By Jill Penley
Citizens in rural areas tend to get frustrated when services become unavailable or inaccessible.
In the past, Johnson Countians had their own unemployment office. Representatives from the State Department of Safety came to town frequently to conduct driver’s license exams, and issue licenses and workers from the Social Security Administration assisted locals individually in Mountain City. Unfortunately, that was in the past.
The local County Clerk’s office, however, continues to participate in several optional services to assist Johnson Countians and increase convenience.
“We can now renew handgun carry permits in our office,” said Johnson County Clerk Tammie Fenner. “County clerks from around the region received training to become qualified through homeland security to handle renewals.” Fenner indicates handgun permit renewals can also be obtained online, but that’s not an option for everyone.
“In Tennessee, permits are issued at Department of Safety facilities,” said Fenner, “but our closest Department of Safety or driver’s license office is a 40-mile drive to Elizabethton, so we were pleased when this opportunity arose.”
The new renewal services being offered are a result of Public Chapter 109 passed by the Tennessee General Assembly. “We appreciate the opportunity to partner with the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security in being able to offer this convenient service,” Fenner said. “We are excited to offer this service to our customers.”
The local service is for renewals only. New permit applications will still need to go through a Department of Safety office.
Fenner and other clerks are also training to offer new Real ID driver’s licenses, another extra benefit for residents of rural counties. “A Real ID credential is optional and allows one to continue to fly domestically and access certain federal facilities,” explained Fenner. “After October 1, 2020, it’ll be harder to fly on a commercial airliner, enter a federal office or get into a nuclear plant without it.”