The local nonprofit CHIP Inc. is assisting with repairs at Lincoln County Dental Inc.’s future low-income dental clinic in Wiscasset.
The work by volunteers with CHIP, the Community Housing Improvement Project, will help get the clinic at 93 Churchill St. ready to open, potentially in late fall, according to Lincoln County Dental Inc. Treasurer Dick McLean.
“Somebody sitting in his dentist’s chair was talking about the clinic and saying he was involved with CHIP, I don’t know what capacity, and just saying, ‘Boy, I think we can help you out,’” McLean said.
The volunteers doing the repairs are known as “the regulars.” They come out twice a week year-round to work for either CHIP or Habitat for Humanity, volunteer Tim Mellen said. They work on weather-proofing as well as repairs.
The group has nine members, and “no one has a professional background in the trades,” Mellen said.
“I think we do a good job, but we are pretty careful not to take a project that is above our skills,” he said.
Volunteers started work Friday, Aug. 23. Mellen expected they would do about a day and a half worth of work.
The volunteers will return to finish their work Sept. 4, McLean said.
The group had a half-dozen projects on its to-do list, including smoothing out splintered handrails, spackling holes in walls, installing a new gutter, putting up privacy partitions, and updating existing countertops.
“We’ve been very lucky because Hancock (Lumber) and other people in the area give us a very good deal on materials,” Mellen said.
CHIP is buying the materials, but will be reimbursed by Lincoln County Dental.
“I think what they are doing for us is amazing. That’s 42 man-hours of labor right there just on Friday,” McLean said of the six volunteers.
Other work has been ongoing since Lincoln County Dental bought the former Wiscasset Dental building in April. At the time, the building was not furnished.
Dr. Jim Olson, a retired dentist who serves as president of Lincoln County Dental Inc., donated some furniture.
Plumbing and electrical work was required to set up the donated dentist chairs and equipment. This was completed prior to the CHIP volunteers’ work.
The number of dental chairs has doubled from the nonprofit’s previous location in Damariscotta, McLean said, from two to four.
Lincoln County Dental’s sign now stands on Route 27, where the Wiscasset Dental sign had been.
The office still requires a professional cleaning and more furniture and equipment before opening.
Lincoln County Dental operated a clinic out of a rented space in Damariscotta until June 2016, when a pipe burst in the building and the clinic closed.
The nonprofit now has an office in Boothbay. At this time, the nonprofit mostly sends people who have infection or pain to other dentists and pays the bills, which are sometimes discounted.
As always, Lincoln County Dental is taking donations, which can be mailed to P.O. Box 256, Boothbay, ME 04537.
According to McLean, when Lincoln County Dental opens in Wiscasset, it will start with a hygienist. Later, the organization would like to hire a dentist and bring in other dentists to volunteer.
McLean said the nonprofit hopes the new clinic will be open four to five days a week.
At the previous location in Damariscotta, the office was open four days a week, with a dentist typically volunteering at the clinic two days a week, while a hygienist was there every day.