Brookneal Mayor Ken Jennings

By Alice Prival

The Union Star

Doctor William “Bill” Jones spoke appealing to the Brookneal Town Council and Mayor Ken Jennings in a desperate effort to find means to provide medical care for Brookneal and surrounding communities which now stand a population of 60,000. Only 1,280 are receiving medical care from Dr. Jones, who in exhaustion, could not even retire as Centra has of yet not responded to the overwhelming need for at least one additional doctor to service the people.

This “Stillwater” of unattended people (like an unfiltered lake standing without motion or release) can swiftly stagnate to a highly toxic level. Without the medical attention needed this deserving community could easily diminish simply from lack of medical care! Dr. Jones has served as Brookneal’s physician for over 40 years. Leaning upon the podium with sagging shoulders and sadness in his heart, Dr. Jones tells the council, “We are not seeing all of the sick people… I don’t care how much I make. My purpose is to keep people out of the hospitals.”

His voice raises in a crescendo with sudden strength and conviction, “Hospital buildings do not heal patients! Good doctors and nurses heal patients! School buildings do not educate children! Good teachers educate children!”

The desperate air of helplessness prevails over the council and townspeople, a few express their experiences and concerns, “When I needed a doctor they couldn’t see me. They said go to Urgent Care.” Mayor Kenneth Jennings sighs, “Centra has said they will not be putting another fully certified doctor into our facility in Brookneal. We at least need to be able to communicate with the CEO from Centra to address our needs.”

On a positive note Town Manager Russell Thurston reports, “There is significant money in our reserve fund! We are however limited in where money can be invested. Money cannot be at risk. Bobbie Waller has been working with local banks. Next couple of years should see an increase in income!”

The council addressed the attention needed to do renovations on the water and sewer plant. It was expressed that there were rising costs in materials for processing and cleaning. Mayor Jennings confirmed that landscapers and architects had been conferred with, in regard to improving the water plant.

Thurston addressed an airport dilemma: “We need to have a sense of urgency to have someone overseeing the airport.” A town person asked, “Are you going to advertise in the community?”

Mayor Jennings responded, “That is up to the airport to do that.”

A new business brought some smiles: Amy and Will Mayor bought the local church. It is now an Auction House and is holding its first auction Saturday, March 18th at 2:00. Keep your nose in the news to see when the next one will be coming up.

More good news! The Brookneal Volunteer Fire Department is holding its annual fundraiser on Saturday, April 1, from 9 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., featuring fried chicken, barbeque, raffles, and country music. A good time to come out and have fun while helping meet their goal of $15,000!

Councilperson Cindy Johnson raises the question, “Landscape changes are needed. I’m wondering if the flag can be moved to the front of the building, and better lighting on the flag.”

Then thinking back on the need for an additional doctor, Johnson remarks, “Having only one doctor in the community could deter potential new residents which is what we need to support new businesses.”

Councilman Scott Fisher adds, “Isn’t it possible to have a second doctor's office?”