Vermont Dental Care, Transportation Funding Announced by Sen. Sanders

RUTLAND, February 19 - Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today announced a $95,000 grant for the Castleton Health Center to provide greater access to dental care in Rutland County. He also was headed to Bennington to announce $328,300 in funding for a transportation center that could spur a major downtown revitalization effort.

In Rutland, Sanders underscored his ongoing commitment to improved dental care for people who cannot afford it or who live in areas with too few dentists to meet community needs. "Access to adequate dental care remains a serious problem in parts of Vermont and in rural areas across the country," the senator said. "We need to expand access so people can get the dental care they need regardless of income."

Grant Whitimer, executive director of Community Health Centers of the Rutland Region, said in its first six months of operations the Castleton center provided more than $85,000 in reduced fees and free dental care. Some 2,000 dental visits were provided to patients that either did not have any dental insurance or who were covered by Medicaid. "Even with the best efforts of the private dentists in the area, the Park Street Health Share Free Clinic and the Castleton clinic, the need for dental services considerably exceeds our current capacity," Whitmer said. "The grant will allow us to expand our capacity in order to better meet the needs of our patients."

Later in the day in Bennington, City Manager Stu Hurd and Selectboard Chairwoman Lodie Colvin were to join Sanders in announcing that he helped secure the $328,000 that was set aside in the U.S. Transportation Department budget.

"Bennington is undergoing a revitalization of its downtown with new office, housing and retail development, and this transportation center will be an important ingredient in the revitalization efforts," Sanders said.

"Projects like this are important not only because they meet important needs in the community but also because they put people to work at good-paying construction jobs at a time when the middle class is shrinking and we are losing too many jobs overseas."

Along with the completion of the Bennington Bypass and expansion of the W. H. Morse Airport, the new transportation hub will help meet the transportation and economic development needs.