First Posted: 2/2/2009
Mount Airy has been without a Division of Motor Vehicles license plate office for four months, and a DMV representative said on Monday there is still no timetable for when a new office will be open.
The previous office, at 449 N. Andy Griffith Parkway in the 52 Thruway Shopping Center, closed on Sept. 29, 2008, with the retirement of Ruth Hawks, who had operated the office for more than 30 years.
North Carolinas license plate offices are not state agencies, but instead are owned by independent contractors hired by the state. When Hawks announced her retirement in July, giving the required 60-day notice, the DMV said it could be three months or more before a new contractor was named.
We are continuing to work on getting a plate agency re-established in Mount Airy, said Marge Howell, a representative of the DMV in Raleigh. We do not yet have a signed contract … it is moving ahead.
She said 27 people or businesses applied for the Mount Airy contract. The DMV, she said, reviews all the applications, then calls in the top applicants for interviews.
They look at things like their business background, their customer service record, they look at their financial responsibility, all of these things together determine whether this is a potential contractor they would like to call in for an interview, she said.
Once a contractor is approved, she said the winning applicant has to find a location, hire a staff and undergo training. Typically, it takes several months, it can take up to six or seven months.
For Mount Airy residents needing the service, that has meant a trip to Dobson, where people have reported lines that sometimes keep them waiting a half-hour or more.
In past interviews, Lana Brendle, contract agent at the Dobson office, has said business picked up significantly at her office in the days after the Mount Airy closing, but had slowed by the end of December. On Monday, she declined to comment.
Contact John Peters at [email protected] or 719-1931.