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Media Advisory

Not for publication

May 17, 2005 -- No. 245

Local angles: Siler City, Boonville

Tar Heel Bus Tour to visit
Siler City, RagApple Lassie

Wednesday, May 18

Hispanic immigration and the survival of farming will be the focus of the third day of the 2005 Tar Heel Bus Tour for 36 new faculty and administrators from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The five-day tour (May 16-20) features 11 educational stops from the mountains to the coast.

In Siler City, where the Latino population has increased more than 400 percent in 10 years, tour participants will visit with Latino residents and representatives of agencies that work toward harmonious integration of the growing immigrant community. In Boonville, co-owners Frank Hobson Jr. and Lenna Hobson of RagApple Lassie Winery will discuss the transition of their farm from tobacco- to grape-growing and winemaking.

Bus tour host Dr. Lynn Blanchard, director of the Carolina Center for Public Service, and Dr. Judith Wegner, chair of the faculty, will accompany the group all week.

Tour background:

The UNC group will travel more than 1,000 miles in five days to learn about North Carolina topics including urban development, hog farming and an economy in transition. The tour is designed to teach them about the state’s people, geography, economy, culture, history, education system and health and social issues.

The privately funded tour aims to help new faculty and administrators better understand the state where 82 percent of Carolina undergraduates grow up. Participants learn about the university’s commitment to North Carolina and the people it serves. Many stops highlight UNC outreach projects. The participants will be able to learn how their own research, teaching and public service can serve the state’s needs. For more background, visit

Carolina Connections: Chatham County is home to 220 Carolina students and 1,305 alumni; Yadkin County, to 37 students and 204 alumni.

Wednesday’s schedule and highlights:

9:30 a.m. to noon, Siler City Presbyterian Church, 720 W. Third St., Siler City.

The Latino population has grown faster in North Carolina than in any other state, nearly quadrupling in the 1990s and growing another 16 percent by 2002. Given census undercounting, Latinos number possibly 600,000 today, or seven to eight percent of all North Carolinians. The trend poses challenges for schools and social and public services attempting to respond to this burgeoning new community.

In Siler City, where nearly half the population is Latino, tour participants will meet Hispanic residents and a member of the Presbyterian church, which has strong connections to the Latino community. Hosts will include Dr. Pam Frasier, an assistant professor of family medicine in the UNC School of Medicine, founder of the Immigrant Health Initiative and director of a project examining how health care is delivered to underserved and special populations (919-966-4048). Also hosting will be Dr. John Philip Sherrod, medical director of Chatham Primary Care and a UNC clinical associate professor of family medicine (919-742-6032); and Vince Sanabria, Chatham County’s Hispanic liaison and a member of El Vinculo Hispano, which promotes understanding between Latinos and other Chatham County residents (919-742-1448).

Besides Chatham Primary Care, UNC Health Care runs two other clinics in Chatham County and a Latino Healthy Heart Initiative implemented by the UNC Heart Center. It works to increase awareness of modifiable cardiovascular risk factors among Latinos in the center’s service area and improve their access to specialized cardiac care.

The School of Education provides easily accessible courses that help teachers statewide meet North Carolina licensure requirements for English as a Second Language. The school also aids Chatham teachers and pupils through a number of outreach efforts ranging from professional development to UNC student teachers and tutors to a program to help low-income students and students becoming the first in their families to enter college.

The University Center for International Studies sends students, faculty and community members who have had international experiences to Chatham schools to make presentations about other countries; recently, most teachers have requested programs on South America.

UNC’s World View public school outreach program hosts seminars for North Carolina educators to help them understand global issues and what they mean for local communities.

The School of Social Work has proposed a Latino youth violence and suicide prevention program that would promote bicultural coping skills and family cohesion.

1:30 p.m., RagApple Lassie Winery, 3724 Rockford Road, Boonville.

A third-generation tobacco farmer, Frank Hobson Jr. saw the government allotment of how much he could grow drop 53 percent in his last years of raising the crop. To keep his farm, he needed an alternative crop. After a big initial investment and years of cultivation, Frank and Lenna Hobson now have a successful grape-growing and winemaking operation.

Tour participants will learn about winemaking from harvest to bottling, plus the little-known history of North Carolina as the birthplace of American winemaking.

They’ll discover how the winery got its unusual name and Lenna Hobson’s own Carolina connection. The Hobsons can be reached at 1-866-724-2775.

Interviews: Participants and organizers are expected to be available for print and broadcast interviews.

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Contacts with the tour: Dr. Lynn Blanchard, cell (919) 208-9434; Linda Douglas, cell (919) 218-6947

News Services contact: Laura Toler, (919) 962-8589,