In what was once part of a historic mural, there's now a Spongebob cartoon that warns against texting while driving. (Click on the photo to enlarge)

If you’ve driven past the iconic Forest Lane mural recently, you may have noticed something different. Amid the colorful, psychedelic design originally created by W.T. White students in the 1970s to combat graffiti, there’s a new kind of message – the dangers of texting while driving as told by Spongebob Squarepants.

Glen Meadow HOA president Bill Woster said the HOA had no part in the approval and nor did the city code compliance department, which doesn’t oversee murals. But Woster likes the new design.

“We’re delighted with what he did with it,” Woster said. “It’s more contemporary.”

He said Brent Herling, a homeowner who lives about two blocks from that portion of the mural at Forest and Midway, is responsible for the new design, which depicts a series of three images: Spongebob is in a car with a cell phone, he crashes and then dies – that’s illustrated by a gravestone that reads “R.I.P.”

A few years ago, that section of the wall was damaged after a car accident. It was painted over solid and but later marred by graffiti. It became an eyesore, so Herling and some neighborhood kids decided to paint something new.

The full mural extends along Forest Lane from Midway and almost to Rosser. A high-school tradition began when a W.T. White senior class from the 1970s painted it. Other generations of students kept adding on it through the 1990s.

Update: Brent Herling sent these comments via email:

“Instead of leaving a blank area for the taggers to use again, the wall received an updated safety message for all the drivers to see. Forest lane is going to get a big increase in traffic during the 635 expansion, so not only is the wall cleaned up, hopefully drivers will take safety to heart and refrain from texting while driving through our streets. Oh yeah, we had a lot of fun too! Thanks also go to Lowes for the free paint.”

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