Mackinac Bridge license plate wins annual ‘world’s best’ award

Mackinac Bridge license plate wins annual ‘world’s best’ award

From MLive

LANSING – The state of Michigan’s Mackinac Bridge license plate was voted the world’s best new plate by the Automobile License Plate Collectors Association today.

First issued last August, the plate features the bridge against a sunrise sky and gives residents the opportunity to celebrate one of the Great Lakes State’s greatest assets — an engineering marvel that connects the upper and lower peninsulas.

“We’re delighted that ALPCA has honored Michigan with its plate of the year award,” Secretary of State Ruth Johnson said in a statement. “The Mackinac Bridge is a spectacular example of the many things that make our state such a special place.

Pure_Michigan_Mackinac_Bridge_plate.jpgThe Mackinac Bridge license plate was named the Automobile License Plate Collectors Association’s world’s best new plate award.MLive File Photo

“It represents what we call ‘Pure Michigan,’ and when people see it on our vehicles, we hope they will consider it an invitation to come and explore the Great Lakes State.”

The plate was among 12 finalists and is the second Michigan plate to win the annual award. Michigan’s red, white, and blue bicentennial plate won the honor in 1976.

“I knew it had an excellent chance of winning the moment I first saw it,” said Gus Oliver, ALPCA’s Best Plate Award coordinator.

The plate was designed by Lansing native Brian Whitfield, a graphic artist with the Michigan Department of Transportation.

“It was a surprise,” said Whitfield, who has been with MDOT since 1995. “It’s exciting to see the plate out on the road and every month I see more and more cars with it. That, in and of itself, is kind of thrilling.

“Then when they say it’s won some kind of national and international recognition, it heightens that even more.”

Whitfield said that he had been working with the Mackinac Bridge Authority in coming up with designs. Since the Mackinac Bridge plate debuted last summer, more than 112,000 have been sold.

“One of the layouts was a colorful sunrise,” he said. “So I started developing various plates using that type of scene and we picked one and developed the idea of using bright colors instead of the kind of muted ones of the past.”

Whitfield grew up on the city’s west side and graduated from Sexton High School before attending the Kendall College of Art and Design in Grand Rapids. He eventually received his Master’s degree in Fine Arts from the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore.

“I’ve always done art since I was a little kid,” he said. “My mother said I used to play with my food and make things out of it. It’s kind of natural for me.”

Whitfield has previously won awards for his design of the state map for MDOT and for designing a kid’s coloring book for the Mackinac Bridge’s 50th Anniversary. He said that people have asked him to draw things for them for years and he became interested in graphic design at a time when things were still drawn largely by hand.

“I didn’t know how to even turn on a computer,” Whitfield said. “I just jumped into it, and I had the graphic skills so it just kind of progressed from there. I haven’t had a dull moment since.”

Secretary of State Ruth Johnson Announces New Technology to Reduce Waiting Time

Secretary of State Ruth Johnson Announces New Technology to Reduce Waiting Time

From WWJ / CBS Detroit

It’s good news for Michigan motorists who are tired of waiting in long lines at the Secretary of State office.

A new service will be available to motorists seeking service at Michigan’s 10 busiest SOS offices in coming weeks. Flint and Lansing-area SUPER!Centers are already using the new MI-TIME-Line technology. Other SOS offices that will be among the first to use MI-TIME-Line include: Clinton Township, Detroit, Livonia and Pontiac.

According to the Secretary of State’s office, offices in Southfield, Taylor and Troy will also receive the service which enables customers to place their names into a virtual que by using their smart phone, laptop, home computer or land line.

They’ll be notified as their name approaches the front of the line that it’s time to head into their local SOS office for service.

“That way you’ll know exactly how long you’ll have to wait so you won’t have to wait in line,” explained Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson, who introduced the new service Wednesday during a news conference at the 2014 North American International Auto Show.

Use of the MI-TIME-Line technology allows customers to do things like run errands or pick-up the kids from school instead of waiting for an hour or more in line, Johnson said.

Find more information about MI-TIME-Line at this link.

Check out at libraries

Check out at libraries

From the Macomb Daily

There is something new to check out at your favorite library: online, no-wait Secretary of State.

Its official name is ExpressSOS CONNECT – Libraries.

Thanks to a partnership between the Michigan Secretary of State’s office and local libraries, computer users at libraries can access Secretary of State services, including license tab and driver’s license or ID card renewals, submit address changes, obtain copies of vehicle title and/or registration, and even sign up to be an organ donor. All they have to do is visit

At the Sterling Heights Public Library on Wednesday, Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson joined local and state library officials to announce the partnership. She stressed the convenience aspect of the service that enables residents to do their transactions online at libraries instead of traveling to Secretary of State branch offices and possibly waiting in line (especially in light of a 25 percent decrease in staff size in recent years).

The project should prove especially helpful to the approximately 25 percent of residents who don’t have home Internet service and/or printers, she said.

“Our libraries – 660 public and 88 non-public (academic) in the state – are the heart of their communities and there is no institution better at connecting people with the information they want and need,” Johnson said.

According to the Michigan Public Libraries Data Digest, Michigan residents made 56 million visits to their local libraries last year. Approximately 13 million used the available 11,229 public computers in Michigan libraries to do everything from search for a job to plan a vacation or shop. The Sterling Heights Public Library alone recorded more than 352,000 visitors during the last fiscal year.

In 2012, state residents also borrowed 1 million books, CDs, DVDs, and audiobooks through MeLCat.

Although library personnel will be there to offer some assistance for, patrons also can get detailed help from customer service representatives at the Department of State Information Center using a toll-free telephone number, 888-767-6424 available between 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday. is a free service, but those who use it at libraries do have to pay for whatever documents they print using the library equipment.

“We’re excited about this partnership,” said Larry Neal, Clinton-Macomb Public Library director and president-elect of the national Public Library Association. “It’s a well-appreciated service because of the Internet access and for those who don’t have a computer or printer at home.”

Johnson added, “Libraries are open at night and on weekends, so their users can access critical online services,” Johnson said. “We’re hoping as many people as possible consider going online at instead of waiting in line.”

Secretary of State Johnson named to Detroit Economic Club Board of Directors

Secretary of State Johnson named to Detroit Economic Club Board of Directors

DETROIT – Secretary of State Ruth Johnson has been named to the Detroit Economic Club board of directors.


“It is a great honor to be named to the board of the Detroit Economic Club,” Johnson said. “The DEC is a highly regarded institution for the exchange of ideas and policies that help shape our state and our world. I am pleased for the opportunity to join with its exceptional leadership team in continuing this important mission.”

Johnson said she looks forward to collaborating with some of the state’s most well-respected and successful business leaders as she continues her work reshaping and improving Michigan Secretary of State operations. Continue reading

Johnson completes 7 mile kayak trip

Johnson completes 7 mile kayak trip

MACKINAW CITY, Mich. –  Ruth Johnson, wet but smiling, pulled into the MKayakinacn-mile kayaking trip from Mackinac Island. She made the trip to promote the Secretary of State office’s online services at

Johnson, who earlier this month rode a Harley-Davidson motorcycle to promote motorcycle safety, said she wanted to do something unusual to draw attention to so she decided to take her personal 18-foot Hobie Cat kayak, which is also outfitted with a sail, on the trip.

“I feel great – this is a Pure Michigan moment against a beautiful backdrop at the start of the summer season!” said Johnson who was met with cheers as she pulled into the dock after the trip. “Our state has so much to offer – the Great Lakes, magnificent state parks and jewels like Mackinac Island.”

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Secretary of State Ruth Johnson talks improvements

Secretary of State Ruth Johnson talks improvements

Secretary of State Ruth Johnson announced at the Sterling Heights Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s Spring Business Expo and Luncheon on May 22 that Michigan residents can renew their driver’s licenses while wearing nothing more than a pair of underwear.

Johnson, the featured speaker at the event, also joked that she’s all too often confused with former Michigan Secretary of State turned U.S. Congresswoman Candice Miller, but “that’s OK,” she said. She also noted how she recently traveled overseas to visit troops, and made license plates with prisoners.

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Governor signs new law allowing special licenses for veterans!

Governor signs new law allowing special licenses for veterans!

This is a great day for Michigan’s 680,000 veterans and the timing could not be more appropriate with Memorial Day about a week away.

Under bills signed by Gov. Snyder, vets who have received honorable discharges will be able to get a driver’s license or state ID card that clearly identifies them as a proud veteran. The licenses, which will be available next year, will be clear-cut, easy-to-carry documentation that will help veterans access the benefits and discounts they deserve.  Continue reading

Secretary of State rides to Biker Bob’s promoting motorcycle safety

Secretary of State rides to Biker Bob’s promoting motorcycle safety

TAYLOR — Secretary of State Ruth Johnson picked Thursday for a colorful entrance.

She pulled into Biker Bob’s Harley-Davidson Motown on Telegraph on a shiny dark red Sportster model.

Johnson, a rider since she was 12, came to promote May as Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month and was the lead speaker on a panel that covered topics like wearing high visibility gear, training, getting a license endorsement and sharing the road. Continue reading

Michigan Secretary of State starts new Donate Life license plate encouraging organ donations

Michigan Secretary of State starts new Donate Life license plate encouraging organ donations

Michigan’s secretary of state is launching a new license plate designed to encourage people to donate organs and tissues. Ruth Johnson announced the Donate Life license plates Wednesday at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Continue reading