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Senator: New DMV office is coming

March 10, 2004|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

Charles Town, W.Va. - A push for Jefferson County to get a Division of Motor Vehicles office has been going on for years, and on Tuesday Sen. Herb Snyder predicted it is about to become reality.

A Berkeley County delegate, however, said he was unaware of any such plan and Del. John Doyle said he was "cautiously optimistic" the idea would be approved by lawmakers.

Local and state officials have been working to get a separate DMV office for Jefferson County residents so they will not have to drive to the DMV office in Martinsburg, W.Va., for driver's testing and business related to their cars such as titling and registration.

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The DMV office on Edwin Miller Boulevard in Martinsburg is the second busiest DMV office in the state, with nearly 4,000 transactions a week, Snyder said in a news release.

A Jefferson County office would reduce the workload of the Martinsburg office by about 25 percent to 35 percent, Snyder said.

On Tuesday, Snyder, D-Jefferson, said in the news release that the proposal for a Jefferson County DMV office has been included in the Senate's 2005 budget. Snyder said he expects the House of Delegates to concur.

When contacted Tuesday night, Del. Craig Blair, R-Berkeley, said he did not know anything about the plan. Blair checked with some of his colleagues who were with him and they were not aware of it either.

Doyle said he knew about Snyder's press release announcing the project but he did not know if the proposal would be included in the House of Delegates budget.

What is important is how the budget conference committee reacts to the proposal, Doyle said.

The budget conference committee is made up of six House members and six Senate members who formulate the state budget, Doyle said. Doyle is a member of the committee.

The budget conference committee meets next week and Doyle said he was "cautiously optimistic" the DMV office would be approved.

Snyder said in a telephone interview Tuesday he was "99 percent sure" the new DMV office would become a reality because members of the legislative leadership have told him they support it.

A state DMV official said Tuesday he didn't believe Snyder would put out such a press release unless he felt the proposal "pretty much had everyone's blessing."

State officials could come to Jefferson County within the next few weeks to look for a possible site for the office, said Glenn Pauley, who oversees regional DMV offices in the state such as the one in Martinsburg. A DMV office in Jefferson County could be open by the end of summer, Pauley said.

It could be in an existing building or a new one, Pauley said.

If a new building were to be built, DMV officials would find someone to construct the building and lease it from them, Pauley said.

The building would have to be between 6,000 and 8,000 square feet, Pauley said. A driver's testing course would not be part of the center, Pauley said. Driver's testing can be conducted on local roads, he said.

The office would include an area of about 80 feet by 120 feet which would be used for motorcycle driving tests, Pauley said.

Snyder, who said the office would cost about $505,000 to establish, could be in the Burr Industrial Park in Bardane, W.Va., or along the Charles Town bypass.

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