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State searching for license office replacement

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Staff Writer

THAYER -- Officials with the Missouri Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) said last week they do not have a replacement for Dick Richardson, who served as the contracted license fee agent at the Thayer license fee office.

"Our director, Trish Vincent, has made it her priority to re-open all the license fee offices in the state that have been closed; Thayer is no exception," said DMV official Jessica Robinson.

March 1 was Richardson's last day at the office. DMV employees were in Thayer March 2 to pick up office items that belonged to the state and shut down the office. A notice was placed on the office door that said anyone needing to make a vehicle transaction should do so at one of the other area office and listed the offices of Alton, West Plains, Gainsville and Doniphan. The notice gave the locations of the four offices and when they are open. The notice also said it is not known when the Thayer office will re-open.

The office closed after the resignation of Richardson, who has served the office since April 2003. Richardson was not offered a new contract and has said he would not have accepted the position anyway because of changes in the contract.

"The changes are improvements to the contracts and will allow the local offices to run more efficiently and at the same time offer better customer service," Robinson said.

Robinson said her office does not want service at the Thayer office to be interrupted for a long period of time. She said it is a step-by-step process to replace Richardson.

Thayer Mayor Allen Deckard said he does not like the way the closure of the Thayer office was handled. "I heard rumors the office might be closing and figured the city would receive word from the state telling us what was going on," the mayor said. "We never heard a word. All I know is what I read in The South Missourian News, what the note on the office door says and what state Rep. Mike Dethrow told me," Deckard said.

The mayor said Dethrow told him the governor did make a statement that no not-for-profit organizations would be taking over the license fee offices in the state. At one time it was rumored the Thayer Chamber of Commerce was interested in running the local license fee office.

Thayer Chamber President Jim Hart said the chamber had tried to gain the office as a not-for-profit organization and hire Richardson as the office manager. "Since that time Dick has resigned and we haven't heard anything from the state as far as obtaining the office. The last time I talked to the state they had not awarded the contract yet," the chamber president said.

The mayor said he had also heard that Thayer business owner Gletta Clark was interested in the Thayer license fee position. Clark and her husband, Ron, own and operate Cars Inc. on Highway 63 just north of Thayer. Clark confirmed March 3 that she was interested in the position. She said she had seen a contract and the contract was fine with her. "I have not heard anything official from the state," Clark said.

Mayor Deckard said he has seen a copy of the new contracts and there is no way he would be interested in the office.

"We have so many senior citizens in our community, I would say at least 60 percent or more, and most of them drive. This is a real inconvenience to the residents of our city. What the governor needs to understand is that these are his people, too," Deckard said.

Deckard said DMV official Lynn Bister said Feb. 25 that if Thayer City Hall had not heard from the DMV in 14 days to write a letter to the governor explaining the situation. Deckard said his office would be doing just that.

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