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State grant could bring dental office to Middlesex

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MIDDLESEX — Residents expressed support for a new dentist office set to open in January during a public hearing Monday night.

The Middlesex Board of Commissioners received comments on its application for a state rural economic development building reuse grant to improve the building at 11180 E. Finch Ave. to be leased to Lane and Associates, a dentist office chain with offices in Raleigh and across the state.

The lease payment will be between $95,000 and $125,000 per year depending on the grant amount.

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.

As part of the grant, Lane has agreed to create a dozen jobs.

“We feel really good about the jobs,” said Mayor Lu Harvey Lewis.

The board will find out if the grant application has been approved, and for how much, later in the week. A meeting has been scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday so the board can complete final details.

Lewis said the town should get back all the money it’s invested in building renovations.

Resident Betsy Strickland said she supports the opening, but questioned whether Lane and Associates could be successful in Middlesex.

“We’re excited to come to Middlesex,” Bunch said. “When we put an office in, we do it right. We want every office to look the same like a McDonald’s franchise. Walk into one of our offices and it looks the same as all the others. We have first-class dentists, we wouldn’t settle for anything less with the office.”

Lane, which will accept Medicaid and insurance, will have a general practice dentist with access to visiting specialists.

“Our general practice dentists are what you call super dentists,” Bunch said. “They can do a lot more than hygiene and filling a cavity.”

Resident Chuck Corbett said he appreciates the board putting the deal together.

“It’s a great enhancement for the town,” Lewis said. “It’s great for the people who live here already, and it’s a great attraction for the people who will move here.”

Brent Barringer, a Cary attorney representing Lane and Associates, said Lane makes a cultural commitment to the communities in which it opens an office, becoming active in the community and schools.

Lane began years ago with one office in Fuquay-Varina and has grown into the largest dentist office chain in the state, opening four new offices in 2019, Barringer said.

Half of Lane’s offices are in smaller towns. The business has never closed any of its offices, Barringer said.

Lane and Associates provides comprehensive dental cleaning, restorative crown and fillings, wisdom teeth removal and tooth extractions, among other services, according to information from the company.