The 2019 All Saints Garden Tour grant recipients included Jasper Backpack Buddies (Antioch Educational Center), Backpack Buddies of Bluffton, Backpack Buddies of Hilton Head Island, St. Stephen’s UMC Outreach Food Bank, Hilton Head Safe Harbour and The Literacy Center. This fall, these charities each received their awards of $5,675 from the 2019 Garden Tour. 

The 33rd annual All Saints Episcopal Church Garden Tour is scheduled for May 16.

After Beaufort County voters approved a $344 million bond referendum in November, the Beaufort County Board of Education has set maximum prices for building additions at River Ridge Academy and May River High School. M.B. Kahn Construction of Columbia will build the bond referendum’s first two projects for a guaranteed maximum price of $20.9 million. Those projects include River Ridge Academy, which will add four classrooms on each of its two existing wings and add a new eight-classroom wing. May River High will add a new two-story wing containing 23 classrooms. 

RUSSELLJohn Morris Russell, music director and conductor of the Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra, has been nominated for a Grammy Award. Russell’s nomination in the “Best Classical Compendium” category is for the recording “American Originals: 1918,” with the famed Cincinnati Pops. It was released under the Pops Fanfare Cincinnati label owned by the Cincinnati Symphony. The 61st annual Grammy Awards Premiere Ceremony will be held on Jan. 26 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

BEACH SHOVELSShovels longer than 30 inches and holes deeper than 1 foot are now illegal on Hilton Head Island beaches. The Town of Hilton Head Island unanimously approved the ban in November, arguing that holes are dangerous for sea turtles because they can trap turtle hatchlings on their way from the dunes to the sea. All holes on the beach must now be filled in with sand no later than 30 minutes prior to sunset. 

Beloved Blufftonian Jeffrey Robinowich, longtime proprietor of Morris Garage and Towing, has been selected to be part of the Bluffton Wall of Honor at Town Hall. His photograph and a short biography will hang on the wall so that visitors can learn what makes Bluffton “a state of mind” — and Robinowich should know, since he moved to the town in 1962. 

A new traffic signal is now operational at the intersection of Pope Avenue and Lagoon Road. This new traffic signal, which also includes pedestrian signals to help people with crossing all four approaching streets, is part of the Town of Hilton Head Island’s transportation improvements in the Coligny area. It also will serve traffic going to the new Lowcountry Celebration Park, which is currently under construction. 

To meet Hilton Head Island’s goal of providing housing for workers, a housing consultant said the island needs to build 200 homes and apartment units each year for 10 years and make sure about 30% of those units are affordable. The consultant recommended three sites because they are close to employment centers on the island: Squire Pope area on the northwest side of the island; the Palmetto Bay corridor at the southern base of the Cross Island Parkway; and the Main Street opportunity zone in the north central part of the island. Town staff is researching the possibilities in those neighborhoods and what, if any, zoning or ownership changes the council would have to occur to encourage workforce housing developments. 

evansWilliam M. “Bill” Evans, former Beaufort County school board chairman and former principal of Hilton Head Island High School, died Dec. 11 at his home on Lady’s Island. He was 72. Evans resigned as school board chairman in October 2015. He held a master’s degree from Penn State University and an undergraduate degree from Rutgers University, where he played on the golf team. Evans was a volunteer with the RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing golf tournament from 1987 until 2018; president of the Rotary Club of the Lowcountry; a Eucharist minister at St. Frances Catholic Church; and a volunteer at the Beaufort Water Festival. He also volunteered with Neighborhood Outreach Connection, AMIkids Beaufort, and First Tee of the Lowcountry, in addition to work with Port Royal Sound Foundation and numerous other nonprofit groups over the years. 


Long before golf courses, tennis courts, sprawling resorts, and rows of beach umbrellas turned Hilton Head Island into a premier vacation destination, something perhaps even more special was woven into the island’s fabric: rich history and a unique culture that still endures.

Hilton Head’s cultural past has not only survived but has become a valuable asset for an island whose economic lifeblood is tourism. And like other places blessed with colorful history, Hilton Head increasingly looks to “cultural tourism” as a resource important to the island’s prosperity.


When Hurricane Dorian ravaged The Bahamas in early September, a pair of Lowcountry residents reacted swiftly and decisively. 

The two — Hilton Head Island resident Jane Janiak and state Rep. Bill Herbkersman of Bluffton — had watched uneasily as the devastating storm raked the islands. After seeing what was left behind, they resolved to help the recovery.

SeaWorld Orlando and Clearwater Marine Aquarium Research Institute helped rescue a distressed manatee in Palmetto Dunes Resort on Hilton Head Island in November. The 856-pound manatee had minor skin abrasions and was underweight. She was taken to SeaWorld Orlando for treatment and rehabilitation before being evaluated for return to the wild. 

Beaufort County Council member Steven Baer started a petition in November aimed at halting plans underway for widening bridges and causeways to Hilton Head Island. The petition, which urges the Hilton Head Island Town Council to reject all six proposals being considered by the S.C. Department of Transportation, quickly got 800 signatures.

MarksFormer Gov. Mark Sanford dropped out of the presidential race on Nov. 14, saying the focus on impeachment made it difficult for his campaign to gain traction. Sanford had focused his campaign on warnings about the national debt. When he launched his presidential bid over the summer, some questioned whether it was a publicity stunt. Sanford, 59, served three terms in the U.S. House of Representatives in the 1990s, then two four-year terms as governor before an extramarital affair marred the end of his second term. He won a special election to his old House seat in 2013, and was re-elected twice before his criticism of Trump led to a 2018 primary loss. 

In a controversial decision last month, Beaufort County Council Chairman Stu Rodman eliminated the public comment period previously held at the beginning of council meetings. The decision ends the council’s practice of allowing residents to speak for three minutes about issues on the agenda and for three minutes at the end of meetings about other issues. With the change, those who want to speak about agenda issues will have to wait until the issue is brought up by the council or until the end of the meeting. Rodman was accused of erecting barriers between local government officials and citizens. In June, Rodman recommended that transparency be removed as one of the council’s priorities. 

Beaufort County voters overwhelmingly approved a $344 million school bond referendum on Nov. 5. Nearly 70 percent of voters approved the measure, the largest bond referendum in the school district’s history. The Beaufort County school board now must select a financial adviser to guide the district’s issuance of bonds. A committee of community volunteers also will be selected to oversee how the money is spent. A website will be set up to allow citizens to track the progress of all referendum projects and review regular reports by the monitoring committee. 

Former Beaufort County Council member Jerry Stewart is being investigated following allegations that he lived and voted in another state during his term on council, according to the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division. In October, The Island Packet & Beaufort Gazette reported that Stewart cast votes on county issues and in a South Carolina primary despite living in North Carolina.The newspapers also reported that Stewart was registered to vote in both states — a violation of N.C. law — and had his Beaufort County Council payments mailed to his N.C. home.