The Town of Hilton Head Island hosted a groundbreaking ceremony for Lowcountry Celebration Park in June. The site is located off of Pope Avenue, adjacent to the Coligny Beach parking lot, and will one day feature a large lawn and stage to accommodate festivals, concerts and other gatherings, a playground, The Sandbox: An Interactive Children’s Museum, walking trails and boardwalks, exercise stations, plus additional parking and improved access to beach parking.

Fueled by an increase in new residential construction, Hardeeville continues to be the Lowcountry’s fastest-growing city, according to recently released U.S. Census figures. According to data released by the U.S. Census Bureau, Hardeeville’s newest population estimate for 2018 has grown 120 percent since the 2010 Census, with an average annual percent population increase of 15.09 percent. City officials anticipate continued strong growth as the number of construction permits continue to rise.

To help combat the workforce housing shortage on Hilton Head Island, the Richardson Group converted a former commercial building at One Park Lane into single- and double-occupancy residential units. Previously home to Carswell Insurance, the 8,800-square-foot building has been vacant for more than five years while surrounding businesses struggled to find homes for their workers. In total, the building can house 38 people in apartments that offer Wi-Fi, 55-inch TVs, and computer workspaces. The units are fully rented. 

HILTON HEAD CEMETERY JOINS NATIONAL REGISTER OF HISTORIC PLACES

In May, representatives from the Heritage Library Foundation joined community members and volunteers in accepting a plaque recognizing the St. Luke’s Parish Zion Chapel of Ease Cemetery’s designation on the National Register of Historic Places. 

This recognition comes after years of research by Heritage Library volunteers, who combed through records, oversaw restoration and research at the site and served as stewards of one of the island’s most fascinating historical spots. Fundraising efforts to create a history park on the site are ongoing via cf-lowcountry.org (choose Heritage Library-Zion Historic Site Preservation Fund). For information about tours conducted at the cemetery, go to www.heritagelib.org/tours.

The Kroger at Bluffton’s Buckwalter Place opened May 15. Inside the 113,000-square-foot grocery store is a beer and wine bar along with a sushi bar, hot deli, a salad bar, and a Starbucks. Online ordering and delivery options also are available.

Development around Buckwalter Place will continue with the construction of Washington Square, a large residential, office and retail community by Speyside Partners LLC. David Johnson, the property owner and developer, has said Washington Square will include “three-quarters of an acre in the middle of it for a lawn like you see in Savannah.”

Beaufort Memorial broke ground this week on a 70,000-square foot medical office building at Okatie Crossing, 122 Okatie Center Boulevard North. The three-story medical building on 19 acres will house

Amanda ONanAfter four months of being on paid administrative leave, longtime Hilton Head Island principal Amanda O’Nan announced her resignation last month in a Facebook post that included an apology to her followers for “any hurt or disappointment” she had caused them, as well as a prayer that Beaufort County School District’s interim superintendent, human resources director and an unnamed school board member “continue to enjoy living in their glass house as they cast stones.” District spokesperson Jim Foster confirmed O’Nan’s resignation.

jacobsaMEET NEW COUNTY ADMINISTRATOR ASHLEY JACOBS

Growing up in the 1980s in Aiken — which was selected by Southern Living magazine last year as “The South’s No. 1 Small Town” — Ashley Jacobs probably didn’t realize how her surroundings were shaping her future.

Today, Jacobs is Beaufort County’s new administrator, and she’s expected to play a major role in propelling the county forward.

Paul MurdaughPaul Murdaugh, the 20-year-old Hampton man facing three felony counts of boating under the influence in the February crash near Parris Island that killed 19-year-old Mallory Beach and injured others on board, pleaded not guilty in May to all charges at a hearing at the Beaufort County Courthouse. Judge Steven John of the 15th Judicial Circuit granted Murdaugh’s attorneys’ request that Murdaugh be released on his own recognizance, a decision one of the attorneys called standard. But critics are complaining that Murduagh is being given special treatment due to his connections with one of Hampton’s most prominent families. Murdaugh surrendered his passport and cannot leave the 14th Judicial Circuit, which includes Beaufort, Hampton, Allendale, Colleton and Jasper counties, without permission of the court. Murdaugh’s trial date had not been set by press time.

The Beaufort County Design Review Board has approved plans to move forward with a 92-acre “luxury RV park.” The RV park is planned for the northwest corner of Hilton Head National golf course off of Bluffton Parkway. The project includes 300 high-end RV stalls, three amenity buildings, a greeting outpost building, a pocket park, a swimming pool, pickleball courts, a playground, kayaking and dock facilities, a dog park and walking paths.

Hilton Head Christian Academy held a groundbreaking ceremony for its new campus in Bluffton in May. The site is located near the corner of Bluffton Parkway and Masters Way. The 27.78-acre campus will cost more than $20 million. Hilton Head Christian currently has nearly 400 students, with nearly 70 percent currently commuting to the school’s Hilton Head campus from Bluffton and beyond.

The Town of Hilton Head has purchased a 4.57-acre tract on the north end of the island that will be used initially to create additional green space along William Hilton Parkway. The former site of Modern Classic Motors may eventually be resold for development, but the $3.65 million acquisition gives the town “the opportunity to guide the future use of this important parcel for the benefit of the community and our local economy,” Mayor John McCann said in a release.

HILTON HEAD MIDDLE SCHOOL PRINCIPAL ROLLS UP HER SLEEVES

Tough situations call for strong leaders. And after Hilton Head Island Middle School received a rating of “unsatisfactory” on the latest state schools report card, new principal Pat Freda is working hard to help turn it around.

District officials knew the school wasn’t thriving and at the end of last year and tapped Freda, who was then principal at Bluffton Middle School, to lead its recovery.

SPENCER FETED AT RETIREMENT BASH

Denise K SpencerDenise K. Spencer was honored at a retirement party April 9 at Sea Pines Country Club. Spencer served as president and CEO of Community Foundation of the Lowcountry for more than 12 years. Under her leadership, the group more than doubled its combined assets to more than $72 million. She also was instrumental in developing the partnership to give all Hilton Head Island residents access to public sewer as part of the Project SAFE initiative.

Speakers at the event included Herbert Ford, commissioner at Hilton Head Public Service District; David Bennett, former mayor of Hilton Head: and Eddy Hoyle, former executive director of Memory Matters. Hilton Head Island Town Council member David Ames presented Spencer with a commendation from the town. Spencer’s successor, Christopher Kerrigan, started last month.

trashThree fifth-grade students have challenged the Town of Hilton Head to enclose trash and recycling facilities on the beach to eliminate spills. Rosa Olivetti, Joshua Prada and Ethan Simpson presented the idea to Hilton Head Island Town Council in December. They estimate it would cost $120,000 to replace existing rubber trashcans with wooden trash corrals that would prevent the cans from spilling over and littering the beaches.

PanC.T. Pan of Taiwan won the 51st RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing at Harbour Town Golf Links. Pan, 27, is the first Chinese golfer to win the tournament. This is his first PGA Tour victory. Pan shot a 4-under 67 to finish at 12-under 272, a stroke ahead of Matt Kuchar. He left Hilton Head Island with a plaid jacket and $1.2 million — close to half his total previous career earnings. In a news conference, Pan said he learned to play golf because his mother is a caddie and his father, now deceased, also worked at a golf course and encouraged him. Pan played golf at the University of Washington, graduating in 2015 with a degree in communications. He turned pro the same year.