FOLLOW THESE LOWCOUNTRY ISSUES THIS YEAR

Everywhere you look this time of year, you find year-end lists — the best of this, the biggest of that. But what about a year-begin list?

Here are some of the most intriguing local stories to keep an eye on in 2019:

Chip Michalove, a charter captain at Outcast Sport Fishing, recently hooked a 17-foot, 3,500-pound shark just a few miles off the coast of Hilton Head Island. The crew did not have a chance to tag the shark for research purposes. Michalove has been working with scientists at the Atlantic Shark Conservancy in Chatham, Massachusetts, to place satellite tracking tags on sharks and has caught more than 1,000 sharks throughout his career. This one was by far the largest.

RANDY WESTRandolph West, owner of Randolph West Builders and a longtime Bluffton resident, died recently in a tragic explosion in Bluffton. He is survived by his wife, Gayla, and his daughters Shellie (the CEO of the Greater Bluffton Chamber of Commerce) and Leigh. West was supportive of responsible development in Bluffton and constructed the building where the Bluffton chamber is currently housed.

There will be a special election Feb. 19 to fill the unexpired Hilton Head Island Town Council term of John McCann, who resigned from his Ward 6 seat in November after being elected mayor of Hilton Head. The term ends December 2020. Kent Berry, Jim Collett, Cathy McClellan and Glenn Stanford have registered with the town as candidates.

Community Foundation of the Lowcountry has awarded grants to Memory Matters and Second Helpings. Memory Matters received $120,590 over three years to help implement brain health programs. The grant will fund a brain health specialist position, along with covering other program expenses. A two-year, $36,882 grant will help Second Helpings fund a part-time coordinator in the Hilton Head and Bluffton area. The coordinator will build relationships with food partners and recipient agencies and manage volunteers, delivery routes, and relationships with grocery stores and food donors.

For the first time in four years, the S.C. Department of Education released school report cards last month, rating nearly every public school across the state on a scale of excellent, good, average, below average or unsatisfactory for the 2017-18 school year. The report cards help hold district and school administrators accountable for student achievement, standardized test scores, English proficiency, high school graduation rates and other criteria.

A new six-story hotel with rooftop bar and pool will open in the Coligny Beach by next fall. The Courtyard Marriott will include 115 rooms; the project is run by the Southeastern Development Association.

The Deep Well Project needs donations of new and gently used children’s winter coats in sizes 14-16. Drop off coats at 80 Capital Drive on Hilton Head Island. For more information, call 843-785-2849.

The Rotary Club of Hilton Head Island has launched a collaboration with the Hilton Head Island Bicycle Advisory Committee to provide bike safety kits to islanders who bike to work. Each kit contains a reflective vest, bike reflectors, reflecting strips and a card with safety tips. The project was spearheaded by Rotary member Jim Deas and the Rotary Club, which provided funding to purchase the safety vests, and Frank Babel and Mike Hills of the Hilton Head Island Bicycle Advisory Committee. Kits will be made available to local restaurants and hotels, as well as churches and organizations like The Deep Well Project and Volunteers in Medicine, whose clients might depend on their bikes for transportation.

The Long Cove Club Charitable Advisory Committee is accepting applications starting January 15 for grants that to nonprofit organizations in Beaufort and Jasper Counties. To be considered, organizations should have plans for a project to improve health, housing, hunger or educational issues. The deadline for applications is March 31.For more information contact Jordan Potter at jpotter@longcoveclub.com, call 843- 686-1070 or go to www.longcoveclub.com.

USCB HOSPITALITY MANAGEMENT CAMPUS OPENS ON HILTON HEAD 

For years, Hilton Head Island has repeatedly been named as one of the best island destinations in the world, earning praise for its world-class resorts, amenities and service.

Before gated communities dominated the landscape of Hilton Head Island, close-knit communities of native islanders defined this paradise. 

Only the people who lived in them, mostly on family-owned land in the middle and northern parts of the island, knew the boundaries of their neighborhoods: Big Stoney, Little Stoney, Squire Pope, Jarvis, Jonesville, Spanish Wells, Gardner, Marshland, Chaplin, Grassland, Big Hill, Baygall and Mitchelville.

A Shipyard Plantation resident was napping at home when a fire started at the condominium complex. The resident’s pet pug woke up the owner to alert them of the fire and they escaped the building. The resident was admitted to the hospital for smoke inhalation. Three condominium units were damaged, but no one was injured.