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210 Pittsboro Street, Campus Box 6210
Chapel Hill, NC  27599-6210
(919) 962-2091   FAX: (919) 962-2279


Not for publication May 22, 2000 -- No. 297

Local angles: Mars Hill, Marshall

Tar Heel Bus Tour faculty to discuss town leadership, health care in rural N.C.

Wednesday, May 24

A session outlining the role of the Small Towns Leadership Development Initiative in western North Carolina is among the highlights of the third day of the Tar Heel Bus Tour. Later in the day, participants will stop in Marshall to learn about the current status of health care in rural North Carolina.

The privately funded classroom on wheels starts Monday (May 22) and will stop in Mars Hill and Marshall on Wednesday (May 24). In a weeklong road trip spanning more than 1,000 miles, 30 new faculty and officials new to North Carolina will visit a dozen sites across the state aimed at enhancing how their teaching, research and public service work can help improve the state.

Carolina is among a handful of major public universities that take newcomers to the far reaches of their states. Since the inaugural tour in 1997, almost 100 participants have journeyed from Beaufort on the coast to Chimney Rock in the mountains and points in between. They have held tobacco leaves, trawled in fishing boats and had breakfast with the chief executive officer of the Bank of America. They have leapt from a 34-foot paratrooper tower, sped around a motor speedway in an official pace car, observed a father and son making pottery in Seagrove and visited a Civil War fort. And they have square-danced to bluegrass music and nibbled on North Carolina barbecue and soft-shell crabs.

After five intense days on the road, participants come home to Chapel Hill with an awareness of the state’s culture, economy, history and new friends from departments across campus. They see some of the places 82 percent of Carolina’s undergraduate students call home. And, organizers hope, they are inspired to develop projects and research that address the challenges facing the state.

Wednesday’s schedule includes these stops:

In Mars Hill, Mike Smith, tour host and director of UNC-CH’s Institute of Government, will discuss the role of the institute and its involvement with the Small Town Leadership Initiative, in which communities and neighborhoods join forces with the UNC-CH institute and the Asheville-based non-profit organization HandMade in America to prepare citizens for community leadership.

Participating towns include Andrews, Bakersville, Bryson City, Chimney Rock, Crossnore, Hayesville, Mars Hill, Marshall, Robbinsville, Todd and West Jefferson.

Besides Smith, participants will hear from Becky Anderson, founder and executive director of HandMade in America, Leslie Anderson, a consultant specializing in non-profit and public sector work, Mars Hill Town Manager Darhyl Boone and Mayor Raymond Rapp.

In Marshall, the tour group will learn about rural health and the work of the N.C. Area Health Education Centers Program, based at UNC-CH, during a stop at the Asheville-Buncombe Technical College branch in Marshall. The focus will be on the Hot Springs Health Program, a comprehensive county-wide rural health system serving Madison County, one of the state’s poorest counties. The program was organized in the early 1970s with assistance from the UNC-CH School of Medicine and the N.C. Office of Rural Health. It is often cited as a model for comprehensive rural health-care delivery and provides an opportunity for students to learn first-hand about rural health issues.

Participants will hear from Dr. Marianna Daly, a family physician with the Hot Springs program and medical director of the Madison County Health Department. She will share her experiences as a physician in a rural setting. She earned a master’s degree from UNC-CH’s School of Public Health. (The group will meet with her at the community college branch because her office could not accommodate the bus tour participants.)

The day will close with dinner, bluegrass music and square dancing at the Balsam Mountain Inn in Balsam.

Interviews: Tour hosts and participants are available for print and broadcast interviews at stops or by cellular phone by making arrangements through News Services, (919) 962-2091, or University Relations staff members Scott Ragland or Gary Moss on site.

For more information: For additional information about the university, the Tar Heel Bus Tour, tour participants, directions or site visits, call News Services. Additional background about the bus tour can be found at:

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