Supervisors told there will be no response regarding drivers license office

Published 7:24 pm Monday, December 11, 2017

Frustration with officials at the Mississippi Department of Public Safety is mounting for the Warren County Board of Supervisors who cannot seem to get a direct answer regarding what needs to be done to keep the Mississippi Highway Patrol Driver’s License office open in Vicksburg.

Last month, MHP Lt. Ola Kirk, who took over as Region Director of Driver Services in September, told the Warren County Board of Supervisors during a work session the facility – which is provided for at no cost by the county – did not pass the requirements of the MDPS.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

“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, according to Kirk. 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.

“Somebody could take a grenade and throw in there and they might not be able to get out at all,” Kirk said. “Let’s do something before something happens and that’s why I’m here today to plead with you.”

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 said that she has talked to the Board of Supervisors in Sharkey County and they have found a facility for them to relocate to.

“We will be glad to move up there if they can accommodate us,” Kirk said. “We need a place, because this does not meet the standards.”

Currently, the Warren County MHP office is also serving Claiborne, Isaquenna and Sharkey and a portion of Yazoo counties. The office served more than 1,500 people in October, according to MHP Master Sgt. John Warren, the district supervisor for the MHP in Jackson, who accompanied Kirk.

Kirk gave the board until Jan. 15 to provide a letter of intent. County Administrator John Smith drafted and sent a letter to Kirk dated Nov. 28 requesting demographic information as well as the following questions:

What counties will be served by the station in Vicksburg?

How many customers were served by the Vicksburg station in the past year and how many were from each county?

How many customers does the Vicksburg station expect to serve in the coming year and how many from adjoining counties?

How many employees will occupy the Vicksburg station?

Does Kirk expect the state to consolidate regional offices in the near future and how will that affect the Vicksburg office?

“This information is vital for the Board to be able to meet your current and future needs of the Mississippi Highway Patrol Office in Warren County,” Smith wrote.

During Monday’s work session, Smith told the supervisors an MHP officer came by Board of Supervisors office last week and informed an employee at the front desk there would be no response to the letter. The employee then relayed that message to Smith.

Board President Richard George told County Attorney Blake Teller to send the letter to the head of the MDPS and make them aware the county is attempting to cooperate with the MHP and address their issues.

“All we are asking for is guidance,” an aggravated George told the board. “What do we need to be prepared for so we can serve you the best way we can? What do we get told? ‘We’re not going to respond to you.’ They need to know how their operation is working over there. I want the Warren County public to know what we’re dealing with because we’re trying to make every effort to keep the examination station here. So if they decide to bolt, people will understand what kind of state government we actually have as opposed to what we think we’ve got.”

Supervisor Charles Selmon said it sounds like the MHP has already made up its mind to relocate “if they’re not willing to work with us at this stage.”

“And they may have,” George said. “I fear that you’re right. But I’m saying we owe it to our people to let them know that we have not missed any opportunity to correct the situation, which is not out of order any way.”