Thursday, March 20, 2008

Senator Hutchison sends a letter to the FHWA requesting 45 more days of public comments concerning TTC-69

Hutchison speaks on Nacogdoches history, declining economy and war in Iraq

March 20, 2008

The Nachodoches Daily Sentinel
Copyright 2008

U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison made a stop in Nacogdoches Thursday at the Sterne-Hoya House Museum to commemorate the beginning of the annual Azalea Trail, as well as answer questions on happenings on Capitol Hill.

Hutchison focused on preserving Nachogdoches' history.

"I am totally committed to this great town," she said. "I will always try to preserve the history of this wonderful town where I grew up."

She spoke on a more recent and tragic part of Nacogdoches history — the Columbia Space Shuttle crash.

"I am working very hard to make sure we have a Columbia Space Shuttle memorial here," Hutchison said speaking from the front porch of the Stern-Hoya House.

She said she anticipates a bill being passed this spring that will allow the memorial to be built. She and U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert are working to push it through the House and Senate.

"It's taken a little longer that it should have, but that's kind of what happens in Washington — it's not Texas, I can say that," she said. "You can get things done a lot easier here in Texas."

While speaking of the Columbia tragedy, she noted that she has received many compliments from fellow senators about East Texas and the local hospitality shown in the aftermath of the crash.

Hutchison said people remark on having been "blown away" by the offers to help, offers for emergency officials to stay in private homes, food donations and even the special care with which the remains of the crew were treated.

The senior senator also commented on the El Camino Real de los Tejas trail that begins in Natchitoches, La., and runs through East Texas (Nacogdoches particularly) down to Mexico.

"In 2009, we think we will be able to start putting up the trail markers and the visitor centers," she said. "A lot is going to be happening with that. I think this is going to be a great destination for tourists."

Before addressing the crowd that gathered outside the museum, Hutchison toured the historic Sterne-Hoya house and even found an old photograph of a distant grandparent preserved in the museum.

"I'm very excited about being a part of the building of Nacogdoches," Hutchison said. "We've done a lot, and we have a lot to do, and I think we can do it together."

Before leaving the podium, Hutchison took time to answer questions from the audience and the media.

Nolan Alders, who publicly voiced his opposition of the Trans-Texas Corridor, asked the senator to comment on the proposed mega highway.

"I am very much against the concept of the Trans-Texas Corridor," Hutchison said. "I met with the I-69 coalition in my office last week and we are of one mind. We want I-69 back the way it was originally configured, and that's what we are going to work for."

She also said she sent a letter to the Federal Highway Commission asking for another 45 days for additional public comments concerning the roadway.

Another hot topic lately has been the dragging U.S. economy, and Hutchison said she wasn't sure how effective the recently passed economic stimulus package would be. However, she did express her optimism of the economy getting back on track.

"We hope that (the stimulus package) will stimulate the economy and try to get us out of this dip," she said. "We are also being watchful to see if there is anything else that can be done."

She noted that Congress is trying to not do too much, which could add to the national deficit, or anything else that would require a tax payer "bail out" down the line, which would hurt the economic recovery.

"I'm hoping that if we do another stimulus package, it will be something targeted at the housing industry," she said.

With this week marking the fifth anniversary of the war in Iraq, Hutchison responded to a question on how she believes the war is going.

"I think we are making great progress in Iraq," Hutchison said. "We must stay vigilant in both Afghanistan and in Iraq to make sure there is not a haven for terrorists and they are not able to export their terrorism throughout the world."

Hutchison said she just returned from Iraq, and it's important that America stays the course.

"We've got to make sure our children have every opportunity that we had growing up in this great country," she said. "If we fail, it will be our generation's failure to keep what so many have fought and died for before us. We cannot let that happen."

© 2008, Nachodoches Daily Sentinel:

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