A vote of confidence was given to Gary Bender, of Tower City, who was re-elected as chairman of the Schuylkill County Republican Party at the annual convention of committee persons held Saturday at Pine View Acres Restaurant in East Norwegian Township.

The vote was unanimous by 84 committee persons attending from the 129 precincts in the county. Bender was serving as chairman filling out the balance of the term of Joseph Stern, who resigned last year.

Howard Merrick, Pottsville., was elected assistant chairman; Norman Lettich, Hegins, treasurer; Dan Daub, Tower City. secretary; and Mary Labert, McAdoo; Kyle Heffner, Pottsville; Hanke Clarke, Orwigsburg; and Wendell Gainer, Washington Township, assistant secretaries.

Laureen Cummings, Old Forge, the Republican candidate seeking the congressional seat from the 17th Congressional District, which includes all of Schuylkill County, spoke at the convention seeking support to bring the 17th Congressional District into the Republican ranks.

The district will have a new congressman after 20 years as Congressman Tim Holden was defeated by his own Democratic Party in the recent primary election.

Cummings is a nurse, mother, grandmother, and operates a small business. Her goal is to have children and grandchildren a greater opportunity and undiminished freedom by stopping runaway spending, encourages small business owners to grow their businesses and create jobs and work to eliminate costly bureacracy.

She added, "People are suffering with high energy costs while our natural resources are not being developed properly and would like to abolish the IRS and replace it with a national sales tax that eliminates federal income and payroll taxes."

Also addressing the convention were State Senator David Argall, who commented, "I am pleased with what I heard hear today." He referred to the unanimous support of the newly elected officers and the enthusiasm exhibited in winning in the fall.

State Representative Jerry Knowles, of the 124th District, and Mike Tobash, 125th District, addressed the group as well as County Recorder of Deeds Matthew Dudish, Register of Wills Theresa Santai Gaffney, and Commissioner George Halcovage. Gaffney and Halcovage were newly elected last November.

Larry Padora, Tamaqua, was vice president of the party and took over the chairmanship when Stern resigned. During his brief tenure the party regained the courthouse but he lost out to Gary Bender ,who was elected at a special election, as required under the bylaws to fill Stern's unexpired term. Padora was not a candidate for any office this time.

He commented, "I want to observe in which direction the party is going."