Board denies Tarheel request in split vote

By: By Chris Berendt -

A request by Tarheel ChalleNGe Academy for county assistance in bringing a construction project to fruition on the Salemburg campus was denied 3-2, a month after the matter was tabled for further consideration.

Last month, while touting the academy, County attorney Joel Starling, along with county staff and commissioners, shared reservations about the liability the county would assume in managing the project, including potential cost overruns. County manager Ed Causey shared “tremendous concerns” with the work for which the county would be responsible.

Starling said this week, after speaking with members of Senator Brent Jackson’s staff about potential legislation that could save the county from being exposed to those overruns, that his concerns were unchanged.

Col. (Ret.) Edward Timmons, state director for Tarheel ChalleNGe, previously requested the county’s assistance in overseeing the construction of a 90-by-100 foot steel building to be used as a multipurpose facility. Tarheel ChalleNGe Academy officials have $700,000 in state money and design plans for the project, but needed county assistance.

“There is no facility for alternate training,” Timmons said last month. “We have been providing an unjust service for the cadets. Most schools in America have a multipurpose facility or some recreational facility for students to use.”

However, the National Guard has a number of projects “on the books” that would have priority for construction by their personnel, so Timmons sought an alternate method for construction. At the Tarheel ChalleNGe site in Stanly County, a barracks facility project was expedited by having that county serve as the recipient of funding on behalf of Tarheel ChalleNGe and the local government managing the construction.

Timmons requested a similar situation for Salemburg’s endeavor, with construction costs to funnel through Sampson’s budget, and managed by county staff in conjunction with the National Guard.

Starling said he could also reach out to N.C. Representatives Larry Bell and William Brisson and

“There is always tabling it,” said chairman Clark Wooten. “We can continue to spend the county’s money with our wonderful attorney and continue to research, or you can make a decision. It’s the pleasure of the board.”

Commissioner Sue Lee made a motion to decline the opportunity to serve as a go-between for Tarheel Challenge. The vote came 3-2 for denial, with Wooten and Commissioner Jerol Kivett joining Lee. Commissioners Albert Kirby and Harry Parker dissented.


By Chris Berendt

Reach Managing Editor Chris Berendt at 910-249-4616. Follow the paper on twitter @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.

Reach Managing Editor Chris Berendt at 910-249-4616. Follow the paper on twitter @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.