Mysterious Hewy outed

Published 1:16 pm Thursday, September 4, 2008

When it came to light that Helena’s most speculated–about mystery man, moderator of the No Sleep in Helena blog, known only as Hewy had revealed his true identity, I was intrigued!

Just days before the City Council election, Hal Woodman, a local attorney running for Seat 2, announced he was indeed the voice and pen behind Hewy’s postings.

“The earliest post that was attributed to Hewy was back in April 2005,” Woodman said. “Before I decided to create Hewy, I may have actually used my real name. My initials are HEW. My sister’s initials are DEW. So, we used to joke around the house as children that we were Hewy and Dewy from the Donald Duck cartoons.”

Hal and wife, Kyra, moved to Helena from Hoover in 1999 after researching school systems for their three children. The children are all active in scouting and their family outings frequently involve geocaching.

“This,” Woodman explains “is a high-tech treasure hunt. Someone hides a box at a GPS coordinate and you try to find it. I like the really clever ones hidden in plain view.” This explains how the quirky contest, the Hunt for the Golden Gnome, was inspired. The contest is Hewy’s creation and has become an anticipated event here in Helena.

“Someone from Helena posted that there was a ring of gnomes behind their home in the woods,” Woodman said. “I googled gnomes and discovered that some gnome sites were telling people to send their liberated gnomes to Helena, Alabama. I thought, wow, this is something that makes Helena different!”

I asked Hal if his family was sworn to secrecy about his online identity.

“My wife didn’t really pay attention to the blog until about a year ago. She was surprised to hear her friends talk about reading it,” he said. “My children were not aware of it until we started the gnome hunts, then I needed them to help me hide the gnomes. I just told them that Hewy was my pen name and I wanted to keep it a secret. But, you can’t really keep a secret in a small town.”

Will this revelation change his local anonymity?

“Now I will be a little less mysterious. I’ll still attend the same Helena events but I’ll just answer to both names now,” he said.

“Helena has grown up so fast that we could lose our sense of community,” Woodman observes. “People need to get to know their neighbors and participate in shaping their city. I think apathy is a community killer.”

So, for family fun, stay tuned for Gnome Hunt No. 4, which Hewy, a.k.a. Hal, promises to be the most challenging yet.