New in town

“Where shall we do life?” is the question young Dan Scarrow was pondering not long ago.

Lucky for the community of Jewell and the whole area, the young dentist and his wife decided to do life in Jewell. Jewell Family Dentistry opened for business in June on the Main Street there and already is “as busy as we can handle,” according to Scarrow.

He offers full dental services for all ages. “We treat kids, and do dentures, root canals, and extractions.,” he notes. Currently, the office is open Mondays and Wednesdays 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m., but plans are that on September 1 Thursdays will be added to the schedule.”

“I love to work with kids,” says Scarrow, 28, a Clear lake native. “We do screenings for them, and I went to the school for Dental Education Week last year. We heard good things about the school before we came here.”

The Scarrows first considered Jewell after seeing an ad posted in 2014 that Jewell needed a dentist. He was still in a junior at the dental school at the University of Iowa at the time but was interested in a small-town practice.

The building where the dental office is located is a success story in itself. Built in 1926, it was home to numerous businesses before being vacated in the 1980s and standing empty. Eventually the roof collapsed from snow load and exterior walls were caving in as the building deteriorated even more. By then the city owned it and was prepared to have it demolished.

Local businessman Fred Marcalus, serving on the city council at the time, wanted to save the building and helped secure a $60,000 Challenge Grant from Main Street Iowa. The estimate for tearing down the building and landfill charges was $24,000.

“What if someone would come forward to own the building?” Marcalus says he asked the council. “Why not use the grant and the $24,000 as an incentive to take that building on?” Eventually the city council approved the plan. Fred and his wife, Ann, bought the building.

“We proved to Main Street Iowa that we could meet their historic criteria,” Marcalus states. “Walls were rebuilt, a new roof and windows installed, and wells dug for a geothermal system. So the building was secure. By then it could stand there without additional expenses to stabilize it.”

And that’s just what happened for a number of years, time when Marcalus says there were “lots of ups and downs about what we could do with the space. We wanted it to be used for a successful business.”

Also key to completing interior work on the historic building were grants from the Enhance Hamilton County Foundation and from JADE for building improvements. An anonymous grant funded the exam chairs in the two treatment rooms. With its original wood floors, tall ceilings and an exposed brick wall, the building interior has an interesting, clean but warm look.

For both Fred and Ann, it is rewarding that the dental practice is getting started. They have worked with the Scarrows since before Dan graduated from dental school in 2015, offering support and encouragement. The result is that both couples have been able to achieve their dreams. “It’s a great relief to have a young couple there with a service the city needs and can use,” Fred adds. “We’re very lucky they chose Jewell to live and establish their business.”

The Scarrows, who bought a house in Jewell and moved there in 2015, are excited, too, to be in town. Meryl Scarrow, an elementary teacher, held down a long-term sub position at South Hamilton School last year and will soon start her new duties as part-time home school coordinator for the district, which fits in well with having a new baby, their first. Daughter Caroline joined the family just four weeks ago.

The Marcaluses mentored the young couple for two years before interior renovation of the building was complete and the office could open. “We need to acknowledge that if it weren’t for Fred and Ann, nothing would have happened. When we came to Jewell first, they toured us around, kept in contact, and had the patience and the vision,” Dan Scarrow points out. “They stuck with us since my third year in dental school. If they weren’t in Jewell, we wouldn’t be either.”

“We made the right decision to come here,” Scarrow believes. “We want to be an asset to the community, a blessing to the people here. And we want to continue the direction where Jewell is going.

“We’ll put our minds and hearts to this, and we’ll see it through,” he concluded.