|North Carolina Department of Public Safety|
Dental Staff Fly High, Dive Deep And More!
By Pamela Walker
The Division of Prisons’ dental staff is a talented group. From a trapeze artist to those who jump out of airplanes, some staff excel not only in their jobs, but also in rather interesting hobbies.
Dr. Max Harris now juggles dental tools at Central Prison, but he once could be seen juggling fiery batons or flying through the air off a trapeze. Harris was a trapeze artist, juggler, slack wire walker and clown in the country’s only collegiate circus at Florida State University.
Harris says he got interested in the circus when he was 12 years old. His family decided to spend their summer vacation at Callaway Gardens resort near Atlanta where a circus tent was just one of the many attractions.
"I just looked up and saw the students flying through the air and thought, hey, that looks good," said Harris. When his family returned home, Harris attached some electrical wire to a bar and talked his sister in to standing on top of their swing set and trying to swing like the trapeze artists. Needless to say, it wasn’t strong enough and the wire gave way sending her crashing to the ground. Their father then built them a sturdier rope and bar and Harris, his sister and some friends put on a circus for the neighborhood.
A few years later as a freshman in the collegiate circus at FSU, Harris was invited to return to Callaway Gardens as a performer. He was part of the student circus for five years. While there he flipped his way into history when he became the third amateur in the world to complete a triple somersault on the flying trapeze.
Harris has settled down a bit since then. After working in private practice for a few years, he came to Central Prison two and a half years ago. He met his wife at the circus at FSU. She was also a performer who had a skating and trapeze act and also climbed the perch pole. They live in Raleigh and have two sons.
Grantham Flies High
Dr. Norman Grantham, who heads the dental clinic at Central Prison, likes to fly high too. But he flies airplanes. Grantham started flying at age 15. He says he would ride his bicycle to the airfield in Selma, which was about a 16-mile round trip from his home in Smithfield. He soloed for the first time at age 16.
Grantham says flying has always thrilled him, even now some 50 years later. "I get the same excitement when I take off today. That rush is still there," said Grantham.
The Johnston County native has been a member of the Johnston County Airport for 18 years and authority chairman for the last eight years. Grantham recently was given a certificate for flying out of the highest airport in the country at Leadville, Colo. The field altitude is 10,000 feet.
Grantham was in the Air Force for six years and then joined the U.S. Army Reserves where he retired as a colonel. He was in private practice for 30 years before coming to the Department. He started atHoke Correctional Institution six years ago, then went to Neuse Correctional Institution and finally Central Prison. He has a wife, three children and four grandchildren.
The Other Side Of The Neuse Dentists
You’ll find another avid pilot and flight instructor working part-time at Neuse Correctional Institution. Dr. Harold Berk retired from private practice in 1990 with 35 years experience and didn’t intend on returning to dentistry. After moving to North Carolina he saw an ad for an opening for a dentist with the Department of Correction. He has been doing extractions, fillings, dentures and other general dentistry at Neuse for three years.
Berk usually only works about eight hours a week, which gives him a lot of time to fly the friendly skies. "I fly as often as I can," said Berk. "I love the power, the control and the freedom you get. It also gives me satisfaction of being able to deal with such a complex system."
The Brooklyn native has his own 1977 Cessna 210 Centurion, which he has painted and refurbished. He also teaches flying and has been a member of the Civil Air Patrol since 1996.
With three children and four grandchildren who live in different parts of the country, Berk and his wife will have plenty of places to fly when he retires completely. When that time comes Berk says, "I will miss dentistry, but not the bureaucracy."
Dr. Carl Bean, director of dental services at Neuse, keeps his feet on the ground, but likes to work with his hands. You could say Bean is the ultimate handyman. He likes to do carpentry, brick masonry and other construction work.
"I believe you should not only enjoy your hobby, but it should also be productive," said Bean. His latest project has been replacing all the windows throughout his house. He also laid the brick on a walkway to his house.
Bean also keeps busy as a member of several gun clubs. He mostly likes to shoot pistols. As if that isn’t enough, Bean is also a lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserves.
Before coming to work at Neuse nearly four years ago, Bean was the dental clinic supervisor at Buncombe County’s health department. He grew up in Asheville. Bean is married and has three sons.
McHatton Dives High and Low
When Dr. Steve McHatton isn’t running the dental clinic at Marion Correctional Institution, he likes to dive. Sky dive and scuba dive.
McHatton has been skydiving for about four years and tries to do it at least twice a month. He’s often joined by his wife, who was introduced to the sport when he gave her a skydiving trip for Christmas. "It’s such a peaceful feeling," said McHatton. "A lot of people think you do it just for the adrenaline rush, but there’s really a lot of serenity up there."
While McHatton and his wife live in the mountains of Asheville, they also like to get away to tropical destinations for scuba diving. They recently did some scuba diving off the coast of Cozumel, Mexico. In addition, McHatton has been a student pilot for about five years.
McHatton has been with the Department nearly eight years. He worked as a dentist at Buncombe Correctional Center for about a year before moving over to Marion.
These are not the only talented folks on the dental staff. There are also more who have flying as a hobby, a former pro golfer, an avid tennis player who often competes in professional tournaments, artists and plenty of comedians.
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