New Capitol ornaments unveiled, Babcock retires
The new Montana Capitol ornaments were unveiled Monday, just as former first lady Betty Babcock announced she is retiring from the group responsible for the building's restoration. Babcock, the wife of former Gov. Tim Babcock, has long been active in restoring the building. She said the time has come for her to retire from the Capitol Restoration Foundation. "We must never let the people's house, sometimes known as the crown jewel of the Treasure State to go back into disrepair," Babcock said at a ceremony with Lt. Gov. John Bohlinger. Bohlinger accepted the new ornaments from Babcock, and highlighted the 56 Christmas trees in the building that represent each county and are adorned with ornaments from school children. The new ornaments depict paintings in the Capitol Rotunda, one of the Salish Chief Charlo who resisted removal from the Bitterroot Valley and the other depicting mountain man Jim Bridger. The Capitol Restoration Foundation raises money through selling ornaments and other fundraisers to help pay for upkeep of the building. Babcock has been An integral part of the effort and president of the foundation since 1996. Norma Jean Kelly, o f He l ena , wi l l a s s ume Babcock's post. Babcock has also worked on a project to build a new state history museum. After her husband left office in the 1960s, Babcock got involved in politics herself first in 1972 as a deleg a t e t o t h e Mo n t a n a Constitutional Convention, and then later with a stint in the legislature. The foundat ion' s next planned project is to build a historically appropriate hand rail for the center of the building's grand staircase. Over the years, the foundation helped restore the building's trademark stainglass barrel vault.