After four months of being on paid administrative leave, longtime Hilton Head Island principal Amanda O’Nan announced her resignation last month in a Facebook post that included an apology to her followers for “any hurt or disappointment” she had caused them, as well as a prayer that Beaufort County School District’s interim superintendent, human resources director and an unnamed school board member “continue to enjoy living in their glass house as they cast stones.” District spokesperson Jim Foster confirmed O’Nan’s resignation.
Hilton Head News
MEET NEW COUNTY ADMINISTRATOR ASHLEY JACOBS
Growing up in the 1980s in Aiken — which was selected by Southern Living magazine last year as “The South’s No. 1 Small Town” — Ashley Jacobs probably didn’t realize how her surroundings were shaping her future.
Today, Jacobs is Beaufort County’s new administrator, and she’s expected to play a major role in propelling the county forward.
BLUFFTON TO HOST AREA’S FIRST PRIDE FESTIVAL
Ashley Mendez was 12 when she came out as gay to her closest friends and 16 when she broke the news to her family.
She figured being open about who she was would mean leaving her hometown of Bluffton as soon as possible, shoving off from conservative South Carolina in search of a more accepting community.
Paul Murdaugh, the 20-year-old Hampton man facing three felony counts of boating under the influence in the February crash near Parris Island that killed 19-year-old Mallory Beach and injured others on board, pleaded not guilty in May to all charges at a hearing at the Beaufort County Courthouse. Judge Steven John of the 15th Judicial Circuit granted Murdaugh’s attorneys’ request that Murdaugh be released on his own recognizance, a decision one of the attorneys called standard. But critics are complaining that Murduagh is being given special treatment due to his connections with one of Hampton’s most prominent families. Murdaugh surrendered his passport and cannot leave the 14th Judicial Circuit, which includes Beaufort, Hampton, Allendale, Colleton and Jasper counties, without permission of the court. Murdaugh’s trial date had not been set by press time.
BLUFFTON’S CAMPBELL CHAPEL AME CHURCH EARNS SPOT ON NATIONAL REGISTER
Historic preservationist Carolyn Coppola had to search high and low to find one of the most significant physical clues to support the oral history of the old Campbell Chapel AME Church building in downtown Bluffton.
“I had an intern go up into the old belfry,” said Coppola, who led the effort to document the historic church’s past in a successful push for placement on the National Register of Historic Places. “He took pictures in the attic on his phone — on a hot summer day. We were all looking for clues. We found the yoke inscription and traced it to a company using that name for a short period of time.”
The Boys &l Girls Club of Bluffton opened its new Literacy Center of Excellence, a 2,700-square-foot expansion made possible with a $75,000 grant from Community Foundation of the Lowcountry. Including this grant and other donations, the club raised more than $650,000 in less than a year. The expansion will double the number of children served in the reading intervention program. The club will also renovate its parking lot, expand its STEM program and add about100 additional members to the club to serve Bluffton’s growing population
The Beaufort County Design Review Board has approved plans to move forward with a 92-acre “luxury RV park.” The RV park is planned for the northwest corner of Hilton Head National golf course off of Bluffton Parkway. The project includes 300 high-end RV stalls, three amenity buildings, a greeting outpost building, a pocket park, a swimming pool, pickleball courts, a playground, kayaking and dock facilities, a dog park and walking paths.
May River High School in Bluffton might be a new school, but the Sharks proved their mettle in the Class 3A boys’ soccer playoffs and state track meet.
May River won 6-2 against Indian Land on May 11 at Itmo’s W.C. Hawkins Stadium. The school’s boys track and field team was victorious on the same day at Spring Valley High School. These are the first state titles in the short three-year history of the school.
Hilton Head Christian Academy held a groundbreaking ceremony for its new campus in Bluffton in May. The site is located near the corner of Bluffton Parkway and Masters Way. The 27.78-acre campus will cost more than $20 million. Hilton Head Christian currently has nearly 400 students, with nearly 70 percent currently commuting to the school’s Hilton Head campus from Bluffton and beyond.
The Town of Hilton Head has purchased a 4.57-acre tract on the north end of the island that will be used initially to create additional green space along William Hilton Parkway. The former site of Modern Classic Motors may eventually be resold for development, but the $3.65 million acquisition gives the town “the opportunity to guide the future use of this important parcel for the benefit of the community and our local economy,” Mayor John McCann said in a release.
HILTON HEAD MIDDLE SCHOOL PRINCIPAL ROLLS UP HER SLEEVES
Tough situations call for strong leaders. And after Hilton Head Island Middle School received a rating of “unsatisfactory” on the latest state schools report card, new principal Pat Freda is working hard to help turn it around.
District officials knew the school wasn’t thriving and at the end of last year and tapped Freda, who was then principal at Bluffton Middle School, to lead its recovery.
CHURCH IN AIRPORT ZONE WORKING WITH TOWN TO FIND NEW HOME
Historic St. James Baptist Church has co-existed with its neighbor, Hilton Head Island Airport, for decades. But last year’s expansion of the airport’s runway and the resulting increase in takeoffs and landings by larger regional airplanes is more than members of the 133-year-old church can take.
SPENCER FETED AT RETIREMENT BASH
Denise K. Spencer was honored at a retirement party April 9 at Sea Pines Country Club. Spencer served as president and CEO of Community Foundation of the Lowcountry for more than 12 years. Under her leadership, the group more than doubled its combined assets to more than $72 million. She also was instrumental in developing the partnership to give all Hilton Head Island residents access to public sewer as part of the Project SAFE initiative.
Speakers at the event included Herbert Ford, commissioner at Hilton Head Public Service District; David Bennett, former mayor of Hilton Head: and Eddy Hoyle, former executive director of Memory Matters. Hilton Head Island Town Council member David Ames presented Spencer with a commendation from the town. Spencer’s successor, Christopher Kerrigan, started last month.
Three fifth-grade students have challenged the Town of Hilton Head to enclose trash and recycling facilities on the beach to eliminate spills. Rosa Olivetti, Joshua Prada and Ethan Simpson presented the idea to Hilton Head Island Town Council in December. They estimate it would cost $120,000 to replace existing rubber trashcans with wooden trash corrals that would prevent the cans from spilling over and littering the beaches.
C.T. Pan of Taiwan won the 51st RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing at Harbour Town Golf Links. Pan, 27, is the first Chinese golfer to win the tournament. This is his first PGA Tour victory. Pan shot a 4-under 67 to finish at 12-under 272, a stroke ahead of Matt Kuchar. He left Hilton Head Island with a plaid jacket and $1.2 million — close to half his total previous career earnings. In a news conference, Pan said he learned to play golf because his mother is a caddie and his father, now deceased, also worked at a golf course and encouraged him. Pan played golf at the University of Washington, graduating in 2015 with a degree in communications. He turned pro the same year.
Almost two months after 19-year-old Mallory Beach was killed in a boat crash near Parris Island, Paul Murdaugh, 20, was indicted by a Beaufort County grand jury on one count of boating under the influence causing death and two counts of boating under the influence causing great bodily injury, according to a spokesman for South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson’s office. Wilson’s office will prosecute the case.