April 2011

APRIL 2011: Mayor- Hilton Head and Bluffton

Author: Drew Laughlin and Lisa Sulka | Photographer: Photography by Anne

DREW LAUGHLINHILTON HEAD MAYOR

What’s So Great about the Heritage Golf Tournament?
The answer to the above question is, in a word, plenty. That is why so many town, county, and state residents are working very hard to help preserve our tournament. Within the last 18 months, Heritage Classic Foundation members, local and county officials, our governor and her staff, and others have contacted countless potential title sponsors, sorted through several legislative fixes, and marshaled any and all resources to save the tournament. As of press time, we have not been able to land a title sponsor for the tournament, but there has never been any notion of quitting along the way.

I recall the story of a high school basketball coach who tried to motivate his players to persevere through a tough season. At the mid-point of the season, he stood before his players and asked, “Did Michael Jordan ever quit?” The team responded, “No!” He yelled, “What about the Wright Brothers? Did they ever give up?” “No!” the team shouted. “Did Thomas Edison ever quit?” Again the team yelled, “No!” “Did Horace Johnson ever quit?” There was a long silence. Finally, one player was brave enough to ask, “Who’s Horace Johnson? We never heard of him.” The coach snapped back, “Of course you never heard of him—he quit!” I assure you, Horace Johnson is not associated with the tournament.

Space does not allow me to recite all that has been done to preserve the tournament, but the story could fill a book. What is it about the tournament that’s inspiring so many people to dedicate their time? While we enjoy dozens of events on the island that bring enjoyment and pleasure to residents, none are quite like the Heritage Golf Tournament. The tournament draws a significant international audience unlike any other event in South Carolina, and it focuses that audience on the beauty of our island, of which we are proud. When I observe the telecast on CBS, I see the camera shots and hear broadcasters describe our beautiful island to millions of people around the world. You cannot replace the value of this exposure by any other means. The telecast becomes, in part, a Chamber-like product depiction of the value of living, working, and visiting Hilton Head Island.

Other great things about the Heritage include: the benefits derived by area businesses such as hotels, short-term rentals, realtors, and restaurants, to name a few; the revenue generated from accommodations and hospitality taxes, paid by visitors, which keeps our taxes lower; and more than $20 million which has been distributed to a wide variety of charitable organizations and to college bound students in scholarship money as a direct result of the tournament. This event is one the community rallies around by volunteering, attending, and sponsoring.

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LISA SULKABLUFFTON

Transparency In Government
The Town of Bluffton continues to strive for transparency in government. Over the past year, we have incorporated several tools to attain this goal. Utilizing our website and the social network are two of these.

Initiated about a year ago, our Facebook page already has 585 followers, and the number is growing. Compared to our neighboring city of Charleston which has 882 followers, our small town is making headway. If you have a Facebook page, search for Town of Bluffton, and become a friend. Recently, we added a video about our town, and to date we have had over 300 views. We are updating this site at least twice a week with links to our website for more detailed information.

Our website, townofbluffton.sc.gov, also continues to be updated, and we are seeing much more traffic here as well. A new section on the site titled “What’s Going On?” will be updated with public interest information such as community events; road construction or detours in our area, to include the associated maps; project updates; and other work going on around the Bluffton area.

This new page will incorporate video, slideshows and animated pictures showing exciting events happening at town hall and in the Town of Bluffton. As a side note, a must see is the town manager eating green eggs and ham with the school children. You can see this and more by clicking on the multimedia link on the homepage.

The Town of Bluffton has also begun adding all of our council and commission agendas on the site as well as a calendar of events. You will be able to see exactly what our council sees at meetings, including all of the backup information that is attached to each agenda item.

Another option is our NIXLE program. This is provided by our Bluffton Police Department and will send instant information on any safety issues that occur in the Town. To register for this, go to BlufftonPolice.com. You’ll find the NIXLE link on the homepage. This is a great tool to have whether you live in Bluffton or not, to know what is going on in regard to public safety.

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