Bluffton residents can cast their ballots on Nov. 5 for mayor and two Bluffton Town Council seats during the municipal general election Nov. 5. Those seats are currently held by Mayor Lisa Sulka and councilmembers Dan Wood and Harry Lutz. To vote, residents must be registered by Oct. 4. To check your voter registration status or verify your precinct or polling location, call 843-255-6900 or go to

Valerie LMcCannValerie L. McCann, the wife of Hilton Head Island Mayor John McCann, passed away in July. Born in Chicago, she was an executive and owned an all-women limited partnership stock trading firm in San Mateo, California, and a consulting firm in Lexington, Kentucky. The McCanns purchased a home on Hilton Head Island in 1997 and moved to the island full time in 2002 from New York City. Valerie McCann was a member of the Neighborhood Outreach Connection board and taught English as a second language to elementary school students as a volunteer, as well as volunteered at Memory Matters and with Care Packages for Returning Soldiers.

The FBI interviewed the Beaufort County School District’s former procurement coordinator earlier this year as part of its ongoing investigation into the district’s former superintendent, Jeff Moss, and the construction of two Bluffton schools, May River High School and River Ridge Academy. Sandra Amsler, who retired in January, is at least the fourth district administrator known to have been contacted by the FBI since the district was notified in December 2017 of the investigation.

The Beaufort County School District will receive 18 new school buses powered by propane. The buses are part of the state’s portion of a settlement agreement with Volkswagen after the car manufacturer admitted to altering devices on cars to cheat emission tests. The new buses will cost half as much to fuel and maintain as the 1988 models they will replace, and they also are better for the environment.


Beaufort County voters again will face a school bond referendum when they go to the ballot box in November. And after the past two proposals fell short, public school advocates say it is even more imperative that the latest one passes this time around.

A group of local citizens has formed the nonprofit group Better Schools Now! to promote passage of the referendum. The group has a broad-based steering committee with representatives in Port Royal, Sheldon, Bluffton and on Hilton Head Island, and two local public relations firms — the Williams Group out of Beaufort and the Denarius Group on Hilton Head — will provide strategic counsel, marketing assistance and media planning. The group has launched a website,, to provide information about the benefits of the referendum, voter information and how to volunteer and contribute financially.

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


Members of the Long Cove Yacht Club invited children from the Boys and Girls Club of Hilton Head to a boat outing and lunch on Daufuskie Island on June 17. The group departed from the Long Cove Marina on boats owned and captained by Long Cove Yacht Club members for a day of fun on the water. Long Cove Club resident Debbe Steele organized the outing. 

For the fourth year in a row, Hilton Head Island has been named the Best Island in the U.S. by Travel + Leisure magazine. Travel + Leisure readers voted on the honor, basing their rankings on the following categories: natural attractions, activities and sights, restaurants and food, people and friendliness, and value. 

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. 

Pressana GrantPressana Grant, known locally as “The Bluffton Song Bird,” has been inducted to the town of Bluffton’s Wall of Honor. Grant wowed audiences with her beautiful voice as a gospel singer. The Bluffton native said she had sung in every church on Hilton Head Island and many in Bluffton. She was a licensed Evangelical minister, a mother and a grandmother. She died in 2017 at age 61. 

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. 


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. 


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 for this section. Space is limited.


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.