A plan for a micro-hospital in Bluffton received initial approval by Bluffton Town Council in March. South of the Broad Healthcare is a joint venture between Beaufort Memorial Hospital and the Medical University of South Carolina and the first of its kind in the state. If approved, the facility will be 65,000 square feet on about 12.5 acres near the intersection of Bluffton Parkway, Innovation Drive and Buckwalter Parkway, according to the plan submitted to the town’s department of growth management.

Town Council members inducted Mayor Lisa Sulka into the town of Bluffton’s Wall of Honor in February.  Sulka, the town’s first female mayor, was nominated because she epitomizes the town’s slogan, “Heart of the Lowcountry.” She led the town’s economic development charge as she partnered with Clemson University in 2012 to create the Don Ryan Center for Innovation, the first business incubation center in a non-metropolitan area of South Carolina. Sulka is also a strong advocate for Bluffton’s youth. She says she hopes her actions, whether it is writing recommendations to colleges for students or helping them with their applications or just reminding them that Bluffton’s adults are rooting for them, have made an impact on their lives. The Wall of Honor is located adjacent to the Charles E. Ulmer Auditorium in Town Hall. 

One of Bluffton’s original grocery stores, The Rate at 45 Bridge St., will undergo restoration to its former condition. New owner Debbie Wunder bought the property last year and plans to restore the now-dilapidated building to honor the town’s history, architecture and preservation efforts. Bluffton’s Developmental Review Committee is currently reviewing her plans.

The town of Bluffton closed on the purchase of a 37-acre parcel located at 200 New Riverside Road in December. This property, commonly known as the New Riverside barn property, includes the iconic 2,700-square-foot barn visible from the highway. The sales agreement also included the donation of a 7-acre parcel located at the southeastern intersection of S.C. 46 and S.C. 170, made possible as a result of a successful strategic partnership with Palmetto Bluff. These properties are expected to be used as civic space. The parcel was purchased for $200,000.

Bluffton resident Mike Covert, a Republican, has filed with the South Carolina Federal Election Commission to run in the 2020 election. He aims to unseat Rep. Joe Cunningham, a freshman congressman and the first Democrat to represent District 1 in more than four decades. Covert is president and managing member of Covert Aire, LLC, a heating and air-condition business in the Lowcountry, and a member of Beaufort County Council.

The town of Bluffton is planning renovations at Oyster Factory Park in Bluffton. The boat ramp will close through mid-February as part of an effort to improve park drainage and walking accessibility, especially by paving over the gravel portion of Wharf Street. Access to the May River will be available at various locations throughout Bluffton including Alljoy Boat Landing as the renovations take place.

The owners of a Bluffton golf course are moving ahead with plans for a luxury recreational vehicle park – and it’s not the only one in the works for the Lowcountry.

Scratch Golf, LLC, wants to use nearly a third of the roughly 300-acre Hilton Head National Golf Club for the RV park, which spokesman Tom Gardo said will include up to 339 rental sites with parking pads for upscale vehicles — often worth anywhere from $250,000 to $2 million. The owner is looking for final approval before the end of the year so the park can open in spring 2020.

The All Saints Episcopal Church Garden Tour has awarded grants to the Antioch Educational Center, Backpack Buddies of Bluffton, Backpack Buddies of Hilton Head, Hilton Head Safe Harbour and St. Stephens’s United Methodist Church Outreach Foodbank. Net proceeds from the annual All Saints Garden Tours are donated to charities that focus on hunger, homelessness, literacy or aging with budgets of less than $650,000 in Beaufort and Jasper counties. The 32nd annual garden tour is scheduled for May 18.

The Don Ryan Center for Innovation broke ground Nov. 14 on its new facility in Buckwalter Place Commerce Park. The center’s mission is to build a business-friendly community for entrepreneurs and attract core target industries. The facility will house the DRCI business incubator, offer high tech co-working and meeting space, and serve as the Town of Bluffton’s economic development headquarters. Buckwalter Place Commerce Park includes eviCore Healthcare, Southeastern Development, Regency Centers, St. Joseph Candler, and Technical College of the Lowcountry Culinary Arts. The Don Ryan Center building will be adjacent to the new Kroger Market Place, which is under construction now.

Bluffton finally has a place for dogs to run free, socialize and play in a safe, enclosed area.

After 12 long years, the town finally has its first dog park, holding a ribbon-cutting ceremony Nov. 7 at the park in Oscar Frazier Park — a ceremony attended by Bluffton Mayor Lisa Sulka, area residents and excited pups.