CLICK HERE.


Get our newsletter by clicking here …



Get our newsletter by clicking here …


Related posts

Crime & Courts

‘Prison Empire’ Update: Guilty Verdict, Plea Deal

Jenn Wood
Crime & Courts

Former SCDMV Clerk Charged With Computer Crimes

Erin Parrott
Crime & Courts

Oconee Inmate Charged In Detention Center Death

Jenn Wood

Leave a Comment