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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.247

Local angles: Lenoir, Warrensville, Winston-Salem

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

North Carolina's furniture industry and a UNC/N.C. Arts Council program that uses old-time music to help teach fourth grade subjects are on today's agenda for the 2001 Tar Heel Bus Tour. The 32 new faculty and administrators at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will visit Bernhardt Furniture in Lenoir and Blue Ridge Elementary in Warrensville, site of a UNC/N.C. Arts Council program that uses traditional music to teach reading, writing and arithmetic in fourth grade. Local musicians will perform and children will demonstrate what they've learned by dancing and singing songs they wrote. The visiting professors may kick up their heels as well.

Tour purpose:

The 1,100-mile tour’s 16 stops Monday (May 21) through Friday (May 25) are designed to teach new faculty about North Carolina’s people, geography, economy, culture, history, schools 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 UNC outreach projects already under way.

Thursday’s Carolina connections: Caldwell County (Lenoir) is home to 76 Carolina students and 476 UNC alumni; Ashe County (Warrensville), to 30 Carolina students and 60 alumni; Forsyth County (Winston-Salem), to 649 students and 5,660 alumni.

Thursday’s schedule, highlights:

9:30-11 a.m. Bernhardt Furniture, Plant 2, Virginia Street, Lenoir, 828-758-9811,

North Carolina leads the country in furniture and fixtures production. The industry employs almost 76,000 state residents, making it the second-largest employer after textiles. Bernhardt, one of the nation's oldest family-operated plants in this industry, has grown from 35 employees in 1889 to more than 2,500 in 12 plants today. General manager Alex Bernhardt Jr., a UNC alumnus, will lead faculty members through the plant, describing how technology has changed this industry. The company has cited the recent weakened economy for an unconfirmed number of layoffs.

Media representatives with media identification may tour the plant, but no photos may be taken inside. Visitors will not be able to speak with employees.

12:30-3 p.m. Blue Ridge Elementary School, N.C. 88 West, Warrensville, 336-384-4500

Teachers will describe how they've taught state-required subjects for fourth grade by integrating North Carolina's traditional music into their lessons, and local musicians will perform. Blue Ridge is one of seven schools statewide participating in the Curriculum, Music and Community Project, a direct result of the 1998 Tar Heel Bus Tour.

That year, tour participant Dr. Madeleine Grumet, UNC School of Education dean, met co-host Wansie Van Hoy at the annual Old Time Fiddlers' Convention in Union Grove. Their conversation sparked her idea for helping children learn through the type of music she heard there, so integral to the state's history and culture. She asked associate education professor Dr. Dwight Rogers to design a program to do just that. Rogers, an old-time banjo player, developed the program with the state arts council. He will host this stop with Blue Ridge teachers and UNC anthropology professor Dr. Glenn Hinson, chair of the UNC folklore curriculum, also a partner in the fourth-grade music project.

Musicians performing during the visit will be singer and banjo player Donavan Cain and Trish Kilby, guitarist and square-dance caller Arville Scott and the gospel Calvary Trio. The school serves one of the state's most economically disadvantaged areas yet was named a School of Distinction in 1998-99 and a School of Excellence in 1999-2000 by the N.C. Department of Public Instruction.

7 p.m. Dinner at The Tavern, 601 Old Salem Road, Old Salem, Winston-Salem

For about an hour before dinner, the visiting faculty will have an opportunity to walk through Old Salem, an area that exemplifies how heritage tourism can bring North Carolina jobs and other benefits. The Moravian Church founded the community in 1766 as Salem, a closed congregation town in which the church directed residents' economic and spiritual affairs. Today, costumed interpreters re-create 18th- and early 19th-century life for visitors in 12 historic homes that are open to the public.

The area draws almost 150,000 visitors to guided tours annually. With those not taking tours but simply walking through, yearly visitors number an estimated half million. The last economic impact study of Old Salem, in 1991, estimated its economic benefit at $33 million, plus $2.6 million in tax revenue.

UNC alumnus and former board of trustees chairman Thomas Lambeth, a senior fellow and former executive director of the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, will speak after dinner at The Tavern.

The Tar Heel Bus Tour began Monday (May 21) and has included tobacco and hog farm visits and a boat ride to observe a UNC-assisted water-quality project on the Neuse River. The group learned about economic development plans in Fayetteville, NASCAR's influence on the state (at the North Carolina Speedway in Rockingham) and inner-city redevelopment in Charlotte. Friday, they'll visit a Siler City center that helps families of all races cope with an influx of Hispanic residents.

The tour Web site:

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. News Services in Chapel Hill at 919-962-2091 can share background on UNC's connections to North Carolina. Before the tour, contact Toler at 919-962-8589.


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