The South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation & Tourism recently awarded the town of Bluffton a $200,000 Undiscovered South Carolina Grant to rehabilitate the historic Garvin House, which is the earliest-known home built by a freed slave on the May River. The grant will be used for restoration work, which is scheduled to begin this year.

The process has begun for Bluffton residents to have a courtesy dock, a two-lane boat ramp, new accessible sidewalks and expanded parking spaces at the Oyster Factory Park by summer. The town of Bluffton contracted with Hilton Head Island-based Nix Construction and Ridgeland-based JS Construction Services to manage the estimated $879,000 project.

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.

The Bluffton Police Department has implemented new security measures for all Bluffton Town Council meetings as part of an update to town policies and procedures. “We have an obligation to provide a safe and secure place for the public. We aren’t here to impose on anyone’s privacy; we just want to protect them,” said Bluffton Police Chief Joey Reynolds.

Lee JeanSixteen-year-old Bluffton resident Lee Jean was featured in the premiere episode of the popular Fox TV reality series “American Idol.” Jean impressed judges Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban and Harry Connick Jr., receiving votes from all three for his performance of “I See Fire” and earning a golden ticket to the Hollywood round of the show.

A frontage road connecting Berkeley Hall, St. Gregory the Great Catholic Church and the Bluffton Township Fire District headquarters is now under construction. The long-debated project is expected to be completed by August. A new traffic signal and deceleration lane will be added to U.S. 278 in front of the fire headquarters.

A new technology to help identify stolen property was recently introduced by the Bluffton Police Department. The new technology is called Anti-Theft Dots, a special adhesive that can be applied to all types of property. Suspended in the adhesive are thousands of tiny microdots, smaller than the size of a grain of sand. Each microdot contains a unique PIN, which is registered and stored in a secure database.

Cayden SullardA video recently posted on YouTube features 7-year-old Bluffton resident Cayden Sullard using a bow-and-arrow and a piece of string to remove a loose tooth. The 30-second video, titled “Kid pulls out his first tooth in the most epic way possible,” was recorded on his father’s cellphone in the family’s backyard.

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.

DAN WOOD, HARRY LUTZ TALK 2016 PRIORITIES, FOOTBALL AND DISNEY FANATICISM

Change is once again coming to Bluffton town leadership. For the third straight election, challengers have unseated incumbents. Longtime Blufftonian Dan Wood and relative newcomer Harry Lutz won the Nov. 17 three-way runoff, beating councilman and restaurateur Ted Hoffman. Monthly reached out to the new leaders for their take on what’s next for Bluffton, where they’ll focus their energies and the family that helped boost them to the win.

The Bluffton Police Department recently announced the implementation of a Hispanic Hotline. Those speaking Spanish are now able to leave an anonymous message for officers to help fight crime. According to data from the United States Census Bureau, Bluffton currently has a Hispanic/Latino population of approximately 18.8 percent, which means there have been more than 2,700 people in Bluffton who may have wanted to help police in the past, but haven’t had a way to do so. Now they do.

Bluffton Mayor Lisa Sulka recently announced the signing of a public-private partnership agreement between the town of Bluffton, the Bluffton Public Development Corporation and Southeastern Development Associates (formerly known as Blanchard & Calhoun Commercial) that will further develop Buckwalter Place Commerce Park.

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.