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When is an eyesore more than an eyesore?Posted Tuesday, March 8, 2011, at 11:08 AM
Yes, folks, this is a real scene which greets the residents of a town not so very, very far from Dexter. It shall be called "the town which shall not be named," for reasons which I'll share in the story.
You hear it everywhere - in the coffee shop, the beauty shop, the drug store, the car dealership (if your town is lucky enough to still HAVE one of those things!).
"Why, I remember when this town had bunch of good places to eat! Look at us now! Why can't we keep a good restaurant going in this town??"
"Why, I remember the day when we could buy everything we needed in this town! Now we have to go to Cape or Poplar Bluff or Memphis!"
"Why can't we get any new factories?"
It's a familiar refrain, and the answers are also discouragingly familiar. We shop at the big box department stores because they're convenient. Our jobs are going overseas.
As I drive into my little town of Advance every day, I'm disturbed by the signs of decline, and nothing rattles my cage more than the eyesores - junk that people have left out on the streets to rust and collect tall weeds -- and worse!
However, no matter how bad I've thought my own town was, during the summer I made my first trip down south to a tiny once-town, declined into near oblivion.
I won't mention the name of this town, because the person responsible for its most horrible condition is known to be a bit spiteful - and, the town's condition is condoned by the very governmental agencies which we look to for protection.
No one is going to help this town - and, believe me, I've tried!
Fully six blocks of the village have been bought up and turned into a junk yard. Cars are piled on top of each other, two deep.
The few residents who remain are mostly elderly and have few options. Who would buy their property now - except for their tormentor, who wants another lot on which to store junk cars?
One elderly gentleman, his kitchen torn apart by the rats which come from the cars, is now entering a nursing home, his body wracked with cancer. His aging wife is left alone to cope by herself as best she can.
Yes, I know that this "doesn't concern me." I know that it's "none of my business,"Still, I did contact someone to look into it and see what could be done.
The answer: Nothing!
So there's no fence. That seems to be of no concern. Forget Lady Bird Johnson and her efforts to cover up the eyesores of the world! Her ghost can wander the streets, raging helplessly against this supersite - all to no avail.
The little once-town no longer has a city government, though word is that there is a mayor and city clerk. There is no police force, and, I assume that it collects no taxes. I'm not sure there's a treasury of any kind.
With no state or county ordinances in violation, a puny city ordinance has no teeth. The eyesore you see above is perfectly legal.
I'm sorry that I have no answers for this dilemma, but there would seem to be a warning here for other communities: Don't let your town get so run down that unscrupulous individuals can come along and trash it!
Postscript: 3/8/11---A friend of mine popped in to the office yesterday and said that the town I describe in this blog sounds like Crowder. Nope, wrong! Guess again! However, this just shows how easily such a disaster can happen to our old towns.
From the pristine rural Tillman countryside, this is your country reporter, Madeline, signing off on another super soggy Missouri winter day.
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Madeline (Giles) DeJournett is the Advance writer for the North Stoddard Countian. A retired high school English/history teacher, she spent 32 years teaching in 5 schools in Missouri and Alaska. These days, she lives quietly with a menagerie of wild and domestic animals on 52 secluded acres in the remote Tillman hills south of Advance. She graduated from Dexter High School in 1960 and Southeast Missouri State in 1964. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.