News

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.

BRIDGETTE FRAZIERPolitical newcomer Bridgette Frazier won a seat on the Bluffton Town Council in the Nov. 5 election. Frazier, 36, is a Hilton Head Island Middle School teacher and small business owner. She promised to focus on Bluffton’s changing identity, over-development, affordable housing, worker shortages and diversity. She is the daughter of Bluffton’s poet laureate, the late Oscar Frazier. 

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. 

Generosity is one of the best things about the Lowcountry. Has your business or organization given back to the community? Submit your photos to editor@hiltonheadmonthly.com for this section. Space is limited.

Michael Perry“PAPA BEAR” INJURED IN HUNTING ACCIDENT

Hilton Head Island fishing captain Michael Perry, owner of “Papa Bear Fishing Charters,” was injured in a hunting accident in November when he fell from a deer stand in Tennessee. The 44-year-old father of two was impaled by a tree and rushed to Vanderbilt University Medical Center for multiple surgeries. 

BLUFFTON BUILDING MEMORIAL TO VETERANS

Other towns across the United States have memorials to commemorate those who fought and who died for their country, but there is not one in the town of Bluffton. 

That’s about to change.

Next year, Bluffton residents will be able to celebrate Veterans Day at a new memorial currently under construction at Buckwalter Place. 

LOCAL ELECTIONS FOCUS ON SCHOOLS, GROWTH

Beaufort County residents won’t find many items on the ballot when they go to the polls Nov. 5, but the issues they’ll vote on have high stakes. 

The most notable item on the ballot is the Beaufort County School District bond referendum, which includes funding for a comprehensive list of projects that will impact schools throughout the county. Residents of the towns of Bluffton and Port Royal will also cast ballots in municipal elections.