The following is a re-run of a column from 1987

About this time each year, nature gives the Jim Thompson Administration a real break.

Good Old Mother Nature hides what should be a major embarrassment to Big Jim -- the junk car by the Welcome Center.

When things turn green each spring, Illinois -- geographically and politically -- looks a lot better.

The junk car is -- at least for a while -- hidden from the view of tourists.

The fact that we have a Welcome Center here is great. We probably would not have gotten it if Virgil Smith and the Chamber of Commerce had not pushed so hard. We would also not have gotten it if the Thompson Administration had not found the financing.

However, I don't understand a state government that spends over $2 million for a tourist facility and leaves a junk car a quarter-mile down the road.

I am sure that state officials can come up with a number of reasons why that car has not been moved.

n It may have been there so long the trees have grown up around the car making it difficult to haul away.

n It may be on private property where the state has no "control."

n It may not fall under the domain of any certain state agency, so no one is responsible.

Well, we all know that state officials have a great deal of "control" when they want to. We may just have to convince them that it is to their advantage to do something about that car.

Since people in and around Metropolis are involved in Adopt-a-Spot, maybe one of the state agencies -- such as the Department of Transportation -- can adopt the spot.

If no state agency can get the car moved, they should be able to at least plant pine seedlings around the damn thing and hide it.

n n n

The one junk car at the Welcome Center is not a life-or-death matter, and most people may not care. But, it is one of my pet peeves.

To me, the junk car is an example of how we fail to do some of the little things that can make major differences. It is also an example of how state and local governments spend millions on buildings, but do not make and enforce laws to eliminate eyesores.

The City of Metropolis has been working for years trying to get old buildings torn down and property cleaned up. Due to the efforts, the city does look better. But there is still much to be done.

With the Adopt-a-Spot project, a new emphasis on tourism in this area and May as clean-up month, this is an excellent time to reaffirm our commitment to a cleaner, better place to live.

It seems to me that a major clean-up project is also the most inexpensive way to make a large improvement in our community.

n n n

We may not realize how many people are seeing Metropolis, either in person or through magazines.

Here at the Planet, we are often informed of newspaper articles that mention Metropolis, usually in connection with Superman.

Former residents send us clippings all the time from newspapers all over the world.

But, it seems this area has been featured recently in quite a few magazines. Most of the articles mention Superman, but go into more detail about the other attractions in the area.

The magazines which are presently on our display board in the Planet include: The Piper, published by United Cities Gas; The Big Idea, published by United Parcel Service; The Midwest Motorist, published by the American Automobile Association; and The Coal Courier, published by American Electric Power.

The Coal Courier article is actually a feature on Michael Korte, an AEP employee at Cook Coal Terminal.

The Midwest Motorist is an important vehicle for promoting tourism out of the St. Louis area.

These, and other articles, can do a lot to promote this area as a good place to visit, live, or operate a business.

I hope no future articles ever tell people to follow 1-24 to the junk car, then exit to Metropolis.

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