Board elects six to 2015 Chamber board

The board of directors of the Greater Aiken Chamber of Commerce recently approved six new board members. They will begin their three-year terms in January 2015.

Bart Blackwell, B & S Machine Tool, Inc., nominating committee chair and incoming board chair, said, “I am pleased to have this enthusiastic and diverse group join the board. They are experienced leaders and reflect a true commitment to the Chamber’s mission. We have some challenging goals for the coming year, and I feel their leadership skills will complement those of the current board members as we move forward.”

Trent Arnold, MA, CPA, is president of Arnold Advisors, LLC, an accounting, tax consulting, and financial advisory firm. He has been an Aiken resident since 1982. A graduate of Leadership Aiken County, Arnold has been active in the community for many years. He is a charter member of the Rotary Club of Aiken-Sunrise and has served as the organization’s president and secretary. In addition, he has served on the Business Advisory Board of the University of South Carolina Aiken. He is an active member of St. John’s United Methodist Church and has served as treasurer and on numerous committees. Arnold has a master’s degree in Accounting from the University of Missouri and degrees in business and computer science from Southeast Missouri State University. In addition, he is a graduate of The Dale Carnegie Course.

Collette Ball is the owner/agent of State Farm Insurance, Ball Agency. She has been a State Farm agent since 1990 and has received numerous accolades for her work, including the Golden Triangle Award, Chairman’s Circle Qualifier, and Mutual Funds Leader. Ball is active in the business community and serves on the Aiken Technical College Commission, Rotary Club of Aiken Board of Directors, and the USC Aiken School of Business Advisory Council where she received the Distinguished Partner Award. In addition, she serves on the Notre Dame Alumni Chapter and is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. She also served as a past board member of the SPCA and the SC Human Affairs Commission. She holds a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Notre Dame and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from South Carolina State University.

Richard Harmon is the president of Security Federal Bank where he leads the institution’s retail banking, commercial lending, trust, investment and insurance areas. In addition, he serves on the Security Federal Corporation and the Security Federal Bank’s respective boards of directors. Harmon has more than 30 years of banking experience covering a broad range of services, particularly those in community banking. He has been with Security Federal since 2007 and served as executive vice president and chief lending officer prior to assuming his current position this past June, when he replaced Frank Thomas, who retired. Originally from Columbia, Tennessee, he has lived in Aiken for the past 28 years. He serves on the board of the United Way of Aiken County and was a prior board member of Aiken County Habitat for Humanity. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Finance from the University of South Carolina.


Ellen Priest is the president and publisher of Aiken Communications, which includes the daily Aiken Standard and the weekly North Augusta Star, as well as the interactive division and the online TV channel ASTV. Prior to her current position, Priest served as president and publisher of Summerville Communications for more than six years. She also served as business manager of Aiken Communications for more than 19 years. Priest currently serves as the vice president of the South Carolina Press Association and secretary of the Child Advocacy Center Board of Directors. She is a member of the Rotary Club of Aiken and serves on the boards of the United Way of Aiken County, Aiken Downtown Development Association, the Aiken Partnership Board of the University of South Carolina Educational Foundation, and Public Education Partners. Priest is a graduate of USC Aiken with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration.


Peggy Penland is the proprietor of the Inn at Houndslake and broker/owner of Houndslake Realty – the Penland Company. She has 34 years of real estate experience in the Aiken community. She was responsible for the planning and development of neighborhoods, including Bungalow Village, The Peninsula at Woods Edge and Reflections at Houndslake. She currently serves as chair of the City of Aiken Accommodations Tax Committee. She is a graduate of Leadership Aiken County and a member of the Aiken Board of Realtors. She spent time in France as a teenager and continues her passion for French language and culture through her membership in Alliance Francaise. Penland earned a Bachelor of Arts from the University of South Carolina. She is a graduate of St. Angela Academy and completed a course of study at the Université Paul Valery in Montpelier, France.


Joshua Stewart, PE is the principal and engineer of J.E. Stewart Engineering, Inc. as well as a project manager with J.E. Stewart Builders, Inc. Prior to his current dual role, he was a structural engineer with Britt, Peters and Associates, Inc. in Charleston, South Carolina. An Aiken native, Stewart is active in the Aiken community. He serves on the boards of the Friends of the Aiken Railroad Depot and Aiken Technical College Foundation. He is a member of the Rotary Club of Aiken and the Aiken Chamber of Commerce where he served as the 2010 chair of the Chamber’s Aiken Young Professionals (AYP) group. Prior to that, he was a recipient of the AYP Rising Star award. Stewart received his Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Clemson University and holds a SE Level II Professional Engineering License in the states of South Carolina, Georgia, and North Carolina.

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