Local News

Out of this world: Chatham sheriff's office provides security for visiting moon rocks

Posted February 22, 2016 9:50 a.m. EST

School resource officer Jeremy Timmons and Rose Wignall pose with moon rocks sent to Chatham County by NASA.

— The Chatham County Sheriff's Office is taking on a special assignment that will help students at Horton Middle School learn about the wonders of space.

After receiving a request from sixth-grade teacher Rose Wignall, the sheriff's office will be safeguarding rock samples supplied by NASA.

The moon rocks came to Chatham County after Wignall put in a request through the Lunar and Meteorite Disk Program.

"I attended a lunar workshop for educators at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland in order to become certified,” Wignall explained. “Only those who are certified can borrow a sample, because each disk is considered a national treasure.”

NASA requires each released sample to be secured – when not in use – in a safe or vault that has a bar and combination lock. Because Horton Middle School doesn't have anything similar, Wignall reached out to Chatham County School Resource Officer Jeremy Timmons.

“The school didn’t have the means to secure the rocks, but I knew the sheriff’s office did,” Timmons said. “I didn’t want to see the students disappointed if Sheriff Webster could help.”

Webster said his response was an immediate yes.

“Ms. Wignall was passionate about sharing this experience with her students, and Deputy Timmons volunteered to safeguard the rocks during their visit to Chatham County," Webster said. "It is a unique and exciting opportunity for our citizens to enjoy while they can.”

While in the county and not on display, NASA's precious rocks will be kept in a vault at the sheriff's office building in Pittsboro.

Anyone wanting to see the rocks should attend the PTA meeting at 6 p.m. on Feb. 25 in the Horton Middle School Multipurpose Room.