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With New Hires Pending, Nome and Kotzebue DMV Services in Limbo

A close-up view of two adjacent junked cars in Nome, Alaska
Two junked cars sitting on the landscape near Nome, Alaska. Photo: David Dodman, used with permission.

Since January 16th, the Nome DMV office has been closed after the one full-time employee left their position. According to the website and the posted sign on the office door, the closure will remain in place until further notice.

Marla Thompson, the Director of the Alaska DMV, says the DMV is expecting the Nome office to reopen sooner rather than later.

“We are excited that we have just hired somebody for the Nome position. The last person left on January 15th, and the new person will be trained and ready to reopen the office on February 26th.”

While the local office stays closed until late February, Thompson says services like taking a driver’s test, or getting a new driver’s license, are more difficult or even impossible to do online. The DMV’s solution is to then fly in an employee for about a week, if needed.

“We would serve that office from our Anchorage or from our Fairbanks office. We would find a representative to fly up there and open for a week here and there. Because we understand that those services are necessary, and we’ll try to do anything we can to minimize the time that it’s closed, so we are working really hard to do that.”

Thompson has been in her position for over a year now. Around this time last year, Thompson and the DMV were searching for an alternative agent to run the Kotzebue office. It would seem, according to Thompson, that the search has come to an end.

“We’ve actually worked with the Department of Public Safety, and we have been working with them to hire somebody as a DPS employee. We have somebody in training the first two weeks of February, and they should be open in mid-February. For right now, until their space is ready, they will still be using the old DMV office.”

Right now, the Kotzebue office is opened sporadically, with a representative coming in occasionally from Anchorage to offer services to Kotzebue drivers for a few days at a time. For both the Nome and Kotzebue DMV locations, having problems maintaining regular hours and retaining staff is not new.

Thompson hopes that getting more information out to the public about job openings will help the ongoing hiring challenges at DMV offices.

“You know people come and go, and they have their own lives and what they are going to be doing, so we don’t have a lot of control in that. But we try to talk to our employees about giving us as much notice as they can. It is true that it’s difficult in the smaller offices to let folks know that we have openings.”

If you are looking for the latest or further information about your local DMV office, Thompson suggests checking their Facebook page in addition to calling, or going online to the DMV website.

Image at top: Two junked cars sitting on the landscape near Nome, Alaska. Photo: David Dodman, used with permission.

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