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145th CES supports community as renovations begin on 2nd Tarheel ChalleNGe site

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Patricia F. Moran
  • 145th Public Affairs
Citizen-Soldiers from the North Carolina Air National Guard continue to fortify an already strong relationship with their state and community, while taking the opportunity to hone in and refine their skills.

Celebrations occurred after the long awaited groundbreaking ceremony, November 1, 2014, when acknowledgements were made for the support given by the airmen of the 145th Civil Engineer Squadron as they continued their partnership with Tarheel ChalleNGe, a quasi-military style program that helps teens, ages 16 to 18, get their GED and develop life coping skills to prepare them for future employment or further education endeavors.

This partnership began in the spring of 2000 when the original site of Tarheel ChalleNGe was preparing to relocate to Salemburg, North Carolina. 145th CES stepped up and constructed a K-span building when they learned that the program was in need of dormitory space.

"Without this building the program would not be able to relocate and would have suffered and not been able to grow." said Dale Autry, director of Tarheel ChalleNGe.

From April through July 2014, this partnership continued as 145th CES took the opportunity to participate in joint Deployment for Training programs with airmen from 156th CES, Puerto Rico and 149th CES, Texas ANG at the Regional Training Site in New London, N.C. These DFT missions gave the airmen a chance to work together, clearing terrain and preparing a 60,000 square foot abandoned school for transformation into a new Tarheel ChalleNGe Academy in New London, N.C. 

"This is real world training." stated Lt. Col. Tim Moran, deputy commander, 145th CES, "You can read about it, but until you actually use the heavy equipment to clear the property or install a door or plumb a sink or remove walls to prepare a building for renovation, you don't get the full value of the training."

"At the end of the day," Moran continued, "You see the results and what you've accomplished; you're not just filling out a square in your training record.  Knowing you're helping out a community is the icing on the cake and the real beauty of the Deployment for Training program."

Airmen cleared terrain and removed old landscaping while others detached pre-engineered metal roof frames, removed ceilings, interior walls, plumbing and electrical fixtures.  Using jackhammers, sledge hammers and crow bars, concrete slabs, walls and floors were also removed from the school house. They renovated logistic buildings, installed new siding, new roofs, underpinning and electrical outlets in mobile classrooms that will be used as computer labs for future students. Buildings on the school grounds were not up to code so plumbing and hot water had to be installed. Additional doorways were also installed to meet egress codes.

At the groundbreaking ceremony, New London Mayor Tate Daniels said, "When this school closed over four years ago, a part of the town died with it. When this academy opens, our town will have new life and more excitement for its future."

"The selection of Stanly County for the location of Tarheel ChalleNGe's second site was primarily due to the partnership with the 145th CES." Director Autry stated, "The 145th CES has adopted the ChalleNGe program, "to change North Carolina one student at a time", as part of their community mission. The second site would not be underway without the support of the great people of the 145th CES.  Their long range planning, attention to detail, organizational skills and hard work has gotten the new site well underway. As we move forward with the renovation project for the New London site we look forward to working with the fine folks of the NCANG especially the 145th Civil Engineer Squadron."

The 20-acre property will undergo a $1.9 million renovation including 300 bed dormitories with 19 classrooms, administrative offices and athletic fields before its inaugural class begins in August 2015.