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World leaders, award-winning journalists, exceptional artists, athletes, military heroes, and more are coming to Hilton Head Island for the newly founded Lowcountry Speaker Series. For its inaugural 2020 season, the Lowcountry Speaker Series will host Condoleezza Rice, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Paul Nicklen and Robert O’Neill.

Dr Sanjay GuptaA referendum in Sea Pines that would have raised property owners’ annual assessments by $450 to pay for critical infrastructure projects in the gated community on Hilton Head’s south end failed, according to an announcement by Sea Pines leadership.Although 72 percent of ballots were cast for the proposal, the tally didn’t meet the 75 percent threshold needed to pass, as outlined in the community’s covenants, written in 1974. The referendum was packaged as a way to address “Sea Pines Community’s aging infrastructure including roadways and stormwater ... deteriorating landscape and our traffic issues,” CSA president Bret Martin wrote in a statement about the results. 

vanagelCarolyn Vanagel, president of the Hilton Head Island Concours d’Elegance & Motoring Festival, will retire following the 18th annual event this fall. Vanagel has served as president for the last 16 years. Under her leadership, the event has grown from a twoday show with 6,000 attendees to a ten-day, internationally-recognized lifestyle event with over 20,000 guests from around the world. Lindsey Harrell, vice president of operations, will assume the role of president. The next Hilton Head Island Concours d’Elegance & Motoring festival will be held Oct. 24 – Nov. 3. 

A complimentary town shuttle service to the beach now runs on weekends from the University of South Carolina Beaufort’s Hilton Head Island campus at 1 Shark Drive to Coligny Beach. The free service operates continuously from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays through Labor Day. After 1 p.m., guests can catch the regularly scheduled Breeze Trolley at Coligny Beach Park and other various locations around Hilton Head Island. 

A new traffic signal at the intersection of William Hilton Parkway with Pembroke Drive and Museum Street includes left turn arrows for both directions of William Hilton Parkway. These new signals are the first on HHI to incorporate flashing yellow arrows in accordance with S.C. Department of Transportation guidelines. 

hector

Coach Jolene Watanabe of Smith Stearns Tennis Academy passed away in June from a rare form of appendix cancer. Watanabe reached the Top 100 on the WTA Tour, was the first female coach of the World Tennis Team and coached at Smith Stearns for over a decade. She was highly respected in the international tennis and Hilton Head communities.

Dr. Hector F. Esquivel passed away unexpectedly on July 4. Born Sept. 18, 1938, in Torro Valle de Cauca, Colombia, he moved to the Lowcountry with his family in 1983. During his time in the Lowcountry, he practiced medicine with compassion and altruism and played an integral role in the Hispanic community. 

A LOOK AT MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT PARRIS ISLAND, THE WORLD’S MOST GRUELING FINISHING SCHOOL

It was Dec. 16, 1986, when local artist Jack McNulty first arrived on Parris Island.

“The first thing I remember seeing was a one-way sign pointing toward the island. I thought that was pretty fitting,” he said.

The next thing he remembers is the bus coming to a stop, the dawn still yet to rise around it, and drill instructors flooding the aisle ordering everyone off. Still groggy, the recruits stepped out onto the famed yellow footprints for the first time.

The Town of Hilton Head Island hosted a groundbreaking ceremony for Lowcountry Celebration Park in June. The site is located off of Pope Avenue, adjacent to the Coligny Beach parking lot, and will one day feature a large lawn and stage to accommodate festivals, concerts and other gatherings, a playground, The Sandbox: An Interactive Children’s Museum, walking trails and boardwalks, exercise stations, plus additional parking and improved access to beach parking.

Fueled by an increase in new residential construction, Hardeeville continues to be the Lowcountry’s fastest-growing city, according to recently released U.S. Census figures. According to data released by the U.S. Census Bureau, Hardeeville’s newest population estimate for 2018 has grown 120 percent since the 2010 Census, with an average annual percent population increase of 15.09 percent. City officials anticipate continued strong growth as the number of construction permits continue to rise.

To help combat the workforce housing shortage on Hilton Head Island, the Richardson Group converted a former commercial building at One Park Lane into single- and double-occupancy residential units. Previously home to Carswell Insurance, the 8,800-square-foot building has been vacant for more than five years while surrounding businesses struggled to find homes for their workers. In total, the building can house 38 people in apartments that offer Wi-Fi, 55-inch TVs, and computer workspaces. The units are fully rented. 

HILTON HEAD CEMETERY JOINS NATIONAL REGISTER OF HISTORIC PLACES

In May, representatives from the Heritage Library Foundation joined community members and volunteers in accepting a plaque recognizing the St. Luke’s Parish Zion Chapel of Ease Cemetery’s designation on the National Register of Historic Places. 

This recognition comes after years of research by Heritage Library volunteers, who combed through records, oversaw restoration and research at the site and served as stewards of one of the island’s most fascinating historical spots. Fundraising efforts to create a history park on the site are ongoing via cf-lowcountry.org (choose Heritage Library-Zion Historic Site Preservation Fund). For information about tours conducted at the cemetery, go to www.heritagelib.org/tours.

The Kroger at Bluffton’s Buckwalter Place opened May 15. Inside the 113,000-square-foot grocery store is a beer and wine bar along with a sushi bar, hot deli, a salad bar, and a Starbucks. Online ordering and delivery options also are available.

Development around Buckwalter Place will continue with the construction of Washington Square, a large residential, office and retail community by Speyside Partners LLC. David Johnson, the property owner and developer, has said Washington Square will include “three-quarters of an acre in the middle of it for a lawn like you see in Savannah.”

Beaufort Memorial broke ground this week on a 70,000-square foot medical office building at Okatie Crossing, 122 Okatie Center Boulevard North. The three-story medical building on 19 acres will house