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KFC-Taco Bell franchisee Greg Atwell purchased an Artesia Bulldog statue, carved out of a tree, to display in front of the restaurant on Main Street. (Emil Whitis photo)

By ASHLEY TRUJILLO
Daily Press Staff Writer

There’s a new Bulldog in town.

Greg Atwell, franchisee of the local KFC Taco Bell, purchased the 13 foot carved wooden mascot as a show of his commitment to the community.

The Bulldog, which is  dressed black and orange, stands outside of the restaurant on Main Street in Artesia.

“We’ve always wanted to make sure we did something for the city and the school itself,” Atwell said.

The statue, which took two weeks to complete, was carved from a cottonwood tree by an artist named Jesse, an employee of Jesus Bears in Ruidoso.

Atwell said he decided to have the statue made after some prompting from his general manager, Samantha Ponce.

Her encouragment, along with the contagious school spirit in Artesia, drove him to become more involved in the community.

“I own restaurants throughout and I haven‘t seen better (school) pride than in this city,” Atwell said.

He also recently bought Artesia Bulldog tee shirts for his employees to wear on Friday nights when football season begins.