ARVADA - A controversial statue torn down near Arvada is back up, this time with more security measures to ensure the "Cold War Horse" isn't vandalized again.
Artist Jeff Gipe erected the statue on Aug. 25 off Highway 72. Less than two weeks later, it was torn down and smashed with a sledgehammer.
"I never expected that somebody would do what they did to it, to vandalize it the way they did," said Gipe.
The "Cold War Horse" stands tall near the site of the former Rocky Flats nuclear weapons plant. The life-size horse, clad in a bright red hazmat suit, was first put up without much fanfare.
"When I first built it, my plan was kind of to put it out there," said Gipe.
After it was vandalized, he spent a month repairing the horse in his mother's Arvada garage. He finished just in time for Sunday's dedication ceremony. More than 150 people showed up to the event, including Jon Lipsky, the lead agent for the FBI during the Rocky Flats raid.
Gipe created the statue in part as a tribute to the Rocky Flats workers, including his father and to ensure the memory of what Rocky Flats was, doesn't fade.
"After the cleanup was declared complete, all of the signs were removed, everything was removed, and there's no sign telling anybody what happened there," he said.
The manufacturing plant created thousands of plutonium triggers for nuclear weapons during the Cold War. But accidents at the plant including plutonium fires and radioactive-waste leaks lead to the plant's shutdown and cleanup.
While the government considers the area safe, many residents do not.
"Well, they just simply aren't aware of the facts," said Scott Surovchak, the Rocky Flats site manager with the Office of Legacy Management.
Surovchack has worked with the site for more than 20 years. He said the cleanup, completed 10 years ago, eliminated the risk to the public. He believes the "Cold War Horse" sends a bad message.
"Well that's what it certainly intended to do, is to scare people," he said.
Gipe said it's not about making people fearful, just aware of what the site was, especially now that housing is being developed near the old plant and soon a wildlife refuge will be open to the public on 5,000 acres of Rocky Flats.
"It's already taken on a life of its own and done way more, as far as awareness raising, than I could have ever imagined," he said.
Since the statue was previously vandalized, Gipe installed a fence, sensor lighting and a camera around the statue. He hopes it will be standing for years to come.
(© 2015 KUSA)