The Island Recreation Center will be closing its doors March 17 for renovations. After-school Rec Club will be moving to Hilton Head Island Elementary School and Hilton Head Island Elementary School for the Creative Arts starting March 20. The schools will also host Island Rec’s All Day Summer Camp. Summer camp registration is open, and will remain open all summer. Island Rec’s full-time staff will be relocated to a mobile office starting March 20 in the Rec Center’s parking lot.

Please join us as the Town of Hilton Head Island hosts five community forums focused on entertainment, arts, culture, and heritage on the Island. All residents and visitors are encouraged to attend and provide input and ideas.

The Town's Venue Committee was asked by Town Council to recommend, if needed, the cost and funding mechanism of a possible venue(s) that will satisfy the needs of the community.

The LightsEarth Hour will roll across the globe from 8:30-9:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 25, uniting individuals, communities and organizations in 178 countries and territories. The event is held worldwide annually encouraging individuals, communities, households and businesses to turn off their non-essential lights for one hour as a symbol for their commitment to the planet.

Coastal Living magazine recently ranked Hilton Head Island as No. 7 on its list of “Happiest Seaside Towns in America” for 2017. Coastal Living chose its finalists based on their ranks on the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, as well as the percentage of clear and sunny days, healthiness of beaches, walkability, commute times, standard of living, financial well-being of local residents, crime ratings, geographic diversity and the editors’ own assessment of each town’s “coastal vibe.” Editors highlighted Hilton Head’s mild weather, golf courses, beaches and the sophisticated food and culture scene. 

As part of the private re-development work occurring at Sea Turtle Marketplace, the contractor will be temporarily closing portions of the Town's multi-use pathway adjacent to the site. Temporary closures of segments bordering the eastbound lanes of William Hilton Parkway (US 278) and the western side of Mathews Drive are anticipated. The closures are necessary due to the construction of the shopping center. Pathway closures are expected to be encountered from Wednesday, February 8th, 2017 through the end of February on an as-needed basis. Pathway users are asked to use extra caution in this area and be alert for the temporary closures and associated traffic control, and to use detours as indicated by signage.

Funding

The Finance & Administrative Committee met on 1/30/17 to discuss disaster-related expenses and the process for reimbursement. A future Finance & Administrative Committee meeting later this month will include discussion of potential ways to pay for the expenses. The 1st draft Project Worksheet for FEMA reimbursement of Category A - Public Assistance (Debris Removal) expenses was received from the FEMA project team on Friday, 2/3/17. It is currently under review by staff and once obligated by FEMA will allow for reimbursement through the State EMD.

Editor’s Note: This is the second part of an article printed in November. Dr. Gloria Holmes is professor emeritus at the School of Education at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut. Committed to promoting cultural literacy in schools and communities, she has worked as a diversity trainer for the Anti-Defamation League and has conducted anti-bias workshops for the Connecticut State Department of Education. Holmes is presently writing a book on school leadership and social justice.

Part II: Whose ‘story’ is it, anyway?

“We are trapped in our history, and our history is trapped in us.” —James Baldwin, author of “Notes of a Native Son”

The Hilton Head Island Recreation Center Association broke ground on its newest project Jan. 5. The renovations and expansion include a new gymnasium, classrooms, new playground, fitness equipment, indoor walking track, renovated restrooms, pool restroom facilities and more.

The town of Bluffton and its contractor, Preferred Materials, started construction for the second and final phase of the May River Road Streetscape Project in January. This 2,800-foot project along May River Road runs from Pin Oak Street to Jennifer Court and will include road improvements from Pin Oak Street to Red Cedar Street, including curb and gutter installation.

Popular private school hopes to break ground for state-of-the-art campus in January 2018

You might miss the gray marble marker when driving to Hilton Head Island, but “the bridge,” as it’s commonly known, is named after Robert Graves, patriarch of one of the Lowcountry’s legacy families who had a hand in developing the island. Graves, along with Konrad Marcus and developer John Reed, built the Hilton Head Christian Academy building on Gardener Drive just a decade after the school began in a church along Mathews Drive in 1979.

Southeast Biking SymposiumHilton Head Island, the only gold-level bike-friendly community in the Southeast, is hosting a biking symposium March 23-25 at The Beach House, a Holiday Inn Resort. Participants will discuss ways of realizing the region’s bicycling tourism potential, the impact on economic development, and the importance of safety.

FlamingosLoCo Motion and Callawassie Island became Guinness World Record titleholders for longest line of garden flamingos. LoCo Motion organizers and participants set up more than 1,000 flamingos end to end during the Sept. 26 event at Callawassie. The bright pink decoration has become a LoCo Motion staple and part of the decorations at each year’s festivities, and officially made the 2016 event “one for the books.”

Leadership Class

Replacing a mature oak tree lost to Hurricane Matthew will be the class project of the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce Leadership Class of 2017. The tree, named Matthew's Oak, will be planted in Shelter Cove Community Park and dedicated on Arbor Day, April 28. A plaque dedicated to first responders will also be installed.

Concours CarFans of the Hilton Head Island Motoring Festival & Concours d'Elegance might recognize an automobile and two boats featured in the new American crime drama film “Live by Night.” Filmmakers reached out to Concours organizers to help secure the vehicle and boats for scenes filmed in Savannah, on Tybee Island and in other coastal Georgia locations.

Highlights for the Town of Hilton Head Island by Town Manager, Steve Riley

This will be the last of the weekly updates. In February we will transition to a twice-monthly written update provided at the Town Council meetings and posted thereafter.

Last week we reported that we received authorization from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) for up to $500,000 in reimbursement for clearing storm debris in our storm water drainage system. We skipped over the details, and circumstances have now changed. We had signed a "grant agreement" presented to us by the South Carolina regional office of the USDA. We then returned that document to them for their signature and authorization to proceed. Before they could execute the agreement at their end, President Trump issued an executive order freezing all USDA and EPA grants. Neither we nor the regional office of the USDA knows how, if at all, this impacts our grant agreement. But they have ordered us not to proceed until they receive clarification.

The Don Ryan Center for Innovation recently opened a new location in Beaufort City Hall. “This is an exciting partnership that will complement Beaufort's vision for economic development,” said David Nelems, executive director for the center. “We're pleased to expand the regional accessibility for area entrepreneurs who want to turn ideas and dreams into independence and success.” Beaufort Mayor Billy Keyserling sees the new site as “another building block in providing a thriving regional economy supportive of small and new business formation.”