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THE LOWCOUNTRY GETS READY FOR ATLANTIC HURRICANE SEASON

STORM SEASON IS HERE. 

The Lowcountry is prepping for Atlantic hurricane season, which is from June 1 to Nov. 30, with the heaviest months usually in August through October. Officials with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecast that we will see between 13 and 20 named storms this year. They say three to five of those storms could be major hurricanes of Category 3 or higher.

DON RYAN CENTER KICKS OFF HEROES PROGRAM

More than 80 people gathered at Veterans Park in Bluffton recently to officially kick off the Don Ryan Center for Innovation’s new HEROES Initiative. The event featured Bluffton Mayor Lisa Sulka declaring the day as the “Bluffton Heroes Day.” She issued a proclamation to mark the day in honor of the launch of this program to help the Lowcountry’s heroes transition to business ownership. The program is open to all military, veterans, police, firefighters and EMTs in the region who are interested in business ownership or who have an idea for a business looking to take it to the next level.

HARDEEVILLE’S $8.5 MILLION MULTI-PURPOSE RECREATION CENTER READY TO DEBUT

There has been a growing sense of anticipation and elation within the 56-square-mile city of Hardeeville — recently listed among the fastest growing municipalities in South Carolina. 

The excitement is focused around the $8.5 million, 35,000-square-foot indoor, multi-purpose recreation center that has been a gleam in the eyes of community leaders for more than six years, but actually has taken shape in just the past two years.

LONG-AWAITED U.S. 278 IMPROVEMENT PROPOSAL EXPECTED TO BE REVEALED

The South Carolina Department of Transportation is expected to reveal this month its long-awaited preferred option for an estimated $272 million project designed to ease peak-time traffic congestion on the island’s north end.

SCDOT is scheduled to present its preferred option at a July 22 public hearing. The proposal is undergoing an environmental assessment required by the National Environmental Policy Act. SCDOT will incorporate public comments into its preferred option and send it back to the Federal Highway Administration, which oversees NEPA.

Henderson Park Capital Partners and South Street Partners formed a joint venture to purchase Palmetto Bluff, a 20,000-acre property in Bluffton. London-based Henderson Park Capital is a private equity real estate company. South Street Partners is a private equity real estate investment firm based in Charlotte and Charleston. The developers plan to construct a second golf club, according to a news release. Other development will focus on the construction of Anson Village, which will open access to a large waterfront space and the southern Intracoastal Waterway. The community includes Forbes’ Five-Star Montage Palmetto Bluff resort. 

The South Course at Moss Creek Hilton Head hosted 16 players from the LPGA’s Legends Tour in a warm-up for the U.S. Senior Women’s Open held in August.  The field collectively represented 65 LPGA Tour wins. Cathy Johnston-Forbes, a major championship winner on the LPGA Tour, from Kitty Hawk, N.C., won the $6,000 prize, shooting a 1 under-par 71. The Legends Tour is the official senior tour of the LPGA, showcasing golfers aged 45 and over. Moss Creek has a history of hosting LPGA events. The Moss Creek Women’s Invitational was an official LPGA Tour event from 1976 to 1985.

Eric Greenway has been named Beaufort County administrator. He had served as interim county administrator since November. He has more than 26 years of experience managing, directing and administering programs.   Whitney Richland was named deputy county administrator. She had served as Beaufort County’s assistant county administrator/chief financial officer.

Three administrators were selected to serve as executive directors for the Beaufort County School District: Chad Cox, Ed.D., Mona Lise Dickson and Celestine LaVan, Ed.D. Cox has 18 years of educational experience, all at BCSD. He holds an education specialist degree from South Carolina State University and recently earned a doctorate degree in education leadership from South Carolina State University.

montieDr. Eric W. Montie, a member of the Department of Natural Sciences at the University of South Carolina Beaufort, received a 2021 Governor’s Award for Excellence in Scientific Research at a Predominately Undergraduate Institution. This statewide award recognizes Montie’s strong research program in soundscape ecology, which focuses on estuaries.

The town councils of Bluffton and Hilton Head approved final readings of their fiscal year 2022 budgets. Bluffton’s budget ($40,132,070) reflects an 8.5% decrease compared to 2021, according to the town of Bluffton. The proposed budget keeps the property tax millage the same at 38.5. The budget supports a nearly $11.6 million Capital Improvement Program and adds eight full-time positions, according to a Bluffton news release.

Randolph Murdaugh III, who served as the 14th Circuit Solicitor from 1986 to 2005, died at his home June 10. He was 81. Murdaugh III was president of the South Carolina Solicitor’s Association from 1995-1996 and served on the National District Attorney’s Association Board of Directors from 1998-2005, according to his obituary. In 2018 he received the state Order of the Palmetto. His death came days after the shooting deaths in Colleton County of his daughter-in-law Margaret Murdaugh and his grandson Paul Murdaugh. S.C. Law Enforcement Division is investigating the shootings and has set up a tipline at 803-896-2605.

A Hilton Head Island man was convicted of murder in a 2018 shooting in a gas station parking lot, according to the 14th Circuit Solicitor’s Office. Joseph Decoriyus Burton, 27, of Greens Road, was found guilty last month for killing Christopher Shaun Fells. Burton was sentenced to 40 years in prison. Burton was also convicted of possession of a deadly weapon during the commission of a violent crime. He received a two-year sentence for that offense, which will run concurrently.

Gov. Henry McMaster did not renew the COVID-19 State of Emergency he issued in 2020. The order was active for 451 days before it expired Sunday, June 6. “It is no longer necessary for us to have a state of emergency,” McMaster said during a news conference, according to the Associated Press.

Bluffton’s Bryson Nimmer finished tied for 35th at the Palmetto Championship at Congaree. The event, held at Congaree Golf Club in Jasper County, represented Nimmer’s best finish at a PGA Tour event. He finished the tournament 3-under overall. Garrick Higgo shot an 11-under overall to win the tournament.

The Town Council of Hilton Head Island returned to in-person meetings beginning June 15. It was the first time the council hosted meetings in the Benjamin M. Racusin Council Chambers since public access to Town Hall was closed last April.

Gov. Henry McMaster presented South Carolina native and World No. 1 Dustin Johnson in early June with the Order of the Palmetto, South Carolina’s highest civilian honor. 

Johnson is a 24-time PGA Tour winner, the defending FedEx Cup champion and the first South Carolinian to win the Masters. He was born in Columbia and attended Coastal Carolina University.