Busters back in business

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 3, 2006

CHESAPEAKE — There are few places in the county where you can still get your gas pumped and paid for without leaving the comfort of your air-conditioned car.

Now, after a little more than a month hiatus, three of those places are up and running again, much to the delight of their heat-weary customers.

The Buster Bi-Lo gas stations — one on

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U.S. 52 between Chesapeake and South Point and two on South Third Street in Ironton — reopened Tuesday.

Delmer Hicks, owner of the stores, said he closed the stations in the hopes he could negotiate lower gas prices with oil companies.

“I was trying to get a better deal, but it didn’t work,” said Hicks, who owns 50 stations throughout Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia. “I was trying to fight the high gas prices, but I guess I didn’t win.”

Hicks also briefly closed a handful of stations in West Virginia during the recent months, he said.

Another reason for the closure was the need to redo the gas pumps at each of the stations. Each of the pumps was unable to register prices higher than $3 per gallon. The pumps will now calculate prices up to $4 a gallon, something that Hicks says is ridiculous, but commonplace in today’s world.

“I guess I’m just old-fashioned, but I really wanted to keep it so the prices could be affordable,” Hicks said. “We wasn’t really wanting to do this at all.”

Unfortunately, the business owner said, he does not think gas prices will roll back much under their current prices any time soon.

Although Hicks may be upset by the circumstances surrounding the stations’ reopenings, Busters’ customers were more than pleased with their service Tuesday afternoon. One of those was Brenda Griffith of South Point, who admits she hates to pump her own gas, especially during the hot summer months.

“I know people will say I’m a wimp and a lot of people laugh, but I don’t like to get all sweaty and pump gas. There, I said it,” Griffith said with a laugh. “It’s pushing 100 degrees today and I’m on my lunch hour. I don’t want to go back to work dripping wet with sweat.”

Harold Parsons of Proctorville has several health conditions that prevent him from being able to be out in the heat. He said Buster’s is “a life-saver” for senior citizens and those like himself.

“Their service is something that I have missed. I’m glad to see them back open because I just can’t pump gas,” he said. “I’m 70 and I have had several heart surgeries and Buster’s is the only place I go to.”