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.
Hilton Head News
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.
A 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 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.
Carolyn 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 STEPS UP ITS PARKS PROGRAM
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.
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WOMEN IN PHILANTHROPY AWARDS GRANTS
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.
A LOOK AT MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT PARRIS ISLAND, THE WORLD’S MOST GRUELING FINISHING SCHOOL
It was Dec. 16, 1986, when local artist Jack McNulty first arrived on Parris Island.
“The first thing I remember seeing was a one-way sign pointing toward the island. I thought that was pretty fitting,” he said.
The next thing he remembers is the bus coming to a stop, the dawn still yet to rise around it, and drill instructors flooding the aisle ordering everyone off. Still groggy, the recruits stepped out onto the famed yellow footprints for the first time.
The Town of Hilton Head Island hosted a groundbreaking ceremony for Lowcountry Celebration Park in June. The site is located off of Pope Avenue, adjacent to the Coligny Beach parking lot, and will one day feature a large lawn and stage to accommodate festivals, concerts and other gatherings, a playground, The Sandbox: An Interactive Children’s Museum, walking trails and boardwalks, exercise stations, plus additional parking and improved access to beach parking.
Atticus Enfinger, a first-grader from Bluffton Elementary School, was the national grade-level champion in the 2019 Zaner-Bloser National Handwriting Contest. That means his print entry was the best among all first-grade entries from across the country. He was honored at a Beaufort County School District Board of Education meeting in May.
Beaufort County Council has approved the construction of a new fire station and an emergency operations center for the Bluffton Township Fire District for a projected cost of nearly $3.5 million, according to the fire district. The buildings will be along Hampton Lake Road near the intersection of Bluffton and Hampton parkways on a three-acre property adjacent to River Ridge Academy, according to county documents. The fire station portion will be known as Station 38.
Intense rains in Beaufort County in June brought relief to a drought that had gripped the Lowcountry for weeks — but the storms did leave behind some chaos. Residents in Bluffton’s Belfair gated community dealt with a sinkhole the size of a school bus on Belfair Oaks Boulevard, and Hilton Head Plantation had to close its Cypress Gate entrance to take down two large oak trees uprooted by the rain and dangling precariously over Seabrook Drive. Bluffton’s 8.64 inches of rain in the 24-hour period from June 11-12 was the highest in the country.
Fueled by an increase in new residential construction, Hardeeville continues to be the Lowcountry’s fastest-growing city, according to recently released U.S. Census figures. According to data released by the U.S. Census Bureau, Hardeeville’s newest population estimate for 2018 has grown 120 percent since the 2010 Census, with an average annual percent population increase of 15.09 percent. City officials anticipate continued strong growth as the number of construction permits continue to rise.