Houston County Courier - Local News
Stories Added - August 2009
Copyright 2009 - Polk County Publishing Company
License plate gets a new look
Houston County Courier - August 2009
AUSTIN – It was on Tuesday, June 2 that eight-year-old John Thomsett of Gilmer joined Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) officials on to announce that the colorful new general-issue license plate, Lone Star Texas, was about to hit Texas' roadways.
TxDOT shipped the new general-issue plates to the 254 county tax offices statewide.
In February 2008, John and his classmates at Gilmer Elementary School helped to choose the Lone Star Texas design as part of TxDOT's first online vote for a new general-issue license plate.
Texans chose the Lone Star Texas plate from five different designs. The plate design received 455,878 of the more than 1.1 million Texans votes.
The Texas Transportation Commission, which by law must approve the state's general-issue plate, unanimously agreed with online voters and approved the plate on Feb. 28, 2008.
The opportunity for a new general-issue license presented itself when the agency realized it was going to run out of the six-character plate patterns.
The new general-issue plate features seven-character license plate numbers.
It also is the state's first digitally-produced and full color general-issue license plate.
The Lone Star Texas design features clouds in a blue Texas sky and brushes of red and blue with the familiar Lone Star in white. The plate also features the Davis mountain range.
The digital process creates a more environmentally-friendly plate, eliminating the need for 484 gallons of paint thinners and 396 gallons of ink annually, and the energy needed to power huge ovens that dried the plate ink.
The factory at the state prison in Huntsville, where the license plates are manufactured, was retooled and outfitted with new equipment for digital production.
"We are asking Texans to join us in our concern for the environment by not rushing down to their local county tax office to purchase this plate," said Rebecca Davio, director of TxDOT's Vehicle Titles and Registration Division, which oversees the manufacturing of the state's plates.
"Our plates are made of recyclable aluminum but if everyone decides to run out for the new plate then good plates will be wasted."
Texans eligible for the new license plate will be those that purchase a new vehicle, and those whose license plates are seven years old, the mandatory time when plates are replaced because they begin to lose their safety reflectivity.
There are more than 21 million registered vehicles in Texas and the majority of them have general-issue license plates.
License plates are a part of "Put Texas in your corner," the vehicle registration process that includes annual renewal of the registration sticker.
Since 1917, the Texas Department of Transportation has been responsible for the state's license plates.
The familiar old general issue plate, first issued in 2000, will continue to be valid and will be phased out over the next several years.
The last of these plates was manufactured in early 2009 and the design should be fully phased out by 2016.
The plate was the first in Texas to use three colors and the last to be stamped raised letter and use only six characters.