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Gov. Guinn keeps his promise and returns to Minden for event

by Sheila Gardner

Gov. Kenny Guinn proved he is a man of his word.

A year ago, when he was campaigning for Nevada governor, the members of the Sierra Nevada Republican Women invited Guinn to be the guest speaker for their St. Patrick’s Day dinner.

“We knew he was going to win, so right there and then, we invited him to our St. Patrick’s Day dinner in 1999,” said Sondra Condron, a vice president of the Douglas County group. “And he said yes.”

For the party faithful, Guinn’s appearance Sunday ended a 17-year drought between Republican governors in Nevada.

“This is a special evening for me,” said Sen. Lawrence Jacobsen, R-Minden. “You can’t really imagine how long I’ve waited to do this. It’s been a long, long time. I’ve served under seven governors and it’s been one of my ambitions to introduce a Republican governor. This is the end to a long, dry spell, as we like to say in the West.”

Guinn, accompanied by his wife Dema, thanked the Douglas Republicans for their support in his campaign and said he stood by his pledge to return as governor to every place he visited when running for office.

He also promised the audience of 200 that he would campaign hard for Republican candidates in next year’s election because he won’t be up for re-election yet.

n Millennium scholarships. Guinn outlined four major bills, giving the most attention to his millennium scholarship program, designed to provide $2,500 scholarships to Nevada community colleges and universities for four years to any student who graduates from a Nevada high school with a “B” average and wants to go to college.

“I don’t want to be governor of a state that has the highest pregnancy rate, the highest dropout rate or the lowest percentage of high school graduates who go on to college,” Guinn said.

The governor said 40 percent of Nevada high school graduates surveyed said they wanted to go to college, but couldn’t afford the cost.

“There’s a good reason for this,” Guinn said. “If they get a better education, they go on and get better jobs. If they make more money, they pay more taxes and that helps our state budget.”

Guinn called the millennium scholarship proposal “one to die for.”

“I think this is the most important thing the state of Nevada has given consideration to since statehood,” he said.

He defended making the scholarships available to all students, regardless of income.

“What’s the worst thing that could happen to us? We end up with rich alumni,” he said.

Guinn said he would advise the universities at Reno and Las Vegas to award their annual $10 million in scholarships to at-risk students with 2.5 to 2.999 grade point averages.

He also said the program is targeted to keep Nevada’s good students in the state.

“I don’t want Mackenzie singing for a university in California. I want her to go to UNR or UNLV,” he said, referring to 7-year-old Mackenzie Brynn Cauley, a Scarselli Elementary School student, who sang the National Anthem before Guinn’s remarks.

Guinn also talked about his budget, long-range planning and ethics in government.

“I have not been your governor long enough to earn your respect. I can tell you I am learning a great deal. I have been there long enough to make people mad at me,” he said.

Guinn encouraged the Republicans to stay busy in the campaign.

“If you don’t have good candidates, you can’t win,” he said. “We have to start working very, very diligently to set the tone for the next 12 to 14 years.”