July 2023 About Town

June 28, 2023

Bluffton Sites added to Reconstruction Era National Historic Network
The National Park Service added the Garvin-Garvey House and Historic Campbell Chapel AME to the Reconstruction Era National Historic Network. The national network connects sites across the country which provide education, interpretation and research related to the period of Reconstruction.
The Garvin-Garvey House was constructed around 1870 by Cyrus Garvin (Garvey) in Bluffton. It is believed to be the oldest extant dwelling built by a freedman in Bluffton and remained in the possession of the Garvin family until the 1960s.  In 2004, the Town of Bluffton entered a partnership with Beaufort County to maintain Oyster Factory Park, which includes the Garvin-Garvey House.  

Historic Campbell Chapel AME was originally built by enslaved people in Bluffton.  In 1874, the chapel became part of the AME Church and served the community throughout the Reconstruction Era as a social, religious, and academic center of the community.

Historic Mitchelville Freedom Park Receives $1 Million
A big donation will benefit Mitchelville Freedom Park.
Moon King Entertainment Group, The Bank, and the Island Legacy Fund announced a $1 million gift committed to Historic Mitchelville Freedom Park. The Bank, Moon King Entertainment Group and the Watterson Family Foundation have created the Island Legacy Fund at the Community Foundation of the Lowcountry to focus on Hilton Head Island housing, childcare and preservation initiatives.

Historic Mitchelville is “uniquely positioned to broaden the awareness and recognition of its rich story,” a news release said. Current funding is supporting the creation of Ghosted Structures representing the historic homes, a Church reflection area that also highlights a 4,000-year-old indigenous imprint and a Classroom - Archaeological Lab building that will support education programs and excavations on site for the foreseeable future.

“This gift from The Bank and the Island Legacy Fund is transformative to the Historic Mitchelville Freedom Park project. The funds will enable us to move ever closer to building the full park site and sharing the unique story of Mitchelville with people in and outside of the Lowcountry,” said Ahmad Ward, executive director of the Historic Mitchelville Freedom Park.

New Elementary School Planned in Bluffton
The Beaufort County school board authorized superintendent Frank Rodriguez to negotiate a contract with Quackenbush Architects and Planners to design a new elementary school serving grades preK-5, which is expected to house 800 students. The school is aimed at alleviating overcrowding in the community, a news release said. The design work for the project will be funded by 8% capital bond funding. Funding is anticipated to come from a 2023 bond referendum. The new PreK-5 elementary school, projected to be completed and occupied prior to the start of the 2025-26 school year, will be located on the May River High School property owned by the district at 601 New Riverside Drive. The high school currently occupies approximately 80 acres of the 225-acre campus.

McKenna Swinton. Photo: First Zion Missionary Baptist ChurchBluffton Facebook

May River High Athlete Wins State Crown
May River High’s McKenna Swinton won the Class AAAA state shot put crown (39-5) at the state track and field championships. Swinton bested Ayanna Hunt of Westside (39-4). She was also fourth in the discus (115-5). Swinton has signed to compete at Claflin University.
Macey Dowe of May River placed third in the girls javelin (115-6) and discus (118-8). Anya Arroyo was third in the 3,200 (11:12.04).
Overall, May River’s girls finished fourth.
Darrion Perry was second in the boys 400 hurdles (56.55).

Hilton Head Senior Awarded Art Scholarship
Sophia Paris, a senior at Hilton Head Preparatory School, was awarded a $2,000 art scholarship from Art League of Hilton Head. She will apply the scholarship to tuition at Tufts University this fall, where she plans to double major in engineering psychology and studio arts with a concentration in graphic design. Paris is an honor roll student and president of Hilton Head Prep’s Global Citizenship Club.

“Her genuine interest in service, artistic expression, and cultures has made her a recognized leader in our school community, by students and faculty alike,” said Louise Goodman of Hilton Head Prep. She described Sophia as “emotionally intelligent, diligent, and diplomatic.”

May River High School Student Named SC Teaching Fellow
Riley Brodie, a senior at May River High School, has been awarded the prestigious Center for Educator Recruitment, Retention, and Advancement (CERRA) South Carolina Teaching Fellowship. Brodie is a member of the MRHS Color Guard, Best Buddies club, and Tri-M (Modern Music Masters) honor society.

HHIH Relay Team Wins Boys State Title
Hilton Head High’s boys 4X400-meter relay team of Dacien Cohen, Jourdin Nelson-Davis, Zach Sellers and Jackson Rohr (3:22.04) took home the SCHSL Class AAAA state title at the state track and field championships.
Janile Roberson of HHIHS took second in the boys 200 dash (21.63) and Cynthia Gudaitis was third in the girls 1,600 (5:08.39).
Overall, Hilton Head High’s boys placed seventh.

Bluffton Female Wrestlers Excel at Regional Competition
Five local girls finished in the top 5 at the Southeast Regionals Tournament hosted by USA Wrestling in Cherokee, N.C. Vivian Patricia Urriola, a rising freshman at May River High School, competed in the 16U, 117-pound class and took first in freestyle wrestling and third in Greco wrestling. Also competing for Bluffton-based Reverence Wrestling Club in freestyle wrestling were: Sophia Perez, McCracken Middle School (14U, 110 pounds) placed first; Aleysha Mendez,  Red Cedar Elementary (8U, 52 pounds) placed second; Amaia Mendez, Red Cedar Elementary (10U, 76 pounds) was third; and Angely Mendez, Bluffton Middle School (14U, 119 pounds), placed fourth.

Cooking Fires Result in Destroyed homes
Two homes in the Bluffton area were destroyed by fires that were a result of cooking incident, according to Bluffton Township Fire District. The fires were at the Woodbridge subdivision of Bluffton and on Cherry Point Road near Okatie Elementary School.  No injuries were reported in the Woodbridge fire. Neighbors alerted firefighters that they heard the occupant of the home on Cherry Point Road calling for help. Firefighters found the man and transported him to Memorial Health in Savannah with serious injuries, a news release said.

Historic Mitchelville Freedom Park Receives $2.5 Million investment
Historic Mitchelville Freedom Park received a $2.5 million investment from the Mellon Foundation, the nation’s largest supporter of the arts and humanities. This investment, spread over a two-year period, will go toward the Freedom Plaza, The Classroom-Lab building, the Interpretative Trail, and infrastructure for the future Interpretive Center. Freedom Plaza will serve as a “profound” connection to West Africa, the birthplace of many Mitchelville residents, a news release said. For more information, visit exploremitchelville.org.

Summer Reading Program Promotes Literacy
The Beaufort County Library System and the Beaufort County School District have collaborated for a summer reading program: “All Together Now.” This year’s program accommodates summer schedules with minimal deadlines and flexible timeframes to complete goals. Printed game boards serve as the centerpiece of the program and, along with something to read, are the only necessary components of participation. Local businesses and organizations have provided prizes, donations, and incentives. The program ends July 31. The program is designed for all ages. Contact Theresa Furbish at theresa.furbish@bcgov.net or 843-255-6442.

HHI Fire Rescue receives Agency Training Program Certification
Hilton Head Island Fire & Rescue’s 911 Communications Center received an Agency Training Program Certification, a Project 33 Initiative, from the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) International. Public safety agencies use the APCO International Agency Training Program Certification as a formal mechanism to ensure their training programs meet APCO American National Standards. Hilton Head Island Fire & Rescue will be recognized at APCO’s 89th Annual Conference & Expo, Aug. 6-9 in Nashville, Tenn.

Hilton Head Adopts New Strategic Action Plan
Hilton Head Island Town Council adopted a new Strategic Action Plan, which the Town said is an ambitious, community-focused blueprint celebrating the island’s history, culture, environment, and social-economic diversity while addressing its most pressing needs and services. The plan contains 54 strategies, including: establishing a growth management strategy to proactively protect the island’s rich natural resource; implementing an initiative to outline the Town’s commitment to preserve and expand workforce housing options; and developing the William Hilton Parkway Gateway Corridor Plan. The complete Strategic Action Plan is available at hiltonheadislandsc.gov/strategicplan/

Award recognizes students for their contributions

Bluffton Youth Community Service Winners
Students from Bluffton High School, Cross Schools, Hilton Head Christian Academy, John Paul II Catholic School and May River High School were recently recognized by the Town of Bluffton as recipients of the Mayor’s Bluffton Youth Community Service Award.

The students volunteered at least 50 hours in the community, helping make a difference. The program is a venue for the town’s younger residents to invest their time and talent into the community and for them to be recognized for their community contributions.This award provides sophomores, juniors and seniors recognition for their volunteerism in the Bluffton community. The program was launched by Mayor Lisa Sulka in 2015.

Hilton Head Island Adopts 2024 Budget
Hilton Head Island Town Council voted 5-1 to approve the fiscal year 2024 consolidated budget on second and final reading. There’s no funding increase in property taxes. The $129.95 million budget includes funds for sewer connection and home safety and repair programs, and an addition of 14 full-time positions. For more information, visit hiltonheadislandsc.gov/budget/FY2024/.

Rotary Club of Hilton Head Island Recognizes Students
The Rotary Club of Hilton Head Island recognized students for excellence, leadership and service. Students were, from Heritage Academy, Jettie Sheane Nelson and Kellen Kubec; Elliot Kennedy (Hilton Head Island Middle School); Benjamin Lewis (Hilton Head Island High School); Eden Myers and Bridget Wilkie of Hilton Head Preparatory School; and Olivia Halloran (St. Francis Catholic School).
Chelsee Kuklinski and Whitney McGuire, of HHIH, received scholarships for four years of academic pursuits. Kuklinski will attend West Virginia University. McGuire will attend the University of South Carolina.

TCL and North Greenville University Announce Transfer Agreement
Technical College of the Lowcountry and North Greenville University signed an articulation agreement that enables TCL’s early care and education students interested in furthering their education to seamlessly transfer to NGU. The agreement enables TCL students who have completed the college’s Associate of Applied Science in Early Care and Education degree program to transfer into NGU’s online Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Educational Studies program.  TCL students who transfer to NGU will be provided with advising and academic support for a successful transition and are eligible for a 10% discount on tuition, officials said.