The opportunity to create the sculpture was opened for proposals and several bids varying from $15,000 to $100,000 were received. The group selected a sculptor from Price, Utah to create the statue. Mr. Gary Prazen was hired to create a sculpture of a coal miner for $15,000. Mr. Prazen was a native of Carbon County, Utah with strong ties to the local coal mining industry. Mr. Prazen began his sculpting career with a bronze sculpture of the actor John Wayne who had visited Carbon County in 1978. The sculpture was based on a scene from the 1969 movie True Grit, where Wayne’s character Rooster Cogburn faces off against the outlaw Lucky Ned Pepper and three of his henchmen. In the scene, Rooster Cogburn tells Ned Pepper he plans to kill him in one minute or he can surrender and face Judge Roy Parker, where he’ll probably end up being hung. Pepper responds, “That is bold talk for a one-eyed fat man.” Cogburn calls out, “Fill your hands, you son of a bitch!” and charges the four outlaws with the horse’s reins held in his teeth and firing a rifle with his right hand and a pistol in his left. This classic scene is iconic for the movie and John Wayne. Mr. Prazen completed the sculpture and presented it to the actor shortly before his death on June 11, 1979. This sculpture, titled “Fill Your Hands” was the beginning of Mr. Prazen’s artistic career. He founded the company Original Creations, Inc. in Helper, Utah in 1980 and went on to create over 300 sculptures. He focused on mining, but created western and wildlife sculptures as well. His sculptures sell all over the world. Mr. Prazen passed away in 2016. He was inducted into the National Mining Hall of Fame in Leadville, Colorado in 2017. Mr. Prazen’s son-in-law, Danny Blanton, who took over management of Original Creations, told me he thought the miner statue in Paonia Town Park was the first life-sized sculpture that Gary Prazen created.