Driver’s license office may not be up to standards, but it didn’t happen overnight

Published 6:50 pm Saturday, November 18, 2017

The Warren County Board of Supervisors felt blindsided this week when members of the Mississippi Department of Public Safety informed them the Mississippi Highway Patrol office is not up to requirements and threatened to pull up stakes.

The facility, owned and provided by Warren County, is used by not only county residents, but folks who live in Claiborne, Isaqueena, Sharkey and portions of Yazoo counties to have their Mississippi driver’s license renewed or acquire a Mississippi driver’s license.

MHP Lt. Ola Kirk, who took over as Region Director of Driver Services in September, told the Warren County Board of Supervisors during their Monday morning work session the facility did not pass the requirements of the MDPS.

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“We’ve got to do better than we’ve been doing,” Kirk told the supervisors. “When I first pulled up, I thought it was a homeless shelter because people were outside sitting on the concrete.”

Kirk brought a long list of issues with the current facility and what is required.

The waiting area only has nine chairs when there is a minimum of 25 required for visitor seating. There must be a public bathroom, as well as a private bathroom for employees. The bathroom that is available is also not sanitary, Kirk said.

The facility must have a minimum of 21 parking spaces for visitors and one handicap parking space. She said there is also only one way in and out of the facility, meaning there is no escape route for employees.

Kirk said four MDPS stations recently had to be closed because they didn’t meet the requirements. They were closed for several months before they met requirements and reopened.

Kirk at first gave the supervisors 30 days to rectify the issues, but eventually backed off when Board President Richard George told her that would be next to impossible.

“It’s going to be mighty difficult in 30 days being a governmental entity making a change like that because we have to follow purchase laws and all the business handled in a public purchasing arena,” George told Kirk. “30 days is not a whole lot of time. You, as a state agency, I would think would understand the time frame for us to be able to respond to something like this.”

We are not disagreeing that there may be some issues at the MHDP office and feel confident the Board of Supervisors will accommodate the MHP with what is required of them to keep an office in Vicksburg. But it would have been courteous of MDPS to inform the supervisors that there were some issues and notified the board with some type of warning when the supervisors were planning their fiscal budget in July.