Lee JeanSixteen-year-old Bluffton resident Lee Jean was featured in the premiere episode of the popular Fox TV reality series “American Idol.” Jean impressed judges Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban and Harry Connick Jr., receiving votes from all three for his performance of “I See Fire” and earning a golden ticket to the Hollywood round of the show.

A frontage road connecting Berkeley Hall, St. Gregory the Great Catholic Church and the Bluffton Township Fire District headquarters is now under construction. The long-debated project is expected to be completed by August. A new traffic signal and deceleration lane will be added to U.S. 278 in front of the fire headquarters.

A new technology to help identify stolen property was recently introduced by the Bluffton Police Department. The new technology is called Anti-Theft Dots, a special adhesive that can be applied to all types of property. Suspended in the adhesive are thousands of tiny microdots, smaller than the size of a grain of sand. Each microdot contains a unique PIN, which is registered and stored in a secure database.

Cayden SullardA video recently posted on YouTube features 7-year-old Bluffton resident Cayden Sullard using a bow-and-arrow and a piece of string to remove a loose tooth. The 30-second video, titled “Kid pulls out his first tooth in the most epic way possible,” was recorded on his father’s cellphone in the family’s backyard.

For as many years as there has been a place called “school,” we’ve been seeking ways to fashion the best educational experience for our children – the place that would provide students with the best possible education and send them forth fully prepared to meet life’s challenges.

Any school can dazzle you with a sales brochure. It's standard practice to show you the well-manicured grounds of some hallowed school, across which walk the attractive smiling students on their way to become more well-rounded people.

On Nov. 19, something new went on display at the Coastal Discovery Museum at Honey Horn.

But it isn’t among the other exhibits. Now hanging in the office of President/CEO Rex Garniewicz is a framed certificate that reads: “Smithsonian Institution Certificate of Affiliation: The Board of Regents and the Secretary of the Smithsonian is pleased to recognize Coastal Discovery Museum as an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution.”

A new ordinance aimed to curb an out-of-control pit bull population in Beaufort County shelters has owners angry and animal advocates defending the intent of the action.

Beaufort County Animal Services director Tallulah Trice has faced criticism since announcing an ordinance in October requiring pit bull owners in unincorporated parts of the county to spay and neuter their dogs.

DAN WOOD, HARRY LUTZ TALK 2016 PRIORITIES, FOOTBALL AND DISNEY FANATICISM

Change is once again coming to Bluffton town leadership. For the third straight election, challengers have unseated incumbents. Longtime Blufftonian Dan Wood and relative newcomer Harry Lutz won the Nov. 17 three-way runoff, beating councilman and restaurateur Ted Hoffman. Monthly reached out to the new leaders for their take on what’s next for Bluffton, where they’ll focus their energies and the family that helped boost them to the win.

The Bluffton Police Department recently announced the implementation of a Hispanic Hotline. Those speaking Spanish are now able to leave an anonymous message for officers to help fight crime. According to data from the United States Census Bureau, Bluffton currently has a Hispanic/Latino population of approximately 18.8 percent, which means there have been more than 2,700 people in Bluffton who may have wanted to help police in the past, but haven’t had a way to do so. Now they do.

Bluffton Mayor Lisa Sulka recently announced the signing of a public-private partnership agreement between the town of Bluffton, the Bluffton Public Development Corporation and Southeastern Development Associates (formerly known as Blanchard & Calhoun Commercial) that will further develop Buckwalter Place Commerce Park.

ALLEGIANT

Allegiant recently announced four new nonstop flights to the Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport. Flights from Indianapolis and Pittsburgh begin April 8. Baltimore flights start April 29, followed by flights from Lexington, Kentucky, on June 2. One-way rates for all four flights will dip as low as $39.

The new Bluffton Gateway shopping center, scheduled to open at the intersection of U.S. 278 and S.C. 46 in early 2017, will be anchored by a Walmart Supercenter and a Sam’s Club. The two anchor tenants were recently released by Atlanta-based developer Jaz Development. The 66-acre site was home to a former printing plant that closed in the 1980s.

Monthly celebrates local businesses and communities with the 2015 Readers’ Choice Awards, the “best of the best” places to shop, dine and live, as voted by you, our readers.

We received 8,726 electronic ballots in our eight-week Readers’ Choice promotional campaign, intended to identify the top businesses in a wide range of categories. Want to find the best of the Lowcountry? You will find it here. The list of categories and winners is extensive. As you read over the list, we’re sure you will recognize your favorites among the many categories. We also expect you will find some unexpected and unknown venues. We encourage you to examine the list and visit these reader-selected winners to judge for yourself. And, if you don’t see a business or community listed here you think is deserving, be sure to vote in the 2016 Readers’ Choice campaign.

THE UNIQUE COMMUNITY SPIRIT ALONG BLUFFTON’S BEACH MAKES A TRIP TO THE BLUFFTON CHRISTMAS PARADE SOMETHING TRULY UNIQUE.

One of the many beautiful things about Bluffton is its people. And in a town known for its eclectic characters and Southern charm, none are more notoriously quirky than those living just outside town limits in Alljoy.

Alljoy is home to several descendants of the original families who moved to the area a long time ago to enjoy the bounty and beauty of the majestic May River. Harry and Antoinette All built the All Joy Hotel in 1926 and the area name came from it being Mrs. All’s pride and joy, her All Joy.

It’s been a long time coming, but the Calhoun Street Promenade is finally nearing completion.

Jerry Glenn, former owner of Cinnamon Bear Country Store and Legends Sports Gallery, is moving off Hilton Head Island and is set to open an eclectic country store named Reminisce in February.

blufftontowncBluffton Town Council will welcome two newcomers to Town Hall, as Dan Wood and Harry Lutz won seats in the Nov. 17 three-way candidate runoff.

Lutz overcame a 173-vote deficit from the Nov. 3 general election to oust incumbent Ted Huffman.

Wood, the leading vote getter from the first vote, led the way again with 723 votes (39.5 percent). Lutz garnered 623 votes (34.1) and Huffman won just 483 votes (26.4).