BY STEPHENIE PRICE

As the nation continues to reel from the Uvalde, Texas mass shooting which took 21 lives, communities are asking how to prevent these tragic and traumatic incidents. These incidents are leaving families, communities and our nation fractured.

As debates continue about solutions, what we know for sure is if our community’s children feel protected and advocated for, fewer young people will feel isolated which may reduce harmful actions. The Bluffton Police Department prioritizes reaching out to children and the community through these programs.

FOUR EARN JOE DISTELHEIM AWARD 

Kathia Salinas, Maria Medina, Gerardo Rivera and Zohra Tebbakh were recognized with the Joe Distelheim Award for Literacy, an annual award for deserving literacy students of Bluffton Self Help, which has merged with The Literacy Center. The students were presented with a $500 check and plaque.  More than 100 former colleagues and friends of Distelheim contributed to the award’s endowment fund, raising more than $40,000 ­— enough to fund awards in the future.

HILTON HEAD SHORT-TERM RENTALS ORDINANCE AIMS TO SATISFY ISLAND RESIDENTS AND RENTAL OWNERS

By Mark E. Lett

Call it “The Great Balancing Act of 2023.”

The town of Hilton Head is moving ahead with a sweeping plan — enforceable Jan. 1, 2023 — to guide the fast-expanding operations of short-term rentals.

Harbour Town Lighthouse at The Sea Pines Resort on Hilton Head Island has installed a Fresnel lens to further the power of the light from the top. The new lens is a replica of the original Fourth Order Fresnel lens as created and designed by Dan Spinella, a Florida-based artist and engineer who began his research and restoration work on the lenses 30 years ago.

Billy Keyserling, former City of Beaufort mayor, was hospitalized after a boating accident, according to media reports. Keyserling and his brother Paul were sailing when their boat capsized near the Beaufort Sandbar, the Island News said. Billy Keyserling was pulled from the water and required resuscitation before being taken to a hospital. Paul Keyserling was conscious and alert, according to the newspaper. Billy Keyserling was later reported to be breathing on his own. An update on his condition was not immediately available at press time. S.C. Department of Natural Resources responded to the boating accident around 1:30 p.m. May 21. Keyserling served three terms as mayor.

Hilton Head Island was a national showcase last month as NBC’s “Today” was broadcast in front of a live audience May 20 from a house on the beach. The show’s “3rd Hour” featured Al Roker, Craig Melvin, Sheinelle Jones and Dylan Dreyer. It was sponsored by Vrbo.

America’s Boating Club Hilton Head recently conducted its signature boating education course at the University of South Carolina–Beaufort Osher Learning Center. The course, attended by 30 boaters, provides boaters with basic boating information designed to make boaters safer. The next scheduled courses are Aug. 20 and Oct. 8. For more information, contact Rick Sturges at sturges.rick@gmail.com.

The South Carolina Wing of Civil Air Patrol has chartered the Hilton Head Island Composite Squadron as part of its mission to perform emergency service duties, to train teens as leaders and to teach aerospace and aviation concepts. The squadron is recruiting new members. Teens ages 12-18 may join as cadets and remain in the Cadet Program until age 21. For more information, contact Squadron Commander 1st Lt. Richard Moscatiello at 404- 520-6075, richard.moscatiello@scwgcap.org

A mainstay since 1978, the Highway 21 Drive-In Movie Theater in Beaufort has a new owner, Jake Higgins, who announced on the theater’s Facebook page that he is “grateful” to Joe and Bonnie Barth for their nearly two decades of ownership. Movies are being played on three screens. “We will offer the best and most current movies while providing food, entertainment and awesome memories,” Higgins posted.

A stretch of three miles on U.S. 278 in Okatie will be studied for possible upgrades. The section, beginning at the intersection of Argent Boulevard and ending at Okatie Highway (S.C. 170), sees an average of 31,000 vehicles per day and has experienced significant growth, which has led to increased congestion and safety concerns, according to Beaufort County government. A study was initiated in March and is anticipated to conclude by the fall. For more information, visit wikimapping.com/us278camp.html

The town of Bluffton received a $25,895 grant from the state Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism as part of its Undiscovered South Carolina grant program. The funds are to add permanent exhibits to the Garvin-Garvey House Museum. The house was built by Cyrus Garvey. His family lived on the property until 1961. The project will cost $51,970.

Beaufort County Council voted to stop the collection of school impact fees and will provide refunds for people who have paid them. David Striebinger, school board chair, and superintendent Frank Rodriguez released a letter May 3 arguing against the decision. During a discussion of the fees on April 25, council members and county administrator Eric Greenway noted that members of the school board weren’t at the meeting. The letter argued that board members not attending the meeting didn’t represent lack of support for impact fees. Refunds for the fees will be distributed to property owners in the order they were collected, Greenway said.

Beaufort County Council voted to give employees a 5% cost-of-living raise, according to a news release. Council members passed an ordinance in April to amend the fiscal year 2021- 22 budget to include the raises and funding for several projects after staff identified a surplus of about $9 million. The county said $895,000 will be used to pay for the cost-of-living raises for employees in emergency services, the sheriff’s office, detention center and county staff.

The Beaufort County Board of Education approved the authorization to pay a 3% cost of living increase to full-time active employees as of May 27. The payment will be retroactive to the beginning of the 2021-2022 school year. A news release said the retroactive funds will be provided June 10, and the increase “will be reflected in employees’ paychecks when the 2023 school year commences.” The district said the raises are about $5.5 million and will come from the current general fund operating budget.

Beaufort County will undertake a $1 million independent “end-to-end analysis” of traffic simulations on U.S. 278 between Moss Creek Drive in Bluffton and the Gumtree Road intersection on Hilton Head Island before moving into the design phase for the $290 million project, a news release said. Using the latest traffic simulations and the simulations from prior studies will ensure the designers have the most accurate picture of traffic flow, the release said.

Town Council added one town-owned and one privately owned building to its list of historic “contributing resources,” officially documenting the significance of these structures, its architectural qualities, and the roles they played in Bluffton’s history, a news release said. The Jennie Kitty Municipal Building and the Bluffton Post Office were added to the list during the May 10 Council meeting. These are first additions to the list since 2008.