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


Not for publication

May 19, 2003 -- No. 293

Local angles: Cherokee, Mount Holly, Spindale

Tar Heel Bus Tour faculty to visit textile mill, Stonecutter Mills, Cherokee

Wednesday, May 21
Thirty-two new faculty and administrators from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will begin the third day of the 2003 Tar Heel Bus Tour with a visit to American & Efird Inc. in Mount Holly. The dyeing and finishing plant was built in the late 1940s and employs hundreds of people in its 24-hour operation. The mills have operations internationally.

The bus tour will then leave Mount Holly for Spindale, where participants will tour the site of Stonecutter Mills Corp. The plant, founded in 1920, has closed its textile and other operations. Because Stonecutter was a major part of the Town of Spindale’s economy, its demise greatly affected the community. This stop will include a discussion about how the local government is addressing the changes.

The bus tour will travel to Cherokee mid-afternoon, where participants will gather in the Eastern Band of Cherokee Nations-established Harrah’s Cherokee Casino and Hotel, the source of significant economic impact on the Cherokee community. UNC professor Dr. Theda Perdue, whose research focuses on American Indian peoples in the Southeastern United States, also will lead participants on a drive through the older part of town. The afternoon’s activities will conclude with a presentation by renowned Cherokee storyteller Jerry Wolfe at the Museum of the Cherokee Indian.

Tour background:
The 1,040-mile tour’s 13 educational stops from May 19 through May 23 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, which began in 1997, aims to help new faculty better understand the cities and towns where 82 percent of Carolina undergraduates grow up. They also see UNC outreach projects already under way and have opportunities to learn how their own research, teaching and public services activities tie in with the state’s needs.

Michael Smith, dean of the UNC School of Government, serves as tour leader.

Wednesday’s Carolina connections: Gaston County is home to 248 Carolina students and 1,560 UNC alumni; Rutherford County, to 58 Carolina students and 357 alumni; Swain County, to 8 students and 65 alumni.

Wednesday’s highlights:

8 a.m. American & Efird Inc., A&E Drive, Mount Holly
The company operates several plants in Mount Holly. Participants will tour the filament plant, as well as the dyeing and finishing operation.

11:10 a.m. Stonecutter Mills Corp., Oak Street, Spindale
In the 1990s, the plant had 800 people making material for use in all grades of business. However, the plant closed its textile operation recently. The business maintained a trucking firm, machine shop, engineering and a small staff in human resources. In January, Stonecutter announced plans to close all operations.

James Cowan, chief executive officer of Stonecutter Mills Corp. and current vice president of the Stonecutter Foundation, and Tim Barth, Spindale town manager, are expected to be in attendance at the Stonecutter stop.

3:10 p.m. Harrah’s Cherokee Casino and Hotel, Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians
The Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians trace their origins to the Treaty of 1819, which permitted Cherokees living within ceded territory to register for individual reservations of 640 acres and become American citizens. Today, the Eastern Band is a sovereign nation with a principal chief, vice chief and tribal council, all elected.

Harrah’s Cherokee Casino and Hotel, established in 1997, has been the source of significant economic development in the area.

Among those scheduled to participate in the Cherokee stop are: Leon Jones, principal chief of the Eastern Band; Joyce Dugan, who became the first woman ever elected to serve as Eastern Band principal chief and is now director of external affairs and career development at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino and Hotel; Ray Kinsland, general manager of the Cherokee Boys Club; Joe Martin, managing editor of the Eastern Band-owned Cherokee One Feather; and Jerry Wolfe, storyteller and recipient of the N.C. Folklife Heritage Award.

Interviews: Tour leader Michael Smith, dean of the UNC School of Government, and participants are expected to be available for print and broadcast interviews at stops. Media access will be unrestricted except where otherwise noted. During the tour, call Deb Saine of UNC News Services at (919) 962-8415 with questions about coverage, directions to tour stops or interviews. Or call News Services in Chapel Hill at (919) 962-2091.

More information is available at

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Contacts: For print inquiries, call Deb Saine, (919) 962-8415 or For broadcast-related inquiries, call Karen Moon, (919) 962-8595 (office) or (919) 218-2467 (cell).