Beaufort County voters overwhelmingly approved a $344 million school bond referendum on Nov. 5. Nearly 70 percent of voters approved the measure, the largest bond referendum in the school district’s history. The Beaufort County school board now must select a financial adviser to guide the district’s issuance of bonds. A committee of community volunteers also will be selected to oversee how the money is spent. A website will be set up to allow citizens to track the progress of all referendum projects and review regular reports by the monitoring committee. 

Former Beaufort County Council member Jerry Stewart is being investigated following allegations that he lived and voted in another state during his term on council, according to the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division. In October, The Island Packet & Beaufort Gazette reported that Stewart cast votes on county issues and in a South Carolina primary despite living in North Carolina.The newspapers also reported that Stewart was registered to vote in both states — a violation of N.C. law — and had his Beaufort County Council payments mailed to his N.C. home. 

Generosity is one of the best things about the Lowcountry. Has your business or organization given back to the community? Submit your photos to editor@hiltonheadmonthly.com for this section. Space is limited.

Michael Perry“PAPA BEAR” INJURED IN HUNTING ACCIDENT

Hilton Head Island fishing captain Michael Perry, owner of “Papa Bear Fishing Charters,” was injured in a hunting accident in November when he fell from a deer stand in Tennessee. The 44-year-old father of two was impaled by a tree and rushed to Vanderbilt University Medical Center for multiple surgeries. 

LOCAL ELECTIONS FOCUS ON SCHOOLS, GROWTH

Beaufort County residents won’t find many items on the ballot when they go to the polls Nov. 5, but the issues they’ll vote on have high stakes. 

The most notable item on the ballot is the Beaufort County School District bond referendum, which includes funding for a comprehensive list of projects that will impact schools throughout the county. Residents of the towns of Bluffton and Port Royal will also cast ballots in municipal elections. 

Generosity is one of the best things about the Lowcountry. Has your business or organization given back to the community? Submit your photos to editor@hiltonheadmonthly.com for this section. Space is limited.

Both from Hilton Head Island, U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Brett Sylvia and Chaplain (Brig. Gen.) William “Bill” Green Jr. were officially promoted in separate ceremonies. Green was a graduate of H. E. McCracken High School. He now serves as deputy chief of all Army chaplains at the Pentagon. Sylvia graduated from Hilton Head Island High School. He now serves as 1st Calvary Division deputy at Fort Hood, Texas. 

Hilton Head Island Airport has announced that American Airlines will begin offering nonstop service to Chicago O’Hare International Airport, Dallas Fort Worth International Airport and Philadelphia International Airport starting March 7, according to a news release. 

The flights will be seasonal, but the airport has not announced when they end. The announcement comes after a 236 percent increase in passengers in 2019. 

The Palmetto Ocean Conservancy is attempting to break a world record for the largest bottle cap structure and most plastic bottle caps recycled in one year. The nonprofit group has been working with local schools and businesses to collect plastic bottle caps since March and has amassed more than 400,000. The bottle caps will be used to create multiple murals throughout Beaufort County, each depicting an endangered or vulnerable species native to the Lowcountry. 

The American Civil Liberties Union, the American Civil Liberties Union of South Carolina, and Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough, LLP have announced a settlement in their lawsuit challenging the city of Beaufort and the town of Bluffton’s unconstitutional practice of depriving lawyers to poor people facing incarceration if convicted in municipal court. Under the settlement agreement, both municipalities will implement changes to their municipal court policies and practices. 

James Thomas Bramlette and Anthony Hartman, former owners of Melrose Resort on Daufuskie Island, were indicted on fraud charges in October. According to the indictment, they raised more than $10 million from private investors for renovations on the resort without disclosing to investors that they had defaulted on a previous $700,000 loan for the property. The Melrose Resort is now owned by Odeon Singapore Ltd. 

For the third consecutive year, Hilton Head Island has been named the No. 1 island in the United States by Condé Nast Traveler. More than 600,000 readers across the globe submitted a recording-breaking number of responses rating their travel experiences to determine the winners of this year’s Conde Nast Reader’s Choice Awards. Kiawah was the only other South Carolina island to make the list, coming in at No. 2. 

Hilton Head Island Mayor John McCann travelled to Washington, D.C., in October for a reception for Italian President Sergio Mattarella, whom he met briefly in June while visiting Verona for a “friendship pact” signing ceremony with that city’s mayor. McCann told The Island Packet that he was invited “because of our sister relationship” with Verona. The Verona trip cost taxpayers nearly $15,000 for McCann, town manager Steve Riley and Riley’s wife, Mary Jo, who spent five days in Verona and nearby areas. The Town of Hilton Head Island announced in a news release that the town covered a coach ticket for McCann’s trip to Washington. 

Beaufort County recently opened its Victims Services Center in Okatie, offering medical services and other support to victims as they navigate the justice system. Officials with the 14th Circuit Solicitor’s Office say the center is the first of its kind in South Carolina. It provides a medical examination room as well as prosecutors on site, sparing victims the trauma of having to talk about their experiences repeatedly to multiple agencies. The center, which helps victims of domestic abuse, sexual assault and other crimes against vulnerable populations, also has a pediatric sexual assault nurse, according to a press release from the solicitor’s office.