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Shelby woman’s work lands license plate

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Gramig led push for ROCK Cares

By Lisa King

A new specialty plate that will be on sale Monday promotes family values and even carries the national motto.

But the ROCK Cares, In God We Trust special plate, with its American flag and patriotic red, white and blue colors, should not be confused with the Unbridled Spirit In God We Trust plate that was released by the Transportation Cabinet in 2011.

MaryAnn Gramig, former president of ROCK (Reclaim Our Culture Kentuckian) Cares, a Louisville organization that seeks to help victims that have been sexually exploited through the pornography and sex industries, has lived in Shelbyville while working for ROCK Cares and retiring in 2010.

But the plate is still her baby, she says, because since 2006 she had led the battle for its release.

 “Even though I’m no longer with ROCK, I was there through the whole process until we got approval,” she said.

Gramig, whose husband, Col. Keith Gramig, is an Army ROTC instructor at Collins High School, said that when ROCK Cares was established in 2004, she and other members of the organization wanted to find a way to promote its mission and at the same time find a way to raise funds to help people.

Having a specialty plate was a good way to do that, because some of the proceeds from the plate will go toward that cause, she said.

The ROCK Cares In God We Trust specialty license plate costs $44. Funds raised by this plate will benefit adults and children who have been exploited and victimized by the sex industry. Funds cannot be used for salaries or operational costs.

“ROCK Cares was looking for a way to help those who had been harmed by the sex industry, either through being addicted to pornography, or children who had been negatively impacted by predators and even dancers who find it so hard to get out [of the business],” she said. “This organization is all about helping them, because these are real human lives, people who have been hurt.

“So when it was brought to our attention that specialty plates could be applied for by nonprofit organizations in Kentucky and the funds from it can be used to directly help their mission, we thought that was great.”

But the process developed a glitch,” Gramig said, adding that the Transportation Cabinet at first opposed the plate.

 “Then, when transportation cabinet saw how popular the In God We Trust License Plate was, they got out their own [plate] first while they were still blocking our application,” she said.

When the state’s plate bearing the national motto In God We Trust came out in February 2011, Transportation Cabinet Spokesperson Chuck Wolfe said the design had been in the works for a couple of years.

Gramig said after ROCK Cares plate was approved, everyone at the organization was thrilled.

“We’re very excited about it and about the funding will mean for this organization to make such a big difference in people’s lives,” she said. “People think that strip clubs are private places that do not impact the ordinary citizen, but that’s not true.

“None of that stays private when that person comes out of that strip club, or that adult bookstore, they don’t stay in a vacuum, they drift back into our neighborhoods and among our children.”

Shelby County Clerk Sue Carole Perry said there are “tons” of specialty plates for drivers to choose.

The Kentucky Transportation’s Web site lists 130 categories of plates, including those with themes from military-based, to college-oriented, to organizations, such as firefighters, police, EMS and many more.

Perry said that on Monday she would have two new specialty plates for sale, Rock Cares, In God We Trust, and a plate with a juvenile diabetes theme.

A regular license plate costs $21, and special plates start at $25.

Perry some of the most popular specialty plates that her offices carries are the Horse Council and plates with nature themes.

“We sell a whole lot of those,” she said.