Build it and they will come?

By on March 2, 2016

A pair of Ephrata artists plan to build two identical Joe Paterno statues, but they’ll need financial sponsors to complete the bronze castings.

By Patrick Burns

20160229_160937_001“It’s time to heal again,” said artist Yesid Gomez.

Gomez, along with his cousin Wilfer Buitrago, told the Ephrata Review a month ago about plans to finally go forward and craft another Joe Paterno statue to replace their original that once perched proudly on the PSU campus.

However, this round of ambitious plans calls for building two statues at a cost of about $50,000 each.

They debated long and hard about how to deal with their disappointment that dates back to 2012 when Penn State &tstr; still dazed from the Jerry Sandusky child sex-abuse scandal &tstr; isolated or destroyed their 7-foot-plus bronze statue of the iconic football coach positioned in front of Beaver Stadium.

To this day, no one’s really sure what happened to that statue that Gomez and Buitrago created in an Ephrata foundry 15 years ago.

20160229_160922The first time the men were commissioned to build the statue.

This time, the men have put up their own money to launch the project and are seeking the sponsors they’ll need to finish the work which consists of bronze casting.

“We’re not trying to make a profit,” he said. “We’re only looking for sponsors to help get it made, and that’s it.”

Gomez said it’s time to restore “a great man’s honor” but he recognizes the roadbumps ahead due to the Sandusky case.

Public reaction so far has been about 80 percent positive and 20 percent against, he said.

However, opponents of the statue are highly critical.

Penn State removed the 900-pound original shortly after the release of the controversial Freeh Report, which detailed Paterno’s alleged role in covering up Sandusky’s abuses.

Sandusky was convicted in 2012 on multiple charges of child molestation and sentenced to 30 to 60 years in prison.

One woman online asked “Why?” would another Paterno statue be built.

“He knew that abuse was going on,” she wrote. “That’s why they took that statue away!”20160229_161745

Another, on Facebook, who claimed to be a victim of child molestation wrote: “This is embarrassing that people can’t wait to throw this in the face of at least 32 victims. He was a man who covered up child rape.”

Still others believe it’s right and just to return Paterno’s legacy as a legendary coach..

“Too many fools crying about something JoePa never did. Get over it,” Brandon Velez wrote on the Ephrata Review’s Facebook page.

On the same page, Joshua Kochel of Ephrata not only supported the idea, but suggested that Ephrata Borough erect one of the Paterno statues “to commemorate the artists who created them in Ephrata.”

“I believe as many or more people would visit a Joe Paterno statue in Ephrata as they would the Major Dick Winters statue,” he wrote. “It could only help the local economy and prestige. I would chip in to help finance it definitely.”

20160229_160928Anyone interested in helping sponsor the artists’ work can go to Facebook page: Immortalizing a legend “ From Dust to Metal “ Joseph Vincent Paterno.

Patrick Burns is social media editor and staff writer for The Ephrata Review. He welcomes your questions and comments and can be reached at pburns.eph@lnpnews.com or at 721-4455.

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Social media editor and staff writer for Ephrata Review and Lititz Record Express.

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