Hilton Head Island Town Council voted unanimously to adopt a strategic plan that guides the work of the Town’s Office of Cultural Affairs, including initiatives to promote art and culture organizations and enhance quality of life for the community. The plan includes goals, strategies and tactics for several initiatives such as public art, the annual Crescendo event, historic sites and cultural preservation. A copy of the plan will be available on the Town’s website at hiltonheadislandsc.gov, and the OCA’s website at culturehhi.org. The adoption of the plan will provide direction and support for the Office of Cultural Affairs during the next three years, according to Jenn McEwen, director of the Town’s Office of Cultural Affairs.

A Bluffton food truck owner was arrested on federal drug trafficking and conspiracy charges. According to an indictment, Isaac Jimenez Nava, 30, who owns Maiz Taqueria, is accused of working with another man, Sandy Clark to distribute more than 500 grams of cocaine, 100 grams of heroin and 40 grams of fentanyl, beginning in at least 2019. Both men pleaded not guilty to the charges, according to The Post & Courier. 

The Beaufort County School District said threatening messages warning of school shootings were found in bathrooms at Bluffton H.E. McCracken Middle, Bluffton Middle, Beaufort Middle, and Beaufort High schools. Law enforcement investigated the threats and planned an increased presence on the campuses. The Bluffton Police Department said Dec. 10 it charged a juvenile for writing a threatening message in a bathroom at McCracken Middle School. The student was charged with making student threats and malicious injury to property, according to Police Chief Stephenie Price. Hilton Head Island High School was put on lockdown after law enforcement received a phone call about a possible threat to the school. The lockdown was lifted after two hours. 

The sales and use tax rate in Beaufort County changed Jan. 1, dropping the rate in Beaufort County to 6 percent. Those paying an Accommodations Tax in Beaufort County will pay 7 percent. The 1 percent Transportation Tax became effective May 1, 2019 after Beaufort County voters approved the tax in 2018. The stated goal was raising $120 million for improvements to Beaufort County roads and bridges. 

Alex Murdaugh, a former Lowcountry attorney involved in numerous criminal and civil cases, faced new charges as of early-December. S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson announced Dec. 9 that Murdaugh faces seven indictments with 21 new charges. The Associated Press said the indictments include seven more alleged schemes between 2016 and 2020 where the attorney told clients their settlements were smaller than expected or they had to pay extra fees for things like accident reconstruction, according to court records. Murdaugh faces 12 state grand jury indictments, with 48 separate charges. 

The Boys & Girls Club of Hilton Head Island held a dedication ceremony Dec. 12 for its new outdoor pavilion, which was completed this year. The pavilion was dedicated to Stan and Margie Smith as “Club Champions” in honor of their long-standing commitment to the Club’s mission to serve those in need, a news release said.

HILTON HEAD ISLAND WOMAN RECOUNTS ALLIGATOR ATTACK

What began as a typical morning at Hilton Head Plantation on Sept. 2 for 5-foot tall, 80 years young Ellie Kyle ended up in a fight for her life. 

Kyle was walking Lulu, her chihuahua-dachshund rescue dog, which she does each morning. 

“All of the sudden I look over, and an 8-foot alligator grabbed my legs and pulled me back in the water,” she said.

TCL’S CULINARY INSTITUTE OF THE SOUTH PREPS LOWCOUNTRY WORKFORCE

It’s not unusual to see the Lowcountry on the itinerary of cable channel celebrities searching for culinary culture spots. 

Don’t be surprised if one day some of the chefs featured are products of the Technical College of the Lowcountry’s Culinary Institute of the South, which opens in January at Buckwalter Place in Bluffton and was unveiled to the public in November. For the last two years, students have been training, a few miles away, in a teaching kitchen at the college’s Angus Cotton Academic Center. 

LOOKING BACK AT LOCAL AND NATIONAL HEADLINES

JANUARY
The year began in the shadow of the coronavirus with more than 100 million confirmed cases worldwide, but newly developed vaccines offered hope. Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines were proving to be effective, with initial doses administered to older adults. About four million doses were delivered per week in the United States to begin the year.

Locally, Marc Orlando resigned as Bluffton’s town manager and accepted the same position with the town of Hilton Head. He replaced Steve Riley, who retired last year. 

With a final-round team score of 315, May River High School won the SCHSL Class AAAA Gi r l s Golf State championship, the team’s second consecutive state crown. Hilton Head High finished second. Bluffton placed eighth. May River’s Kylie Bowes (147) finished second for the individual title. Hilton Head’s Alexia Milbrandt (151) was fourth. May River’s Robbin Zetrouer (156) and Claire Green (162) tied for sixth and 10th. 

maryfraserThe Lowcountry has lost the first lady of Hilton Head Island. 

Mary Wyman Stone Fraser, wife of the late Sea Pines founder Charles E. Fraser, died in October in North Carolina, her daughter, Laura Lawton Fraser told Monthly magazine. She was 80 years old. 

Her impact on the area was profound. 

Builders FirstSource, which is a supplier of structural building products, plans to bring operations to Jasper County and expects to create 126 new jobs in the next five years. The building will be in the Point South Commerce Park in Yemassee. The location will allow the company to expand its offerings and production capacity, a news release said.

District lines are redrawn every 10 years following the completion of the U.S. Census. Beaufort County will launch a website with information and, eventually, the maps for public comment, a news release said. 

Safe Harbor Marinas, which manages the city of Beaufort’s downtown marina, plans to invest more than $7.5 million on a marina expansion over the next two years, according to a news release. Safe Harbor’s plan for improvements includes a new floating dock system; resized slips to accommodate larger vessels; a new ADA-compliant gangway; and 2,496 linear feet of flexible side-tie berthing to host transient vehicles. Safe Harbor Marinas manages 125 marinas, including Charleston and Skull Creek on Hilton Head Island. 

Applications for the 2022 Heritage Classic Foundation Scholar Awards are available online for all Beaufort and Jasper County high school seniors. The Heritage Classic Foundation will name new scholars from the 2022 graduating class.