Well, after much reading on-line (including this forum) and scouring the local classified ads for used machines, I finally settled on a bike last night!!! It is a 1996 Honda Rebel 250 - the paint is in great shape, new tires, runs great and only 6K miles on her!!!
I am meeting the owner at the court house this afternoon to complete the transfer. Of course, I will not be able to ride it until after my MSF course, but the owner is willing to ride it up to my house this evening when she gets off work, so it will at least be in my garage. I feel pretty good about the purchase - knowiing this is a starter bike that I will outgrow, but it should be a great machine to build confidence.
So, thanks for everyone's advice!!!