A part-time Department of Driver Services office is due to open this summer in Trenton, Ga.
That means Dade County residents won't have to trek as far as 43 miles, one-way, across Lookout Mountain to renew their licenses at what is now the closest office in Rock Spring.
"Everybody in the county's going to be tickled with it," said Nelson Hartline, who owns Impressions Hair Salon in Trenton. Customers have been talking about the license office, he said, and "it's all been positive."
County Executive Ted Rumley said the Department of Driver Services will move into an old courtroom at the county Justice Building at 75 Case Ave., probably in June or July. The county will rent the space for a nominal fee, he said, likely $1 a year.
"We've done a handshake agreement," Rumley said. "We've been working on this probably for a year."
Residents haven't been happy about driving to Rock Spring, Rumley said, especially since the state stepped up requirements in July to get a "secure" Georgia license. Georgians now have to renew licenses in person, not online, and bring at least four documents from an approved list.
"You've got to start all over and prove you were even born," Rumley said.
To make the county's case for its own driver license office, Rumley got former Department of Driver Services Commissioner Greg Dozier to take the 43-mile drive from the edge of Sand Mountain in Dade County to the Rock Spring license office.
"We kind of pled our case," Rumley said. "I had the commissioner come out and drive."
Department of Driver Services spokeswoman Susan Sports said, "Our goal is to do our best not to have our customers traveling longer than 30 minutes to get licensing service."
Up until about 2003, the Department of Driver Services set up a traveling office about twice a month in Dade County, Rumley said. That office went away because of state budget cuts, he said.
The Southeast Lineman Training Center, a vocational school in Trenton that teaches students from around the country how to install power lines, wanted a Trenton driver's license office, Rumley said, because its students get commercial driver's licenses.
"They're having to travel all the way to Dalton to do that," he said.
Tim Omarzu covers education for the Times Free Press. Omarzu is a longtime journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor at daily and weekly newspapers in Michigan, Nevada and California.