Some folks would call what John Hunter does this time each year a major undertaking and a huge amount of stress.


Hilton Head and Beaufort County leaders are determined to complete the picture for a building a new, much-debated bridge connecting U.S. 278 with the island. It’s a commitment that calls for cooperation, communication and a lot of cash.

Once completed — and the goal is 2028 or early 2029 — the six-lane bridge is expected to improve traffic flow, enable bicyclists and pedestrians, enhance safety and satisfy a laundry list of government specifications.

JANUARY: The Lowcountry was welcomed to the New Year with a powerful overnight storm on Jan. 3 that left thousands without power. Severe storms and a cold front brought heavy rain and heavy wind. Wind gusts reached 49 miles per hour, according to the National Weather Service.


Sometimes it takes a crisis to bring a long-time issue to everyone’s attention. The need for affordable, attainable workforce housing on Hilton Head Island and the broader Lowcountry region isn’t new. But a recent crisis has certainly brought a whole new focus on the matter.


Growth, development and workforce housing are hot topics on Hilton Head Island, and possible projects are having an impact on the area.

The owners of a beloved business, Driftwood Stable, announced their plans to cease operations at their Jonesville Road location by the end of the year. Sisters Sondra and Marlene Makowski have operated the business, one of only two such operations on Hilton Head, for five years. They were notified by their landlord of his intention to sell the property.

An updated ordinance that Hilton Head Island Town Council passed will allow dogs to be on island beaches without a leash during designated times. The ordinance aligns with an animal control ordinance Beaufort County adopted with an exception to let the dogs run freely along the shore.

LaVerne Stewart, who teaches English Language Arts at Hilton Head Island Middle School, was named Beaufort County’s 2022-2023 District Teacher of the Year. Stewart has 22 years of teaching experience. The four other finalists were Kinsey Butler at Bluffton Middle School; Justine Hardy at Battery Creek High School; Karri Kearns at May River High School; and Jennifer Lyles at Coosa Elementary School. Stewart’s mother, Vernell Speaks-Stewart, was also a seventh-grade ELA educator in Beaufort County.

Municipalities in Beaufort and Jasper counties have created a regional housing consortium and have pledged $3.4 million to kick start the initiative. A Housing Trust Fund is established to support the production and preservation of affordable housing for the area’s teachers, law enforcement, first responders, cooks, and other service industry jobs.

The effects of Hurricane Ian were felt in the Lowcountry, but it did not directly hit the area, and there were no major impact, according to officials. Town of Hilton Head said Hilton Head Island Fire Rescue responded to six downed trees with no injuries or significant damage. Sustained winds of 38 miles per hour and gusts of 52 miles per hour were recorded on Hilton Head Island. Beaufort County saw about 1.5 inches of rain. The storm strengthened (Category 1) as it reached the Charleston area, bringing about eight inches of rain.

Lowcountry voters will head to the polls on Nov. 8. Hilton Head Island voters will choose a new mayor and there are council races. There are also Beaufort County school board and council races. For a sample ballot specific to your district, visit and click “Get My Sample Ballot.”

Brian Mixson, a former fighter in Jasper County, was honored by the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation. Mixson, 32, suffered a stroke while on duty on March 5, 2021. He was transported to a local hospital and died 12 days later. Mixson served as a firefighter and EMT in Jasper County for more than 14 years. He was one of 148 firefighters recognized at an event in October.

The Lowcountry and parts of the state were unnerved Oct. 5 by a number of fake reports of active shooters at schools. The Beaufort Police Department received a phone call at 9:27 a.m. reporting there was an active shooter at Beaufort High School. Officials said the call was a hoax, but before it was determined, police officers and sheriff’s deputies swarmed the school to make sure it was safe. About 40 officers were inside the school at one point, a news release said. The false alarm was one of 22 received by schools in South Carolina that day, Sheriff P.J. Tanner said.


Did you know someone in America develops Alzheimer’s disease every 65 seconds? Did you know in South Carolina there are 106,233 living with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia? Here in Beaufort County the cases of Alzheimer’s have grown by 354% since the year 2000.


Eleanor Lightsey was recognized by Beaufort County Council for her “commitment and dedication to the community” in making it a better place to live, work and play. She served the Lowcountry on various boards such as South Island Public Service District Board, Programs for Exceptional People, Forest Beach Owners Association, Board of Osprey Village, Community Vision of Hilton Head, Lowcountry Autism Foundation, Hilton Head Heroes and Safe Harbor and Turtle Trackers. In her professional career, she was named executive vice president of the Hilton Head Area Association of Realtors and became business manager for LowCountry InsideTrack, Ltd.


By James A. Mallory

Lowcountry voters will decide on Nov. 8 whether Congressional District 1 stays Republican or flips back to the Democrats. On Hilton Head Island, voters will choose a new mayor from among four candidates. Other state races include governor, U.S. Senator and a State School Superintendent.