November 29, 2018 600 AM
PRESIDIO – The Texas Department of Public Safety driver’s license office in Presidio, which was spared from closure in August of this year, is scheduled to reopen by January 2019.
Earlier this year, the Texas Sunset Advisory Commission had proposed closure of the office as a cost saving measure, but after significant public outcry, they backed off of the decision and decided to keep the office funded.
Although spared from permanent closure, the office has been temporarily closed since August due to insufficient staffing.
According to DPS, “The Presidio and Alpine driver license office hours [were] temporarily adjusted until a new customer service representative is hired to replace the departing employee [who staffs] both offices. The target date to have the new employee in place is January 2019.”
For the meantime, the only option for Presidio residents to obtain or renew their license is to make the 120-mile round-trip from Presidio to Alpine, which requires going through a Border Patrol checkpoint. This means during a crucial time for voters to receive identification required to vote in the November mid-term elections, there were no local services.
According to Presidio Mayor John Ferguson, the DPS has hired Alma Martin out of retirement to staff the Presidio office. Martin worked for DPS for 28 years and had retired in 2016.
Ferguson said, “Alma is currently updating her training by going to Alpine a couple times a week to work herself back into the position. Alma should be able to offer both the drivers test and renewals at this location.”
With voter turnout already lagging in the region, adding to the complexity of acquiring the identification required to cast a ballot can only discourage voter turnout. In the November mid-term elections for Presidio County, only 33 percent of eligible voters went to the polls, and in Brewster and Jeff Davis Counties 56 percent 68 percent, respectively, voted.
The exact location and specific hours of the reopening of the Presidio office are still being finalized, however, Mayor Ferguson said the office would likely be open up to three days a week with regular office hours, 8am to 5pm.
The Presidio City Council will vote this week on whether to make space available in the Presidio Activity Center for the office location. It’s not just Presidio residents who are impacted by the lack of DPS services in the area. The only DPS office available for residents in Marfa, Fort Davis and the surrounding area is also Alpine, and office hours for this location are severely limited. Anyone looking to renew their license or take a driver’s test can only do so in Alpine on Tuesday and Thursday from 9am-3:30pm.
DPS says, “The demand for Texas driver license services continues to significantly increase as the state’s population continues to grow dramatically. The department will continue to work with the Legislature during the upcoming session to obtain the resources needed to meet this growing demand and provide the quality customer service that Texans expect and deserve.”