Winds of change blow hard on Hunting Island


Weatherford fired as manager of popular state park

By Mike McCombs

Beaufort residents have gotten used to change, as it pertains to one of the area’s crown jewels – Hunting Island State Park.

The wind and water have changed the island drastically over the past two decades. But here’s a change that patrons of one of South Carolina’s most important state parks may not have been expecting.

Hunting Island State Park Manager J.W. Weatherford was fired Wednesday, Feb. 24.

When reached by phone Sunday, Weatherford confirmed he was no longer employed by the S.C. Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism (SCPRT). He declined further comment except to call his firing a “surprise.”

“We cannot discuss confidential personnel information,” SCPRT Director of Corporate Communications Sam Queen said in an email Monday afternoon. “I can confirm that Assistant Park Manager Austin Mitchum is temporarily filling (the Park Manager) role, with support from Region Chief Gerald Ives.”

It isn’t clear what the timetable is for replacing Weatherford or if Mitchum is a candidate for the position. The job is currently posted on careers.sc.gov.

A Gaffney native, Weatherford graduated from North Greenville University with a degree in American Studies, according to his S.C. State Park Service profile. After embarking on a 13-year career journey through Croft, Sesquicentennial, Huntington Beach and Lake Wateree state parks, Weatherford took the job as Park Manager at Hunting Island State Park in 2017.

Above: J.W. Weatherford, center, was fired last week as Park Manager of Hunting Island State Park. Photo by Bob Sofaly

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