The Finance & Administrative Committee met on 1/30/17 to discuss disaster-related expenses and the process for reimbursement. A future Finance & Administrative Committee meeting later this month will include discussion of potential ways to pay for the expenses. The 1st draft Project Worksheet for FEMA reimbursement of Category A - Public Assistance (Debris Removal) expenses was received from the FEMA project team on Friday, 2/3/17. It is currently under review by staff and once obligated by FEMA will allow for reimbursement through the State EMD.

Editor’s Note: This is the second part of an article printed in November. Dr. Gloria Holmes is professor emeritus at the School of Education at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut. Committed to promoting cultural literacy in schools and communities, she has worked as a diversity trainer for the Anti-Defamation League and has conducted anti-bias workshops for the Connecticut State Department of Education. Holmes is presently writing a book on school leadership and social justice.

Part II: Whose ‘story’ is it, anyway?

“We are trapped in our history, and our history is trapped in us.” —James Baldwin, author of “Notes of a Native Son”

The Hilton Head Island Recreation Center Association broke ground on its newest project Jan. 5. The renovations and expansion include a new gymnasium, classrooms, new playground, fitness equipment, indoor walking track, renovated restrooms, pool restroom facilities and more.

The town of Bluffton and its contractor, Preferred Materials, started construction for the second and final phase of the May River Road Streetscape Project in January. This 2,800-foot project along May River Road runs from Pin Oak Street to Jennifer Court and will include road improvements from Pin Oak Street to Red Cedar Street, including curb and gutter installation.

Southeast Biking SymposiumHilton Head Island, the only gold-level bike-friendly community in the Southeast, is hosting a biking symposium March 23-25 at The Beach House, a Holiday Inn Resort. Participants will discuss ways of realizing the region’s bicycling tourism potential, the impact on economic development, and the importance of safety.

FlamingosLoCo Motion and Callawassie Island became Guinness World Record titleholders for longest line of garden flamingos. LoCo Motion organizers and participants set up more than 1,000 flamingos end to end during the Sept. 26 event at Callawassie. The bright pink decoration has become a LoCo Motion staple and part of the decorations at each year’s festivities, and officially made the 2016 event “one for the books.”

Leadership Class

Replacing a mature oak tree lost to Hurricane Matthew will be the class project of the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce Leadership Class of 2017. The tree, named Matthew's Oak, will be planted in Shelter Cove Community Park and dedicated on Arbor Day, April 28. A plaque dedicated to first responders will also be installed.

Concours CarFans of the Hilton Head Island Motoring Festival & Concours d'Elegance might recognize an automobile and two boats featured in the new American crime drama film “Live by Night.” Filmmakers reached out to Concours organizers to help secure the vehicle and boats for scenes filmed in Savannah, on Tybee Island and in other coastal Georgia locations.

Highlights for the Town of Hilton Head Island by Town Manager, Steve Riley

This will be the last of the weekly updates. In February we will transition to a twice-monthly written update provided at the Town Council meetings and posted thereafter.

Last week we reported that we received authorization from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) for up to $500,000 in reimbursement for clearing storm debris in our storm water drainage system. We skipped over the details, and circumstances have now changed. We had signed a "grant agreement" presented to us by the South Carolina regional office of the USDA. We then returned that document to them for their signature and authorization to proceed. Before they could execute the agreement at their end, President Trump issued an executive order freezing all USDA and EPA grants. Neither we nor the regional office of the USDA knows how, if at all, this impacts our grant agreement. But they have ordered us not to proceed until they receive clarification.

The Don Ryan Center for Innovation recently opened a new location in Beaufort City Hall. “This is an exciting partnership that will complement Beaufort's vision for economic development,” said David Nelems, executive director for the center. “We're pleased to expand the regional accessibility for area entrepreneurs who want to turn ideas and dreams into independence and success.” Beaufort Mayor Billy Keyserling sees the new site as “another building block in providing a thriving regional economy supportive of small and new business formation.”

Public ArtOn Hilton Head Island, an odd-numbered year — like 2017 — generally signals that the area’s biennial Public Art Exhibition will occur in the fall. But not this year. Though plans were underway for the 2017 Public Art Exhibition on Hilton Head Island, Mother Nature threw them asunder.

Highlights for the Town of Hilton Head Island

  • We received a reply from FEMA regarding the last batch of private roads for which we were seeking reimbursement authorization. While several roads were approved for reimbursement eligibility, over 100 roads were rejected. Staff is reexamining each of these roads and developing additional justification in the expectation of filing an appeal by the January 24th deadline. These are mostly smaller roads, and many are dirt roads. If our appeal is unsuccessful, we will need to have a discussion about whether to clear the debris from these roads at Town cost.

Teens for Healthy Youth of Bluffton High School are joining forces with other teens and scientists across the United States as part of “National Drug & Alcohol Facts Week.”  During this week-long national health observance, beginning January 23rd, students will organize to “Shatter the Myths” on drugs and alcohol.

Highlights for the Town of Hilton Head Island

Through January 11th a total of 1,659,007 CY's of vegetative disaster debris has been collected; and 42,402 Hangers and 5,246 Leaners removed.

  • To date 530,032 CY's of mulch has been hauled out to various locations to include a paper mill, local farm, Savannah to be shipped over-seas, Oakwood Landfill, Fire wood supply company, Lumber supply company, a hardwood sawmill and to the Port of Savannah for logs to be exported to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. The contractor and town staff continue to work on identifying additional sources to accept the material.

Highlights for the Town of Hilton Head Island

by Town Manager, Steve Riley

  • The Crowder Gulf debris clean-up crews returned to work following their holiday break on January 3rd. Operations will now continue seven days per week until all debris is removed.
  • The chart below indicates where the debris has been collected from so far. As of January 4, 2017, 1,521,481 CYs of debris have been collected and transported to the debris management locations.