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1HomePageMap small sw 0816Local news stories affecting the auto body industry in Arizona, Utah, Arkansas, ColoradoTexas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Louisiana

August's monthly meeting for the Northwest Louisiana Collision Repair Association (NWLCRA) was held on August 2 in the Collision Repair Classroom at Louisiana Technical College. The meeting was brought to order by the NWLCRA's Secretary-Treasurer, Bill Burnside, by reading the anti-trust statement.

August‘s Guest Speakers were Billy Montgomery and Stephanie Rogers. Billy Montgomery, a former State Representative, and always a friend of the Northwest Louisiana Collision Repair Association spoke first. He talked about how great it is to hear of the accomplishments of local organizations like NWLCRA, Louisiana Technical School, our local High Schools, CC&TC, and Bossier Parish Community College. He stressed the importance of education AND trades. It’s great for someone to go on to a college or university for a degree, but the world NEEDS craftsmen, he said. He discussed how much he was involved with all these organizations when he was a Principal for Haughton High School and how he enjoyed being involved with the Collision Industry, both as a Principal, and Representative. He is currently the Chairperson for the BPCC 100, and announced the upcoming 3rd annual BPCC 100 at the meeting. For more information, you can see their web site at http://bpcc100.org. This event is sponsored by several local organizations by entering a race. All proceeds of this 2 Day Family event go to scholarships for Bossier Parish Community College and Louisiana Technical College. Ken Stephenson with Louisiana Glass and Mirror asked if more was going to be done at the High School level about training students for a trade while in High School during the meeting; he touched on the meeting where Richey Jackson, Director of the Truancy Assessment and Service Center for the Bossier Parish District Attorney's Office, came and talked to us about this very platform--Training students by offering Trade Schools. Montgomery said that due to the current budget constraints of local and federal governments, he doesn’t know how it will turn out, but because of his life passions of education and politics, and his involvement in both, he is definitely going to stay on top of it and would keep the NWLCRA and it’s members updated.

It’s no secret that young adults die at a much greater rate from injuries sustained in alcohol-related auto crashes than the rest of the population. According to the Texas DOT, there were 25,032 alcohol-related crashes in Texas that resulted in 1,057 deaths in 2010, says Irene Webster, traffic safety specialist for the Department of Transportation. Those crashes resulted in 16,877 injuries. The 20- to 25-year-old group in Texas accounts for only about 9 percent of the state’s overall population, but, “in 2010, 24 percent of people killed in alcohol-related crashes in Texas were between the ages of 20 and 25,” Webster said.

The department is launching the annual Drink, Drive, Go To Jail campaign and enforcement period at an 11 a.m., Aug. 30 press event at Wiley College, she said. TxDOT is joining forces with the Texas Department of Public Safety, Mothers Against Drunk Driving and law enforcement agencies statewide to crack down on drunk driving as the summer winds down, Webster said.

From Aug. 19 through Labor Day on Sept. 5, law enforcement officers around the state will be working overtime to get drunk drivers off the road.

Red-light crashes fell 25 percent at hundreds of Texas intersections after traffic cameras were installed, researchers said in what was called the first statewide study of its kind, according to Insurance Journal.

The Texas Transportation Institute suggested its findings again showed the effectiveness of installing cameras to deter red-light runners. Yet backlash toward the cameras remains high, including in Houston, where drivers voted to end the city’s red-light cameras in a November referendum.

A federal judge later struck down the ballot measure, and Houston turned the cameras back on. According to crash data analyzed by the Texas Transportation Institute and released in the report, accidents fell by 28 percent at 31 intersections in Houston where the cameras had been up and running for two years. At least three dozen Texas cities use red-light cameras, according to the report.

“I truly think these cameras are doing what they were intended to do,” said Troy Walden, who authored the study and is a former College Station police officer. Critics argue otherwise, calling red-light cameras unproven and a scheme to generate revenue from traffic tickets.

In June, opponents referenced data showing a drop in accidents at red-light intersections in Houston after the city was forced to turn off the cameras following the November vote. The cameras, which Houston first installed in 2007, have brought in about $44 million in traffic fines for the city.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011 19:10

Texas DMV Streamlines Vehicle Registrations

Texas is streamlining its system for vehicle registration fees. Under the new plan, all car and light truck drivers will pay the same fee across the state.

Right now Texas has 1,745 fee categories for vehicle registration. That’s right—nearly 2,000 different charges, depending on what kind of vehicle you drive, how much it weighs, how old it is and a plethora of other factors.

Kim Sue Lia Perkes is a spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles. She says the department didn’t have a crazy master plan to create such a convoluted system.

“It was just that as things got added on over the years, it began to develop into that.  And it was time, and I believe the legislature looked at this as it was time to have a reassessment of this. It’s just applying some logic to the system for everybody.”

Under the new fee structure, there will be nine weight classifications, most of them apply to heavy vehicles like tractor trailers. Car and light truck drivers will all pay the same base fee of $50.75.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011 19:09

Next Texas Insurance Commissioner Appointed

Texas Gov. Rick Perry announced the appointment of Eleanor Kitzman of Austin as Texas Insurance Commissioner, effective Aug. 15, 2011, for a term to expire Feb. 1, 2013, according to Insurance Journal.

Kitzman will replace Mike Geeslin, who announced earlier this year that he was not interested in serving another term as commissioner.

Kitzman is the outgoing executive director of the South Carolina Budget and Control Board, and is past director of the South Carolina Department of Insurance.

She is also a former clerk for the Texas Supreme Court, and a past associate at Akin, Gump, Strauss and Feld. She is a member of the State Bar of Texas and South Carolina Bar Association.

“I’m confident that Eleanor’s expertise in the insurance industry will make her a strong advocate for insurance customers in Texas, and I appreciate her willingness to serve the state in this capacity,” Gov. Perry said. “I’m thankful for Mike Geeslin’s service as insurance commissioner over the past several years, where he worked to protect Texans by ensuring that insurance is available and provided at fair rates, and look forward to continuing this strong leadership at TDI with Eleanor’s appointment.”

The American Insurance Association also congratulated in Kitzman on her nomination as commissioner.

“Ms. Kitzman’s significant insurance background makes her well-qualified to be the next commissioner of the Texas Department of Insurance,” said Fred C. Bosse, AIA Southwest region vice president. “Texas is a large state with diverse insurance needs. Her tenure as South Carolina’s insurance commissioner coupled with her efforts to reform that state’s auto and coastal insurance systems uniquely position her to run TDI.”

Prior to her appointment by Gov. Nikki Haley to run the South Carolina Budget and Control Board, Kitzman was employed by Goldman Sachs. She served as the director of the South Carolina Department of Insurance from 2005 to 2007.

Kitzman is a graduate of the University of Houston and earned her law degree from the South Texas College of Law.

Service King Collision Repair Centers recently hosted its first annual Charity Golf Tournament in Houston, which raised $35,000 to benefit families assisted by Houston’s AVANCE Parent & Child education programs.

The tournament was held at The Woodlands Country Club Tournament Course. Having hosted successful golf tournaments benefiting charities for more than 16 years in the company's hometown of Dallas, Service King decided to expand their giving project to Houston.

“We were ready to extend our reach to the Houston community,” said Chris Abraham, vice president of Service King’s Houston market. “After touring an AVANCE center earlier this year and learning more about the organization’s early childhood and adult literacy services, we knew it was a perfect fit for our company.”

Tournament dollars raised supported several local charities, but primarily the AVANCE Parent & Child education programs. Additional funds were raised form raffles and a live auction that included autographed sports collectables showcased by the Houston Texans Cheerleaders.