The newly appointed deputy commissioner of public safety asked Pike County supervisors Wednesday for a building to use for a driver’s license bureau until next year.
Keith Davis said the lease of the Summit driver’s license office will expire Aug. 31, and DPS wants an interim location until June 30, 2021, by which time it should have found new space. Davis said DPS has already extended the Summit lease once and doesn’t plan to do so again.
“There’s a bunch of complaints, increasing complaints, regarding parking, trash being left, just overall disruption of other businesses,” Davis said.
DPS plans to put out a request for proposals for a new location in Pike County. He hopes supervisors can provide interim space at no cost.
Davis said the Summit office, which handles driver’s licenses and gun permits, served 2,600 people in December, 3,700 in January and 3,300 in February before COVID-19 shut it down. When it reopened, it handled 2,000 cases in June.
“It’s a vital location, and we in the Department of Public Safety do not want to disrupt those services,” Davis said.
Board president Sam Hall noted that the prior board of supervisors last year offered DPS the old health department building on Highway 51 North, Magnolia, which is still vacant.
Davis said DPS turned it down because it’s too close to a school since DPS’ customers include sex offenders, raising concerns about the safety of children.
However, Davis could not say why the health department was able to operate there, likewise the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks headquarters across the highway or the county central repair office nearby, both of which serve the general public.
Lt. Col Ken Brown said the new interim space needs to be bigger than the current space, with six work stations instead of four and roughly 2,000 square feet.
Supervisor Robert Accardo suggested DPS look at Edgewood Mall, which has vacant space, and where the driver’s license office used to be located.
Davis said the mall is welcome to submit a proposal for future headquarters, but for now he’s hoping for free space provided by the county as a “stopgap.”
Supervisors referred him to Pike County Economic Development District Director Jill Busby.
Davis then fielded complaints about the driver’s license bureau.
“We are getting hammered right now about the long lines in Summit,” Accardo said.
“The concealed carry permits are expiring. It’s almost impossible to get up to Brookhaven to get those things renewed.”
Davis said all state licenses and permits have been extended to Aug. 15 per executive order. In the meantime, 8 to 10 a.m. Wednesdays are reserved for senior citizens and the rest of the day for gun permits at the Summit office.
“We’re looking at every possible avenue (to improve),” Davis said, including plans to offer more services online.