BEAUFORT COUNTY STEPS UP ITS PARKS PROGRAM

Beaufort County residents should soon begin to see the fruits of a $25 million referendum they passed last November to fund the county’s Rural and Critical Land Preservation Program.

The county and the Beaufort County Open Land Trust — which is contracted to oversee the Rural and Critical Lands program — have begun a 12-month “greenprinting” process in which public feedback will help prioritize which land parcels the county chooses to acquire and protect with its latest windfall.

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.

WOMEN IN PHILANTHROPY AWARDS GRANTS

Women in Philanthropy recently awarded: $76,200 in grants to local nonprofits whose work fit the theme “Preserving Our Lowcountry Heritage and History.” Recipients included: ABLE Foundation, Coastal Discovery Museum, Foundation for Educational Excellence, Boys & Girls Clubs of the Lowcountry, Heritage Library Foundation, Arts Center of Coastal Carolina, Penn Center and Mitchelville Preservation Project. Since 2006, Women in Philanthropy has awarded $518,200 in grants to local nonprofit organizations.

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.

Atticus EnfingeAtticus Enfinger, a first-grader from Bluffton Elementary School, was the national grade-level champion in the 2019 Zaner-Bloser National Handwriting Contest. That means his print entry was the best among all first-grade entries from across the country. He was honored at a Beaufort County School District Board of Education meeting in May. 

Beaufort County Council has approved the construction of a new fire station and an emergency operations center for the Bluffton Township Fire District for a projected cost of nearly $3.5 million, according to the fire district. The buildings will be along Hampton Lake Road near the intersection of Bluffton and Hampton parkways on a three-acre property adjacent to River Ridge Academy, according to county documents. The fire station portion will be known as Station 38. 

Intense rains in Beaufort County in June brought relief to a drought that had gripped the Lowcountry for weeks — but the storms did leave behind some chaos. Residents in Bluffton’s Belfair gated community dealt with a sinkhole the size of a school bus on Belfair Oaks Boulevard, and Hilton Head Plantation had to close its Cypress Gate entrance to take down two large oak trees uprooted by the rain and dangling precariously over Seabrook Drive. Bluffton’s 8.64 inches of rain in the 24-hour period from June 11-12 was the highest in the country.

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

Amanda ONanAfter four months of being on paid administrative leave, longtime Hilton Head Island principal Amanda O’Nan announced her resignation last month in a Facebook post that included an apology to her followers for “any hurt or disappointment” she had caused them, as well as a prayer that Beaufort County School District’s interim superintendent, human resources director and an unnamed school board member “continue to enjoy living in their glass house as they cast stones.” District spokesperson Jim Foster confirmed O’Nan’s resignation.

jacobsaMEET NEW COUNTY ADMINISTRATOR ASHLEY JACOBS

Growing up in the 1980s in Aiken — which was selected by Southern Living magazine last year as “The South’s No. 1 Small Town” — Ashley Jacobs probably didn’t realize how her surroundings were shaping her future.

Today, Jacobs is Beaufort County’s new administrator, and she’s expected to play a major role in propelling the county forward.

BLUFFTON TO HOST AREA’S FIRST PRIDE FESTIVAL

Ashley Mendez was 12 when she came out as gay to her closest friends and 16 when she broke the news to her family.

She figured being open about who she was would mean leaving her hometown of Bluffton as soon as possible, shoving off from conservative South Carolina in search of a more accepting community.

Paul MurdaughPaul Murdaugh, the 20-year-old Hampton man facing three felony counts of boating under the influence in the February crash near Parris Island that killed 19-year-old Mallory Beach and injured others on board, pleaded not guilty in May to all charges at a hearing at the Beaufort County Courthouse. Judge Steven John of the 15th Judicial Circuit granted Murdaugh’s attorneys’ request that Murdaugh be released on his own recognizance, a decision one of the attorneys called standard. But critics are complaining that Murduagh is being given special treatment due to his connections with one of Hampton’s most prominent families. Murdaugh surrendered his passport and cannot leave the 14th Judicial Circuit, which includes Beaufort, Hampton, Allendale, Colleton and Jasper counties, without permission of the court. Murdaugh’s trial date had not been set by press time.