When Bill Palmer shook hands with Jim McGlothlin after a Las Vegas golf outing dinner in February 1988, it set in motion an almost 30-year journey for Palmer — and soon may also set a new course for the future of the greater Bluffton and Hilton Head Island area.

That late-night handshake closed the deal to start Scratch Golf Company as a new subsidiary of McGlothlin's Virginia-based United Company. The immediate goal was to purchase a quality piece of land in Bluffton and build the first true public course in the area. Today, three decades later, that handshake may result in the re-shaping of southern Beaufort County as the first major development to emerge from the recently established Beaufort County Community Development Code.

The Beaufort County Board of Education recently revised the 2017-18 academic calendar, changing the first day of school from Monday, Aug. 21, to Thursday, Aug. 17. By state law, no South Carolina public school can begin classes prior to the third Monday in August, which this year is Aug. 21. But legislation recently approved by the General Assembly allows school districts to begin the 2017-18 year on Thursday, Aug. 17, because of the solar eclipse that will affect much of South Carolina on Aug. 21.

After four years on the market, the Beaufort mansion featured in the movies “The Big Chill” and “The Great Santini” has finally sold — and for much less than the original $4.5 million asking price. New York City developer Katie Cunningham, a Beaufort native, recently purchased Tidalholm Mansion for $1.76 million. The 7,400-square-foot waterfront property, located at 1 Laurens St. in Beaufort, includes 7 bedrooms and 7 bathrooms.

RepairsWork to repair the Rowing and Sailing Center at Squire Pope Road Community Park has begun. Nix Construction started the project on March 21 and expects to be complete it by June 20. Repair work includes work on the pier, pier handrails and the floating dock. The dock will be closed until repairs are complete.

romeo juliaRomeo Archangel Hernandez was born at 2:06 p.m. Sunday, March 19, at Coastal Carolina Hospital in Hardeeville. Juliet Evangeline Shifflett was born 18 hours and 8 minutes later the following morning at the same hospital. The children’s parents were in adjacent rooms but didn’t make the connection until newborn photographer Cassie Clayshulte noticed the babies’ names and coordinated a “Romeo and Juliet”-themed photo shoot. Those images went viral, drawing the attention of national media and morning TV shows such as “Today” and “Good Morning America.” 

solarenDominion, an energy company headquartered in Virginia, recently announced that it plans to construct, own and operate 81 megawatts of solar generating capacity in Jasper County. Two projects — a 71.4-megawatt facility that would be South Carolina's largest and a 10-megawatt array — are expected to enter service in 2017. Dominion's Solvay Solar Energy-Jasper County facility, located near Ridgeland, will occupy nearly 900 acres.

uberSea Pines Community Services Associates has reached a long-term service agreement with Uber, a ride-sharing service. The agreement provides full entry for Uber drivers to pick up and drop off property owners, guests and visitors within the Sea Pines community. The services had been suspended in Sea Pines earlier in the year after negotiations over gate fees failed. In addition to Sea Pines, Uber also operates in Hilton Head Plantation, Palmetto Dunes and Shipyard. Those communities automatically charge Uber drivers $2 per trip inside their gates. 

The Lowcountry is incredibly rich in heritage and culture and has had a unique role in American history. From Charleston to Savannah, there is no doubt that this area is the historic origin of black America’s beginning. Significantly, this area can lay claim to the origins of black America because it is where newly freed slaves first became self-sufficient legal citizens of the U.S. The Port of Charleston served as the entry point for more African slaves than any other port, and as a result, in pre-Civil War days South Carolina’s black population was far greater than the population of the whites who enslaved them. The economic impact of the slave trade made South Carolina a “slave society,” but the state also is the birthplace of Reconstruction — the gateway to a post-slavery future.

Canadian online travel site Flight Network ranked The Inn & Club at Harbour Town No. 43 on its list of the “100 Greatest Hotels in the World.” Results were determined by a panel that examined accommodations based on everything from their original style to first-class services, ability to embody local culture, and access to remarkable environments.

At first glance, it may be difficult to see the logic of linking the concepts of diversity, change and fear, and yet it is easy to connect them. The connection between change and fear is obvious; we all know that change can be scary. We also know that because change is often scary, we are sometimes motivated to resist it directly, even in bombastic ways, or indirectly through subtle forms of passive resistance.

For more than three decades, the cheerful Windmill Harbour sign has greeted those crossing the bridge to Hilton Head Island from the mainland. Few, however, have experienced the exclusive waterfront lifestyle enjoyed by the residents who live behind the gates of that community.

Sometimes we forget to pay attention to the everyday things that surround us; the things that create a familiar backdrop for our lives. We don’t often ask ourselves about the design of our community, or who planted that tree or why those statues are honoring people with names that we’ve never heard of. We also tend to ignore all of the “cultural stuff,” even though we know that someone decided long ago that it was important.

Hargray Communications Group and The Pritzker Organization recently announced that Tom Pritzker Family Business Interests has agreed to acquire Hargray in an all-cash transaction. Hargray is the main broadband communications and entertainment provider to the Lowcountry and is growing throughout Georgia. Over the past 10 years, the company has invested over $250 million to create a communications network that includes 2,000 route miles of fiber and serves over 65,000 customers. The transaction is expected to close in the third calendar quarter.

American Red CrossThe American Red Cross has a severe winter blood shortage and is issuing an emergency call for blood donors to make donation appointments now and help save lives. Hectic holiday schedules for many regular blood donors contributed to about 37,000 fewer donations in November and December than what was needed.

Spot To RetireHilton Head Island is the No. 4 spot in South Carolina to retire, according to a list compiled by the financial technology company SmartAsset. The island got an index score of 36.52 to finish behind Seneca, Myrtle Beach and Murrells Inlet. The study rated cities by their tax friendliness, recreational and social opportunities for seniors, and availability of medical care. Other cities in the top 10 include Camden, Greenville, West Columbia, Spartanburg, Georgetown and Anderson. 

A group of local residents want to send people from the Gullah community on a special trip Oct. 9-13 to the National Museum of African-American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. “Gullah Goes to Washington” is a five-day trip for people within the Gullah community who have contributed to the preservation of Gullah culture but might not be able to afford a trip to see the historic museum.