Driver’s Exam office expected to stay

The county’s driver’s exam office isn’t expected to move back to its location adjacent to the license bureau or title department on South Blackhoof Street any time soon.
The office’s lease, which expired Thursday, has not been renewed.
Lt. Goldie Jackson of the Ohio State Highway Patrol said no action has been taken because the state is conducting a comprehensive review of every driver’s exam office in the state to determine what decisions make the most sense financially, as well as offer the most efficiency and best serve customers.
“We’re holding on making a decision now,” Jackson said, noting that he had no idea of a time frame for when a decision could be made. “Once the report is done we will move forward. We have no intention to renew the lease at this point.”
For more than a month the county’s driver’s exam office has been relocated to space in the Wapakoneta Post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol. Open two days a week — Tuesday and Wednesday — at the building on Wapak-Fisher Road, Jackson said things have been going well with the full-service office located there.
“We hope they would still consider coming back, maintaining the one-stop effect,” Auglaize County Administrator Joe Lenhart said of the driver’s exam office’s former location in the county building.
“It makes it nice for all the county residents to have a one-stop center,” Lenhart said of the three offices centered around vehicle licenses and titles being located in the same building.
He said they also would like the Highway Patrol to look at the space they had rented for many years since its been remodeled, something done at their request.
The Auglaize County commissioners approved more than $15,000 in repairs and remodeling to be made to the space rented by the state for the office at a rate of $544 per month.
Improvements included removing carpet and reflooring both the driver’s exam office and the license bureau with tile, tearing down a partial wall, painting, installing two new doors to the north and to the west, and replacing all small windows along the back of the entire length of the building.
“The work needed to be done to make it a viable office space,” Lenhart said. “We hope they would come look at it and see the improvements that have been made.
“We hope the powers that be in the state of Ohio see that the county went above and beyond what was asked and we hope that the office can come back,” he said.
Heather O’Meara, the district driver’s exam supervisor for the Highway Patrol, said when the office moved to the local post’s front conference room in May that it was meant to be a temporary situation, but the state remains in a budget crunch. The state’s $56 billion budget was signed by Gov. John Kasich Thursday.
“We felt the community needs something here now, so we moved forward,” O’Meara said.