Thank you for being one of our most loyal readers. Please consider supporting community journalism by subscribing.
MIDDLESEX — Don Lane loves animals. He stops to help turtles cross the road. He rescues birds at the beach. His favorite is dogs.
Lane also loves to open dentist offices. Since 1980 he’s opened more than 40 dentist offices in North Carolina, mostly in small towns.
And — get this — he’s never closed a single office he’s opened.
Lane, a dentist for nearly four decades, is bringing the largest dentist office chain in the state to Middlesex.
“I love small towns,” Lane said. “I was raised in a small town. Fuquay-Varina is where I started; it used to be a small town. People in small towns appreciate quality dental care. I promise we are going to bring quality to Middlesex.”
The deal for Lane to lease from the town an empty dentist office at 11180 E. Finch St. was finalized Thursday during a special called meeting of the Middlesex town board. Commissioner Harold Meacombs made the motion with a second by Commissioner Danny Alford. The approval vote was unanimous.
Lane will pay $4,025 a month for 10 years with an option to purchase the property after that.
Lane expects to move into the office in January. Prior to that, the town will renovate the office at a cost of $328,000 with $125,000 coming from a state rural economic development building reuse grant.
As part of the deal, Lane has agreed to create a dozen jobs over the next three years. Accepting Medicaid and insurance, the general practice dentist will provide access to visiting specialists.
Mayor Lu Harvey Lewis said Middlesex is on the cusp of major growth.
“People here are looking for quality dental care,” Lewis said. “People coming here are looking for quality dental care. They’ve built 70 houses in 70 months. They’re building houses as fast as they can on half-acre lots. We have a spec building in the corporate park that will mean 50 to 60 jobs paying an average salary of $50,000. That’s a lot in our corner of the county.”
Middlesex has been an underserved area when it comes to dentists. But moms now won’t have to drive 30 minutes to take their children to see a dentist, said Brian Bunch, CEO of Lane and Associates.
Residents expressed support for the new dentist office at a public hearing last month. Lane has been married for more than 45 years and has two daughters and four grandsons.