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Forward, March

March 2018Mayor David Bennett as seen in Celebrate Hilton Head Magazine

Welcome to March and the official arrival of spring. Hilton Head Islanders know that March is a forward-looking sort of month, and that we are a "forward, march" kind of people!

Only one month ago, Punxsutawney Phil emerged from his temporary winter home and saw his shadow. It was plaid-tartan, they say. The prediction was clear: less than 10 more weeks till the fiftieth RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing. Now the tournament is just a month away. We look forward to enjoying this fantastic event's golden anniversary. It promises to be enriched by islander's harking back through years of unique and historic memories and looking forward to the next 50 tartan jackets.

Together with all the tournament preparations, March delivers arts, culture, festivals and sports in abundance. PTR's Spring TennisFest transports representative from 100 colleges to the island to play a favorite island sport. (Visit springtennisfest.com for match schedules.) The seventh annual Darius Rucker Intercollegiate Golf Tournament presented by The Kroger Co. and Reynolds Consumer Products takes place at Long Cove (longcoveclub.com). And the Southeast Biking Symposium returns to the Beach House (http://bit.ly/SEBRegistration). A perusal of this wonderful magazine, and a visit to "Events" at hiltonheadisland.org will fill any empty dates on your calendar. Go ahead and march through March to the beat of your own drum!

The pinnacle of the month is our thirty-fifth Annual Hilton Head Island St. Patrick's Day Parade, a hallmark event founded by Tom Reilly. Nowhere else on "Hilton Head Ireland" may one marvel at the depth and complexity of our people, culture and spirit. The grand marshal for 2018, Dr. Emory Campbell, will be wearing green, and Mitchelville Preservation Project and NIBCCA will join in the march. I'll be traveling far behind this remarkable man (in every way) and hoping two things: that you will be there with your neighbors to enjoy the festivities, and that my candy holds out till the end of the parade route. It's Sunday, March 11, beginning at 3 p.m. Don't forget to "spring forward" that day, or you'll be late!

In addition to all these entertaining events, your town will advance many monumental measures this month. We'll be welcoming a new town staff member into the recently created position of public information director-a move designed to make a noticeable difference in our island's communications. Also, the Visioning Report prepared by Future iQ will be vetted at the Vision Project Management Team and Public Planning Committee meetings.

Later this month, we will select, from the responders to our request for proposals, a firm qualified to prepare a strategic plan for affordable workforce housing that is specifically tailored to our needs. We will also monitor the progress of newly proposed H. 4954, a House Bill that would allow South Carolina counties and municipalities to use inclusionary zoning and other tools to create affordable housing. And we'll continue to pursue access to affordable housing tax credits and initiate discussion about establishing a local housing trust fund. All these actions will support the work we must do to address our acute shortage of affordable workforce housing options.

Finally, we will strive to "bring our heritage to life." That is the mission of the newly created Beaufort County Heritage Tourism Corporation, a regional effort involving elected officials and industry professionals. Join us as we march forward, throughout the county, creating a distinct and engaging route from our incredible history to our remarkable future. So, come along. March.