The state employee was arrested today following Monday's fight between the employee and a woman who brought a balloon into the state Capitol.More >>
MADISON (WKOW) -- State capitol officials strung a net across the interior of the upper reaches of the historic building Friday to snare any released balloons, but officials said the apparatus would be taken down soon.
Department of Administrations official Jeff Plale said the net at what's called the trumpeter balcony level of the building was a "test" in an effort to spare building artwork and walls any damage from the oils and metals of stuck balloons. But Plale said the net obscured too much of the view to the top.
"I stood at the very bottom of this dome and looked up and people have an expectation when they walk in this building, what it's going to look like, and this great big piece of netting is not what they expect to see."
Plale said the netting should be removed Monday. But Plale said the net would be kept in the event there was a need to deploy it again to protect capitol building surfaces.
While the netting at the high balcony is scheduled to come down, another net even higher in the dome just below the building's turn of the century painting Resoures of Wisconsin remains. That net is virtually impossible to see from the lower rotunda.
A single red balloon rests near the top of the dome. Some balloons have been released inside the building as red balloons have become a symbol of the continuing protest to Governor Walker's policies.
Earlier this week, building administrator Ron Blair allegedly endangered safety when he popped a protester's balloon and then accosted the woman. Authorities said Blair used a blade and cut himself prior to popping the balloon and blood spilled on the capitol floor. Blair was arrested Thursday. Dane County district attorney Ismael Ozanne is considering whether to criminally charge Blair, a thirty-one year state employee with a $92,000 salary.
The episode's victim, Leslie Patterson said she was merely taking a balloon out of a bag. Patterson said she is aware of the prohibition against releasing balloons inside the building and the damage they can cause to capitol surfaces.
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