Elon community wants economy, uniting America addressed at Obama’s inauguration

Delores Foster, an Elon resident who runs Coming Attractions Hair Salon, owns a large farmhouse off of Route 87 North in Alamance County. Built out of the lumber that is scattered around and found on the farm, the large building once housed five families during the Great Depression when everyone had or was close to losing everything.

After her father died last January, Foster said she didn’t think twice about selling neither the property nor the farmhouse.

“Five families lived there because it’s huge,” Foster said. “We’ll always have a place to go, because we have a big farmhouse.”

While she never thought her family would have to consider using the farmhouse again, Foster is keeping her options open and is looking toward President-elect Barack Obama to implement changes before American socio-economic situations become so dire again.

So come this Jan. 20, Foster said there is one specific thing she wants Obama to address in his inauguration speech.

“A. Economy. B. Economy. C. Economy,” she said.

Though she deems health care, insurance and social security as important issues she also wants addressed, Foster said the economy is rooted deeply in everything surrounding American communities.

While she hasn’t personally felt the tug of the economy at Coming Attractions, she said she can see it around her and that while she has “no clue” how to go about fixing it, she does know it is a problem that has to be tackled together.

“To me, it doesn’t matter if you’re a democrat or a Republican. The most crucial thing the House of Representatives and the Senate can do right now is work together for the betterment of the economy and to help the middle class people,” Foster said. “I try to be optimistic. I don’t want to be on the right, I don’t want to be on the left. I want to be straight down the middle.”

While she agreed the economy is the most important issue facing Americans today, Elon University Political Science Professor Sharon Spray said she does not think Obama will address any specific topics during his speech.

“I think this is a time in which presidents can use an inauguration speech to try to give people hope, try to give them inspiration,” Spray said. “I think that [Obama] has an opportunity here to think about trying to bring people together and he’s going to have to do that because it was a campaign that sort of drew people apart.”

Though she suspects there will be an “monumental” turnout despite the way the event is being downplayed for security reasons, Spray said this is a great opportunity to do more than just unite Americans.

“He’s going to have to address — of course — the sort of the negative time we’re in, the problems that we have,” Spray said.

Elon resident and small business owner Delores Foster said she hopes the auto industry will not be bailed out and will be forced to go into bankruptcy. In doing so, they will have to restructure — similar to the airline industry — and in turn will be better off in the long run.
Elon resident and small business owner Delores Foster said she hopes the auto industry will not be bailed out and will be forced to go into bankruptcy. In doing so, they will have to restructure — similar to the airline industry — and in turn will be better off in the long run.

Foster said many of her clients speak to her about the negative times. One of her customs recently had her hours at a local grocery store cut from 40 to 25 per week, her spouse was recently laid off and they are trying to support a small child as well.

“That’s just one couple,” Foster said. “It’s not just one thing. It’s in every aspect of our lives. These are the facts.”

Elon University Senior Olivia Hubert-Allen, who is a political science major from North Carolina as well as the editor-in-chief of the school’s student newspaper, echoes Foster’s thoughts. She thinks Obama will address the economy, since the local and national community as a whole is troubled about this unstable time.

“It concerns people,” Hubert-Allen said. “The economic situation is top priority for people at this point. But the Iraq situation is also still lingering.”

Hubert-Allen said the paper is covering the event since this is such a dramatic time in American history.

“The Pendulum will try to record history by documenting as a student paper and bringing that side of the story of readers because this is a historical inauguration,” Hubert-Allen said. “I think they’ll be an enormous outturn, since Obama had so many really passionate supporters and I think they will make the journey and travel to be there on inauguration day.”

But even though many people are looking forward to what Obama has to say and how he plans to turn America around, Burlington resident Robert Hamilton, who works as a body and paint mechanic at Young’s Auto Body Shop on Haggard Avenue, said he doesn’t care what Obama has to say on Jan. 20.

“It doesn’t matter what he talks about, something’s always changing,” Hamilton said. “It doesn’t matter what he says anymore. He says too much.”

But that isn’t stopping people like Foster, who also didn’t vote for Obama, from trying to make a difference.

Even though she feels helpless in the economic situation, she is trying to do her part and make an impact on a local level. She donates to Loaves & Fishes, a local food pantry in Alamance County, on a monthly basis since they are out of food and she feels responsible for looking after her local citizens.

Also invested in working with local citizens, Elon University Senior Mary Bomoman, a communications major from Pennsylvania, helps tutor children around the area. She expects educational standards to be addressed, since she doesn’t believe the No Child Left Behind program is sufficient.

But while this is an important topic for Bomoman and her children’s future, she said the economy takes top reign.

“I’m now searching for a job and it’s really not a good time to be doing so,” she said. “I don’t expect him to do all of these amazing changes right away, I do expect it to be a process.”

Foster said though it may be a long process, she is impressed with the cabinet Obama has appointed so far and their level of experience and expertise. She hopes they give him wisdom.

“You can’t walk into this situation without supporting him,” Foster said. “His backup is the most important thing. We’ve all got to look at this thing head on and figure out what we can do during this time and how we can help other people.”

Click the links to read more about Obama’s stance on the economy, Iraq and healthcare.

Watch why Delores Foster, an Elon resident who runs Coming Attractions Hair Salon, is worried most about the middle class, their loss of homes, no where to turn and inability to pay taxes.

See what Elon University Political Science Professor Sharon Spray has to say about what she thinks will be the main points President-elect Barack Obama will emphasize during his inauguration speech on Jan. 20, 2009.

Family business ensures science comprehension

A staff member works on putting together a new kit the company is marketing. They currently offer more than 700 different science kits.
A staff member works on putting together a new kit the company is marketing. They currently offer more than 700 different science kits.

by Andie Diemer
Nov. 25, 2008

Eighty-one years ago Thomas Powell Jr., then a science professor at Elon College, would regularly collect natural specimens for his own use in the classroom. After picking up on the fact that other instructors were looking to do a similar thing, he noticed the niche of collecting and marketing these types of products to educators.

Today, Carolina Biological has been a dominate fixture on the Burlington scene. Employing around 450 central North Carolinians, the company creates curriculum science kits to assist teachers in their educational activities and endeavors, Product Safety Manager Keith Barker said.

Servicing a fair number of schools nationwide and internationally, the company supplies everything from balance kits for kindergarteners to gene kits for college students.

“We’re using a lot of living materials, like plants, insects and preserved materials,” Barker said. “We try to provide materials to help science educators do their job.”

Catering to various departments like physiology, math, geology, chemistry and physics, Barker works to ensure the company is aware of and complies with all federal and state regulations.

He works with a lot of companies and customers to answer questions and make sure the entire operation and each product works smoothly.

While the headquarters is located on York Road in Burlington, three additional warehouses — where the production actually takes place — have been located at the Rockcreek Center for the past nine years.

“This is where our fulfillment operation, kit making and purchasing takes place,” Barker said. “There are a lot of scientists and doctors on staff. There’s a variety of interesting people and all have diverse job responsibilities and diverse roles, but somehow it all fits together.”

Balancing Act

Tim Dallas, director of logistics, oversees the kit-making operations, which can range from large kits to outfit an entire classroom to single-person AP biology kits.

“We team up with the Smithsonian, who basically write books of experiments on topics of assignments,” Dallas said. “They work with us to turn the book into reality. We start with the books and build the kits around those.”

Carolina Biological performs field testing to ensure each purchase is complete and processing is safe and top of the line.

They offer 700 different titles of kits, most of which are different variations of similar products, Dallas said.

“It’s not uncommon for an entire state, county, school district, specific teacher to adopt these kits,” Dallas said.

He said the state of North Carolina recently purchased $5 million worth of Science and Technology for Children kits, which are used in North Carolina elementary schools.

Barker said students who learn through hands-on means, such as science kits, consistently outperform students who learn through textbooks on tests.

While many kits are ordered, it is not uncommon for Carolina Biological to sell hundreds of thousands of individual products, such as Petri dishes or test tubes, every year.

“We sell just about anything you can think of for science education from outfitting entire labs to individual microscope slides,” Dallas said.

The busiest times of the year are at the beginning of each semester, when orders flood the company for educational materials.

From Warehouse to Classroom

The warehouses receive the materials, store them — and as they are requested — bring them down, count, package, process and ship them.

While they serve specialties, such as certain cultures that can take weeks to grow, they also provide common, everyday things needed for science experiments such as plastic cups with hole punches in the bottom.

Dallas said the kits are unique because they come with every single component of an experiment, meaning teachers don’t have to track down small items like sharpies or paper clips.

They ship out brand new kits, as well as refills for bulky and often pricy kits. It is not uncommon for 50 or 100 kits to be ordered at one time, Dallas said.

A high tech conveyor and barcode system was completely installed in 2005, which drives the entire company. It automatically logs and calculates inventory, routes and spits specific materials off the belts that run throughout the entire warehouse.

It also creates algorithms to know when certain kits are in demand and to estimate how many need to be created.

Technology also plays a large role in the support department. It does everything from recording logs to increasing job performance to calculating calls to telling a support technician when the best time to take their lunch break is.

“It didn’t reduce jobs, but we are doing more now with the same amount of people,” Dallas said.

Barker said they strive for 100 percent on-time performance and are working to reduce their error rate.

Over the past two years, they have cut it by 45 percent.

It’s All In The Family

Barker said the entire staff is a great group of people that all care about each other.

“Many people have worked their whole lives, and their parents worked here too,” Dallas said. “I’ve been here for nine years and I’m still considered new. Most people have been here for 30, 40 or more years.”

Carolina Biological is still a family-owned business today and the family still plays a prominent role in the community, such as annually donating to United Way, Barker said.

“It’s a good, stable company that’s been here for 81 years, pays their taxes and provides employment,” Barker said. “We produce a product we’re rightfully proud of and we’re proud of our association with education.”

Elon Poll: Democrats advance, Republicans still hold slight edge among N.C. voters

graphby Andie Diemer
Oct. 28, 2008

The Elon Poll has been working feverishly for more than a year to track closely voter’s opinions for next week’s election. Despite the ups and downs of campaigning, the Republican Party has been the favorite of North Carolina residents.

April 2008 Findings

In a poll conducted April 14-17 of 543 North Carolina residents, a majority said some factors heavily discussed in this presidential race, such as race, gender and age, had little impact on how they planned to vote.

Ninety-one percent said race does not make a difference in how they will vote, while 79 percent said gender makes no difference. Only 66 percent said they don’t factor age into voting for a particular candidate.

After being asked if they knew someone who wouldn’t vote for a candidate based on this set of criteria, the statistics began to fluctuate. Fifty-four percent said they knew someone who would not vote for a candidate who is black, and 63 percent said the same for a candidate who is a woman. Forty-four percent said the same for a candidate who is “too old.”

“Across the board, these results illustrate just how close the races appear to be,” Hunter Bacot, director of the Elon University Poll, said in a statement issued April 18. “With both Democrats and Republicans evaluated similarly, it appears there will be fierce battles for president and governor in this state.”

September 2008 Findings

In another Elon Poll, conducted Sept. 15-18, a majority of the 411 North Carolinians questioned said the GOP held the edge in the presidential race. But more than half of the respondents said they were ready to have Dole replaced.

At this time, more than half of North Carolina residents polled had a favorable view of McCain. Forty-one percent planned to support the Republican Party on Nov. 4, compared to 35 percent in favor of the Democratic Party. Twenty percent of the respondents remained undecided. Two-thirds of those surveyed said vice presidential running mates had some influence in their opinion of the candidates.

The governor’s race also remained close, with 37 percent backing the Republican Party and 35 percent supporting the Democratic Party.

“At this time, it appears that the three major races in North Carolina are going to come down to the wire,” Bacot said in September. “While the public has not made a final determination among the candidates, nearly everyone can agree that the economy is the major issue in these upcoming contests.”

October 2008 Findings

The most recent poll conducted involving candidate preference took place Sept. 29-Oct. 2, where a majority of the 477 North Carolinians questioned said they blamed the GOP for the nation’s economic woes.

This poll revealed that the race for the White House was still neck-and-neck, with 39 percent of residents surveyed supporting the Republican Party and 39 percent backing the Democratic Party.

But differences became more apparent when respondents were asked who would manage the economy better: 44 percent favored Obama compared to 42 percent for McCain. Seven percent said neither candidate.

“North Carolina, following the national trend, is leaning Democrat for president,” Bacot said. “Should this pattern prevail, the result would be a startling change in state presidential politics for more than one reason. Not only have the Democrats failed to win North Carolina in over thirty years, such a victory would mark a major milestone for the black community here and throughout the South.”

Perdue was supported by 33 percent for governor, while McCrory was supported by 37 percent.

Click HERE for more information on these polls.

Palin to speak on Elon University campus Thursday

Republican vice presidential candidate Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin spoke at a rally in Waukesha, Wis., at the Center Court Sports Complex on. Oct. 9. Palin is expected to speak at Elon University on Oct. 16. Photo courtesy of Michael Sears/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel/MCT.
Republican vice presidential candidate Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin spoke at a rally in Waukesha, Wis., at the Center Court Sports Complex on Oct. 9. Palin is expected to speak at Elon University on Oct. 16. Photo courtesy of Michael Sears/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel/MCT.

by Andie Diemer
Oct. 13, 2008

Republican Vice Presidential Candidate Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is scheduled to speak Thursday at Elon University, Robert Simpson, chairman of Alamance County Republican Party, told the Burlington Times-News.

While details are still being worked out, preparations around campus point to a 3 p.m. event at Latham Park baseball stadium on campus.

Student Body President Chase Rumley said that while it hasn’t been confirmed, it would reflect very positively on Elon to have Palin here, especially considering Former President Bill Clinton visited in the spring.

“It will be interesting to see if her speech is more student or community focused and who her message speaks to more,” he said. “I think everyone will be respectful.”

Nick Ochsner, president of College Republicans, said he was not able to confirm the event until a press release was published by the campaign.

Palin will also speak on Thursday at 8 a.m. at Bangor International Airport in Bangor, Maine and again at 10 a.m. at United Sports Training Center in Chester County, Pa.

Both events are open to the public and free.

She will also be making an appearance at an event in Greensboro later that evening.