LavonStevensFor Lavon Stevens, preserving Hilton Head Island’s Gullah heritage comes down to one simple truth: If people lose their land, they lose their culture.

“People have been losing their land here, thereby losing the culture, for many reasons,” said Stevens, chairman of the Gullah-Geechee Land & Cultural Preservation Task Force. 

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The corridor between Queens Folly Road and King Neptune Way on William Hilton Parkway will soon undergo construction to improve traffic conditions near Shelter Cove. The consultation, design and construction process of the Shelter Cove Revitalization Project will cost $1.25 million and work should be completed by summer 2020. The project aims to improve conditions for drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists who frequent the Shelter Cove area. Since 2015, there have been nearly 100 recorded collisions in the Shelter Cove corridor. 

puppybowlNot all the action will be on the football field on Super Bowl Sunday. Pups from Palmetto Animal League will be featured during the 15th annual Puppy Bowl, airing at 3 p.m. Feb. 3 on Animal Planet. The network sent a crew to Peacock Subaru in Hardeeville and PAL’s adoption center in December to film a segment about the nonprofit animal rescue organization and its volunteers for the broadcast.

ron titusRonald Titus, a beloved Hilton Head Island resident, was struck and killed by a car on Dec. 29 while walking across U.S. 278 near Jarvis Creek Park. He and his wife, Donna, had just celebrated their 63rd anniversary the night before. The 22-year-old driver of the car was not charged and witnesses said there was no way she could have avoided the accident.

One of the best thing about where we live is how giving our community is. Has your business or organization given back to the community? Submit your photos to editor@hiltonheadmonthly.com for this section. Space is limited.

Bluffton resident Mike Covert, a Republican, has filed with the South Carolina Federal Election Commission to run in the 2020 election. He aims to unseat Rep. Joe Cunningham, a freshman congressman and the first Democrat to represent District 1 in more than four decades. Covert is president and managing member of Covert Aire, LLC, a heating and air-condition business in the Lowcountry, and a member of Beaufort County Council.

Joe Patton, an 81-year-old resident of Hilton Head Island, was rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard after he became stuck in pluff mud in Skull Creek while riding his personal watercraft. Sea Tow of Hilton Head Island could not perform the rescue, so the U.S. Coast Guard arrived by helicopter to lift Patton to safety. Patton, who regularly rides near Skull Creek Marina by Hudson’s Seafood House On the Docks, returned home with no injuries.

The town of Bluffton is planning renovations at Oyster Factory Park in Bluffton. The boat ramp will close through mid-February as part of an effort to improve park drainage and walking accessibility, especially by paving over the gravel portion of Wharf Street. Access to the May River will be available at various locations throughout Bluffton including Alljoy Boat Landing as the renovations take place.

Each year, the All Saints Episcopal Church Garden Tour sponsors a poster contest for local artists. The work of the winning artist will appear on the 2019 poster, which will be displayed in businesses throughout Beaufort and Jasper counties and on the cover of the ticket booklet. Up to 70 artworks in various media will be on display at Hilton Head Hospital from Feb. 1 to March 3. The contest winner will be announced during a reception for the artists in the hospital lobby on March 3. For more information, go to www.allsaintsgardentour.com.

Twenty-nine local organizations will split $4.3 million in accommodations tax money collected from tourists to Hilton Head Island. State law requires 30 percent of all accommodates tax revenue to go to the town’s destination marketing organization, the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce. The chamber will receive $535,000 in accommodations tax grant money.

Starting this summer, Delta will begin offering nonstop flights from Hilton Head Island Airport to Atlanta and New York City. There will be three daily nonstop flights to Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and Saturday flights to LaGuardia Airport. Hilton Head Island Airport’s runway expansion project has allowed larger jets to land, which means more flight options and competitive pricing. The airport also is considering revamping its terminal and parking lot to accommodate an expected increase in passengers.

The owners of a Bluffton golf course are moving ahead with plans for a luxury recreational vehicle park – and it’s not the only one in the works for the Lowcountry.

Scratch Golf, LLC, wants to use nearly a third of the roughly 300-acre Hilton Head National Golf Club for the RV park, which spokesman Tom Gardo said will include up to 339 rental sites with parking pads for upscale vehicles — often worth anywhere from $250,000 to $2 million. The owner is looking for final approval before the end of the year so the park can open in spring 2020.

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.