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Chapel Hill, NC  27599-6210
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Not for publication

May 15, 2001 -- No. 248

Local angles: Yadkinville, Siler City, Morrisville

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

The 32 new faculty and administrators from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on this week's 2001 Tar Heel Bus Tour will visit Unifi, Inc. in Yadkinville today, then hear about Hispanic population growth in Siler City and tour Hangers Dry Cleaners in Morrisville. The tour will end as the bus returns to the William and Ida Friday Continuing Education Center in Chapel Hill at 6 p.m.

Tour purpose:

The 1,100-mile tour’s 16 stops Monday (May 21) through Friday (May 25) were 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 such UNC outreach projects already under way.

Friday’s Carolina connections: Yadkin County (Yadkinville) is home to 38 Carolina students and 167 UNC alumni; Chatham County (Siler City), to 209 Carolina students and 1,085 alumni; Wake County (Morrisville), to 2,501 students and 17,716 alumni.

Friday’s schedule, highlights:

8:30-10:30 a.m. Unifi, Plant 5, 1032 Unifi Industrial Road, Yadkinville, 336-679-8891

Media may join the tour, but hosts will identify some areas where photos may not be taken because of business competition reasons. The world's largest producer of textured yarns, Unifi sells to more than 1,000 manufacturers in 30 countries. The company is the largest employer in Yadkin County with about 2,000 workers. Recently, the company announced layoffs attributed to a slowing economy and lower-cost imports from Asia. Textiles have ranked first in North Carolina manufacturing for more than 100 years. Company officials Eddie Norman and Ricky Oaks will host this stop with Bobby Todd, executive director of the Yadkin County Chamber of Commerce.

12:15-3 p.m. Chatham Family Resource Center, 225 Chatham Square, Siler City, 919-663-5867

The faculty members will learn about effects of a 400 percent increase in North Carolina's Hispanic population in the past decade by focusing on Siler City as an example. The city's elementary is 41.5 percent Hispanic, 32 percent black, 22.4 percent white and 4.1 multiracial or other, the numbers of Hispanics and whites having flip-flopped in the past six years.

Center board chairman and founder Bill Lail, a UNC alumnus, will host the visit with members of the center staff, explaining the center's mission of helping families cope with changes caused by shifting demographics and seeking to meet needs not addressed by social services departments. Also speaking will be Dr. James H. Johnson Jr., UNC distinguished professor of management, sociology and public policy and director of the Urban Investment Strategies Center at the university's Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise. Johnson's research centers on causes and consequences of inequality in American society, especially as it affects socially and economically disadvantaged youths. He creates and oversees entrepreneurial approaches to poverty alleviation, job creation and community development.

Among the center's programs are two Head Start groups enrolling 37 children, community college classes, a Latino Alcoholics Anonymous, support groups for minority mothers and black fathers and prenatal education for Latino women. Its newest program, whose clientele are referred from the courts, helps immigrants who have had trouble with the law integrate into the community.

UNC initiatives related to the state's growing Hispanic population include English as a Second Language instruction and teacher licensing; workshops helping teachers cope with changing student populations and international topics; Spanish instruction for health care workers; materials to help law enforcement officers relate to Latino residents and inform those residents about safety measures and crime prevention; and a study in Siler City that seeks to understand and combat the higher incidence of diabetes in Hispanics and African-Americans.

4-5:30 p.m. Hangers, 2017 N.W. Cary Parkway, Morrisville, 469-8881,

This rapidly growing new dry cleaning chain is an example of Carolina's efforts to use the fruits of research conducted on campus to benefit citizens, solve problems and create jobs. Dr. Joseph DeSimone, a professor of chemistry at UNC and chemical engineering at N.C. State University, developed the technology used at Hangers with his Carolina students.

Hangers cleans clothes with liquid carbon dioxide instead of the usual dry-cleaning compounds, which generate millions of pounds of polluting solvents annually and use a great deal of water. DeSimone says other advantages are that the carbon dioxide process leaves clothes free of odors, doesn't require a heat cycle that could damage clothes and is quicker. Costs to consumers are comparable to those for conventional dry cleaning.

In 1995, DeSimone and colleagues founded Micell Technologies, Hangers' parent company. Micell licensed the new process from UNC and complementary technology from Battelle's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. Now Micell has 50 Hangers locations nationwide, including 21 in North Carolina Besides Morrisville, locations are in Wilmington, Wake Forest, Greensboro, Chapel Hill and Carrboro. The chain has plans to open in Charlotte and Asheville. DeSimone will host this stop and serve drinks containing the same substance he uses to clean clothes.

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 faculty members 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. They visited furniture and textiles plants, historic Old Salem and a UNC/N.C. Arts Council program in Warrensville using traditional music to teach fourth-grade.

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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