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2012-10-18

Makin' 'getting' outta Dodge' easy

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

For those needing to get out of Dodge, or even Bandera, ASAP - perhaps to a country without an extradition treaty with the United States - but find themselves sans passport, there's no need to worry. District Clerk Tammy Kneuper and her amenable staff can fix anybody right up.
One of Bandera's best-kept secrets is that applications for United States Book Passports, as well as for US Passport Cards, can be processed at Kneuper's office in the Bandera County Justice Center. And, not only that, but her capable Bandera County employees apparently process those applications better that anyone else in similar facilities throughout the Lone Star State.
Kneuper and her crew recently received a letter of commendation from the Houston Passport Agency for receiving excellent marks during a Acceptance Facility Oversight (AFO) Program audit. The audit was conducted at the behest of the United States Department of Justice, according to Kneuper.
As Beth Pompano, customer service manager, wrote in an email, "In reviewing the Acceptance Facility Oversight (AFO) report, we found your facility not only provides exceptional service to the traveling public, but that your acceptance agents also have created a standard of excellence that we would like to see across all acceptance facilities."
Pompano continued, "The Bandera County District Clerk, during the recent AFO visit, achieved a perfect review which means that your facility is doing everything correctly when it comes to passport service and follows the rules-regulations set for the PARG (Passport Agent's Reference Guide)."
Kneuper brought the laudatory email to the attention of Bandera County Commissioners at their Sept. 29 meeting. "This was apparently the first time a passport facility has ever achieved a perfect mark," she told commissioners. "I have to give full credit to my excellent staff for doing everything correctly."
The PARG audit covered such items as submitted photographs meeting all requirements; whether agents collected appropriate evidence of US citizenship from the customer; if agents administered the required oath; whether the agents assembled the application in the appropriate order and sealed the executed application corrected; and was the customer afforded sufficient space when filling out the application to maintain privacy, among other considerations.
To apply for a passport, a person must have proof of citizenship in the form of a certified copy of a birth certificate, previous United States passport or naturalization or citizenship certificate; one recent photograph; identification in the form of a valid driver's license or state-issued ID card with photo; professional employee identification card; federal, state or municipal government employee identification card; or student identification card from high school or college.
Parents must accompany minors who do not have a state-issued ID. In that case, a driver's license belonging to one of the parents will suffice as identification for the minor.
Bandera County receives $25 from fees charged for processing a passport application - except for adults who renew their passports. Fees for passport books include:
• Adult, age 16 years and over, first time application, $135
• Adult passport renewals, $110
• Minor, $105
Fees for optional services include file search fee, $150; expedited process, $60; overnight deliver return fee, $12.72; and expedited overnight deliver return fee, $18.95.
Kneuper's office also processes US Passport Cards.
So, those who need proper documentation to "get outta Dodge" are advised to visit Kneuper and her crew at the district clerk's office - aka "The Best Little Passport Office in Texas." And advice for those in a real hurry: "Quit bellyaching and spring for the expedited fees already!"