By Callie Hietala
Martinsville City Council and the Henry County Board of Supervisors paid tribute to two groups serving the community earlier this week, the Community Dental Clinic and its president, Dr. Mark Crabtree and the Martinsville Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., which is celebrating its 70th anniversary.
Community Dental Clinic
At the city’s Dec. 14 council meeting, Jim Adams, chairman of the Board of Supervisors, joined with Mayor Kathy Lawson to present a joint resolution recognizing the work of Dr. Mark Crabtree and the Piedmont Virginia Dental Health Foundation in establishing and operating the Community Dental Clinic.
It was recently announced that management of the clinic is transitioning to the Martinsville Henry County Coalition for Health and Wellness.
According to the resolution, the clinic opened in uptown Martinsville in August 2006, after the loss of thousands of textile and furniture jobs in the community left many residents with no funds for dental care. The West Piedmont Health District, the Harvest Foundation, and the Martinsville-Henry County Dental Advisory Committee developed a plan for an indigent dental clinic and created the Piedmont Virginia Dental Health Foundation to implement the plan. Crabtree co-founded the foundation, along with Dr. Edward Snyder of Snyder Orthodontics, and Ann Huffman of Martinsville Smiles. Crabtree also served as president.
In addition to the volunteer work of local dentists, Crabtree secured a partnership with Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Dentistry whereby fourth-year students would come to Martinsville to provide care to patients. Thus far, an estimated 1,400 students have treated patients through the clinic.
Since its creation, the clinic has provided more than $12.6 million in dental services to more than 57,000 low-income and uninsured adults and children, according to the resolution.
Former Martinsville Mayor Gene Teague, who serves on the board of directors for the foundation, commended Crabtree for devoting “thousands and thousands of hours” to the clinic. “His desire to meet a need and his love of his fellow man has fueled the drive” to make the clinic a success, Teague said.
“I hope this community realizes what a special thing we have for a community of our size. What we have here in this clinic has been and continues to be a model for all communities on how to meet a need.”
Adams said a former Sunday school student died several years ago because of a lack of good dental hygiene.
“Dental health affects so many other areas of the body,” he said. “Just the wellbeing and the comfort of knowing that” a dental issue can be taken care of is beneficial. “It’s a comfort to the mind, it’s a comfort to the body to know that your community loves you enough to have done something about it.”
Lawson said she vividly remembered “that very warm day” that the clinic hosted its ribbon cutting. “The line for the people to register was all the way down the street. The thousands of lives you all have touched, there are no words to describe the importance that is to our community.”
Delta Sigma Theta
The 70th anniversary of the civic-minded Martinsville Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. also was celebrated.
According to the proclamation by city council, the sorority was founded in 1913 at Howard University by 22 college-educated Black women “whose focus was on education and assistance to people in need.” Today, the public service organization has more than 250,000 members across more than 1,000 chapters worldwide.
The Martinsville chapter was chartered on November 27, 1951 and has since “organized an extensive array of public service initiatives” including food drives, financial literacy workshops, college scholarships, and annual book donations to preschoolers. The chapter has also partnered with the West Piedmont Health District and “distributed information in the community to dispel myths and inaccurate information about the COVID vaccine and the pandemic.”
The resolution approved by the Henry County Board of Supervisors congratulated all past and current members of the sorority “for their devotion to their community and their fellow woman” and encouraged “all local citizens to emulate the good deeds” of the sorority.
Brenell Thomas, president of the Martinsville chapter, thanked both bodies.
“If we can ever be of service as a partner, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us and offer us an opportunity to answer the call to serve because that is the fabric of what our organization is about,” she said. “We look forward to growing our impact in this community where we live, work, and serve.”
In other matters, the council:
*Conducted a public hearing on a special use permit request from Smith Wholesale, Inc. to allow for the operation of an office and self-storage facility on property located at 204 Broad Street. There were no speakers at the hearing.
*Heard a report from Robinson Farmer Cox Associates on the city’s FY21 audit.
*Heard from Superintendent Dr. Zebedee Talley and Travis Clemons, executive director of administrative services for Martinsville City Public Schools. They requested an appropriation of $694,212 to various school budget categories to cover capital needs and anticipated reductions in state funding.
Council voted to appropriate $272,860 to the school’s capital fund to be used for roof repairs at Patrick Henry ($52,815) and Martinsville Middle ($38,702), HVAC replacement in the gym section of Martinsville High School ($50,000), bathroom renovations at Martinsville High School ($45,000), division-wide door replacements ($42,000), handicapped elevator repair at Albert Harris Elementary ($35,746), and traffic control gating at Martinsville High ($8,597.)
Council opted not to approve the additional request of $421,352 to cover anticipated reductions in state funding but stated it could reconsider if those reductions are realized.
*Conducted a public hearing to transfer certain properties owned by the city to the Martinsville Redevelopment and Housing Authority as part of the Five Points Housing Project. No one spoke at the hearing.
*Approved, with some minor changes, projects listed for the city’s 2022 Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) list.
*Approved, with minor changes, the city’s 2022 legislative agenda.
*Heard from City Attorney and Assistant City Manager Eric Monday about the current proposed redistricting maps. Monday said he would circulate for review some written comments to submit on the proposed changes on behalf of city council.