UPDATE: Fight begins to save the painted ‘Bug’

Photo courtesy of the Junkyard Dog

Photo courtesy of the Junkyard Dog

By Kathryn Jones


The owners of the property where the landmark painted Volkswagen “Bug” resides said they plan to appeal to the municipal court to let them keep what they call a “planter” and what the City of Glen Rose contends is a “junk vehicle” under a city ordinance.

Michael and Deidra Cockerham bought the metal building, which once housed a welding business, in 2005 from the previous owner, who operated a retail shop called Petals there.

The Bug, which at that time was painted purple with big flower petals, had been acquired from the local garden club. After the Cockerhams bought the building and Deidra opened her shop, The Junkyard Dog, there, the Beetle was painted to look like a lady bug — red with black spots. The passenger compartment was turned into a big flower pot.

It has subsequently gone through several repaintings. The previous building tenant, a seafood restaurant, had painted it brown. After it closed, Deidra Cockerham repainted the Bug an ivory color with sparkles.

The “Bug” does not have an engine.

“It is not a junk vehicle,” Michael Cockerham said by phone Friday. “It’s a planter.”

But that’s not how the city’s new code enforcement officer, Ray Moody, saw  it. Moody issued a written warning that the Bug violated the city’s junk vehicle ordinance and would have to be registered and inspected. He also said it was incorrectly parked on an unpaved surface. The Bug rests on a bed of gravel.

“I understand and respect he (Moody) is doing his job,” Michael Cockerham said. “This code has been on the books for about 10 years.”

He added that he hopes to appear on the municipal court’s April 2 agenda and is “looking for some lenience from the judge,” Mickey Garrett.

The previous municipal judge, Kay McPherson, showed lenience when the Hollywood & Vine restaurant asked to be able to keep its large sign above a city easement. She ruled that the sign had become a local landmark.

The restaurant had put up the sign without obtaining a permit from the city, then went through much back-and-forth negotiating with city officials about whether the sign could stay.

Michael Cockerham said he wants to find out whether he can appear before the city’s Planning & Zoning Commission or City Council to

ask for a variance. Moody has given the Junkyard Dog until Feb. 4 to bring the Bug into compliance or remove it.

The citation warning, a copy of which is posted on the Glen Rose Current site and Facebook page, generated dozens of comments on Facebook. Almost all of those posting said they were in favor of letting the Bug stay since it has become a local landmark.


8 Responses to UPDATE: Fight begins to save the painted ‘Bug’

  1. Karen Richardson Reply

    January 31, 2013 at 6:52 pm

    Disappointment, is my kindest reaction to the recent City action regarding the classic bug, art vs. junk citation. All are aware of the struggle to survive for area businesses, especially in the highly appraised downtown area. It’s ironic that City Council has recently hired an Event Coordinator and expanded the CVB role to include economic development duties, primarily out of concern for the downtown area business community.

    Yet, it is with a local business in this core area where the City chose to begin handing out fines, rather than incentives and problem resolution.

    Instead of questioning how area cities such as Fort Worth, Stephenville, Bluff Dale, Granbury…….deal with autos used as signage or art, our city has chosen the path of least effort. Clearly, these communities have worked a way around state laws and local ordinances to create a pro-active environment for local businesses.

    To succeed in business takes creativity and problem-solving capability, which too often is lacking with governmental institutions. Let us encourage our City to use these skills to explore better options to resolve our issues.

  2. Margie Pritchett Reply

    January 30, 2013 at 5:12 pm

    I understand a pressing need to be fair and equal with all our citizens. Abandoned cars are an eyesore and a health hazard. I think a conversation with owner would have been appropriate before issuing a citation. Clearly this is a flowerpot and not an abandoned car. It is also a landmark. I drive past it many times a day and I always take a little look. I have never in all the years I have driven past it been offended by its appearance. Please don’t make us into a cookie cutter town. The eclectic downtown area is what makes Glen Rose unique. Please allow the bug to stay!

  3. Mack Hargrave Reply

    January 27, 2013 at 7:12 pm

    Seems to me that there is, or should be, a legal definition for just what a vehicle is. Surely at the manufacturing stage, the stamp “vehicle” would not really be put on this assembly of metal, glass, plastic, and rubber until all the parts are there, ready to vehiculate, or something like that. Perhaps a car is not really a car until it can demonstrate certain car-like behavior when called upon to do so. Like support inside itself, an engine or motor. And then it would follow, that once the vehicle runs its life out, and becomes a subject of cannibalization or reclamation, it would, as it goes the way of scrap, pass the point of certification as a vehicle, only going the other way. Mr. Moody needs our help to discern at what point this beloved but dying “Bug” will stop being a vehicle and become a candidate for, say, art. Perhaps he could be made to agree, based on that legal definition of “vehicle”, that somewhere between merrily sputtering down the road under the control of a driver, and being crushed into a small cube the size of Mr Moody’s dog house, the “Bug” can shed the moniker of “vehicle” and take up another. If the engine is already gone, and that won’t do it, perhaps the next step could be that the wheels be replaced with something un-vehicular, like old grist stones. My point is, maybe Mr Moody would be released from his sacred duty to call this a vehicle if just a few more humiliations were heaped upon it. Out of pity or something. One thing that might help, is if we walked him around to the courthouse, pointed out our fine statue, and explained how that is not really a horse with a lady upon it, but it is art befitting of its place – not even requiring that it be picked up after as far as we know. The “Bug” causes no civil threat and I even think that it could, if we keep stirring this pot, be well received someday in the Smithsonian, where random old stuff is everywhere, and we are quite happy with that.

    No matter what, we can be happy and even smug, that we can live in small town America where this kind of thing actually gets ink, even if it is only virtual ink.

  4. Susan Bussey Reply

    January 26, 2013 at 12:24 am

    The flower bug is a landmark. If Mr Moody had been here long enough he would have know it as we do. I am sure that as he is properly informed and takes time to look more closely at the “Yard Art” he too will come the knowledge that this is “Art” and not junk. I will pursue this as much as I need to, to support the “Save our bug” program.

    It is a danger to all Yard Art! What is next? the cast iron pot full of flowers, old wash tubs, what will they classify as junk next?

    And what about all those Real Junk Cars sitting on the street and driveways, not used for years, flat tires and no tags, spend your time taking care of real junk and leave the Yard Art alone.

    We all need to photograph real junk cars and send them to Moody, so he can take care of them… oh sorry, someone lost their job for doing that… dear dear, what are we to do????

  5. Suzanne Gentling Reply

    January 25, 2013 at 5:49 pm

    It’s important that city codes be respected. Personally, I did not agree with the Hollywood sign or with the city in allowing it.

    The Bug, however, clearly is not just some abandoned eyesore. It is a decorative element, a conversation piece that has plenty of space and is non-intrusive to the other properties on The Square.

    We don’t want to become so monotonous that all our imagination and character are extinguished, do we?

    Keep The Bug.

  6. Deaon Johnson Reply

    January 25, 2013 at 3:44 pm

    Please let the bug stay, it has become a nice little tourist attraction and the locals like it as well. I drive by it everyday, I love seeing it, town folks and tourist are there a lot snapping photos, posing with the car, etc. I SAY LEAVE THE BUG RIGHT WERE IT IS, IT HAS EARNED IT’S SPOT AS A LANDMARK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WE LOVE THE BUG!!! WE LOVE THE BUG!!!!!

  7. William pillow Reply

    January 25, 2013 at 2:28 pm

    My name is William Pillow I have lived in Glen Rose for 20 yr. I work in the dfw area and I run across so many people and when I tell them where I am from they usually say one of 2 things . That is where the nuclear power plant is or that is where the bug is . They say they really look forward to seeing the way she has it painted each time they come they. And of all the things in our town you Can always here people giving directions and using the BUG for a landmark. I no I speak for a bunch of people when u say please save the bug.

  8. Darrell Best Reply

    January 25, 2013 at 1:15 pm

    keep us informed, I want to support Micheal and Deidra whenever there court/planning&zoning meetings are, by attending….”Save the Bug”!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>