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


For immediate use

May 15, 2001 -- No. 238

Not for publication

Local angles: Louisburg/Bunn, Clayton/Zebulon, New Bern

See bottom of page for links for more advisories.

Tar Heel Bus Tour faculty to visit tobacco, hog farms, cruise Neuse from New Bern, Monday, May 21

Opportunities to learn about tobacco farming and hog breeding -- and the changing faces of these longtime economic mainstays for North Carolina -- will be the first experiences offered 32 new faculty and administrators from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on the 2001 Tar Heel Bus Tour.

They will visit Steve and Irene Mitchell's tobacco farm between Louisburg and Bunn and Julian and Elaine Barham's hog farm near Clayton, which developed new technologies: using gas from a waste lagoon to produce electricity, and treating wastewater to recycle for watering tomatoes.

Participants also will visit a project to monitor pollution and animal life on the Neuse River, taking a boat trip from New Bern with UNC marine sciences professor Dr. Hans Paerl and Dr. John Wells, director of the UNC Institute of Marine Sciences.

The faculty members will conclude their day with a tour of historic Tryon Palace in New Bern, the residence of British Royal Governors William Tryon and Josiah Martin in the 1770s.

Tour purpose:

The 1,100-mile tour’s 16 stops through Friday (May 25) are designed to teach new faculty about North Carolina’s people, geography, economy, culture, history, education system and health and social issues. The privately funded tour, conducted annually since 1997, aims to help new faculty better understand the cities, towns and rural areas where 82 percent of Carolina undergraduates grow up. They also learn what types of faculty research and public service are needed to help the state, and they see such UNC outreach projects already under way.

Monday's Carolina connections: Franklin County (Louisburg) is home to 66 Carolina students and 272 UNC alumni; Johnston County (Clayton), to 128 Carolina students and 40 alumni; Craven County (New Bern), to 149 students and 71 alumni.

Monday’s schedule, highlights:

7 a.m. Depart William and Ida Friday Continuing Education Center, N.C. 54, Chapel Hill

8:25-10 a.m. Mitchell tobacco farm, 5079 N.C. 39 South, Bunn, 919-496-2010

The Mitchells, who sell more than 260,000 pounds of tobacco annually, will discuss how changes and controversies will affect their future. Among recent developments were requirements that farmers re-design curing barns by June 30; some companies' plans to bypass the age-old auction system and contract with farmers; and China's lifting of its ban on U.S. tobacco imports. Invited to join the faculty at the farm are Mayor Lucy Allen of Louisburg; Norm Kelly, president, Franklin County Chamber of Commerce; Mattie B. Kemp, chamber executive director; and Cedric Jones, director of the N.C. Cooperative Extension Service in Franklin County.

10:45 a.m.-noon Barham Farms, 10518 Covered Bridge Road, Zebulon, 919-365-8400

Through their own experiments, the Barhams developed a cover for their hog waste lagoon that lets them siphon gas from the waste and use it to run a generator, producing electricity for the entire farm. The Barhams also filter water runoff and use it to water thousands of tomato plants in their greenhouse. They sell tomatoes to grocers and vegetable stands.

Because sows are susceptible to many diseases carried by humans, visitors will not be able to see the hogs. Visitors WILL see and learn about the Barham's innovative and successful techniques for managing hog waste. A state moratorium on new hog farms expires in July, and officials must decide how hog waste lagoons will be managed.

2:45-4 p.m. UNC Institute of Marine Sciences, Neuse River water quality project

Sheraton Grand New Bern Hotel, 100 Middle St., New Bern, 252-638-3585

The Neuse is designated as one of the nation's 20 most pollution-endangered rivers. UNC scientists are among those conducting the Neuse River Monitoring and Modeling Project. Paerl and Wells will speak in the Library Room at the Sheraton about the history of the Neuse and water quality efforts in North Carolina. On May 8, the National Academy of Sciences published findings by Paerl and others that floodwaters from 1999 hurricanes Dennis, Floyd and Irene weakened salinity and boosted nitrogen in coastal waters including the Neuse, killing thousands of fish.

After the talk, institute faculty and students will take tour participants on a boat trip on the Neuse, where they will describe the water content and demonstrate testing techniques. The boats will launch from the Sheraton dock. In case of rain, the institute will present the entire program inside the hotel.

6:30 p.m. Tour of Tryon Palace, 600 block, Pollock Street, New Bern, 1-800-767-1560

After the tour, the faculty members will enjoy a Carolina Coastal dinner on the grounds with local UNC alumni and newly admitted freshmen and their parents. Coastal blues and folk singer Connie Mason will entertain after dinner. She is historian for the N.C. Maritime Museum in Beaufort.

Other stops on the Tar Heel Bus Tour will include a meeting with leaders of the Greater Fayetteville Futures campaign, assisted by UNC's Office of Economic Development; a discussion of Charlotte's growth and future with local leaders Hugh McColl, Harvey Gantt and Rolfe Neill; tours of a textile mill in Mount Holly, a Smart Growth development in Huntersville, a rural health clinic in Marshall and a furniture plant in Lenoir; and presentations on demographics in Siler City and a UNC program in Warrensville for teaching traditional fourth-grade subjects with North Carolina traditional music.

Interviews: Tour leader Mike Smith, director of UNC's Institute of Government, and participants are expected to be available for print and broadcast interviews at stops or by cell phone. Media access will be unrestricted except where otherwise noted. During the tour, call L.J. Toler of UNC News Services at 919-614-5436 with questions about coverage or to request cell phone interviews, or News Services in Chapel Hill at 919-962-2091. News Services also can share background on UNC's connections to North Carolina that are discussed during the tour. Before the tour, contact Toler at 919-962-8589.

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Links to advisories for other four days of bus tour:

Tar Heel Bus Tour faculty to explore impact of military, NASCAR, state's largest city, Tuesday, May 22

Tar Heel Bus Tour to visit textile mill, smart-growth site, rural health clinic, Wednesday, May 23  

Tar Heel Bus Tour faculty to tour furniture plant, school music program, Thursday, May 24 

Tar Heel Bus Tour faculty to learn about Hispanic influx, cleaner dry cleaning, Friday, May 25