Supervisors making effort to keep MHP office in Vicksburg

Published 9:00 pm Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Folks who live in Warren County don’t want to drive long distances to renew their driver’s license and the Warren County Board of Supervisors is making efforts to keep the Mississippi Highway Patrol driver’s license office from relocating.

In November, MHP Lt. Ola Kirk, who took over as Region Director of Driver Services in September, told the supervisors during a work session the facility — which is provided for at no cost by the county — did not pass the requirements of the Mississippi Department of Public Safety.

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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.

During their work session Monday, supervisors discussed options for the current facility, as well as other alternatives.

“Their main issue is safety of their employees,” County Administrator John Smith told the board. “They need another way to get out of the building in case there is an issue.”

Smith received a letter from MHP outlining precisely what their requirements are for a facility.

In the letter, MHP, which designed the current office when it was donated by the supervisors, expressed concerns there is only one entrance and exit to the building. The waiting area must also be 600-squre-feet and have a minimum of 25 chairs, as well as the separate bathroom for the employees to use.

The supervisors discussed the issue of remodeling the current facility with Chuck Thornton, the building and grounds inspector. But there are several limitations with the size and space.

“I don’t see it being feasible,” Thornton told the board.

The board also discussed available space next to the Justice Court building and expanding that facility to include the MHP office. The supervisors also mentioned swapping facilities the county currently owns and occupies, as well as other buildings within the city limits that are for sale.

The Warren County MHP office serves as many as 1,600 people each month, according to information the supervisors have received from MHP officials. But it’s not just people in Warren County being served. MHP says the Vicksburg location also serves Mississippi drivers in Claiborne, Issaquena, western Hinds, southern Yazoo and southern Sharkey counties.

Kirk indicated to the board in November that Sharkey County officials would accommodate MHP with an office.

Smith said he told MHP officials every effort is being made to keep the MHP office in Vicksburg.

“I told them I believe it was the wishes of this board they did not want to see upwards to 20-25,000 drivers of Warren County traveling to Sharkey County to renew their driver’s license,” Smith said.

Smith was directed by the board to contact MHP officials and inform them the county is actively seeking a solution.

The supervisors will next meet Monday at 9 a.m. in the county courthouse.