New Concerns For East Texans In 2003

Coming into 2002, America, still in the shadow of September eleventh, was concerned about terrorist activities. That concern now extends overseas.

"It's terrifying to think of what could happen," says Kami Watson of Tyler. "The terrorists coming over or we're going over there, and chemical warfare, there's just so many possibilities."

In an informal survey, 38% of the people we spoke to cited war in the Middle East as their main concern for 2003.

Robert Stamps of Tyler said a war would be unlike any in recent memory. "It'll be worse than the wars we had already, it'll be three times as bloody. It's just going to be a lot of death."

Twenty-four year-old Chester Tyrone Bowie of Tyler had personal reasons for his concern. "I'm scared," he admits. "But if I've got to go, I'll go."

Others coming off a disappointing Christmas season cited the struggling economy. 36% percent of people said that was their main concern.

Lindale resident Quinton James says his Christmas was worse than last year. "Last year we got beau coup overtime and this year, there's not too much of anything moving."

Some people who said they were worried about the economy sited lower Christmas sales, a depressed real estate market, and the unemployment level as major concerns.

Tyler's Jessica Otte has long-term concerns. "I just feel like these days, a lot of people are concerned about money and a lot of people are struggling and afraid to invest."

"I think it's important that we get back on track," she adds.

Last year's focus on terrorism is still a big worry for over a quarter of the people we surveyed, with 26% percent citing that as a major concern.

Alba's Hugh McCall says even with a quiet year behind us, the danger is still there. "I think it's just beginning, I think it'll continue. We've kind of squelched it, but we haven't stopped it."

Geri Moran of Athens fears terrorism for the effect it has on her. "I don't like the idea of not being able to trust the people I look at in everyday life."

"I don't like that idea," she says.

Of course, the three concerns are related, but for many East Texans, they still feel the country is on the right track.

"I feel like under our current leadership," Nancy Kelly of Tyler says, "The nation is on the right track."

So for 2003, the new year brings new concerns and a new focus for East Texans.

Reid Kerr reporting.