A double shooting left a Hilton Head Island doctor wounded and his ex-girlfriend dead on Sept. 4, in a murder-suicide that rocked the upscale Spanish Wells community. Jennifer Rudemyer of Bluffton, a professional organizer and former Beaufort County School District teacher, shot Dr. Gaston Perez multiple times before turning her gun on herself. Perez and Rudemeyer had been in an on-again, off-again relationship for years, and he had been granted a restraining order against her shortly before the shooting.

Field of DreamsThe Bluffton Community Center Foundation received a $67,000 grant from Community Foundation of the Lowcountry to help cover the cost of Phase II of the Field of Dreams Park Improvement Project. Construction in Phase II will include the addition of a covered pavilion with restrooms, picnic tables and an art wall to showcase local artists’ talents.

The Town of Hilton Head Island recently presented plans to the public for a two-year construction project to build Lowcountry Celebration Park in the Coligny area. The project now includes resurfacing all of Pope Avenue — from Sea Pines Circle to Coligny Circle — and must be completed by May 24 or the contractor will face a damage fine of $1,000 per day.

Sean AikenEdward Sean “Ada” Aiken’s uplifting spirit brought joy to the customers at Which Wich in Bluffton, where he worked until he was found shot to death in Seabrook on July 18. Aiken, 28, grew up in the tight-knit community of Seabrook. On Sept. 21, friends and family gathered there for a rally against violence organized by his mother. He graduated from Battery Creek High School in 2008 and was active in the LGBT community in Savannah. Anyone with information in this case is encouraged to contact Cpl. Jennifer Snider at 843-255-3421 or 1-888-274-6372.

Callawassie Island coupleThe state’s highest court has ruled against a Callawassie Island couple seeking to relinquish their community club membership. The South Carolina Supreme Court ruled in a 3-2 vote that property owners in the Callawassie community are responsible for paying club dues even after they resign, as mandated by the club contract. The case is just one of several that have been filed between Callawassie residents and the club. There is still an option for the couple to ask the court to reconsider the ruling.

bluffton roadTen Bluffton families now have an easier time driving to their homes after local businesses helped fund road improvements on Martha Brown Circle. Business that contributed were: Capt. Woody’s; Sigler’s Rotisserie & Seafood; Davis and Wine Dental Associates, LLC; Bluffton Non-Profit Housing Corporation; Garfield Moss, Jr. and Moss Landscapes; Morris Garage & Towing, Inc; Power Group, LLC; All Pro Tire & Lube Center; The Dispensary, LLC; Michael Hahn of Carson Realty; Waste Management; Cleland Construction; and Essroc. The dirt road was graded and resurfaced with gravel.

Community Foundation of the Lowcountry completed its second of three annual competitive grant cycles in July, awarding $498,023 to six local organizations. Beaufort County Animal Shelter Support Fund received a grant for a radiology lab; Bluffton Community Center Foundation received funding for the construction of a shade/picnic pavilion with restrooms; Bluffton-Jasper County Volunteers in Medicine received grants to support capacity building for staff and technology; Heritage Library Foundation received funding to support its first-ever paid executive director position; and the Hilton Head Recreation Association received $100,000 as a “matching grant” challenge to pay for a state-of-the-art inclusive playground.

ART IS EVERYTHING

“When I first moved here, people thought I was a Jamaican dog walker,” said Amiri Farris.

It’s true that he can often be spotted walking his dogs, Brownie and Bud, around Old Town Bluffton. But he’s also an artist known for his use of a variety of mediums and a professor of foundation studies at the Savannah College of Art and Design. 

cycle sculptureA new cycle sculpture will be dedicated to the Hilton Head Island cycling community on the anniversary of Jeff Garske’s death. Garske was an avid cyclist and founding member of Hilton Head Cycling before he was struck and killed by a drunk driver on the Cross Island Parkway last August. A memorial fund established by Garske’s cycling team raised enough money to commission and dedicate a sculpture that will become part of the Town of Hilton Head Island’s public art collection. The sculpture, called “Cycle,” was created by Hilton Head artist Kevin Lawless and is located at the southwest corner of Pope Avenue and South Forest Beach Drive.

Christopher ChapmondBluffton town manager Marc Orlando has selected Christopher Chapmond as Bluffton’s next chief of police. Chapmond, who is currently the assistant police chief for Hot Springs, Arkansas, was expected to begin work in Blufftton by Sept. 1. Orlander said the town received more than 60 applicants from 24 states and two countries. Chapmond has been employed by the Hot Springs Police Department since 1996, during which he has held the positions of field operations captain, patrol lieutenant, coordinator of the 18th East Drug Task Force, co-commander of the Hot Springs SWAT and commander of critical incidents.

Forty-five-year-old Cassandra Cline died Aug. 20 after an alligator pulled her and her dog into a lagoon in Sea Pines. Cline lived in Sea Pines and was killed while trying to save her dog, state officials said. The 9-foot alligator believed to be responsible for the attack was caught and euthanized. Law enforcement responded to Wood Duck Road after witnesses saw an alligator attacking the woman in a lagoon. A Sea Pines grounds official and neighbor witnessed the attack. The dog was unharmed. The Sea Pines Community Services Association has asked the community to “respect the needs of the investigators and privacy of the victim’s family and neighbors.” This is only the second alligator-related death in South Carolina since the state began keeping records in 1976. 

Plans for a new 200-home community have been proposed for a 30-acre tract of land near Spanish Wells. The proposal was presented to the Town of Hilton Head Island and is tentatively being called Old House Creek. The community will include single- and multi-family homes, but price points and other details have not been decided. Owner and developer Read Brennan does not anticipate having the final plans in place for another five to six months.

The Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce and the South Carolina Lowcountry SCORE chapter will host the second annual THRIVE Lowcountry Women’s Conference. It begin with a welcome reception from 5:30-8 p.m. Sept. 5 at the Sonesta Resort. The conference will be Sept. 6 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The presenting sponsor is BlueCross Blue Shield of South Carolina, and the event will be emceed by WSAV’s Tina Tyus-Shaw. Register at: www.hiltonheadchamber.org.

Developer K. Hovnanian Homes proposed a new development to be built adjacent to S.C. 46 and S.C. 170. The proposal includes 515 single-family homes with room for 11 acres of commercial space. K. Hovnanian’s next step is to redraw and present a final plan to Bluffton’s Development Review Committee to address traffic issues and accessibility concerns. The new development will be called Four Seasons of Bluffton — with no relation to the luxury hotel chain.

Bluffton made the national and international news last month, but not in a good way. British tabloid newspaper The Daily Mail, in addition to The Washington Post, ABC News, and other media outlets picked up the story of local resident Lauren Cutshaw, who was arrested for speeding through a stop sign and told officers from the Bluffton Police Department they shouldn't arrest her because she's a "very clean, thoroughbred, white girl," police said.

The All Saints Garden Tour, scheduled for May 18, 2019, invites non-profit organizations that serve Bluffton and Hilton Head area to apply for grants funded by the tour. The nonprofits should focus on hunger, homelessness, literacy or aging and have an annual budget of less than $650,000. Grant application forms are due Oct. 15.