Taking Care of BUSINESS

August’s MVP: Toni LyttonAfter 25 years with the sheriff ’s office, Toni Lytton now sits in the director’s chair for Beaufort County Animal Shelter & Control. Lytton, a native of California who lived in Hawaii after her father retired from the Marine Corps, came to the Lowcountry as a Marine wife in 1977. “Before I came here I worked for a veterinarian, but none of the vets were hiring,” she said of her career path. “I knew somebody who worked here and applied for the job and got it.”

When she started with the department, animal control officers didn’t carry guns even though they were certified deputies. “That came later,” Lytton said. “The incident reports haven’t changed, we just get more of them now. A lot, lot more compared to the ’80s and ’90s.”

The shelter serves all of Beaufort County, including Hilton Head Island, Bluffton, Pritchardville and everything north of the Broad to the borders, she said. And population growth and development have increased the pressure of the job. “The people coming into Beaufort County are more demanding,” she explained.

Saving lives and beautifying beaches through Shore Beach Service.

July’s MVP: RALPH WAGNEREverything about his office has the usual corporate feel to it: an oversized wooden desk, family photos sprinkled throughout, however, visitors don’t receive the standard guest chair. It seems only appropriate that the “president’s office” would have beach chairs for visitors. When you’re the longtime owner of Shore Beach Service, green beach chairs for your guests make sense.

Ralph Wagner has been at the helm of Shore Beach Service since 1992. The beautiful island beaches we all know and love are kept that way in large part by Wagner and his staff. Shore Beach Service (shorebeach.com) is in charge of keeping the beaches beautiful as well as the ultra-important task of keeping beachgoers safe and out of harms way.

Wagner originally hails from the Midwest but came to Hilton Head Island in the early ,90s from snowy Chicago where he worked in corporate America as a controller for a Fortune 100 company. When the opportunity arose to purchase Shore Beach Service, the move was made.

Lowcountry maven Natalie Hefter is commended for her contributions to our community.

Lowcountry maven Natalie Hefter is commended for her contributions to our community.Want to know the history of life before the mainland bridge to Hilton Head Island? Just ask Natalie. Ever wondered about the headstones that seem to lean into the sunset along Broad Creek? Curious to know where alligators go after sunning themselves on the lazy lagoon bank or how long it takes to restore an old hunting plantation to its former glory? Just ask Natalie. Sometimes we’re all defined by what we do and when you carry around in your head the breadth and depth of knowledge about all things Lowcountry that Natalie Hefter does, you’re bound to garner a reputation as the one with lots of answers to lots of questions.

As Vice President of Programs for the Coastal Discovery Museum, Hefter counts herself lucky to be doing what she’s always loved since childhood. She hails from a family where international travel was the norm and time spent in museums and historic sites in the hinterlands of China, Australia and Europe, and she sowed the seeds of curiosity that you’ll still find growing in Hefter today. The best part is that she’s also sharing her knowledge with everyone from grade schoolers learning the basics about marsh life, to retirees wanting to know more about the interesting past and present of a place they now call home.

May’s MVP: JAMES D. COLLETTThis month’s MVP award goes to Mr. James D. Collett. If there’s room on his mantle, Collett will add his MVP to a growing collection that includes, most recently, the 2008 Presbyterian Men of the Church’s Man of the Year.

A Washington, D.C. native, Collett came to Hilton Head Island in 2000 with his wife, Marcia, following a distinguished career with Bell Atlantic. He attended Denison University in Ohio for his undergraduate studies, served 3 1/2 years in the U.S. Air Force, and earned a master’s degree in real estate and urban land studies from the University of Florida.

Collett is active in the Presbyterian Church, where he is an ordained Deacon and a Stephen Minister. He is president of the Hilton Head Plantation POA and serves on the Town of Hilton Head Island’s Board of Zoning Appeals. Collett is also a member of the Rotary Club of Hilton Head Island, the Greater Island Council, the Hilton Head Island Council of the Navy League and the Bear Creek Golf Club.

Service with a SMILE

April’s MVP: EARL “HAPPY” MITCHELLAt 8 a.m. on a recent Friday, the sun was just coming up over Harbour Town Golf Links. While the rest of the world was yawning and coming to life, one man was already up and facing the day with a smile that has become his trademark. Despite the hour, Earl “Happy” Mitchell already had a table of early risers at The Harbour Town Grill, in The Sea Pines Resort, howling with laughter, whipped into a chuckling frenzy thanks to his infectious energy.

The joke that started it all ended up lost in the laughter, but the punchline had something to do with an egg white omelet that had to be precisely cooked. They were the only people in the entire restaurant, but Happy had them laughing hard enough that Chuck, his co-worker behind the bar, was having a hard time hearing the phone call he’d just answered.

A Guardian ANGEL.

March's MVP: Kristin DubrowskiKristin Dubrowski is the executive director for CODA (Citizens Opposed to Domestic Violence), a non-profit organization that seeks to prevent domestic violence through education and care for individuals and families in Beaufort, Colleton, Jasper and Hampton counties.

Their comprehensive services include a 24-hour hotline, counseling, shelter, legal services and community education programs. On March 30th, CODA will host “Carolina Spring Fling,” a shag dance fundraiser featuring live music, dinner and an auction.

For more information visit codalowcountry.org or carolinaspringfling.com, or see Monthlys event coverage on page 90.

A true asset to our community and a dedicated mother.

February's MVP: Carol BartholomewCarol Bartholomew is the kind of woman with whom everyone would like to have a cup of coffee. No matter how hectic your day is, a conversation with this dynamic, compassionate woman is a lesson in prioritization. She “walks her talk.”

Her commitment to her family and her community are an example for anyone who believes that you measure your life in love. Her caring, compassionate persona is something she puts into action for her family, friends and community on a daily basis.

She’s an individual who knows what’s important in life and lives it everyday. Monthly is proud to honor Carol as this month’s MVP.

Catch of the DAY.

2008’s first MVP: Capt. Fuzzy DavisCapt. Fuzzy Davis has spent much of his career on the water. After many years of fishing and throwing his catches back, he decided it was time to give back to the community.

He and his wife, Kim, started Fishing With Friends 12 years ago. “I thought of the idea as a way to give back to the community, specifically to kids who wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to enjoy the waters of Hilton Head Island.” Davis had a couple of inspirations that led him to come up with the idea for Fishing With Friends. One source of his inspiration was his first cousin, Gwynne Allison, who was stricken with multiple sclerosis at a very young age. “I always wanted to get her out on the boat, but she wasn’t able to,” he said. He also recalled witnessing the special relationship she had with her parents, who helped her experience and enjoy life. That inspired Davis to want to do the same for others.