Michelle Cox votes for Derby as the new location for a second driver’s license station announced Wednesday for Sedgwick County.
As she waited in line at the only station in the county, nestled in the basement of Twin Lakes Shopping Center at 21st and Amidon in north Wichita, Cox said it was about time people had another place to renew a driver’s license.
“Derby would be a really good place,” she said.
The Kansas Department of Revenue is being mum about it, but Sedgwick County Treasurer Linda Kizzire said a second station is in the works, most likely in the southern part of the county.
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Long wait times have plagued the Twin Lakes station, and residents have complained about missing work because of long lines. The lines in Wichita are a combination of a normal summer increase in traffic due to new teen drivers, and concealed-carry license traffic, which has more than doubled this year, according to state revenue department spokeswoman Jeannine Koranda.
A second station should shorten wait times, Kizzire said. Her office operates the county’s tag offices, where people title and register their vehicles, but the driver’s license station is operated by the state.
“I am so very pleased that they are going to open a second office,” Kizzire told county commissioners Wednesday.
Kizzire said she did not have any more details to share about when or where the station could open.
Koranda didn’t answer questions about the cost of the proposed second office or when and where it would open. The state also is adding staff at the Andover office, Koranda said.
“It's part of our ongoing efforts to improve customer service in the state, just like opening the Wichita office on Mondays to handle increased summer traffic,” she said in an e-mail. “This is still in the planning process, so that is all we have to say.”
Kizzire showed The Eagle a flier advertising jobs for a new driver’s license station in Sedgwick County.
Although details are few, “this is about the best news I’ve heard in a while from the state,” Sedgwick County Commissioner Jim Skelton said.
He also votes for Derby, which is in his district.
“It’s a good place for it,” Skelton said. “We have a tag office there. I think it would be logical since the treasurer has a facility there, maybe the state can go in to close proximity to that. People could utilize both facilities at the same time.”
Skelton said he recently renewed his license and got a new handicapped-accessible sticker for his truck in Newton, hoping to avoid the wait times in Wichita. He said a friend tipped him off that the wait in Newton was short.
“I was in and out in 30 minutes,” he said.
Skelton said he has heard complaints from constituents who think the county runs the driver’s license office.
Jennifer Arehart, who moved recently to Wichita from Nebraska, had been waiting to get a Kansas driver’s license since about 12:50 p.m. Wednesday. She was still there at 3:15 p.m.
“I was already kind of warned by people,” she said. “Where I came from, we just walked in and walked out.”
Arehart said no one told her about the text messaging option to reserve a spot in line until she’d been there a while.
“That would have been nice to know about an hour or two ago,” she said.
She opted to stay put because the messaging system said her wait was about 14 minutes.
Melissa Hawken of Wichita spent a good chunk of Wednesday helping her daughter get a learner’s permit.
She said she signed in via the texting service about 9 a.m. Wednesday and was told there would be a four-hour wait. Then she got a text, she said, that the wait was about an hour. Then a rapid succession of texts appeared, she said, that didn’t give her enough time to get back in line.
“You don’t get them in the appropriate order,” she said.
Hawken came back to the driver’s license station and then learned that the documentation she carried wasn’t sufficient to get a permit. She said a staff member had told her earlier that the documentation would be acceptable. Hawken said she ran home again to get her daughter’s birth certificate.
“She’s testing right now,” Hawken said of her daughter.
They’d been back in line about 45 minutes by 3:15 p.m.
Hawken said she was fortunate that she didn’t have to take off work for the time-consuming errand. She said she doesn’t work during the summer.
Cox had been waiting only briefly to renew her license Wednesday. Workers told her the wait would be more than an hour. It had been four hours earlier in the day, staff told her, she said.