HILTON HEAD ISLAND WOMAN RECOUNTS ALLIGATOR ATTACK

What began as a typical morning at Hilton Head Plantation on Sept. 2 for 5-foot tall, 80 years young Ellie Kyle ended up in a fight for her life. 

Kyle was walking Lulu, her chihuahua-dachshund rescue dog, which she does each morning. 

“All of the sudden I look over, and an 8-foot alligator grabbed my legs and pulled me back in the water,” she said.

TCL’S CULINARY INSTITUTE OF THE SOUTH PREPS LOWCOUNTRY WORKFORCE

It’s not unusual to see the Lowcountry on the itinerary of cable channel celebrities searching for culinary culture spots. 

Don’t be surprised if one day some of the chefs featured are products of the Technical College of the Lowcountry’s Culinary Institute of the South, which opens in January at Buckwalter Place in Bluffton and was unveiled to the public in November. For the last two years, students have been training, a few miles away, in a teaching kitchen at the college’s Angus Cotton Academic Center. 

LOOKING BACK AT LOCAL AND NATIONAL HEADLINES

JANUARY
The year began in the shadow of the coronavirus with more than 100 million confirmed cases worldwide, but newly developed vaccines offered hope. Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines were proving to be effective, with initial doses administered to older adults. About four million doses were delivered per week in the United States to begin the year.

Locally, Marc Orlando resigned as Bluffton’s town manager and accepted the same position with the town of Hilton Head. He replaced Steve Riley, who retired last year. 

With a final-round team score of 315, May River High School won the SCHSL Class AAAA Gi r l s Golf State championship, the team’s second consecutive state crown. Hilton Head High finished second. Bluffton placed eighth. May River’s Kylie Bowes (147) finished second for the individual title. Hilton Head’s Alexia Milbrandt (151) was fourth. May River’s Robbin Zetrouer (156) and Claire Green (162) tied for sixth and 10th. 

maryfraserThe Lowcountry has lost the first lady of Hilton Head Island. 

Mary Wyman Stone Fraser, wife of the late Sea Pines founder Charles E. Fraser, died in October in North Carolina, her daughter, Laura Lawton Fraser told Monthly magazine. She was 80 years old. 

Her impact on the area was profound. 

Builders FirstSource, which is a supplier of structural building products, plans to bring operations to Jasper County and expects to create 126 new jobs in the next five years. The building will be in the Point South Commerce Park in Yemassee. The location will allow the company to expand its offerings and production capacity, a news release said.

District lines are redrawn every 10 years following the completion of the U.S. Census. Beaufort County will launch a website with information and, eventually, the maps for public comment, a news release said. 

Safe Harbor Marinas, which manages the city of Beaufort’s downtown marina, plans to invest more than $7.5 million on a marina expansion over the next two years, according to a news release. Safe Harbor’s plan for improvements includes a new floating dock system; resized slips to accommodate larger vessels; a new ADA-compliant gangway; and 2,496 linear feet of flexible side-tie berthing to host transient vehicles. Safe Harbor Marinas manages 125 marinas, including Charleston and Skull Creek on Hilton Head Island. 

Applications for the 2022 Heritage Classic Foundation Scholar Awards are available online for all Beaufort and Jasper County high school seniors. The Heritage Classic Foundation will name new scholars from the 2022 graduating class. 

The town of Bluffton received a $500,000 grant to go toward the New Riverside Barn Park project. The grant, from the South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism, is for the creation and development of New Riverside Barn Park. The first phase of the project will have large open space, perimeter trails, parking, restrooms, and infrastructure to support the park, such as fencing and sewer, water and storm drainage.

RODRIGUEZSuperintendent Frank Rodriguez was given a “highly effective” rating (3.72/4) from the Beaufort County School District. The school board said Rodriguez’s evaluation improved from last year. “Hard work, effective leadership, flexibility and innovation” from Rodriguez during the 2020-21 school year guided the district, board chairman Christina Gwozdz said in a statement. Rodriguez has been superintendent since 2019. 

Fred Hamilton and Larry Toomer were re-elected to Bluffton Town Council on Nov. 2. Toomer received 2,122 votes (43.5%). Hamilton received 1,611 (33%). Challenger Nathan Ferrell received 1,106 votes (22.7%). Hamilton has been a member of Town Council since 2005. Toomer has been a council member since 2013. The two Beaufort County referendums on the ballot did not pass.

BILL MILESThis year, Travel + Leisure and Conde Nast Traveler magazine released the results of their World’s Best awards and their readers once again voted Hilton Head Island the No. 1 island in the U.S. It’s a coveted award, voted upon by savvy travelers who know a good thing when they see it. Bluffton has also received its fair share of accolades and “best of” honors as people discover its unique charm and way of life. 

I often wish residents could see the Lowcountry through the eyes of our guests. We talk to hundreds of visitors every year at the chamber and they are captivated by the extraordinary beauty of the place we call home. We often become immune to that beauty as residents. 

BLUFFTON VETERAN GUSTAVO GOMEZ FINDS SOLACE ON THE BASEBALL FIELD

The baseball field is his sanctuary. The crack of the bat. The thwack of the ball hitting a glove. The smell of fresh grass.

Playing catch with his son or coaching the Bluffton community’s kids is what Gustavo Gomez savors. He enjoys analyzing projected lineups and teaching the basics of fielding and hitting.

Jennie Kitty spent her life caring for people. A home health aide and midwife, she raised nine children, including a few she and her husband, Deacon Renty Kitty, Sr., took in as their own.

POCKETS FULL OF SUNSHINE HOSTS COMMUNITY EVENT

More than 230 people participated in the Pockets Full of Sunshine “Fun in the Sun for Everyone” day on Sept. 11, held in front of Marriott’s Surf Watch on Hilton Head Island. The event gave special needs children and adults and their families the opportunity to enjoy the beach in a safe and inclusive setting. The event was helped by 60 “ community connection ” volunteers who taught participants how to surf, paddleboard and encouraged those who attended to play beach games and build sandcastles.