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For Lois Lane statue, economy may be kryptonite

  • Story Highlights
  • Illinois town came up with idea for Lois Lane statue in 2005
  • Since then, the economy has taken a downturn and the funding is short
  • Town plans to go through with groundbreaking, despite the budget shortfall
By Dave Alsup
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Metropolis, Illinois (CNN) -- Superman will not be saving Lois Lane this time, but the residents of Metropolis are hopeful his fans will.

DC Comics, the current owner of the character, declared Metropolis the official home for Superman in 1972.

Metropolis, Illinois wants a companion statue for Superman, but the economy may block its efforts.

The villain is the economy. Despite being about $70,000 shy of the funding needed to cast a figure in the image of the fictional "Daily Planet" reporter, this town of 6,000 residents says it's going forward with a ground breaking. Metropolis wants its Lois Lane statue.

There are no skyscrapers here. If you search the local telephone book you won't find any familiar names. There's no Lex Luthor or Perry White. The closest Jimmy Olsen lives in Aledo, Illinois. If you call the nearby nuclear plant and ask about kryptonite they won't take you seriously. Most days of the year you can walk about town without seeing anyone in a cape or leotard.

Very little about Metropolis, Illinois, resembles the metroplex made famous in "Action Comics," except for the constant presence of Superman. His statue stands 15-feet tall outside the Massac County Courthouse and 50 yards away is the county justice center.

In 1972, DC Comics, the current owner of the character, declared the town the official home for Superman. Since then, it's residents have fashioned a monument, a museum, and an annual festival around the superhero.

"We've had groups from as far away as Japan and Australia," said Karla Ogle, one of the festival organizers. "There's a family that comes every year from Canada."

And each year Noel Neill is honored. She's the original Lois Lane. Neill starred opposite George Reeves in the 1950s "Adventures of Superman" television series and it's her image the local chamber of commerce wants to immortalize in a statue.

The town first came up with the idea of a companion statue for Superman in 2005. A lot has changed since then, primarily the economy.

"We've been affected pretty heavily because most of our revenue comes from the casino," said Mayor Billy McDaniel. The Harrah's Casino is the closest thing this little burgh has to a tall building. "Their revenue has been down as much as 30 percent," noted McDaniel.

And the Metropolis budget is not bulletproof either. The town has not been replacing some workers as they retire, because of the lower tax receipts.

What about the prospects for Lois Lane? "If there's any money out there we're going to find it," said the mayor.

Metropolis has agreed to foot half the statue's bill, if the Illinois Board of Tourism provides a matching grant. Private donations have raised only $9,000 in four years, not even enough to pay for the monument's base.

"They were good initially, but slowed down to a trickle," said Clyde Wills with the Metropolis Chamber of Commerce. "We're committed to the project," despite the economy.

The city plans to break ground for the statue on June 11, during the opening night of their annual Superman festival, even though the state is months away from a decision on their grant request.

Lois Lane's fate, like in most issues of the comic, is "to be continued ..."

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