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Virginia's dental community held a reception at The Inn at Trivium to honor Delegate Lacey Putney on Oct. 30.
The group noted that Putney was instrumental in securing funds for a new building at Virginia Commonwealth University's (VCU) School of Dentistry. This will allow the dental school to expand its class size.
The Bedford area's shortage of dentists is not a local phenomenon. According to Dr. Ellen Byrne, academic dean of VCU's dental school, there is a statewide shortage of dentists in rural areas. The dental school plans to actively recruit dental students who, upon graduating, will work in rural areas.
"Getting funds for the new building will make that happen," Dr. Byrne said. "It'll help access to care in rural areas."
"We wouldn't have that without Lacey," she went on to say. "He's always looking out for rural Virginia."
Work on the new building has already begun. A groundbreaking ceremony took place in pouring rain in Richmond on Oct. 26.
Byrne is no stranger to rural Virginia. She's a Bedford County native. Her twin sister, Carol Bolling, is a pharmacist who works in Bedford.
The event also served as a fundraiser for Putney's reelection campaign and Byrne is no stranger to this, either. When Putney first ran for the House of Delegates in 1961, she and her sister appeared in a campaign photo for a political ad. The two girls were in third grade at the time and they got Putney the soap box that he's standing on in the photo.
The choice of Trivium for the event was convenient for Putney. He lives right across Bellevue Road from the bed and breakfast.