KAYSVILLE -- Having a friend at the White House netted Kaysville Mayor Steve Hiatt and his wife, Brooke, a tour of the West Wing.
Hiatt was in Washington, D.C., recently attending training for the Wasatch Integrated Waste Management District, when he decided to spend some of his free time sightseeing.
Hiatt contacted a friend, Col. Patrick Higby, former commander of Hill Air Force Base's 75th Air Base Wing, now with the White House Communications Agency. Hiatt received a special tour of the White House Thursday evening, before his flight home on Friday.
"We knew each other from the Davis Council of Governments," Hiatt said of Higby, who offered a 60-minute tour of the White House, including the West Wing.
The Kaysville mayor said he appreciated every minute of what he termed a "unique experience," giving him and his wife a sense of the spirit of patriotism that runs throughout the building.
People see a lot of fictional television shows set in the West Wing of the White House, but the West Wing looked nothing like it does in those shows, Hiatt said.
"They make the West Wing look like a fancy executive building," he said of film and television portrayals. "It's certainly fancy, but it looked historic."
The entire West Wing is quite small, with support staff working next door in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.
This was not the first time he had taken the White House tour, Hiatt said, but was the first time his tour included a trip through the West Wing.
However, the insider's tour did not provide him with the chance to meet President Barack Obama. Because the tour took place Thursday evening, in the off hours, the president was not there, Hiatt said.
However, the tour did allow him to stand at the doorway of the Oval Office and poke his head inside.
Hiatt said he was impressed by the office's curved doors, and surprised to find the Oval Office appeared to be absent any computers or television sets.
Nonetheless, Hiatt was impressed by what he saw and felt.
"There is certainly a spirt of patriotism when walking the hallways past presidents walked. I was impressed at the spirit of the West Wing, and surprised at the size. A lot of business gets done in small quarters, apparently," he said.
Hiatt and his wife did some other sightseeing, but said most of his time was spent in training on waste management community outreach programs and innovative ways to dispose of waste.
Wasatch Integrated Waste oversees the operation of the Davis County landfill and waste incinerator plant, both in Layton.