Hargray Communications has opened a new retail center and continues to expand service on Hilton Head Island. The newly remodeled space at 862-A William Hilton Parkway includes a sales and customer service area and a community room that local groups can use for meetings free of charge. The company continues to expand and upgrade its network to deliver faster Internet, making Hilton Head Island one of a small number of cities nationwide with near ubiquitous access to fiber to the premises (FTTP). Only 13% of homes and businesses in the U.S. have access to premium fiber services: on Hilton Head, more than two-thirds of residents and businesses do. 

Construction continues along Pope Avenue on Hilton Head Island’s south end Two major projects underway — the Lowcountry Celebration Park and the Marriott Courtyard hotel — will come together in the next year, their contractors say, changing the face of the town’s main drag. The intersection of Pope Avenue and Lagoon Road will soon have a traffic signal to direct traffic into the park.

Recreational cycling

Recreational cycling has been part of Hilton Head Island for years. Our bike-friendly status makes us stand out and it’s a coveted island amenity. But biking’s range is limited — we can’t walk, run or ride bikes safely between the mainland, Pinckney Island and Hilton Head Island. The U.S. 278 bridge corridor project is going to change that.

The road-widening project on Jenkins Island continues to be delayed, frustrating residents of Windmill Harbour and the surrounding area. The $9 million project was expected to be completed in winter 2018, but has been delayed multiple times because of the extensive coordination required for completion.

Mitchelville FreedomMITCHELVILLE REFLECTS ON TIES TO TONI MORRISON

Famed author Toni Morrison might be gone, but her impact in the Lowcountry still can be felt. Morrison — a writer, editor, professor and the first African American woman to win the Nobel Prize in literature and who died Aug. 5 — was responsible for the installation of an iron bench overlooking the marsh at Historic Mitchelville Freedom Park on Hilton Head Island.

Steven SchidrichThe Beaufort County Board of Education approved Steven Schidrich as the new principal at Hilton Head Island High School, replacing Amanda O’Nan. Schidrich was selected for the position after an unprecedented national search to fill the position that cost the district $20,000. Schidrich previously worked at Hilton Head Island High School as a social studies and International Baccalaureate teacher until 2012 and has served as assistant principal at Bluffton Middle School.

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 www.bcgov.net/vote.

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.

REFERENDUM WOULD FUND UPDATES AT SCHOOLS ACROSS BEAUFORT COUNTY

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, www.voteyesbeaufortcountyschools.org, 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 editor@hiltonheadmonthly.com for this section. Space is limited. 

LONG CLUB HOSTS BOYS & GIRLS CLUB KIDS

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.