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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Not for publication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 19, 2000 -- No. 294

Local angles: New Bern, Siler City

Tar Heel Bus Tour faculty tour Neuse River, discuss Hispanic population trends

Tuesday, May 23

A trip down the Neuse River from New Bern to see how the state is protecting this pollution-threatened waterway will begin the second leg of the Tar Heel Bus Tour. Later in the day, participants will stop in Siler City to see how Hispanic culture is influencing North Carolina.

The privately funded classroom on wheels starts Monday (May 22) and will stop in New Bern and Siler City on Tuesday (May 23). 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.

Tuesday’s schedule includes these stops:

In New Bern, tour participants will learn about research being conducted by UNC-CH’s Institute of Marine Sciences in Beaufort and how it applies to the Neuse. Hosts will include Drs. Hans Paerl, Kenan professor and John Wells, institute director.

Participants will learn more about the role of the UNC-CH institute, which has served North Carolina since the 1940s and is part of a nationally recognized marine sciences program. Tuesday’s boat ride will focus on how water quality is measured and assessed and to discuss the role that rivers and estuaries play in water quality at the coast. In Siler City, the tour group will meet with Siler City residents and community leaders at the town’s community center to learn how the changing Hispanic population is changing the face of Chatham County. Dr. Spencie Love, acting director of UNC-CH’s Oral Southern History Program, and two students, Bruce Baker and Jordy Koski, will present findings from their ongoing oral history project in Chatham County. Following that presentation, Paul Cuadros, a Washington, D.C., journalist writing about Siler City as part of a fellowship grant, will guide discussion about changes in the community. Also joining the group will be Ilana Dubester, executive director of the Hispanic Liaison, county commissioners Rick Givens and Gary Phillips, Siler City Schools social worker Ken Knight, and Noemi Plato, lay health adviser with the UNC-CH Immigrant Health Initiative.

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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