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Capitol statues damaged by protesters to be reinstalled by next summer
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Capitol statues damaged by protesters to be reinstalled by next summer

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Heg Restoration

Scaffolding surrounds the base of a statue of Col. Hans Christian Heg in the town of Norway where workers from Venus Bronze Works are creating molds of portions of the statue needed for repairs of an identical statue damaged on Capitol Square.

Two statues that were torn down by protesters in June — one that has come to represent women’s rights and the other honoring an abolitionist — are expected to be reinstalled next summer.

Gov. Tony Evers announced Friday that the state Department of Administration has been awarded $60,000 in federal grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts to help restore the “Forward” and Col. Hans Christian Heg statues. Restoration of the two statues has begun and both are anticipated to be reinstalled by mid-2021.

“This is great news and we appreciate the NEH and NEA for their support in restoring and preserving our state history,” Evers said in a statement. “I look forward to not only getting Col. Heg and Forward back up on their feet at the Capitol, but also exploring new options to make the Capitol grounds a more accurate reflection of our state’s diversity and history.”

Evers has asked the State Capitol and Executive Residence Board to consider a new statue on the Capitol grounds of the late Vel Phillips, Wisconsin’s first Black secretary of state. A community advisory committee plans to complete a proposal to erect a statue of Phillips by early next year.

In June, a group of several hundred protesters took down a replica of “Forward,” a statue of a woman with her right arm extended, during Black Lives Matter movement demonstrations against police brutality and racism toward Black people following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody. Protesters also decapitated and dragged into Lake Monona a statue representing Heg, a Wisconsin abolitionist who died in a Civil War battle.

Black community leaders have been advocating for a statue of Phillips to be added to the Capitol grounds. Phillips was the first Black woman to graduate from the UW-Madison School of Law, the first Black woman to win a seat on the Milwaukee City Council and the first to become a judge in Wisconsin. She served one term as secretary of state, from 1979 to 1983, and died in 2018 at the age of 95.

Fave 5: State government reporter Mitchell Schmidt shares his top stories of 2020

Choosing my five favorite stories of 2020 seems almost paradoxical.

This year has felt like one exhausting slog of pandemic stories, state Legislature updates and, oh yeah, a presidential election thrown in for good measure. Thanks to a split government, there's been no shortage of politically-charged stories here in Wisconsin and the partisan divide has, maybe unsurprisingly, felt as wide as ever throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

I don't know if "favorite" is the best way to describe them, but here are a few stories from 2020 that stood out to me:

Back in March, Gov. Tony Evers issued the state's first public health emergency in response to the then-emerging pandemic. At the time, Wisconsin had reported eight total cases of COVID-19.

As the pandemic progressed, positive cases and deaths climbed and state lawmakers battled over the appropriate response. In May, the Wisconsin Supreme Court struck down Evers' stay-at-home order, a decision that still resonates today with the state's coronavirus-related measures.

One story I was particularly excited about before I officially started working for the State Journal was the 2020 Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee. However, like most things this year, the pandemic drastically altered that plan.

In non-pandemic news, the state in October formally denied billions of dollars in state tax credits to Foxconn Technology Group — a story we managed to get before any other outlet in the state through records requests and sourcing.

Lastly, in November I worked on a story about how GOP-drawn legislative maps once again disproportionately benefited Republicans in state elections. Wisconsin is headed toward another legal battle next year when the next batch of 10-year maps are drawn.

Feel free to read my top stories below, or check out my other state government articles from this year, (by my count, there have been more than 300 so far).

Also, thanks to all the subscribers out there. This year has been challenging on so many people, so your support is so much appreciated.


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