Price of gas still on rise

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 6, 2004

Henry Douglas loved his GMC conversion van but record-high gas prices

forced the Forest Dale resident to say goodbye to his gas-guzzling automobile.

Gasoline prices in Ohio have risen to an average of $1.77 a gallon, compared to $1.59 at the same time last year, causing many Lawrence Countians to look at ways to save a few of those extra cents elsewhere.

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"My wife was driving the van to work in Franklin Furnace, but we sold it last week and bought a little 6-cylinder. We had to do it," Douglas said. "My wife said it was costing her $40 a week. Now, it is down to $15."

If prices break $2 a gallon, the family may have to find ways to cut back on driving, Douglas said.

"It is hittin' us hard," he said. "But, you just got to go with the flow."

The "flow" may be part of the problem that is driving prices up.

OPEC has cut back on the amount of oil produced. Venezuela - the United States' fourth largest supplier - continues to battle political turmoil and other countries are now using more oil as the world economy starts to rebound, said Bevi Norris, public relations director for the AAA East Central office.

"These are record-breaking prices," she said. "AAA has tracked gas prices since the early 1970s."

Because so many factors contribute, it is nearly impossible to project when the market will change or where it will stop, Norris said. However, she said it is not unreasonable to think that local prices could go beyond $2 a gallon.

Believe it or not, gas prices may not have as much of a bearing on sales as many people think. Darren Murdock has managed the Buster's Bi-Lo at Lorain and Third streets for the past four years. He has seen both extremes in pricing since gas was less than $1 a gallon in 2001.

"I tell you what, we sell the same amount of gas whether it is $1 a gallon or $1.75," he said. "I know it is amazing, but we seem to sell the same amount of gallons no matter the price."

Most customers seem to understand that this is a problem across the county, Murdock said. Still, no one wants to see the prices top the $2 mark.

"(Analysts) have been saying that it would for the past three years," he said. "But, I believe this will be the year that unleaded goes beyond $2 a gallon. July is usually the highest month."

If it does happen this year, Ironton resident Wendy Manuel said that she and her family will be getting some exercise.

"I have already figured out that if it goes up to $2 we are not going anywhere for a while," she said. "I will walk. My kids will walk, too."