Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

June 5, 2014

Planned dental school hits funding obstacle

BLUEFIELD, Va. — A long-planned dental school for the region has hit a funding stumbling block.

According to a memorandum of understanding agreement between the Tazewell County Board of Supervisors, the county’s Industrial Development Authority, the Dental College Board and Bluefield College, “If, by June 1, 2014, the (Virginia) Tobacco Commission has not awarded a grant or combination of grants to the college equal to $10 million or more, excluding the $250,000 planning grant previously awarded, the agreement shall terminate, without further action by any party as of July 1, 2014.”

“Basically this states that the Tazewell County Board of Supervisors will no longer provide funding for the dental school project. If Bluefield College wants to continue funding the project they would have to provide the funds,” Northwestern District board member Seth White said.

According to White, it is possible that the tobacco commission will fund the project in September at their next meeting.

“It is possible this could happen, but we are not really sure,” White said.

The two applications to the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission that have been submitted are not up for review until September, Charles Stacy, chairman of the board of supervisors, said.

“Even though our applications are not supposed to be looked at until September, the tobacco commission has indicated that they will expedite our applications sooner than September,” Stacy said.

If the board of supervisors opted to fund the project again, a new memorandum of understanding would have to be entered into between the county and the college, White said.

If the money is not granted from the tobacco commission Bluefield College does have other resources.

“We have commitments from pledges and other organizations. We are hopeful that the tobacco commission will award the money that would be a huge help for the project,” director public relations for Bluefield College Chris Shoemaker said.

The dental school project is planned at the Bluestone Regional Business and Technology Park located near Bluefield, Va. The dental school project was launched in 2012 by the board of supervisors, the IDA and Bluefield College.

— Contact Anne Elgin at

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