By Danza Johnson/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – The Mississippi Highway Patrol Driver Services office opened in its new location this week, but the former landlord isn’t sure why it moved in the first place.
The Highway Patrol announced last week that it was moving the driver’s license office from the Tupelo Furniture Market in west Tupelo to downtown on 635 Daybrite Drive.
MHP’s lease with the Tupelo Furniture Market was up in February, but Furniture Market owner and CEO V.M. Cleveland said he doesn’t think MHP moved just because it was up.
Cleveland said the rent rate was not going up and was well under the rent rate for a state office.
The current rent and the previous rent prices are unknown.
Department of Public Safety spokesman Jon Kalahar said the new space was put up for bid and the new location posted the lowest bid.
Cleveland said his bid was never read because it was sent back to his office unopened. He said he was told that it was sent in a day after the deadline.
Cleveland said he initially faxed his bid. Then he mailed a hard copy on Jan. 4. The bid close date was Jan. 5. He said the letter was received on Jan. 7 and then sent back.
“We were just as shocked as anyone about the move,” said Cleveland. “The rent was the same and they had plenty of room to conduct commercial driver’s license tests, so that couldn’t have been the problem. I don’t know what the reasoning is behind it. Maybe it was because of the trade shows that we host.”
The Furniture Market hosts two major trade shows a year, along with a monthly flea market, gun and knife shows and other events. Much of the parking lot is full on Fridays during those events, but Cleveland said there was still adequate room to conduct testing.
Trooper Ray Hall said he was not sure why the decision was made to move to Daybrite, but did say the new location offers a larger area for commercial driving tests.
Cleveland said he enjoyed having the MHP offices at the Furniture Market and thought they were good neighbors.
“When you have patrol cars in your parking lot,” he said, “things are less likely to walk off.”
Contact Danza Johnson at (662) 678-1583 or firstname.lastname@example.org.