The people have spoken. The winner of Monthly’s 2016 Cutest Kid Contest is Henley Jane Pankuch. This year’s contest took place on our Facebook page. We asked people to “like” our page and then “like” the photo they thought was the cutest. In just 15 days, more than 8,500 “likes” were cast. Pankuch racked up the most with 1,015.

Rethinking one of America’s most cherished ideals

Almost anywhere in the world, when someone mentions McDonald’s people instantly think of hamburgers, standardized food options, and a reliable quality of service. By any measure, this reflects brilliant marketing by the McDonald’s corporation. However, professor Jack Whelan has turned this McDonald’s phenomenon into a social critique, a metaphor for the way many Americans think.

If you have attended any of the Gullah cultural events going on around Hilton Head Island in the past, you might already know about some of the work that the Native Island Business and Community Affairs Association does. This year will be especially important as it marks the 20th annual Gullah Celebration. Each February, there is a monthlong calendar of events celebrating Gullah culture. It includes a variety of activities and events such as expos, food tastings, health screenings and gospel concerts, which will entertain and engage people of all ages. However, the association’s main objective is to expand the number of opportunities for both Hilton Head residents and tourists to experience the richness of Gullah culture every month of the year.

LOVE, RESPECT AND THE ART OF MARRIAGE

They met their first week as undergrads at Duke University. He was an engineering major and she was pursuing a career in nursing, and both were smitten from the start.

That was 46 years ago, but both Shirley and Joe Newton can tell you what they were wearing the day they met.They’ve learned a thing or two about what makes for a successful relationship and they’re not shy about sharing what they’ve gleaned along the way.

For as many years as there has been a place called “school,” we’ve been seeking ways to fashion the best educational experience for our children – the place that would provide students with the best possible education and send them forth fully prepared to meet life’s challenges.

Any school can dazzle you with a sales brochure. It's standard practice to show you the well-manicured grounds of some hallowed school, across which walk the attractive smiling students on their way to become more well-rounded people.

On Nov. 19, something new went on display at the Coastal Discovery Museum at Honey Horn.

But it isn’t among the other exhibits. Now hanging in the office of President/CEO Rex Garniewicz is a framed certificate that reads: “Smithsonian Institution Certificate of Affiliation: The Board of Regents and the Secretary of the Smithsonian is pleased to recognize Coastal Discovery Museum as an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution.”

A new ordinance aimed to curb an out-of-control pit bull population in Beaufort County shelters has owners angry and animal advocates defending the intent of the action.

Beaufort County Animal Services director Tallulah Trice has faced criticism since announcing an ordinance in October requiring pit bull owners in unincorporated parts of the county to spay and neuter their dogs.

ALLEGIANT

Allegiant recently announced four new nonstop flights to the Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport. Flights from Indianapolis and Pittsburgh begin April 8. Baltimore flights start April 29, followed by flights from Lexington, Kentucky, on June 2. One-way rates for all four flights will dip as low as $39.

Monthly celebrates local businesses and communities with the 2015 Readers’ Choice Awards, the “best of the best” places to shop, dine and live, as voted by you, our readers.

We received 8,726 electronic ballots in our eight-week Readers’ Choice promotional campaign, intended to identify the top businesses in a wide range of categories. Want to find the best of the Lowcountry? You will find it here. The list of categories and winners is extensive. As you read over the list, we’re sure you will recognize your favorites among the many categories. We also expect you will find some unexpected and unknown venues. We encourage you to examine the list and visit these reader-selected winners to judge for yourself. And, if you don’t see a business or community listed here you think is deserving, be sure to vote in the 2016 Readers’ Choice campaign.

The Hilton Head Area Chapter of the Military Officers Association of America and American Legion Post 49 will host a fellowship luncheon immediately following the annual Veterans Day ceremony held at the Shelter Cove Veterans Memorial at Shelter Cove Community Park.

“The members and auxiliary members of each organization will combine for this luncheon so that we can continue to enjoy the camaraderie of prior military service,” said Mike Danoff, president of the Hilton Head Area Chapter of the MOAA.

FINDINGS REBUT SKEPTICISM OF ARTS DETRACTORS

A recent study undertaken for Community Vision Hilton Head Inc., a local volunteer organization proposing development of a worldclass local performing arts center on Hilton Head Island, has found that such facilities are having a positive economic impact on similar communities across the United States.Funded solely by members of the nonprofit organization, the study was conducted this summer by University of South Carolina Beaufort researcher Catherine Moorman, who previously has worked on projects for the RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing PGA Tour golf tournament, the Hilton Head Island Motoring Festival & Concours d'Elegance, and other South Carolina events.

LEGENDARY GOLF COURSE ARCHITECT RETURNED TO THE ISLAND FOR A SPECIAL DEDICATION CEREMONY

Traditional bagpipes rang out as members of Long Cove Club on Hilton Head Island gathered near the 18th green of the private championship course last month for a dedication ceremony honoring worldrenown golf course architects Pete and Alice Dye. The Dyes were honored for the impact they have had on golf and golf course architecture and were recognized for their creation of Long Cove Club’s nationally acclaimed golf course. The dedication ceremony included remarks by Bobby Weed, golf course architect and former construction crew chief for the Long Cove Club course project in 1980, and David Ames, one of the founders of Long Cove Club. They spoke of the Dyes’ comprehensive work in golf course design and, in particular, complimented them on their “spectacular design” of the Long Cove Club golf course.

As Hilton Head Island’s dilapidated Pineland Station shopping center comes down, new details are being released for its replacement, a new shopping mall called Sea Turtle Marketplace. Original plans for a gas station at the center of the shopping center have been scrapped. New plans unanimously approved by the town’s Design Review Board call for seven new buildings, new paths to U.S. 278 and a new parking lot.