Granger High School gets new, handmade Spartan statue - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Granger High School gets new, handmade Spartan statue

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GRANGER, WA - Driving through the small town of Granger, you'll see dozens of dinosaur statues practically everywhere you look. 

Now the community is home to another life-size statue, but this time, at Granger High School.

The brand new, state-of-the-art gym at Granger High School has something inside that is one of a kind. A six-and-a-half foot tall Spartan statue - made of metal, and completely by hand.

"We were hoping for something cool, obviously you don't want to build something that people don't like," said Dave Pearson, Granger School District's athletic director. "The first time I saw it finished I was just like, wow."

Two years ago, voters approved a more than $10 million bond for improvements at the elementary, middle school, and high school.

With the new gym, the school's booster club wanted something to set them apart. So they found a statue on eBay and reached out to a local metal artist to see if he could make it.

"The muscle definition is amazing," said Pearson. "The copper accents, he put the copper triangles on the shield. The hair are the individual welding wire pieces that he spent three or four days literally cutting out welding wire."

The Spartan will now be the first thing Granger Spartan fans and opponents will see when they go into the gym for games. The statue is also being dedicated to all past, present, and future student athletes at GHS.

"I hope it's something that our students - past students, present students, future students - will take a lot of pride in and be proud that it's here."

Both the athletic department and the booster club are paying for the statue. Pearson says the portion being paid by the athletics department is all through donations.

Primo Villalobos is the man who built the sculpture entirely by hand.

Villalobos has been making art out of metal and iron since he was 11 years old. He started off making small sculptures, but compare that now to his more than 6-foot tall Spartan statue.

"You're not seeing screws, you don't see the welding," Villalobos said. "You don't see welding beads. You have to have it practically perfect."

Villalobos estimates the statue took him five months, or nearly 4,000 hours to make. He says depending on the project, he could easily work 24 hours without leaving his shop.

He credits the school's booster club for giving him the job.

"I'm very grateful because they gave me the chance, the trust, and the confidence that we have between each other."

Born and raised in Mexico, Villalobos moved to the U.S. in 1980. Now he's 56, and has been designing and handcrafting sculptures, fences, gates, and whatever else his customers ask for. His small business has been going strong for 15 years.

"It's not the same fence, it's not the same piece of art," he said. "It's not repeating things, it's something different and that's what motivates me to keep going."

What also drives him? The passion that he's had for art for 45 years. Villalobos hopes that his determination will be an inspiration for other Hispanics.

"We are not just farmers. We don't just work in the fields. We also have the chance to grow and when we want to create our dream or progress we can make it. Everybody can make it, but all we need is dedication, lots of dedication and work."

Have you ever been to Leavenworth? The huge knight that's next to the Knight's House Motor Inn was built by Villalobos.

If you're interested in checking out some of the other things he's made, check out his website at www.primoartisan.com.

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