News

BARRY LOWESBarry Lowes, Hilton Head’s best-known birder for about 30 years, died Feb. 8 at the age of 93. Lowes led the Audubon Christmas Bird Count for more than a quarter-century and acted as an environmental conscience for the Lowcountry, warning that development needed to leave habitat for birds and other animals. Hilton Head Audubon Society’s annual Christmas Bird Count, which includes the Bluffton area, has the third-highest number of participants in North America, local organizers report. Lowes travelled the world watching birds and was a photographer, author and owner of a children’s summer camp in his native Canada. 

godarkJoin millions around the world for Earth Hour 2020 and raise your voices for nature. Switch off your lights for one hour starting at 8:30 p.m. March 28. Earth Hour is the world’s largest grass-roots movement for the environment, inspiring communities around the world in more than 180 countries and territories. 

A large solar energy facility in northern Beaufort County will be permanently protected from major development, a first for South Carolina. The 628-acre property was a former tomato farm and is now owned by an affiliate of Adger Solar. Dominion Energy will begin operating on the land this year and is expected to power 9,000 homes for the next 25 years. 

Yemassee, a small town in the center of the South Carolina Lowcountry, is currently zoned for Hampton County. Town leaders want to secede from Hampton County in favor of joining Beaufort County to lower taxes and receive more efficient emergency services. The proposal is still in the discussion phase and Yemassee town leaders plan to host educational town hall meetings to inform residents of what the annexation would mean.

A 35-acre cleared parcel on Bluffton’s Buckwalter Parkway will eventually become Washington Square, a development with retail, residential and office spaces. On the west side of Buckwalter near Berkeley Place, it will feature 36 apartments above businesses, a locally sourced grocery market, an 80-room hotel, an assisted-living facility and more. Washington Square is still in the early stages of construction and development.

Initial data from the South Carolina Department of Public Safety has shown that tree-clearing along 34 miles of Interstate 95 has already saved lives. The clearing was completed in April 2019, and total tree-related collisions dropped almost 60% between 2018 and 2019. In 2019, no one was killed after crashing into a tree along the highway. 

The town of Bluffton has plans to turn a 760-acre parcel of undeveloped land into a large public park. Plans include an open-air picnic shelter, more than 4 miles of hiking and biking trails, and kayaking and canoe trails along the New River. Plans also call for two camping sites. The town council is expected to vote on the proposal in the coming months. 

The 134-year-old St. James Baptist Church on Hilton Head Island has to leave its original property because it’s at the northern end of the airport’s newly expanded runway. In 2018 the airport finished a 700-foot runway addition. Making the runway longer allowed larger planes to land there — but also extended the federally mandated “runway protection zone” over both St. James and the Old Cherry Hill School. St. James Church is the oldest continuously-operating cultural institution remaining within Mitchelville, the north-end village established for freed slaves in 1886, according to church leaders. The town’s plan is to purchase the school and St. James, relocate the schoolhouse building in its original form, and build the new church, according to town materials. 

ARCHAEOLOGY PROJECT HOPES TO FILL IN GAPS IN HISTORY

As a child growing up on Hilton Head Island, Thomas Barnwell Jr., saw his dad let people break off souvenir pieces of a tabby ruin that sat, crumbling, on their Squire Pope Road property. Today, the University of South Carolina Beaufort and the Barnwell family have partnered in an archaeology project that sees the tabby ruin as a key to the past.

HILTON HEAD PREP STUDENTS DONATE BLANKETS

As part of their annual winter outreach program, students from Hilton Head Preparatory School’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes made dozens of fleece blankets for the Sandalwood Community Food Pantry to be given to those in need. The students also delivered the blankets to the recipients.