A resource and a reminder about why we live here
- ACTIVE ADULT LIVING
- CRIME (LACK OF)
By Gwyneth J. Saunders
PHOTOS BY ARNO DIMMLING
Retirement is no longer about trading in one’s career for a rocker in front of the TV. For many of the retirees who move to the Lowcountry, retirement is another chapter in their lives that began innocently enough with a vacation to the Hilton Head area.
Joanne and Stephen Murray moved from Fort Washington, Pa., just outside of Philadelphia, to Sun City Hilton Head in October 2011, but were part-timers since 2006. Joanne was finance director for a dance school and Stephen retired as a conductor for the Southeast Pennsylvania Transit Authority (SEPTA).
“We started to vacation in Hilton Head and wanted to move to warmer climates when we retired,” said Joanne. “It made perfect sense to choose a retirement community here. And because we’d been here so much, we felt like we were home when we got here.”
With more than 14,000 residents and dozens of groups to join, it’s like a small town, one that the Murrays enjoy.
“What I like about Sun City is the resort atmosphere when you drive through the front gate,” said Joanne. “You feel like you’re still on vacation even though you’ve come home. There is so much friendliness. I love the fact they have a community theatre and a really good one. And everyone has made us feel welcome quickly.”
The Cypress, with nearly 430 residents, and TidePointe, with about 300 residents, are much more intimate, offering first-class independent living along with different levels of continuing care, nursing care and assisted living on the grounds.
Tom and Beverly Conner kept their options open before finally moving into The Cypress. They were in the market for a move and looked around while en route to visit his brother in Vero Beach, Fla. On the way back from Florida, they looked in The Crescent in Bluffton and bought a house right away. That was in 2001. In November 2012, the Conners moved to The Cypress.
“We picked up our life in Bluffton, moved it down to Hilton Head and now we are just 14 miles closer to everything we do,” said Tom.
Tom, a former school superintendent in Washington, Pa., is part of the Center for Medical Excellence, one of the newest businesses accepted into the incubator at the Don Ryan Center for Innovation. He is also a volunteer at the Allendale prison where he takes his Labrador therapy dog. Beverly, a former program officer for Alcoa Foundation, participates in her church activities. Both are active in the annual Hilton Head Motoring Festival & Concours d’Elegance.
“We were really looking down the road as we get older. We were looking at when’s too early, when’s too late? You really have to be able to walk in here in order to live here,” Tom said. “It’s comfortable here, the service here is great. We have really enjoyed it, our health is good, and now Bev’s sister is moving into the house next to us. We have never looked back.”
Mary Moser lives at The Seabrook of Hilton Head, a non-profit, independent living retirement community with more than 200 residents. The Seabrook’s 21-acre campus includes the Fraser Health Center, a 33-private bed skilled nursing facility.
Originally from Reston, Va., Mary’s husband was career civil service and golf was his passion.
“In 1980 we came to Hilton Head for a 3-day/2-night golf package and went home proud owners of a lot in Hilton Head Plantation,” Moser said. “We were captivated by the island’s natural beauty and couldn’t wait to make it home.” After several years in a nice condo area after her husband died, Moser knew it was time to move. She moved to The Seabrook, which is nestled in the natural beauty of a peaceful maritime forest with easy access to the beach.
“A number of my friends live at The Seabrook and I’ve found it to have a small-town feel, where people are welcoming and friendly,” Moser said. “It’s the perfect place to call home.”
By Eleanor O’Sullivan
PHOTOs BY ARNO DIMMLING
On a sweltering August morning, a steady stream of beachgoers made their way past the spouting fountains at the entrance to Coligny Beach Park, as they headed toward the long boardwalk leading to cooling waters.
“I’ve been coming to Hilton Head since I was a little boy, probably the same age as Caitlin is now; I’ve always looked forward to coming to the beach here’’ said Craig Compton of Greenville, pointing to his 11-year-old daughter, whose shy smile was minus a few missing front teeth. Compton and his family spent the first week of August at his father’s Hilton Head condominium, an annual ritual.
Caitlin and Connor Compton were eager to get into the water with their body boards.
“I like to stay in the water all day,’’ Connor said.
A gentle underwater slope makes swimming in Hilton Head Island waters a pleasant experience -- seldom do swimmers have to deal with dangerous undertows and crashing waves. And small tidal pools at the edge of the ocean are welcoming to children and non-swimmers.
Amenities such as well-tended rest rooms and showers, a lengthy boardwalk to save feet from burning sand, rentable chairs and umbrellas and shielded benches and swings make Coligny Beach a must-stop for families like the Comptons and for retirees such as Kathy Essig, a resident of Hilton Head Plantation.
Sharing a swing with Essig was Sally Richards, a friend from Conneaut, Ohio.
“You can see it on people’s faces -- they relax and feel at ease when they arrive here,’’ said Essig, who swung gently on the swing as she watched the procession of morning arrivals to Coligny Beach.
The Compton family, Essig and countless others can attest to what Parents’ Magazine concluded in its July 2013 issue: It named Hilton Head Island Number 1 in its survey, “The 10 Best Beach Towns for Families.’’
With California and Florida formidable rivals for the honor, what makes Hilton Head Island beaches so worthy?
Research shows that the island’s natural beauty, enhanced by environmentally sound development and regular beach replenishment make it a popular destination, year in and year out, said Charlie Clark, vice president, communications, Hilton Head Island Visitor & Convention Bureau.
The island’s eastern end is 12 miles long. A network of five beach parks on the island are accessible to the public, one with free parking, others with sticker parking for residents and hotel, rental or condominium guests, and metered or street parking for non-residents.
All have restrooms and outdoor showers located in shady areas surrounded by natural beauty. Four of the six beach parks are handicapped accessible; two have picnic facilities, and one has a playground. Even before you get to the beach, the approach to them is worth the trip. Some have charming winding streets and pathways that are overgrown with lush foliage and shaded by majestic live oak trees hung with moss.
Longtime visitors such as Les and Millie Young of Lake Wylie, S.C., enjoy Hilton Head and its beaches because “it’s peaceful, unhurried and there’s a feeling of security,’ Millie Young said.
By Jessica Sparks
PHOTOS BY ARNO DIMMLING
Dino DiNenna was living in Northern Virginia when he first visited Beaufort and Hilton Head. After that first visit in 1993, he knew he wanted to move here some day.
“My goal was to be able to retire to the beach,” he said.
However, moving day came sooner than expected. DiNenna was having a conversation that “rubbed me the wrong way,” he said. That’s when he called an agent in the Lowcountry. A month later, he had a home on Hilton Head Island.
“It’s phenomenally beautiful,” he said. “It wasn’t commercial at all. It was green and not crowded.”
That’s the way the Town of Hilton Head wants it to feel, said assistant town manager Greg DeLoach.
While Mother Nature created it so beautifully, the town has made significant efforts to keep it beautiful.
“The town’s Land Management Ordinance provides many of the regulations that help to maintain Hilton Head Island’s reputation as preserving the natural environment,” DeLoach said. “Our ordinances regarding natural resources, the establishment of buffers along the roads, signs and the review of all development along major corridors all lend themselves to this reputation.”
The town’s Design Review Board ensures proposed buildings and site improvements are contiguous with the design guide for the island, DeLoach said.
“The design of HHI is also something that many visitors comment on from the landscaping on a site to the building and then also the signage,” he said.
The design guide directs the board and developers what natural materials to use in development, what native plants should be used for green space and other design elements. “Signs, as are their associated buildings, are meant to be nature blending -- neon, flashing lights and 20-foot tall signs won’t be found on Hilton Head Island,” DeLoach said.
For DiNenna, the aesthetics and town atmosphere have made Hilton Head a place he can call home.
“I’ve actively looked at other places,” he said. He said he has seriously looked at living in Hawaii, Italy, Argentina and other places, but none have felt like home.
“I have looked all over the world and I have not found anything,” he said.
BY SHERRY CONOHAN
Asked how he sees the business climate on Hilton Head Island and in the Lowcountry, Gene Sherman, chairman of the Lowcountry SCORE Chapter, said it was “mending.”
SCORE stands for Service Corps of Retired Executives, which is sponsored by the federal Small Business Administration. Its mentors advise persons who want to open a business or are seeking means to improve one.
With the economy in recovery mode, businesses in the 1,600 member Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce are “optimistic” about what the future holds, according to Charlie Clark, vice president for communications.
Clark said its members range from small single person businesses to large companies like Palmetto Electric, but that most of them are small businesses.
Sherman cited renewed vitality in tourism with the upswing in the economy. “I think because we are a destination, tourism has picked up,” he said, noting that hotel occupancy rates are higher. “People are coming back and spending money … I think the businesses that have survived this far will rebound.”
The survivors had to learn to be more efficient and manage their businesses better, he said.
“The number of people coming to us to start businesses have been falling off the last two or three years,” he went on. “We are working more with people who already are in business than those starting a business.”
Sherman said SCORE has co-sponsored workshops with the Chamber of Commerce to help them, on subjects such as how to grow a business. Clark, the spokeswoman for the Chamber of Commerce, said the Chamber also helps businesses with the networking opportunities that it provides them.
“We offer plenty of networking opportunities,” she emphasized.
To tackle the task of bringing new business to the island and helping those here, the town council has created an Economic Development Corporation and on Aug. 6 appointed a seven member Board of Directors to oversee its activities.
“The idea is to have an organization that focuses on economic growth and attracting new business and supporting existing places,” Mayor Drew Laughlin said. “It will be the place to go to.”
At the end of last year on Dec. 31, there was a total of 5,886 businesses licensed in Hilton Head Island. That was a decline of 133 from the five-year high of 6,019 in 2008. In 2009, there were 5,943 businesses; in 2010, there were 5,776 and in 2911, there were 5,914, according to town records.
New businesses that obtained licenses in the first six months of this year totaled 685. That compares to 576 in the first six months of 2012. There were 712 in 2011, some 484 in 2010, some 646 in 2009 and 516 in 2008.
New businesses licensed this year ranged from a law firm to a wholesaler of paper goods to property rentals to carpenters to a cleaners to a couple of dancers for a gentlemen’s club to a contractor from North Charleston.
Asked what kind of businesses the Economic Development Corporation would seek out, Laughlin said they would be those that fit in with the constraints of Hilton Head Island ‘s geography and that identify with the island’s core values. “So we’re not going to be out there to recruit an automobile manufacturing plant,” he said. “That wouldn’t fit with the aesthetics and geography of Hilton Head Island.”
Their efforts, he continued, would be in the area of health care, education and IT. Laughlin said that while any new businesses the corporation brings into town would improve the bottom line with the tax base, that’s not the main thrust.
“The broader general goal,” he explained, “is to have a vibrant community with energy that supports demographics of more than visitors and retirees.”
By Sally Mahan
When Jim Hoffman and his family visit Hilton Head for their annual vacation from Cleveland, one of the things they look forward to is biking on the island’s many trails.
“We feel completely safe here,” said Hoffman. “We love the small-town feel and knowing we can go anywhere on Hilton Head without looking over our shoulder.”
One of Hilton Head and Bluffton’s many charms is that feeling of security. While the area is not immune to crime, there are solid reasons for that sense of safety.
That’s particularly true when comparing the island to another popular beach destination.
In 2012, Myrtle Beach, which has about 28,000 year-round residents, had 195 robberies. Hilton Head, with about 37,000 year-round residents, had 31 robberies in 2012.
Myrtle Beach had 42 rapes in 2012. Hilton Head had seven.
In 2012, Myrtle Beach had 661 burglaries. Hilton Head had 289.
Myrtle Beach had 2,790 larcenies in 2012. Hilton Head had 983.
One of the advantages Hilton Head has over Myrtle Beach is its gated communities, which have their own security personnel.
“Beaufort County has more PUDs (planned unit developments) than any other area in South Carolina,” said Beaufort County Sheriff P.J. Tanner. “Gated communities limit a lot of people from coming in. Hilton Head is a special place because it’s so different from other communities.”
Tanner added that many property crimes in gated communities are committed by people who live within the gates.
Whether behind the gates or not, police say the number of crimes can be reduced with the community’s help. At a recent Hilton Head Public Safety Committee meeting, Lt. Toby McSwain, of the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office, expressed his frustration over the fact that many of property crimes could be prevented if people simply locked the doors to their vehicles and their homes.
He noted that 14 car break-ins occurred in a single neighborhood and in every one of those incidents the victim’s doors were not locked.
That’s where the community comes in, according to Bluffton Police Department Chief Joey Reynolds. “The public has to be proactive” when it comes to crime prevention, he said. “It takes a community to be a safe community.”
He noted that the crime rate in Bluffton has stayed fairly low despite the huge amount of growth the town has experienced over the last decade.
In the first quarter of 2013, there were 10 burglaries in the town, compared to the previous three-year average of 17. There were 62 larcenies (theft, excluding vehicle theft) compared to the previous three-year average of 102.
“We’re blessed to have a fairly low crime rate, but as the community grows our challenge is how to maintain that,” said Reynolds. “We have a citizens committee made up of representatives from each community in Bluffton. That gives us a contact person and the ability to reach out to that community. Just having that network to get information out and get information back is essential for us to do our job.”
Meanwhile, law enforcement officials are committed to maintaining that small-town feel here that visitors and residents alike enjoy.
“Hilton Head is just a fabulous place to be,” said Hoffman. “We can’t imagine wanting to go on vacation anywhere else.”
By Michael Paskevich
Consider the typical visitor, on the island for a quick getaway and often intent on chasing golf balls, surviving beach bike rambles and maybe savoring an evening libation or two listening to Jimmy Buffett cover tunes at some torch-lighted island eatery.
Cool. We can do that. And very well, thank you. But, as so many of can attest, today’s tourist often becomes tomorrow’s year-round resident, and once they get past “Margaritaville” they’ll discover local musicians playing original rock, blues and electronic dance music in venues that are off the beaten path and bear no artistic connection to Mr. B or the hormone-fueled Barmuda Triangle.
World-class musicians work nightly at the Jazz Corner, serving up swing, trad-jazz standards and rhythm & blues for more seasoned locals and visitors, but if you’re in the mood for much older classics track down the Hilton Head Philharmonic Orchestra, now approaching its 32nd season that opens Oct. 14 with Maestro John Morris Russell pacing the orchestra through a “Scottish” themed evening at First Presbyterian Church.
There’s also the well-regarded Hilton Head Choral Society and the well-attended International Piano Competition that draws some of the world’s finest young players to First Presbyterian. And the Hilton Head Dance Theater further bolsters our cultural credibility.
The Heritage Golf Tournament remains our biggest tourist (and traffic) draw, but soon-arriving data will show that visitors counts for productions at the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina have pushed that venue firmly into second place. “I always enjoy going to plays at the Arts Center because you get such highquality productions performed in such an intimate setting,” said long-time island resident Isabel Mangan. Folks looking for more progressive one-act productions can turn to South Carolina Repertory where Hank Haskell and spouse seat barely 70 patrons in a tiny theater on Beach City Road.
The Art League of Hilton Head, which shares space with the Arts Center, displays all manner of paintings, jewelry and artworks on a rotating basis and there’s a growing roster of smaller galleries scattered about the island. Our museum scene is anchored by the pastoral Coastal Discovery Museum at Honey Horn just as financing continues to grow toward creating a fullfledged Gullah Museum that truly celebrates our diverse culture.
“Years ago this was just a beach town,” said Sheri Sternitzke, chairman of the Main Street Theater that incorporates nonequity actors aged five to 82 for its annual productions. “Now we’re becoming year-round and I think a lot of people are amazed by how much we now have to offer. And there’s going to be more to come.”
No doubt this short-form essay has excluded deserving additions, but here’s a tip for a more encompassing look at island cultural offerings: The Arts and Cultural Council of Hilton Head operates a website/calendar about upcoming events in almost every category.
BY CHRIS KATON
PHOTOS BY ARNO DIMMLING
Blessed with natural beauty, white sandy beaches and temperate climate, Hilton Head Island has earned a reputation as one of the most family friendly vacation destinations in the United States.
At the top of many must visit lists is a climb to the summit of the iconic lighthouse in Harbourtown.
Visitors will learn about the island’s rich natural history and are rewarded for their climb with spectacular views of Harbourtown Golf Links, Harbourtown Yacht Basin and Calibogue Sound.
Active families enjoy eco-kayak or stand-up paddle boarding tours through salt marsh estuaries, where naturalists and photographers have frequent sightings of bald eagles, hawks and osprey.
Thrill seekers will enjoy a visit to Zip Line Hilton Head for an adventuresome canopy tour. Dolphin sightseeing tours, sailing trips, parasailing, waterskiing and tubing are especially popular.
A custom pirate ship is outfitted for a pirate adventure tour. Sport fishing charters, night shark trips and a catamaran sunset cruise are also available.
A boat trip to Daufuskie Island offers a glimpse of what other sea islands were like before bridges and causeways opened them to development. Most native residents of the island are descendants of freed slaves, who have made their living oystering and fishing for decades.
Family-oriented singer, songwriter Gregg Russell can be found performing beneath the famous Liberty Tree six nights per week throughout the summer season.
At Lawton Stables a guided trail ride through the scenic Sea Pines Forest Preserve is offered. Young children will treasure a visit with Callie, the island’s pet deer.
A visit to Coligny Beach is an open invitation for people watching, where the flip-flop-tapping rhythm of steel drums and Jimmy Buffet songs sets a casual mood.
Jennifer Moscar of Atlanta, who is formerly of Bluffton, took photographs of chocolate ice cream mustaches on her two young children as they splashed and danced through the water spouts in the Coligny Beach Fountains.
Thousands of family’s annually enjoy Harbourfest at Shelter Cove, where Shannon Tanner has entertained audiences for the past 25 years. Live entertainment, bouncy houses, food, arts and crafts, and evening fireworks display are featured.
For the Freeland family of Rochester, New York, an afternoon at Islander Beach was an opportunity to construct an elaborate sand castle of a giant alligator, drawing admiration from a family of four on Fat Tire bicycles out for an evening ride along the shore. Many families also enjoy championship caliber golf, tennis, cycling and miniature golf. Others relax during a game of bocce or kite flying. A children’s museum, video arcade, bowling alley and several movie theaters are also available.
By Dean Rowland
PHOTOS BY ARNO DIMMLING
Yes, “water, water every where…nor any drop to drink” as Coleridge wrote 215 years ago in the “Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” but we don’t care about drinking water as long as we can always enjoy it by boating, sailing, fishing, casting, paddleboarding, kayaking, charter boating and everything else.
For locals and tourists alike, the creeks, rivers, sounds, ocean, lagoons, ponds, salt marshes, wetlands and maritime forests with their abundant wildlife provide a bounty of outdoor adventures for everyone of all ages.
“The water is calm and fresh,” said Earl Smith, a 51-year-old electrician and Hilton Head Island native and resident. “…And private,” added his son, Earl Smith Jr. as they boarded their 20-foot Pro-Sport at C.C. Haigh Jr. landing for a ride and some fishing on a recent weekday morning. They were headed to Daufuskie Island where the lifelong fisherman said, “It’s wide open, like a straight shot…it’s the express.”
Smith said his favorite fishing spot is Sawmill Creek in Bluffton, but his biggest catch was a 3-foot bass hooked in Skull Creek. He also loves casting, his “favorite part about fishing,” where shrimp, crab and flounder in Broad and Jarvis creeks often wind up in his net. Elsewhere, shark, redfish, trout, black drum and bluefish abound.
Lifelong fisherman Joe Banker, a 19-year-old marine biology student from Ohio who has enjoyed vacationing on Hilton Head for 13 years with his family, enjoys the water and all of the pristine beauty in the area.
“There are a lot of places that are still untouched, natural areas like Pinckney Island,” Banker said. “You can find some pretty nice little nooks and crannies for fishing.”
Pinckney Island is also a favorite destination for “birder” Karen Marts, a 50-year-old vacation planner who has lived on Hilton Head for 25 years.
She puts the national wildlife refuge at the top of her special places, along with Sea Pines Forest Preserve, Fish Haul Creek and Mitchelville Beach Park. Overall, she has identified and verified 239 species of birds on her “life list.” Last year, she spotted “two pink dots” at Pinckney’s Starr Pond that turned out to be roseate spoonbills.
“It was a major moment for me,” she said.
Egrets, herons and ibises are common sights there.
“You never know what you’re going to see,” said Marts, who belongs to the Audubon Society and writes a birding blog. “I live and die with birds.”
If you don’t have your own resources, then check in with a local outfitter for dolphin and nature boat cruises, fishing and sailboat charters, kayaking, sport crabbing and shrimping, parasailing, waterskiing, tubing, wakeboarding, kneeboarding, jet skiing, power boating, guided nature tours and hiking, and biking along miles of pathways.
By Mary Doyle
PHOTOs BY ARNO DIMMLING
Hilton Head has a calming effect. It soothes your spirit and calms your mind. The environment here moves a little bit slower, and makes things a little less stressful. Worries are washed away with salt water and sand.
Here life truly imitates art. Spanish moss draped across live oaks, sunsets against salt marshes and canopies of trees brimming with wildlife; it’s a little more lyrical, a little less corporate and for those that live in this undeniably special place, it’s home.
For many, Hilton Head has provided an alternative from the fast pace of metropolitan areas, offering friendly, familiar faces and a strong sense of community. The way of life and pace here is relaxed, casual and easy.
“Coming from Manhattan, I was immediately drawn to the idea of living the ‘island life,’” said Gray Sandford, Associate Creative Director at BFG Communications.
Sandford, who moved to Hilton Head for work, adds: “Riding beach cruisers instead of subway cars. Weekends spent on beaches rather than graffitied roof-tops. Horizons instead of reflections. It was more of a mindset that I was chasing when I moved to the island, and I’m happy to say that after two plus years ... I’m still here, still intrigued and definitely still enjoying myself – which is basically the happiness trifecta.”
The draw of Hilton Head has lured many visitors to trade their one-week of the year for a lifelong vacation. The abundance of activities and diversions are endless.
“There are a wide variety of outdoor events readily available on the island, that are difficult to enjoy in a large city. Within minutes of leaving your home you can be running on the beach, paddle boarding down Broad Creek, or playing tennis with friends,” said Courtney Kenneweg, who recently returned to Hilton Head to become involved in his family’s business after calling Phoenix, London and New York City home.
Living in paradise certainly doesn’t eliminate commutes, deadlines and Monday mornings, however it offers happiness and fulfillment outside of routine; it keeps the focus centered on what is important in life.
It simply takes a quick trip to another city, to return with a renewed appreciation, strong sense of gratitude, and a friendly reminder of what it was like the first time we crossed the bridges and visited Hilton Head Island.
By John Hudzinski
PHOTO BY ARNO DIMMLING
Weather in the Lowcountry typically comes in threes.
There’s a long tropical like summer, sandwiched in between a long spring and a long autumn. A touch of what one would call winter is usually in January and February, with night time temperatures flirting in the 40 and 50s with daytime highs in the 60s.
Daytime temperatures on Hilton Head Island average 60 degrees in January, 75 degrees in April, 89 degrees in July and 77 degrees in October, according to the Weather Channel.
“You will never see a deep freeze here” said Kris Allred, chief meteorologist for WSAV, an NBC affiliate television station in Savannah. “If you move down here from other parts of the country, you can leave your winter coats and clothes at home.”
Michael Balducci is someone who traded in his cold weather gear for shorts and short-sleeve shirts.
Balducci, a retired health education teacher from Rochester, N. Y. moved to Hampton Hall in Bluffton five years ago. Instead of manning a snow shovel, he now swings a golf club almost daily at his home Hampton Hall Pete Dye golf course.
Balducci, who discovered the Lowcountry in 2005 while on a golf trip, said he fell in love with the area, its people and its weather.
“In Rochester we would sometimes be snowed in for weeks at a time and the only way around was in a snow mobile,” said Balducci. “When I celebrated my first Christmas here in 2007 we were in shorts.”
Balducci said winters in Rochester started in October and ended in May when the last icicles fell off the roof.
“Now instead of clouds in Rochester, I wake up every day to sunny, clear blue skies,” he added.
Hilton Head and the surrounding low country area are blessed with temperate weather for several reasons.
The region is 110 miles north of Florida and on a similar latitude as west coast weather standouts such as San Diego and Los Angeles.
It often gets warm weather moving northeasterly from the Gulf of Mexico in the southeast or the warm gulfstream waters off the coast of Florida when winds are moving westerly.
“South Carolina is like a sandwich in the middle,” said Allred. “When storms generate from the west, Alabama and Mississippi usually get the brunt of the moisture. When a storm comes from the ocean, the cooler water temperatures near the coast helps delay the path and intensity of the storm.’’
Like much of the tropics, Allred said newcomers should always expect and be prepared for possible late day storms.
She said the weather can change from year to year, noting last year’s drought conditions and this year’s above average rainfall in the region. While South Carolina has not been hit with a major hurricane since Hugo in 1989, she said newcomers should always be prepared since much of the southern part of the coast is low lying land.
That means having a solid evacuation plan and adequate emergency provisions.
She said when purchasing a home, flood zone maps are regularly updated by the federal government and can be used to determine if flood insurance is needed.
That’s a flood of advice that should be heeded.
BY JUSTIN JARRETT
During Memorial Day weekend in 1999, Stacy Benedik came to Hilton Head Island to visit family and found his way to three different golf courses. When he returned to Kansas City, Mo., he put in two months’ notice that he would be leaving his job, packed up the car and moved here.
“That would have never happened without the golf here,” Benedik said. “It gave me an outlet. I immediately got a job working at the golf club at Haig Point and worked in the golf industry for five years before opening my own business.”
But he never strayed too far from the course. Benedik plays golf every Saturday morning with a group of local residents, traveling to a different course each week. If there’s a course in the area he hasn’t played yet, he can’t think of it.
“Every time I go somewhere else to visit and play a round of golf, I am always reminded of how lucky we are to have such great courses by great designers, and even the ‘bad’ conditions of our courses blows away the conditions that most people have to play in on a daily basis at public golf courses.”
That’s no secret to the area’s many avid golfers.
With more than 20 public courses and numerous other private tracks in the Hilton Head area — many of them championship quality layouts designed by the biggest names in golf course design, such as Pete Dye, Jack Nicklaus and Robert Trent Jones — it’s no wonder Hilton Head has earned the nickname of the “golf island.” Many of the area’s pristine communities boast at least one course within their gates, and several have two or more.
And the island alone claims more than 350 tennis courts and boasts an extremely active USTA league that makes it easy for adults to play competitively against opponents of their skill level.
Joe and Karen Ryan used to make the annual trek from New Jersey to Hilton Head Island for the Family Circle Cup tennis tournament, before it moved to the Charleston area. Finally, they decided they didn’t want to go back. Like many residents of Hilton Head and the surrounding area, the Ryans relocated to escape the rigors of living further north, trading their snow shovels for golf clubs and tennis racquets.
Both Joe and Karen were avid tennis players and golfers when they moved down in December 1993, and the quality and quantity of golf courses and tennis courts made the locale especially attractive.
The recreation opportunities aren’t limited to adults, either. One of the biggest reasons the Ryans moved to Hilton Head was to raise their children here, in large part because of the recreational resources in the area.
“I don’t think they would have had the same opportunities to play,” Joe Ryan said. “Just the structures, and the leagues, and the really good players. It provided a great experience for them.”
By Kim Kachmann-Geltz
A critical component of the island’s appeal is the quality of the schools. Although children and young adults comprise a smaller percentage of the population on Hilton Head Island than they do in Beaufort County (only 25 percent), they represent the long-term future of the community, as well as the nation. With several outstanding public and private schools to choose from, the island offers an excellent variety of learning environments to meet any student’s educational needs. Notable factors that differentiate the schools are the rigor of academics and faculty training; athletic and arts programs; educational philosophy; spirituality; social life and class size.
This school-year about 4,270 children will attend public schools. The Town of Hilton Head Island’s public schools are part of the Beaufort County School District and include the Hilton Head High School, Middle School, School for the Creative Arts, Elementary School, and Early Childhood Center.
Vibrant student artwork lines the hallway of the beautiful, state-of-the-art Hilton Head Island Early Childhood Center. “We have a rigorous academic program that prepares students for their educational journey,” said Principal Kim Bratt. The center honors the “whole child” by providing opportunities for Kindergartners to express themselves through language, music, art, and dance.
The island offers two distinctive public elementary programs for students: Hilton Head Elementary, an International Baccalaureate School, and the School for the Creative Arts. “We chose HHISCA because they infuse the arts into academics, and allow students to attend classes based on their readiness,” said parent and PTO Vice President, Beth McDonnell.
Awarded “Palmetto’s Finest,” one of the top public high schools in the state, the Hilton Head Island High School boasts demanding academics and faculty training; competitive athletic programs; the arts; and volunteer opportunities.
Private schools that serve elementary and secondary students continue to grow and include Hilton Head Preparatory School, Sea Pines Montessori Academy, Hilton Head Christian Academy, St. Francis Catholic School, and the Heritage Academy.
Hilton Head Preparatory School is the oldest school on the island. In 1965, the “founder” of Hilton Head Island, the late Charles Fraser and his Sea Pines Company, shouldered 80% of the start-up costs. Today “Prep” offers a mixture of rigorous (K-12) academics, athletics, and performing arts, plus individualized learning opportunities. “We’ve seen Prep progress the past few years, from accommodating my son’s competition schedule as one of the first sports academy students, to providing online classes,” said Didi Summers, a resident who moved from London.
Sea Pines Montessori Academy offers innovative educational programs for children from 18 months to 8th grade. What differentiates SPMA is a project-based, customizable curriculum allowing students to advance in subject areas depending on their needs and inquiry. “I have three boys at the school, ages 7, 10, and 13. They love the challenging environment (moving ahead grade level on subject areas), and the friends they make (positive social environment with peace curriculum),” said parent and SPMA Middle School Principal, Sarah Baird, PhD.
Parents who choose Hilton Head Christian Academy (K-12) or St. Francis Catholic School (PreK-8) often do so because of the Christcentered community that encourages students to achieve their spiritual as well as their competitive academic and athletic goals. “HHCA has built a reputation for excellence in so many areas—academics, athletics, fine arts, a caring faculty and beautiful campus, technological advances, community service—while always striving to accomplish its mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ,” said parent Tom Jackson. The island offers a number of parochial preschools, too, such as Christ Lutheran and St. Luke’s.
COLLEGE & UNIVERSITY
Former Secretary of Education, Margaret Spellings, who recently addressed members of the World Affairs Council of Hilton Head Island, noted that “two-thirds of U.S. jobs require posthigh school training.” With a New River campus in Bluffton, the Technical College of the Lowcountry prepares graduates for transfer to senior colleges and universities or careers in technology, business, health, and public service. The University of South Carolina Beaufort is a senior baccalaureate campus of the state’s largest public university. USCB provides degree programs in the arts, humanities, professions, and social and natural sciences. Both schools offer small classes with individualized attention.The quality of our schools helps us compete globally, promotes military readiness, and technology and foreign language prowess, and inspires a nation of inventors and entrepreneurs. As Socrates said, “Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel.”
By Robyn Passante
Hilton Head Island is expected to have excellent beaches, shopping, and cuisine. What seems slightly more surprising for such a rural, off-the-beaten-path hamlet is its topquality health care options.
But it makes perfect sense to Mark O’Neil, Jr., president and CEO of Hilton Head Regional Healthcare.
“Excellent health care is a key determinant of where people decide to visit or retire,” O’Neil said. “Because Hilton Head Island is a world-class destination, Hilton Head Hospital has been successful in attracting great physicians and nurses to deliver on the commitment made so many years ago. It makes extraordinary care possible, right here at home.”
Hilton Head Regional Healthcare includes Hilton Head Hospital, Coastal Carolina Hospital, the Bluffton-Okatie Outpatient Center and the new Bluffton Medical Campus, opening in December 2013. That’s a lot of top-notch healthcare facilities for an area whose population hovered around 23,000 just 23 years ago.
“Thanks to the vision of Charles Fraser, Dr. Peter LaMotte and Bill Bethea almost 40 years ago, Hilton Head Island has its own high quality and award-winning hospital with a full range of services,” O’Neil said.
Perhaps what’s even more impressive is the fact that Beaufort and Jasper counties boast not one but three hospitals, each with its own accolades for excellence.
“As a small hospital, people are often surprised by the services we have, and that national health organizations such as the American Heart Association, The Joint Commission, and the American College of Radiology has recognized Coastal Carolina as a leading provider,” said Bradley Talbert, CEO of Coastal Carolina Hospital.
Beaufort Memorial Hospital is a Duke Medicine affiliate in heart and cancer care. This spring, it received state approval to perform emergency cardiac interventions on patients suffering major heart attacks. Its Keyserling Cancer Center participates in national clinical trials, offering patients access to some of today’s most promising cancer treatments. And, the hospital just launched the Beaufort Memorial Joint Replacement Center, redesigned to offer patients a hotel-like hospital experience, shorter hospital stay and excellent outcomes.
BMH was the first medical center in the area to offer robot-assisted laparoscopic hysterectomies. With the recent purchase of the advanced da Vinci Si Surgical System, the hospital continues to stay at the forefront of minimally invasive robot-assisted procedures. Surgeons are now performing leading-edge, single-incision gallbladder surgery, kidney-sparing cancer surgery and laparoscopic prostatectomies.
“As the county’s largest and only not-for-profit hospital we’re committed to our mission to deliver superior healthcare services and to improve the health of our community, including our patients in southern Beaufort County,” said BMH President and CEO Rick Toomey. “At Beaufort Memorial Bluffton Medical Services, we’ve expanded our list of specialties to include everything from cardiology and gastroenterology to orthopedics and neurology.”
Just across the state line, St. Joseph’s/Candler combines highimpact technology, breakthrough clinical treatments and time-honored compassionate care to create “smart medicine” — an innovative approach to health and well being. SJ/C offers healthcare services across the entire continuum, including local and regional primary care, specialized inpatient and outpatient services at our two anchor hospitals, home healthcare services, as well as a wide variety of community outreach and education efforts throughout the region. The hospital’s faith-based, holistic approach to healing encourages individuals to become more knowledgeable about their personal health, while providing advanced, comprehensive treatments and state-ofthe- art medical technologies.
Surgeons at SJ/C have performed hundreds of procedures with the da Vinci Surgical System, promoting faster recoveries with less pain. It also uses the revolutionary CyberKnife technology, a noninvasive alternative to surgery for the treatment of both cancerous and non-cancerous tumors.
“With the population exploding in Hilton Head and Bluffton, residents demanded top-flight health care. St. Joseph’s/Candler has been able to help meet that demand by providing the latest technology and doctors from many specialties,” said Paul P. Hinchey, President and CEO of St. Joseph’s/Candler. “We’ve created a medical home with nearly everything patients may need, from cancer care to imaging to primary care. That is our commitment to the Lowcountry.”
Also in Savannah, Memorial University Medical Center is an awardwinning 610-bed academic medical center that serves a 35-county area. For those seeking even more specialized care and clinical trials, the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston and the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville are both a relatively easy drive.