Chamber tours neighboring school facilities

Last Friday 40 business owners and community leaders toured Columbia County (Georgia) public schools.  The purpose of the visit was to see modern, technology rich facilities that have captured national recognition and ranking for academic success.

The school facilities visit supports one of the Aiken Chamber’s 2014 key initiatives – to elevate the critical role of education as a tool to support Aiken’s economic vitality.

“The community’s prosperity hinges upon having an educated and trained work force of the future – one that has the critical (and also soft) skills necessary for success.  The Chamber’s goal is to raise public awareness of the critical role education plays in the community’s economic prosperity and quality of life,” said Chamber President/CEO J. David Jameson.

Chamber 2014 Chair, Dr. Deidre Martin, University of South Carolina Aiken, said, “This year the Board of Directors and I plan to study and formulate recommendations, where appropriate, on funding options for capital investment in public school facilities, including one-cent sales tax options, bond referendums, and other options.”

The half-day tour, hosted by Dr. Jeff Carney, associate superintendent, Columbia County School System and Tammy Shepherd, president/CEO, Columbia County Chamber of Commerce, included several stops as well as a presentation at the Columbia County Board of Education.

Prior to departing Aiken, the participants heard a presentation from Geof Fountain of the “Independent Assessment of the Five-Year Facility Improvement Plan” for Aiken County Public Schools.  Fountain served as a community member of the facility improvement plan committee. 

Aiken County Public School Superintendent Dr. Elizabeth Everett gave an overview of Leavelle McCampbell Middle School and the new Byrd Elementary in Graniteville as the bus passed the schools on the way to Georgia.  She pointed out that Leavelle McCampbell is on tap for a new school.

Following the Columbia County Schools tour, Dr. Everitt said, “Seeing and walking through the up-to-date schools in Columbia County was an important experience for Aiken business and community leaders. Although Aiken County has many innovative programs and successful students, imagine what could be accomplished with newer facilities and cutting edge technology.  Thank you to the Aiken Chamber for organizing this educational tour. ”

Among the Columbia County Schools the group saw were:  Grovetown High, Columbia Middle, Baker Place Elementary, and Evans Elementary; the last two opened last year for the 2013-2014 school year.

The following business and community leaders, representing various organizations, participated in the Columbia County Schools visit.

Aiken Board of Realtors and Multiple Listing Service

Wilbur Lane
Prudential Beazley Real Estate

Janice Nix
Aiken Properties, Inc.

Aiken Chamber Ambassadors

Beverly Bradberry
Verandas on the Green

Marianne Berry

Dorean Price
Margaret’s Garden Adult Day Care

Cathy Shaw
USCA Convocation Center

Aiken Chamber Board of Directors

Jimmy Angelos

Fran Jones
Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations, LLC

John McMichael
Hutson-Etherredge Companies

Aiken Chamber Board & 2013 Blue Ribbon Panel

Paul Dusenbury

J. David Jameson
Aiken Chamber President/CEO

Dr. Deidre Martin
USC Aiken
Aiken Chamber Chair

Catie Rabun
Hammond’s Ferry

Ron Shepherd
UPS Customs Brokerage

Theresa Swafford

Aiken Chamber Professional Staff

Mandy Collins
Coordinator, Information Services
and Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA)

Cindy Delaney
Director, Public Affairs and Operations

City of Aiken

Gail Diggs
Rural Health Services, Inc.
Aiken City Council

Richard Pearce,
Aiken City Manager

Aiken County Board of Education

Tad Barber

Rosemary English

Ray Fleming

Levi Green

Keith Liner
Savannah River Remediation

Aiken County Public Schools

Dr. Elizabeth Everitt

Janice Kitchings
Elementary School Academic Officer

Peggy Trivelas
Elementary School Academic Officer

Aiken Standard

Rob Novit

Blue Ribbon Panel (Aiken Chamber – 2013)

Doug Rabold

Arthur W. “Buzz” Rich, PC

Linda Strojan
Aiken High School

Chris Verenes
Security Federal Bank

Columbia County Chamber of Commerce

Tammy Shepherd

Columbia County School System

Jeff Carney
Associate Superintendent

Public Education Partners (PEP)

Diana Floyd
Southside Pediatrics of Aiken, LLC

Jeff Howell
Executive Director


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