A count­down of Beau­fort County’s most mem­o­rable mo­ments of 2018

The Beaufort Gazette (Sunday) - - Front Page - BY DAVID LAUD­ERDALE dlaud­[email protected]­land­packet.com

This has been a year of fire and ice.

Ice poured down on Beau­fort County in Jan­uary — and ac­tu­ally hung around for five days. Few ex­pect to see any­thing like it again in their life­time.

As for the fire, busi­nesses felt heat like never be­fore to sim­ply keep the doors open due to a lack of work­ers, par­tic­u­larly on Hilton Head Is­land.

Fol­low­ing are eight ways 2018 will be re­mem­bered in Beau­fort County.


Work­force: “The whole is­land is a dis­as­ter zone right now,” Steve Carb, pres­i­dent of the SERG Restau­rant Group on Hilton Head, said in a Wash­ing­ton Post ar­ti­cle in May. “It’s been a night­mare.”

The restau­rant group scaled back its usage of the Po­sei­don Rooftop Bar and had to close sec­tions of Skull Creek Dock­side at times this sea­son, due to not hav­ing enough em­ploy­ees to pro­vide qual­ity ser­vice.

Hous­ing: In a sur­vey re­leased this spring, 63 per­cent of re­spon­dents said they had trou­ble find­ing a suitable place to live in Beau­fort County. De­mand for nearly ev­ery hous­ing type and price point in ev­ery area of the county is go­ing to rise as the county con­tin­ues to ex­pand in the com­ing years, the study said. It is an acute is­sue for the Hilton Head work­force.

Traf­fic: Ab­so­lute grid­lock hit the south end of Hilton Head this sum­mer. It was so bad dur­ing an Au­gust con­struc­tion pro­ject that then-Mayor David Ben­nett called the cops.


Air­port: Hilton Head Is­land Air­port’s ex­tended run­way opened af­ter decades of bick­er­ing, with re­gional jets re­plac­ing tur­bo­props on com­mer­cial flights and more con­nec­tions planned for 2019.

Bound­ary Street: The $33 mil­lion streetscape pro­ject on the gate­way to Beau­fort — decades in the mak­ing— was fin­ished.

Her­itage: The RBC Her­itage Pre­sented by Boe­ing PGA Tour golf tour­na­ment on Hilton Head marked its 50th edi­tion, cel­e­brat­ing more than $30 mil­lion given to char­ity by turn­ing the Har­bour Town Light­house’s cherry-red stripes into Her­itage plaid. Hunt­ing Is­land: The Friends of Hunt­ing Is­land or­ga­ni­za­tion marked 40 years of en­hanc­ing the state park, one of the most pop­u­lar at­trac­tions in the county and state.


USCB: The Univer­sity of South Carolina Beau­fort opened a $24.5 mil­lion cam­pus on Hilton Head on the site of the old Sea Pines cor­po­rate of­fices, where bright minds trans­formed the is­land into a place that could one day have a col­lege cam­pus.

Tin­sel Town: It was 25 years ago that Tom Hanks pho­to­bombed the Beau­fort wed­ding of Mary Dun­ning and David Chap­man dur­ing film­ing of block­buster “For­rest Gump.” Closed: Among long­time busi­nesses to call it a day was Stock Farm An­tiques, opened in Bluffton by artist Naomi McCracken in 1953 and run for many years by her son, Em­mett McCracken and his wife, Teddy. On Hilton Head, Nancy Voegele closed her Pink House Gallery af­ter 34 years.


Poona Ford: He was said to be too small to play foot­ball af­ter star­ring for the Hilton Head Is­land High School Sea­hawks, but he was the Big 12 De­fen­sive Line­man of the Year at the Univer­sity of Texas be­fore land­ing a start­ing job with the Seat­tle Sea­hawks in the NFL. Dea­con James Garfield Smalls: The 98year-old St. He­lena Is­land na­tive was hon­ored by the state for keep­ing alive the fad­ing Gul­lah spir­i­tu­als of his youth.

Drift­wood: A tan­ta­liz­ing Beau­fort mys­tery was solved this year when Gibbes McDow­ell wrote “Drift­wood Un­masked: The Leg­end and the Man.” Now we know the real story of the boozy racon­teur of the 1950s and 60s, known as “Drift­wood” for the art he made of nat­u­ral ob­jects found near his shack on Har­bor Is­land.

Snow­ball: This al­bino dol­phin is not a per­son, but she was quite a fig­ure at the Mi­ami Seaquar­ium af­ter be­ing cap­tured in the wild near St. He­lena Sound in the 1960s. The cap­ture stirred a con­tro­versy that led to the ear­li­est sea mam­mal pro­tec­tions in Amer­ica and was told in Pat Con­roy’s book “Prince of Tides.” Amodel of Snow­ball and her gray pup, in­clud­ing ac­tual parts of Snow­ball, was placed on per­ma­nent dis­play at the Port Royal Sound Foun­da­tion Mar­itime Cen­ter in Okatie.


Plas­tic bags: Most sin­gle-use plas­tic bags were banned in Beau­fort County and its mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties this year — an ef­fort to keep them from harm­ing wildlife. Off­shore drilling:

Beau­fort County gov­ern­ment lead­ers re­mained united against off­shore ex­plo­ration for oil and gas, fight­ing a move by Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump to open it. The is­sue is be­lieved to be the de­cid­ing fac­tor in the lo­cal con­gres­sional race, with Joe Cun­ning­ham be­com­ing the first Demo­crat to rep­re­sent the 1st Dis­trict since 1981. Snow­maged­don:

Beau­fort County was blan­keted with 3 to 5 inches of snow, and its streets and bridges cov­ered with ice, in a Jan­uary weather phe­nom­e­non the likes of which had not been seen since 1989.

Open space: Beau­fort County vot­ers hand­ily ap­proved $25 mil­lion for the county’s Ru­ral and Crit­i­cal Land Preser­va­tion Pro­gram, which this year fa­cil­i­tated the pur­chase of a sig­nif­i­cant park site on the Beau­fort River at White­hall on Lady’s Is­land. Hur­ri­cane Florence:

The county was evac­u­ated for Hur­ri­cane Florence, which struck North Carolina.


Deaths: Among the many con­trib­u­tors to life in Beau­fort County to die this year were Henry C. Cham­bers, for­mer Beau­fort mayor; W. Brant­ley Har­vey Jr., for­mer state lieu­tenant gov­er­nor; Joe Mix, “Mis­ter Boys & Girls Club”; Gene Hood, long­time county pub­lic de­fender.

Dr. Jack Mc­Connell, founder of the Vol­un­teers in Medicine clin­ics; Hilton Head Gul­lah com­mu­nity leader Veron­ica Miller; John J. “JJ” Harter, an early Hilton Head fire ser­vice leader and head of town emer­gency pre­pared­ness; Thomas Norby, a long­time Sea Pines ex­ec­u­tive; Tom Wam­s­ley, co-founder of the The Is­land Packet.

Arts and ad­ver­tis­ing leader John David Rose; Hilton Head or­ches­tra leader Glo­ria Daly; and 11-year-old Charli Bobinchuck, killed in a Hilton Head cross­walk, a tragedy that made im­proved safety for pedes­tri­ans and bi­cy­clists on the is­land a ma­jor is­sue.


Re­tire­ment plan: Among the many con­trib­u­tors to life in Beau­fort County to an­nounce re­tire­ments this year are Max­ine Lutz, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the His­toric Beau­fort Foun­da­tion; Cindy Bays­den, di­rec­tor of the Beau­fort County Open Land Trust; Nan John­son, who cheer­ily greeted the pub­lic on the phone or at the front desk at the Hilton Head Town Hall for 34 years; Betsy Doughtie, di­rec­tor of the Deep Well Pro­ject on Hilton Head for 22 years; Al Stokes, head of the Wad­dell Mar­i­cul­ture Cen­ter, where he had worked since 1979; and Tony Crisc­i­tiello, long­time head of the county plan­ning de­part­ment.


Guardian an­gel: An anony­mous donor gave $500,000 to the Camp­bell Chapel AME Church in Bluffton to pay off its mort­gage.


A cou­ple walks along a stretch of North For­est Beach on Hilton Head Is­land, which was trans­formed into a win­ter won­der­land by a snow storm.

DREW MARTIN [email protected]­land­packet.com

Snow­ball, the al­bino dol­phin cap­tured in the At­lantic Ocean off the coast of South Carolina, front, has re­turned for good at the Port Royal Sound Foun­da­tion af­ter the or­ga­ni­za­tion pur­chased the model from its owner, Kevin Vana­core. Pic­tured with Snow­ball is Sonny Boy, her calf that was cap­tured with her and brought to per­form at the Seaquar­ium lo­cated in Florida in the 1970s.

JAY KARR [email protected]­land­packet.com

The Har­bour Town Light­house looks out over the yacht basin and nearby 18th hole of Har­bour Town Golf Links. The light­house’s red stripes were con­verted to Her­itage plaid to co­in­cide with the RBC Her­itage Pre­sented by Boe­ing golf tour­na­ment’s 50th an­niver­sary.


The great snow storm of Jan­uary 3 brings new life to the statue of Al­bert the al­li­ga­tor and Sea Pines founder Charles E. Fraser in the Com­pass Rose Park on Hilton Head Is­land.

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