DOBSON — A medical clinic for Lowgap moves a step closer to reality as county officials approved rezoning for the future site.
The Surry County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to change a parcel of land along N.C. 89 from Rural Agriculture to Highway Business-Conditional, restricted to use as a medical clinic.
The 4.73 acres of land is at the intersection of Flippin Road, about halfway between the Lowgap community and I-77. It is only a mile and a half away from Cedar Ridge Elementary School.
Kim Bates, county planning director, said the rezoning is for Dr. Challie Minton who intends to have an 8,000-square-foot facility there.
Brock Bowman came before the board on behalf of Eddie Bunn Engineering, which is working on the project.
“It’s rare thing to see someone invest and feel so greatly into a community,” said Bowman. It is especially wonderful because it doesn’t happen to a rural area like Lowgap very often.
A year ago, Minton told the county board that he intended to open a clinic in Lowgap. A native of Elkin, Minton bought property in the Lowgap area years ago and now has a home there.
He explained to the board that medical facilities are a long way off for these residents.
Northern Hospital of Surry County is about 18 miles from the former Lowgap Elementary School and almost 14 miles from the site that Minton has picked.
He believes that not only will this facility help the people of Lowgap and Beulah, but also into Alleghany County where it is a long way from Sparta or southern Virginia where it is a long way from Galax.
And while Lowgap may seem like an out-of-the-ways place for construction, N.C. 89 gets a fair amount of traffic. According to the zoning application put before the commissioners, the last traffic analysis of this area in 2012 showed 3,500 cars pass by this location every day.
He told board members that he initially looked into turning the former grade school into a clinic as far back as 2010, but bringing the building up to code would have been cost-prohibitive.
Instead, he turned his attention to this property donated by the owners, listed on tax records as the heirs of Joe G. Brown.
Minton told the commissioners that he had applied for grant funding and loans through the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which offers low- and no-interest loans for such ventures.
At that time, all he wanted from the board was a letter of support to strengthen his applications for funding. The commissioners consented unanimously.
Since making his home in the area, Dr. Minton has made his presence felt.
In November 2014, he was awarded the District Award of Merit by the Boy Scouts of America for his efforts as a member of the troop committee for Troop 517 in Beulah.
In September 2016, the veteran of the U.S. Navy signed up for the first-ever Citizens Academy offered through the Surry County Sheriff’s Office.
The academy said its aim is providing regular folks with a better understanding of what law enforcement entails.
While still taking those classes around Halloween 2016, Minton released a small herd of wood bison on his property, returning to Surry County a keystone species native to the area.
Minton said he bought some property near Camp Raven Knob two decades ago when he was working there in the 1990s. He would later rename it the Beulah Bison Farm.
Reach Jeff at 415-4692.