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Latest News in Bluffton
Will Beaufort Co. change this busy Bluffton intersection? Not if residents have their way
A plan to realign a bustling Bluffton intersection doesn’t sit well with the neighbors.About 150 Bluffton residents packed Buckwalter Recreation Center last week, and most of them had the same idea: They don’t want any changes to Bluffton Parkway at Buckwalter Parkway near Buckwalter Place.The realignment has been in the works for years, and would correct the road between the intersection stoplight and the stoplights near Parker’s and Publix to ease traffic.A Beaufort County committee plans to discuss t...
A plan to realign a bustling Bluffton intersection doesn’t sit well with the neighbors.
About 150 Bluffton residents packed Buckwalter Recreation Center last week, and most of them had the same idea: They don’t want any changes to Bluffton Parkway at Buckwalter Parkway near Buckwalter Place.
The realignment has been in the works for years, and would correct the road between the intersection stoplight and the stoplights near Parker’s and Publix to ease traffic.
A Beaufort County committee plans to discuss the project Monday afternoon.
On Thursday, Beaufort County Assistant Administrator Jared Fralix presented five options for the realignment. They vary in cost from $2.5 million to $10 million, and each has a different impact on turning lanes out of the Townes at Buckwalter.
All five options have something in common: Each would complete a portion of the controversial Bluffton Parkway Phase 5B project, which was approved by voters in 2006 and would straighten and extend Bluffton Parkway to Buck Island Road, cutting through undeveloped land behind the Townes at Buckwalter, Woodbridge and Rose Hill neighborhoods.
The intersection project is separate from Phase 5B, something Fralix and Logan Cunningham, the Beaufort County Council member who organized the meeting, repeated over the course of the night.
However, the fifth option for realignment, developed in conjunction with Bluffton Town Council a month ago, would jumpstart a five-phase process to build the entire Phase 5B project.
Phase 5B has been called a “zombie road” by residents, many of whom worry that it could ease commercial development into their backyards, destroy wetlands from the May River and drive down property values.
Cunningham said several times that he was opposed to Phase 5B. He also added that no commercial zoning would be added under any of the realignment plans, though several roadways would cut through undeveloped, commercially zoned land.
“It’s our job now, my job, to make sure that if this stuff can be built now, what’s the best situation for us?” he said.
But that didn’t stop residents — about 90% of the crowd raised their hands to note that they lived in one of the neighborhoods that would be affected by realignment — from making sure he knew they were opposed.
Over the course of the two-hour meeting, those who spoke up against any realignment were applauded, and any mention of 5B was booed.
“I was satisfied with how the meeting went,” said Tony LaMartina, a Rose Hill resident. “I am not satisfied with any of 5B. The county has to push back and say, ‘no, constituents don’t want this.’”
He had spoken earlier about his concerns that property values would drop and deaths at the Rose Hill intersection would increase with more growth and connector roads.
Beaufort County’s public facilities committee is meeting Monday afternoon after the finance committee adjourns — no earlier than 3 p.m. — to discuss the realignment project. The committee could vote to recommend the project to Beaufort County Council, which could then vote to begin work.
“This is a multi-step process,” Cunningham said. “Even to go through County Council and get approved, you’re talking a 2, 2 1/2-month discussion before it even gets to that point.”
The public can attend the meeting via Zoom or in person at 100 Ribaut Road in Beaufort, and will be able to submit public comments online.
Town of Bluffton accepting applications for Christmas parade entries
Applications are available for entries in Bluffton’s annual Christmas parade, which will have some new regulations in place for safety, the town said.This year’s parade is scheduled for 10 a.m. Dec. 4 in the Old Town historic district. The deadline for applications is Nov. 10.“This parade, which has been a part of the Bluffton tradition for five decades, has grown exponentially parallel to Bluffton’s population,” a town news release said. “Due to the growth, public and personal...
Applications are available for entries in Bluffton’s annual Christmas parade, which will have some new regulations in place for safety, the town said.
This year’s parade is scheduled for 10 a.m. Dec. 4 in the Old Town historic district. The deadline for applications is Nov. 10.
“This parade, which has been a part of the Bluffton tradition for five decades, has grown exponentially parallel to Bluffton’s population,” a town news release said. “Due to the growth, public and personal safety remains the event’s most important priority.”
The town said entries will be first-come, first-serve, adding that “there is limit of 120 entries for the 2021 parade. It is advised to submit your application as soon as it is completed.”
There is an entry fee of $25. The town said it will email an invoice with payment instructions when it approves an application.
Applications are available on the town’s website, townofbluffton.sc.gov. They can be emailed to email@example.com. For more information, contact special event manager Lyndee Simoneaux at the same email address.
The town said new safety regulations include:
• The throwing of candy or any item from a parade vehicle or float is prohibited.
• People are allowed to walk alongside a parade entry and distribute items to the crowd. Please distribute candy/promotional items hand-to-hand by walking along the parade route next to the spectators.
• Spectators will not be allowed to run into the streets to grab items.
The town will host its annual tree lighting the evening before the parade, at 5:30 p.m. Dec. 3 at Martin Family Park, with Santa’s Workshop at the DuBois Park pavilion.
“For the safety of Santa and all involved, children will need to wear a mask for Santa’s workshop,” the town said. “Santa will listen to the children in his chair, and the children will sit on benches near him, not on his lap.”
The movie “Elf” will be shown at 6:30 p.m. at Martin Family Park. Attendees are asked to bring blankets and/or chairs.
“Bluffton’s Christmas tree lighting and parade is the kickoff to the holiday season, a way to express our town’s eclectic energy and create memories for every member of our community,” Mayor Lisa Sulka said.
“Our tree lighting ceremony and town wide decorations have converted Bluffton into a charming winter wonderland for everyone. A few years ago, we witnessed a man drop down to his knee and propose in front of the lit Christmas tree. Truly, it is small-town magic.”
HSFB: Five Lowco seniors picked for S.C. all-star game
The Lowco will be well-represented in South Carolina’s biggest all-star football game this December. Five area standouts were selected Monday to play in the 2021 Touchstone Energy Cooperatives Bowl, joining a list of 88 high school seniors across the state.May River’s Garvin Douglas and Jaeon Allen were named to the South roster alongside Hilton Head High two-way star Jaylen Sneed, Beaufort High defensive end Alvin Wilson, and Whale Branch defensive tackle Xavier Chaplin.Taking over at quarterback for the legendary ...
The Lowco will be well-represented in South Carolina’s biggest all-star football game this December. Five area standouts were selected Monday to play in the 2021 Touchstone Energy Cooperatives Bowl, joining a list of 88 high school seniors across the state.
May River’s Garvin Douglas and Jaeon Allen were named to the South roster alongside Hilton Head High two-way star Jaylen Sneed, Beaufort High defensive end Alvin Wilson, and Whale Branch defensive tackle Xavier Chaplin.
Taking over at quarterback for the legendary Ahmad Green, Douglas has emulated the former star’s electric rushing abilities in 2021. After a remarkable three straight games of 200 or more rushing yards, Douglas now leads the Lowco with 1,383 yards on the season. He is averaging 8.5 yards per carry while throwing for 456 yards with four touchdowns and two interceptions. The senior’s phenomenal display has led his May River Sharks to a perfect 3-0 start in Region 7-4A.
Teammate and versatile offensive phenom Jaeon Allen will join Douglas in the all-star game. A transfer from Battery Creek, Allen has racked up 577 yards on the ground, second to Douglas on the team. The tall, athletic playmaker has also been a key piece in the passing game and at defensive back.
After starting out the season primarily at linebacker, Sneed has carried over his quickness and explosiveness to the quarterback position. The University of Notre Dame commit has been a force on BJ Payne’s defense, leading the team with 71 tackles including 21 in a single game against Wade Hampton. He’s doubled as an efficient dual-threat quarterback for the Seahawks, running for 155 yards and a touchdown in Friday’s victory over Bluffton.
Wilson has anchored a stellar Beaufort High defensive line that has allowed just 13.75 points per game this season. The Eagle veteran has dominated in the trenches and has become a terrific leader of an impressive front seven.
Chaplin has shined at defensive tackle for Whale Branch as a reliable run stuffer in the heart of a potent Warrior line. His 33 tackles rank second on the team alongside five tackles for loss and two sacks. Chaplin’s outstanding effort has made him a valuable component of a Whale Branch unit primed for a deep postseason run.
The 2021 Touchstone Energy Cooperatives Bowl will be held on December 11 at Doug Shaw Memorial Stadium in Myrtle Beach. The all-star game was first played in 1948 and will return this season after last year’s edition was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas called off for the second straight season, the event will be the only fully sanctioned all-star game for the state’s high school seniors in 2021.
By Wes Kerr
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Beaufort hospital eases COVID-19 visitor restrictions. How bad is the local outbreak?
Beaufort Memorial Hospital has relaxed its COVID-19 visitor restrictions as the Lowcountry’s latest coronavirus surge continues to recede.The hospital’s updated visiting policy went into effect Thursday. The medical center in mid-August had limited most visitors amid a record-breaking wave of delta variant infections.Hospital inpatients may now have up to two visitors per day between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. Ma...
Beaufort Memorial Hospital has relaxed its COVID-19 visitor restrictions as the Lowcountry’s latest coronavirus surge continues to recede.
The hospital’s updated visiting policy went into effect Thursday. The medical center in mid-August had limited most visitors amid a record-breaking wave of delta variant infections.
Hospital inpatients may now have up to two visitors per day between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. Masks are still required at the hospital. Visitors must be at least 18 years old and cannot have COVID-19 symptoms.
Coronavirus patients and those suspected of having COVID-19 cannot have visitors.
Each patient in the emergency room also is allowed one visitor, although exceptions are made for parents of minors.
Visitors only are allowed into the hospital’s intensive care unit in “extenuating circumstances.”
Patients at the hospital’s outpatient facilities and physician’s practices are allowed one visitor in waiting rooms and care areas. The same rules apply to the Beaufort Memorial Express Care & Occupational Health clinics.
The hospital, as of Thursday, was treating 19 coronavirus patients, with seven of those people in the ICU. Roughly 89% of the COVID-19 patients were unvaccinated, hospital data show.
In comparison, the medical center on Oct. 7 had 23 COVID-19 patients.
Dr. Brannon Traxler, the state’s public health director, during a Wednesday briefing with reporters noted that infections have been dropping across South Carolina this month.
“We can’t rest on these successes,” though, Traxler said. “Numbers can fluctuate at any point for a number of reasons.”
Here are the latest Beaufort County coronavirus numbers from the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control:
New cases reported Friday: 22 confirmed, six probable
New cases reported Thursday: 22 confirmed, six probable
New cases reported Wednesday: Nine confirmed, 14 probable
New deaths reported from Wednesday to Friday: Three confirmed
Seven-day average of new cases: 19 infections per day
Two-week case rate: 271.7 infections per 100,000 people
Vaccination rate: 51.4% of residents have been fully vaccinated
Bluffton ZIP code, 29910: 2,678 cases
Hilton Head Island ZIP code, 29926: 1,048 cases
Hilton Head Island ZIP code, 29928: 430 cases
Okatie ZIP code, 29909: 714 cases
Beaufort ZIP code, 29902: 1,286 cases
St. Helena Island ZIP code, 29920: 418 cases
This story was originally published October 16, 2021 9:35 AM.
Tropical Storm Elsa: Some damage in Hilton Head and Bluffton, but ‘we got lucky’
Hilton Head Island and Bluffton dodged the worst of Tropical Storm Elsa, though residents were still left with downed trees, scattered debris and intermittent power outages early Thursday.Port Royal and other communities north of the Broad River were hit harder.“It could have been much worse,” said Amanda Sutcliffe-Jones, director of communications for Sea Pines’ Community Services Associates. &ld...
Hilton Head Island and Bluffton dodged the worst of Tropical Storm Elsa, though residents were still left with downed trees, scattered debris and intermittent power outages early Thursday.
Port Royal and other communities north of the Broad River were hit harder.
“It could have been much worse,” said Amanda Sutcliffe-Jones, director of communications for Sea Pines’ Community Services Associates. “We got lucky with this one.”
Palmetto Electric reported no power outages on Hilton Head as of about 11 a.m. Thursday. Only 35 Dominion Energy customers in Bluffton and Okatie were without power as of 10 a.m., according to the company.
Residents posted photos to Facebook of trees across streets on Hilton Head, roadway flooding in Yacht Cove and debris strewn around Bluffton.
Hilton Head Fire Rescue responded to more than 66 storm-related incidents, according to a Thursday news release.
Those calls included six trees that fell into structures in Sea Pines, 33 trees in roadways, 22 fire alarms, one vehicle crash and four medical emergencies, the release read. Fire Rescue as of 11 a.m. was not aware of any serious injuries.
Town workers and contractors as of mid-morning were still removing debris in island parks.
Palmetto Electric reported roughly 19,800 power outages on the island at the height of the storm, Fire Rescue said.
Sutcliffe-Jones, of Sea Pines’ CSA, told The Island Packet that the gated community as of 9:40 a.m. was working to remove debris and clear fallen trees. Several had dropped over roads, she said. Lawton Stables closed Thursday due to Elsa’s effects, according to a Facebook post.
“All of the animals are safe and sound, but there is some cleaning up to do. If you had a reservation for today, we will reach out to you as soon as we are able,” the post read.
Peter Kristian, general manager of Hilton Head Plantation, reported that the north-end gated community fared well during the storm. Some tree limbs fell, he said, and a couple storm drains clogged up. The community’s tennis courts were closed Thursday due to debris, Kristian added. He expected the courts to reopen Friday.
“We were really spared a hit,” he said.
The same was true at Hilton Head Airport. Jon Rembold, airports director for Beaufort County, said the facility had no major issues. There was some tree damage, he said.
“As far as I know, the flight schedule is normal,” Rembold said. “It seems like we made it through pretty well.”
Red flags were up at Hilton Head’s beaches Thursday morning due to rougher than normal surf conditions, according to Shore Beach Service.
The Town of Bluffton, meanwhile, reported 24 downed trees as of 4:30 a.m., said spokeswoman Debbie Szpanka, citing preliminary information from the town’s director of emergency management. No serious injuries were reported.
The highest wind gust in the area was 81 mph recorded on the Calibogue Sound at 11:13 p.m. Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service in Charleston.
Rainfall totals were higher inland than on the coast, the weather service said. Hilton Head saw 2 to 4 inches of rain, and areas closer to Bluffton and Beaufort reported 5 to 7 inches. The highest rainfall total, 7.15 inches, was recorded two miles southwest of Beaufort.
This story was originally published July 8, 2021 12:15 PM.