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. 

Hilton Head, SC: The Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra led by Board Chairman Bob Cherichella announces the retirement of long-term President and CEO, Mary Briggs, at the end of the year, and is pleased to announce the selection of Alan Jordan as the new President and CEO. Mr. Jordan is currently the Executive Director of the Delaware Symphony Orchestra. He will begin his role as President on January 1, 2020.

LOCAL OFFICIALS WANT TO WORK TOGETHER TO SOLVE HOUSING CRUNCH

Though it is still in its early stages, a new plan aims to alter how the Lowcountry approaches its workforce housing crunch.

The Southern Lowcountry Regional Board (SoLoCo) — a regional think tank with representation from various government bodies in southern Beaufort County and Jasper County — is forming a housing trust fund focused on bringing more “attainable housing” options to the region.

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.

An upcoming U.S. 278 corridor project will improve how drivers get on and off Hilton Head Island by changing traffic flow from Moss Creek Drive to Squire Pope Road. The $240 million project focuses on the bridges to Hilton Head and is the largest-ever infrastructure undertaking on Hilton Head. Construction willl start in 2023 and take four to five years to complete, according to the S.C. Department of Transportation.

Let’s hope for an uneventful October, the end of hurricane season — though this list of emergency information sources is something to keep year-round: 

Beaufort County was lucky during Hurricane Dorian. When the storm washed ashore in South Carolina on Sept. 5, the National Weather Service recorded wind speeds on a buoy just 6 miles off the coast of Fripp Island topping at 92 mph — higher than what Beaufort County saw during Hurricane Matthew. On land, the highest wind recorded in the county was 67 mph on Sept. 5 at Hilton Head Island Airport, according to the National Weather Service. Overall, the county saw minor structural damage and 22,000 residents lost power, mostly north of the Broad River.

The town of Bluffton now requires a public notice sign at the site of each new development project at the beginning of the application process to enhance public notification about new projects. The signs are required to be erected within 15 days of submitting the completed development application. The signs will have a permit number that will correspond to the project on the town of Bluffton’s Permit Application Finder Map, where residents can track a specific project. For more information, go to www.townofbluffton.us/permit

Permits for site clearing have been issued for the new $8.5 million Hardeeville Indoor Recreation Center. The facility will be located at the corner of John Smith Road and McTeer Street and will include an NCAAsize gymnasium, track, racquetball courts, community rooms and classrooms. The facility is expected to be completed by the end of 2020.

Since mid-August, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and DHEC have worked to extinguish a fire at the Able Contracting Material Recovery Facility in Jasper County near Okatie. Officials said the fires were caused by spontaneous combustions, and the EPA has moved more than 7,187 tons of material to the Hickory Hill and Oakwood landfills, away from heavily populated areas and sensitive watersheds.