Carson City man wins license plate contest
The mushroom clouds that lit Nevada’s skies in the 1950s and 1960s will be seen once again, this time on a new license plate commemorating the test site.
Carson City resident Richard Bibbero designed the new plate, chosen over 33 other entrants in a contest sponsored by the Nevada Test Site Historical Foundation.
A realtor with Realty Executives in Minden, Bibbero said he’s never designed anything. He borrowed some of the colors from other plates that he liked and kept it simple.
He heard about the contest on the radio, filled out the paperwork and first created the design by hand. It portrays a mushroom cloud flanked by the nuclear logo and the symbols for Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity.
“I told them that I wasn’t affiliated with the foundation, but I had an idea for a license plate,” he said. “It was just kind of a fun thing. I don’t even know what possessed me.”
Featured on Las Vegas television stations and newpapers last week, Bibbero received $500, a plaque and a year’s free licensing for his efforts.
The design will be tested by the Nevada Highway Patrol and should be available in the next few months. A portion of the proceeds will go to the Nevada Test Site Historical Foundation for their activities in support of the new Nevada Atomic Testing History Institute.
“We’ve received $1 million in federal funding, but that only gets us half-way,” said Linda Smith, secretary-treasurer of the foundation.
The nonprofit organization will operate and maintain the institute, which will include archives and a history museum that will describe and document the activities that occurred at the Nevada Test Site since its inception in 1951.
Between 200,000 and 300,000 Nevadans worked at the site in that time, according to Smith.
“The site closed in September 1992 and a lot of the artifacts aren’t protected,” she said. “The foundation was established to preserve that memorabilia. We’re also very much involved in the construction that will create this museum and we’re raising private funds.”
Designated as an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institute, the museum will be located in a new facility known as the Southern Nevada Science Center. The project is part of the Desert Research Institute’s campus expansion in Las Vegas and the groundbreaking is scheduled for mid-May. The facility should be completed by July 2003.
The test site, a Rhode Island-sized desert expanse, was America’s designated Cold War ground zero. More than 900 nuclear detonations rocked the site’s valleys and mesas, proving the technical feasibility of conducting a nuclear war.
The nuclear weapons testing program grew with Southern Nevada, at one time employing more than 10,000 people as the boom of splitting atoms kept pace with Las Vegas’ exploding gaming and entertainment industries.