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The Dummerston satellite office of the Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles has been closed since March 2020.

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Dummerston DMV office could remain closed

Shuttered since March 2020, Windham County’s only office may be a casualty of pandemic

DUMMERSTON—The Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office on Route 5 has been closed since March 2020, when Gov. Phil Scott declared a state of emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

While the state of emergency was lifted June 15 when the state met its vaccination goal, the DMV has issued no word on whether Dummerston and other satellite offices — Middlebury, St. Albans, St. Johnsbury, and White River Junction — will reopen. All have been closed since the pandemic.

The Windham County legislative delegation, led by Rep. Mollie Burke, P/D-Brattleboro, who sits on the House Transportation Committee, and Reps. Mike Mrowicki, D-Putney, and Michelle Bos-Lun, D-Westminster, who both represent Dummerston, are urging the DMV and Gov. Phil Scott to keep the Dummerston office open.

The delegation sent a joint letter last week to Scott and DMV Commissioner Wanda Minoli that made the case for keeping open Dummerston and the other satellite offices.

“Closing the Dummerston office will leave Windham County with no DMV office, requiring travel to another county for basic services related to keeping vehicles properly documented and establishing or maintaining driving privileges,” they wrote.

Only six DMV offices — Bennington, Montpelier, Newport, Rutland, South Burlington, and Springfield — have reopened for in-person appointments. Walk-in service is not yet available.

The DMV made many of its services, such as license renewals, available online or by mail during the pandemic.

However, the county delegation wrote, while some services “were available online, they were limited at best.”

“This was especially true in Windham County, one that is not at all well served with Internet access,” they continued. “Relying on internet services that are widely unavailable still leaves us underserved for access to vital state government services.”

The DMV maintains that increased use of online services reduced demand for in-person services. The agency says it is looking over data gathered before the pandemic to see how much the Dummerston office, and the other four closed offices, were being used.

The agency is expected to make recommendations to the Legislature in the coming weeks on the fate of the closed offices and potential service changes at the ones that are still operating.

But the delegation says it is unconvinced this is necessary.

“Closing DMV satellite offices across Vermont, including the one serving Windham County in Dummerston, does real and lasting harm to Vermonters,” they wrote. “We strongly urge you to stop any further discussion about closing these offices.”

Burke said her committee has not heard anything official from Minoli about the DMV’s planned changes, and she said the delegation is encouraging Windham County residents to write, call, or email Scott to urge him to keep the Dummerson office operating.

“We need those local offices to stay open, or we’ll have to go to Springfield, Rutland, or Montpelier if we need in-person services such as registering a vehicle that needs to have its VIN checked, or for driver’s tests,” Mrowicki warned.

“This proposal makes no sense,” he said. “The state is not in dire economic straits.”

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Originally published in The Commons issue #619 (Wednesday, June 30, 2021). This story appeared on page A1.

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