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Dental clinic organizers sign lease

July 02, 2009|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- The opening of a dental clinic for Eastern Panhandle residents who cannot afford care has cleared another hurdle, according to United Way of the Eastern Panhandle officials.

A five-year lease agreement between Healthy Smiles of the Eastern Panhandle Inc. and L. Allen Henry of Rental Properties Inc. will allow the clinic to open in 2,500 square feet of a commercial building at the intersection of U.S. 11 and Warm Springs Avenue, United Way Executive Director Jan Callen said Thursday.

Henry agreed to complete construction of the space for the Healthy Smiles Community Oral Health Center "at his cost," according to a news release from United Way of the Eastern Panhandle.

Callen did not have the lease payment terms available Thursday, but said the agreement included an additional five-year option if both parties agreed to continue the relationship.

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The announcement comes less than a week after several hundred volunteers teamed up to provide more than 1,100 people with dental care as part of the Mission of Mercy project at Hedgesville High School.

Healthy Smiles of the Eastern Panhandle Inc., a nonprofit organization that was formed in 2008 to increase access to dental care for all Eastern Panhandle residents, has been working to open a clinic for the past year and half, according to the release.

"We have many to thank, but I especially want to thank Allen Henry," Healthy Smiles board president Dean Russell said in the release.

"Without his generosity and flexibility in working with us, we would not have reached this important milestone so soon. Eastern Panhandle residents who could not otherwise afford dental services will now have a place to go for their dental care," Russell said.

Henry was named Philanthropist of the Year in 2007 by the Community Foundation.

He said he became involved with Healthy Smiles because he understood there was a great need and the project was achievable.

"I am happy that my business can help make a difference in the lives of so many," Henry said in the release.

Shenandoah Valley Medical System will assume operational responsibility for the center, according to the release. Russell said staff recruiting will begin soon and the hope is to begin seeing patients in January 2010.

Grants and donations have been received to purchase equipment for the clinic, but money is needed to support the start-up of operations, according to the release.

A capital campaign, chaired by Mary Clare Eros, recently announced a goal of raising $300,000 over the next three years. For more information about the campaign, individuals may call the United Way of the Eastern Panhandle at 304-263-0603.

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