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TOM PEEPLES RETIRES AFTER 43 YEARS SERVING THE LOWCOUNTRY

After 43 years of building homes on Hilton Head Island, the town’s former longtime mayor, Tom Peeples, has retired. 

Born and raised in Ridgeland, Peeples spent a lot of time on Hilton Head as a young boy. His parents bought property on the island in the early 1950s, before there was a bridge to the mainland.

CATCHING UP ON INITIATIVES FOR HILTON HEAD AND BLUFFTON

The Lowcountry is thriving with ever-evolving projects. Here is a look at three initiatives that are underway:

STGREGORY THE GREAT

Bluffton Town Council unanimously approved a final reading to annex St. Gregory the Great Catholic Church and School into the town of Bluffton. Council approved a master plan for the property that includes potential expansions of the church and school and commercial and multi-family residential development. 

BLUFFTON MINORSThe 10-and-under all-stars from Bluffton and the 12-and-under squad from Hilton Head Island represented South Carolina in the Dixie Youth Baseball World Series played Aug. 7-12 in Laurel, Mississippi. The Bluffton Minors All-Stars finished their postseason campaign 12-3, including a South Carolina state title. The team went 2-2 at the Dixie World Series. The team opened with a 13-3 win over runner-up Georgia. The Hilton Head O-Zone All-Stars won a state crown before losing twice at the World Series. Hilton Head’s postseason run ended with an 8-3 record. The Dixie World Series includes the state champions from 11 states and a host team. 

Chris Protz, CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Lowcountry, plans to retire Dec. 10. Protz has worked with the Boys & Girls Clubs for 46 years, including the past nine years as CEO. “It has been a great privilege to work with some incredible, dedicated staff and board volunteers who are so committed to helping young people, particularly those who need our services the most,” Protz said.

Hilton Head Town Council voted to expand its Land Management Ordinance which will primarily benefit properties in the historic Gullah Geechee neighborhoods. The ordinance will define and include uses for family compounds and family subdivisions, a news release said. The family compound amendment allows multiple homes to be built on a single parcel of land with decreased setbacks, buffers, and access widths.

The Town of Bluffton Municipal General Election is set for Nov. 2. Two council seats are up for election: Mayor Pro Tempore/ Councilmember, held by Fred Hamilton, and the council seat held by Larry Toomer. The filing period for candidates began Aug. 3 and ends 12 p.m. Sept. 3. For more i nformation, email kchapman@townofbluffton.com or call 843-706-4505. 

University of South Carolina Beaufort senior Bethany McDonald launched Finnegan’s Sharing Shack July 31 at Driessen Beach Park. The initiative is designed to reduce waste and promote sustainability by recycling beach gear for free for visitors and locals, a Town of Hilton Head news release said. McDonald and Haven Banks, also a USCB student, encourage beachgoers to take what they need from an array of toys, tents, towels, chaise lounges and more. The inventory at Finnegan’s Sharing Shack is salvaged from the beach and collected from local resorts, sanitized and offered to new owners.

May River High School has been authorized to offer the Cambridge International Secondary Program for students ages 11 to 19. Cambridge International provides students with a world-class curriculum, high-quality support for teachers, and integrated assessment. May River High School will initially participate in the Cambridge Upper Secondary stage and transition to Cambridge Advanced. 

Hilton Head Island Mayor John McCann signed a local state of emergency in response to increasing COVID-19 cases and transmission. The emergency order went into effect Aug. 16. McCann encourages residents to wear masks in enclosed areas with other individuals; get an approved COVID-19 vaccine; practicing good hand hygiene; and practicing social distancing to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, a news release said.

Palmetto Dunes Tennis & Pickleball Center will host the Association of Pickleball Professionals Hilton Head Open, scheduled for Oct. 13-17. The APP Hilton Head Open at Palmetto Dunes is a “golden ticket qualifier” for amateurs and professionals for Nationals held at Indian Wells in California this December. 

gomezBluffton resident Gustavo Gomez Jr., a 14-year-old at May River High School, competed recently at the Baseball Factory National World Series. The July event in Bradenton, Fla., featured top players from the country. He played second base, right field and first base. Gomez Jr. was also picked to compete next January at the Baseball Factory Pre-Season All American Rookie Tournament. 

letterSunshine, salty air, crashing waves. The best part of living on or near an island is the beach, yet this natural wonder isn’t equally accessible for everyone and can be especially daunting for individuals with disabilities. These were the thoughts echoing in the head of then 16-year-old James Bartholomew, a local islander with a passion for surfing and a deep love for his older sister with special needs, Sally. 

James wanted Sally and her friends to have the same experience of the ocean he loved, so he rounded up some surfing buddies and invited her special needs class to the beach. It was a beautiful day, full of smiles, laughter and teenagers enjoying the beach alongside one another regardless of their ability.

DOG BRINGS COMFORT TO HILTON HEAD AIRPORT

Feeling stressed about air travel with the tight timelines and long security lines? Sometimes comfort walks in on four paws.

Now that people are flying more often as pandemic travel restrictions have lessened, passengers at the newly expanded Hilton Head Island Airport have had the pleasant surprise of being greeted by Zoara, a golden retriever who wears a vest that reads: "Please Pet Me."