By the Way

You're funny, Mayor Hewes -- as in humorous, not weird

By ANITA LEE

calee@sunherald.com Twitter/Facebook

Mississippi Aquarium plans unveiled a ceremony in Gulfport

Officials gather to show plans for the Mississippi Aquarium to be located in downtown Gulfport.
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Officials gather to show plans for the Mississippi Aquarium to be located in downtown Gulfport.

Some sources, as in people who provide news, are easier to deal with than others.

They can be serious, angry, reticent, loquacious, rude -- you name it. And then there are those who are just, well, funny.

Not funny as in weird, but funny as in they make me laugh.

Gulfport Mayor Billy Hewes makes everyone laugh.

He's forever wearing goofy socks with his dress suits to council meetings. Like, with palm trees on them and things. He always hikes up his pants' leg, sitting there at the administration table, for me to see.

He seems to get out only a few sentences before he says something that has people laughing.

The big aquarium unveil Friday was a good example. When he spoke, Hewes credited councilmen Rusty Walker and Ricky Dombrowski with the idea for an aquarium on downtown property Katrina devastated.

Years ago, the mayor told the gathered crowd, Walker and Dombrowski sketched an aquarium design for the empty lots. One day, Hewes said, the councilmen took him up to the roof of the old library so they could look over the site.

"I was afraid they were going to push me off," Hewes said.

During the speeches, Gov. Phil Bryant said he had pledged $25,000 to the aquarium. When Bryant finished speaking, Hewes presented the governor a cotton shirt with an aquarium logo on it.

"They're $25,000," Hewes said, "and you, too, can get a shirt."

Now, I'll have to say some of those other emotions have also applied to the mayor during my dealings with him. I've made him mad more than once. A reporter has to maintain a healthy sense of skepticism, even when the mayor's funny.

But I will also say this for Hewes: He never dodges a call, no matter how pesky he finds this Sun Herald reporter.

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