Houston seeks to name overpass for Bowles

By Floyd Ingram/Chickasaw Journal

HOUSTON – William E. “Billy” Bowles built a lot of bridges between different factions in the Mississippi Legislature.

And with that in mind local government officials are seeking to have the Highway 15 overpass bridge at Highway 8 named in memory and honor of Bowles.

Houston Aldermen passed a resolution last week asking the Mississippi Legislature to designate the overpass as the “William E. ‘Billy’ Bowles Memorial Bridge.” They are also asking the Chickasaw County Board of Supervisors to join in the resolution.”

“Billy Bowles served the citizens of Houston and Chickasaw County for 20 years in the Mississippi House of Representatives,” said Houston Mayor Stacey Parker. “Representative Bowles was known by his colleagues in the House of Representatives as a straight-shooter who always stood up for the rights of individuals and resisted the passage of bills that would infringe on those rights.”

Bowles died on Sept. 23, 2012.

Bowles was elected to House District 22 in 1984 and served until January 2004. He served as chair of the Oil and Gas Committee and, as a freshman, was a member of the Transportation Committee and worked for passage of the historic 1987 Four-Lane Act.

When Bowles served, the district consisted primarily of Chickasaw County, but also included portions of Monroe and his native county of Lee. He was a graduate of Tupelo High School.

Bowles’ philosophy was simple – find out what group wanted legislation passed and why and whether there was a monetary boon for any group if the legislation was passed. At the time of his death fellow lawmakers pointed out Bowles served in the Mississippi House with a healthy dose of mistrust.

Houston businessman and veterinarian Dr. James Boyer said Bowles was known as a leader in local causes, too.

“If someone saw their house burn or someone couldn’t pay the light bill because his wife had been in the hospital, Billy was one who helped,” said Boyer. “He was a behind-the-scene kind of guy.”

Boyer also said Bowles was a friend of agriculture and was someone farmers could go to with issues and concerns.

“He ran a country store and people came and talked to him,” said Boyer. “He knew how to listen and then he knew how to turn around and get things done.”

Houston officials are hoping the resolution will be one of the first orders of business in the session when began last week. The resolution and paperwork will then be presented to the Mississippi Department of Transportation.

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