ChalleNGe staff handled melee well

Thumbs Up

Tarheel ChalleNGe employees did a remarkable thing Sunday night. In fairly short order, the cadre, as they are called by Col. Edward Timmons, state director of the academy, were able to diffuse a growing altercation among dozens of cadet candidates, corral the masses and move them back into their dorms, with order restored.

It didn’t happen without 19 of the teens, ranging in age from 16 to 18, being hauled in by Sampson County Sheriff’s deputies, but even that is worth applauding since law enforcement helped quell the remaining issues at hand after a bunch of trash talking turned from words to fisticuffs.

No one likes a melee, and that has to be especially true for residents of Salemburg who, we know, have had to deal with fights such as this one on more than one occasion, and usually at the beginning of a new class for the academy. But it has to be assuring, at least, to know that when an altercation does break out there are capable staff around to bring calm to chaos.

The ChalleNGe staff proved themselves worthy of our thumbs up for doing just that Sunday night, as are sheriff’s deputies for charging 19 of them with public disturbance and simple affray. The actions of both groups had to have shown these new charges that the kind of behavior shown last weekend will not be tolerated at the academy or within the county.

We give Timmons a thumbs up as well for being so open about the fight. He didn’t make excuses, offered his apologies, expressed his embarrassment and explained the situation in as much detail as possible, never declining to comment on a single question asked. In today’s world of side-stepping, hem-hawing and complete denial of realities, the colonel’s forthcoming attitude was both refreshing and appreciated.

Tarheel ChalleNGe, a quasi-military program for high school dropouts or those expelled from schools, offers young adults an opportunity to be productive members of society through educational programs steeped in discipline and laced with life skills.

It has been a part of Sampson County for over two decades, and many of its cadets through the years have been active volunteers at many events. Cadets have been mannerly, helpful and impressive in their skills and behavior.

The academy is not a problem; sometimes its incoming classes can be. But it’s good to know when trouble arises, staff will quickly get a handle on the problem and weed out those they believe will not conform to their rules.