PONDERAY — After years of preparation, the DMV has a new home, and everyone involved couldn’t be happier.
After several days of moving, the staff of the Bonner County Department of Motor Vehicles set up shop in Bonner Mall, officially opening for business Monday morning. Bonner County commissioners Lewis Rich, Cornel Rasor and Mike Nielsen, commissioner-elect Cary Kelly and Ponderay Mayor Carol Kunzeman stopped by the new location to participate in the ribbon-cutting and inspect the new office.
“This looks super, and I think consumers will enjoy it extremely well,” Rich said.
The change will provide a better facility for DMV employees, better parking and a stable presence for a tricky location in Bonner Mall.
However, the move was a long time in coming. According to county assessor Jerry Clemons, department officials realized that they would need a new location several years ago. For one thing, the original facility, located along First Avenue in downtown, had very little parking available.
“There wasn’t even enough for the staff,” Clemons said.
That proved to be problematic for an office that routinely requires the physical presence of a vehicle to verify identification numbers. Furthermore, those wishing to register oversized vehicles like RVs had to find a spot deeper downtown, often requiring staff to walk long distances to help customers. The back parking lot had also shown signs of sinking.
DMV officials began the search for a new location about four years ago after realizing they needed to address the situation, according to Clemons. That’s when they began considering Bonner Mall as a potential location. However, they weren’t able to secure any mall space at that time.
“There were lots of ups and downs over the years — a lot of times where we thought, ‘It’s over. It’s not going to happen,’” Clemons said.
They renewed their efforts in April of this year and found a more receptive situation. The DMV was able to secure a lease in a location that was less desirable for visibility and foot traffic — it had hosted several restaurants that subsequently shut down — but worked perfectly fine for a place people have to visit when they need its services.
“The folks at Bonner Mall have been great to deal with throughout this process,” Clemons said.
At the opening of the new office, county officials praised the DMV staff, particularly department head Darlene Spade, for their persistence and hard work in making the move a reality.
“You moved the mountains necessary to make the commissioners do what was right,” Rasor said.