Lowcountry learning, from the beginning


Schools are not just places where children go to learn. They play a tremendous role in the quality of a community and the quality of its population. They are also a reflection of the community itself, its growth, its values and its future.

Kathy Chiarella was thrilled when her son Michael graduated college last year, but the excitement began to wane when January rolled around and he was still struggling to find a job.

Fearing he had lost confidence and needed some help, she called CompleteCandidate, a career service for recent college grads co-owned by Bluffton resident Nancy Thomas.

After eight often challenging years, Hilton Head Island real estate appears to be making a comeback.

Despite the headwinds caused by property taxes on second homes and investment real estate, as well as the growing cost of flood insurance, the prices and volume of real estate sales are increasing.

One remaining challenge to a "normal" real estate market is access to mortgage credit. Access to credit, or market liquidity, is the key ingredient for orderly markets. After the 2008 financial crisis, many private sources of mortgage capital dried up. The market for private residential mortgage-backed securities, the source of most "non-conforming" mortgage loans, evaporated. Investors fled to "conforming" real estate-backed securities issued by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and Ginnie Mae, government-sponsored enterprises that were viewed as being guaranteed by the U.S. government.

Melissa Christian’s biscuit business started from a somewhat selfish place: She wanted better treats for her dogs.

“We were shopping at Christmastime for our dogs’ Christmas stockings, and every package we looked at had more chemical-sounding ingredients than actual food ingredients,” she says. “We were pretty shocked. I kept saying, ‘This is gourmet?’”

Robotic science

Robotics kids: Back row (left to right); Breonia Wallace, Da-Zarriah Bush, Brandon Brantley, Janiah Orr, Brianna Smith, Alannah Bryant, Ayana

Grant, Middle row; Jayden Nunez, Kenneth Johnson, Hazella Jeffcoat, Axel Zepeda. Front row; Angel Gant, Nichelle Patrick, Jaela Gant.

Jackie O’Bannon can’t help but overflow with joy when she thinks about her 14 “babies.”

The premise that Hilton Head Island may have something to learn from Charleston may initially seem outlandish.

Although Charleston and Hilton Head have fascinating histories dating back to the mid-1600s, Charleston has been a major seaport and trading center for hundreds of years. With the exception of its brief occupation by 50,000 Union troops, sympathizers and freed slaves during the Civil War, Hilton Head was an agrarian island used primarily for hunting, fishing and limited farming until the 1950s.

In 1956, when the Richardson family opened the Red & White, the first grocery store on Hilton Head Island, a good day’s take was about $5.

A loaf of bread was 12 cents; coffee was 37 cents a pounds, a T-bone steak was 59 cents a pound and a giant box of Tide was 67 cents, according to “The Hidden History of Hilton Head” by Alice E. Sink.


There are some things Maria Velez de Berliner can’t tell you about her life — classified information she’s been privy to as part of her role with the U.S. Department of Defense and Homeland Security, and through her teaching on strategic and tactical intelligence with the U.S. Air Force’s Special Operations division.