LUMBERTON — The manager at the new Department of Motor Vehicles, set to open on Oct. 2, is excited to be taking on the job.
“I enjoy public service and that’s a major component of this,” said 25-year-old Tyler Thomas, whose brother Aaron Thomas, part owner of general contracting company Metcon Inc., recently received the contract to operate the DMV at 3467 Lackey St. “Dealing with the public, and providing a service for them, is something I look forward to each day.”
The current DMV, on Chestnut Street in downtown Lumberton, will close on Sept. 28. A man who answered the phone at the office said the family of the late Helen Beasley, who have run the DMV, did not want to comment for this story.
According to a sign on the glass at the new Lackey Street location, $1,200 in renovations are taking place at the 2,043-square-foot building. Thomas says this will include a custom-built counter and bathrooms that meet requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The new office, located on a service road that runs parallel to Interstate 95 between exits 19 and 20, is “very accessible” and offers plenty of parking, Thomas said. The counter will seat five clerks, some of whom will be handling quick transactions such as registration renewals while others will be designated to address processes that may take longer, according to Thomas.
“We want to provide seating for customers, so there will be a waiting area where customers can sit and wait,” he said. “They’ll pull a ticket based on the service they’re waiting for.”
One convenience that customers at the new DMV location will lose is the short trip to the county courthouse that is sometimes required to take care of issues when renewing registration.
Thomas said the faces behind the counter will all be new, as none of the staff at the current location chose to submit applications.
“It was an open hiring process, so they were certainly welcome to apply and we actually did solicit applications, but no one from that office chose to apply,” he said.
Thomas said he has been working with Metcon Inc. in “business development and diversity” but his title will now be manager of a license plate agency.
“I have a public administration background,” he said. “I have a masters of Public Administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and this is essentially privatized public administration where we’re working on the behalf of a state agency.
“That background will help me to understand and comply with all the rules and regulations that the state is entrusting us to administer,” he said.
The contract was recently awarded to Aaron Thomas when a renewal request by Beasley’s children was treated as a new application and not a renewal because the contract was in the name of their late mother, a spokesperson for the state DMV said. The contract had been held by the Beasley family for more than 30 years.
Connie Russ, Lumberton’s downtown development coordinator, said that the owners of the Chestnut Street location have not announced any plans to move another business into the building.
“I’d love to see them do some upgrades or renovations to that building and use it for something else,” she said. “It’s going to be just another empty building downtown, at least for a while.”