Madison County closer to opening DPS facility

By NIKKI ROWELL,

Madison County and Department of Public Safety (DPS) officials have identified a place suitable to potentially serve as the site of a DPS driver’s license facility in the county, which could service approximately 250 people each day.

The 9,200-square-foot building would cost the county $3.1 million and would be constructed near the Emergency Management Complex in Canton.

County Administrator Shelton Vance said he has been working with DPS officials since November 2018 to design a building suitable, by DPS standards, for the driver’s license facility.

As of March 18, the board of supervisors has instructed Vance to move forward with negotiating an occupancy agreement with the agency and obtain construction drawings. The board also passed a resolution of support for a DPS licensing station in Canton.

Danny Lee, from the county building and grounds department, and Vance have met with several real estate professionals and building owners from the area.

They also toured several buildings around Canton and met DPS officials to walk through those buildings.

After much searching, they identified the vocational education building near the Emergency Management Complex as being suitable to meet all of the DPS requirements.

However, the building would have to be completely renovated, which they discovered would cost nearly the same as tearing the building down and starting from scratch.

“Originally, we looked at this building and determined that the repairs and remodeling to this building would cost a significantly similar amount as constructing a new building,” Vance said to the board of supervisors last week. “So, the plan at this point would be to remove that old vocational building and put in a roughly 9,200-square-foot building to use as the DPS building.”

Vance said he worked with DPS to establish their preferred floor plan for the most efficient use of the space.

“The current estimate for site prep and construction is $3.1 million,” Vance said. “I expect the architect’s finally negotiated contract to be presented with a slightly lower percentage than what was discussed Monday.”

The building would have space for a gun permit issuance office, as well as potential for commercial driver’s licenses, according to Vance.

“Having this many people coming into this location would be a great economic asset to the county,” said District Four Supervisor David Bishop. “Second, I don’t know how many people have been to Jackson to get their license renewed, but it’s a two, three, four-hour event. This would be a great asset to Madison County.”

Bishop added that it would be “helpful to the folks here” and asked that the board move forward with the project, which would attract people from surrounding counties.

The county will commit funds up to $3.1 million for the project and will not seek to collect rent from DPS.

“In this resolution, the board expressed an interest in having a staffing commitment from DPS,” Vance said.

There was much discussion among the supervisors of requiring that DPS fully staff the facility.

The next step will be to have an architect draw up construction plans. Vance said that they will next establish a contract with Dale and Associates for 6.78 percent of the construction cost, if an agreement is made.

Once the plans are in place, the county will advertise for construction.

At this time, no elements of an agreement have been finalized, according to Vance.

As for why the county wants to open a DPS driver’s license location in Madison County, Vance said the county is working for the benefit of the residents.

“Many counties work to provide a location for DPS. The primary benefit to any county is to provide a convenient avenue for citizens to obtain state-required licenses,” Vance said. “The county will not directly benefit, but the citizens will have a convenient location to interact with DPS. I would also expect area businesses to benefit from increased traffic.”

 

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