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The state of Wisconsin first required motor vehicle registrations that included displaying license plates way back in 1905, according to Wikipedia, the all-knowing online encyclopedia. 

Today, vehicle registrations and plates are handled by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, Division of Motor Vehicles. Plates measure 12 inches by 6 inches, are made of aluminum, and going back to June 2000, the format is three random letters and four random numbers, along the lines of ABC 1234.

From 1905 to 1911, Wisconsin’s plate design was a riveted serial number on a black plate, such as 32W, with “W” referencing Wisconsin. The serial format was 12345-W and ranged from 1-W to 21983-W. Does the long-lost 1-W still exist in the corner of an old barn? 

Riveted numbers were replaced by the first series of embossed numbers in 1914. In 1940, “America’s Dairyland” slogan was introduced, and in 1986, new graphics included a sailboat and sunset, flying geese, and a farm scene. The slogan and graphics still exist. 

Like other states, vanity or personalized plates are available in Wisconsin, subject to certain standards. WisDOT may refuse to issue, or may recall after issuance, a request that may be offensive to good taste or decency, misleading or conflicts with any other license plate. 

They come with a price. A $15 personalized plate fee is required each year in addition to the regular annual registration fee. Motorcycles and farm trucks, which are renewed biennially, cost an additional $15 for each year of registration.

WisDOT offers a search site to find out if personalized license plates are available at trust.dot.state.wi.us/ppup/searchPlate.do.

Bad news. Both BIGFAN and XCUZME are not available. Good news. LUVAR12 (Aaron Rodgers #12), GO-CHZ, CHZ-EATR, and FISHFRY are available. 

A vehicle was recently spotted in Wisconsin’s St. Croix Valley. Its plates read, THX VETS. Seven letters say it all. As Veterans Day nears, THX VETS is particularly meaningful. Veterans Day is a federal holiday observed on Nov. 11 each year to honor military vets. It coincides with other holidays around the globe marking the end of major fighting in World War I. THX VETS.

“Don’t forget: hire a vet” was a public service announcement from 1965 to 1980. The message is now Hire Heroes. Employment assistance is the No. 1 requested service from military members transitioning to civilian life. Hire Heroes USA is an example of a nonprofit veteran employment service organization. It provides assistance to thousands of veterans and spouses each year. 

Wisconsin counties have a fully staffed Veteran Service Office which can help determine if a veteran or a veteran’s family may qualify for local, state, and federal benefits. Veteran Service Office staff may be a friendly voice or face veterans are looking for. It could start with coffee and a conversation. 

Employers large and small continue to look for hard-working associates to hire. Veterans served our country. They can serve business and industry, too. Veterans make great employees. Hire Heroes.

Look for the vehicle with special plates in the St. Croix Valley. Today and especially tomorrow on Nov. 11, THX VETS, 3X.

Bill Rubin is executive director of the St. Croix Economic Development Corporation.

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