It’s Capitol tour season

Over the last few weeks, it has been refresh- ing to hear the halls of the State Capitol filled once again with the voices of students on their school field trips to the "Peoples House." Now they can have the chance to get an in-person history lesson about our state and the history of its democracy and policy. Even if you can’t make it down to Madison, because you are enjoying everything western Wisconsin has to ouer, you can still take a virtual tour of the Capitol. As part of Wisconsin’s centennial celebration, a website was created to allow Wisconsinites, either through their computer desktop or through an at-home virtual reality headset, to take a private tour of the Capitol. The tour includes waypoints to let people learn more about what they are seeing. For example, when you select the "Liberty Mosaic" in the Rotun da, you can learn that it contains over 100,000 glass tiles. Additionally, you can learn that Lib- erty is holding a ballot box with her finger up, signifying the concept of one person, one vote.

As an elected state representative, I must highlight the part of the virtual tour that takes you to the beautiful Assembly Chambers. The Assembly Chambers is where the Assembly conducts its floor sessions and where I debate and vote on legislation that will hopefully become law. The Chamber is big enough to hold all 99 state representatives of Wisconsin, with each one representing about 57,000 people.

The beautiful natural lighting in the room is provided by a 36-foot diameter skylight. This light emphasizes "Wisconsin," a 16-foot by 37- foot mural painted by Edwin Blashfield which adorns the wall behind the Speaker. In this mural, a woman repre- senting Wisconsin interacts with figures repre senting the state’s past and future. When look- ing at this mural, I can always find the "Ghost of the Assembly" who was a Civil War soldier that was painted over to make way for a badger.

However, over time, the paint has faded, and you can see his original "ghostly" outline.

Yet, it would not be the Assembly Chambers without the Chippewa Valley making its mark.

In front of the mural is a replica of "Old Abe," a bald eagle from the Civil War who was the mascot for the 8th Infantry Regiment from Eau Claire. Old Abe witnessed 37 battles and skirmishes in the War. After the War, he lived in the "Eagle Department" of the Capitol for 20 years until he passed away because of a fire.

With such beauty and history encompassing the Capitol, there is always something to learn.

If you can make it down to Madison for a tour, please let me know. If you would like, I can arrange to have a photo taken of you while you are in the Rotunda, and email you a copy. You can email me at [email protected] gov to let me know or, if you can’t make it down, you can visit https://capitol.wisconsin. gov/ to take the full virtual tour of the Capitol.

As always, stay safe, stay well, and remember that my ovce is open, and my stau and I are available to serve you, the people of western Wisconsin.

May 10, 2022