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$4 gas makes an unwelcome visit

WILLMAR -- Gas prices have climbed to more than $4 per gallon and some area residents are finding themselves running on fumes -- both in their vehicles and their wallets.

A majority of Willmar gas stations had jumped to $4.05 by Thursday morning while a few were still holding on at $3.99, all of which are closing in on the highest national average gas price of $4.11 which was recorded July 17, 2008, according to the AAA Daily Fuel gauge report.

"Had I known it was going up I would have filled up (Wednesday)," said Terry Miller while filling up at Casey's on 19th Avenue Southwest. "It is not fun because you never know when they are going to jump."

Miller, of Clara City, commutes into Willmar everyday. He said he has thought about purchasing a more fuel-efficient vehicle and really questioned himself Thursday as he was paying $80 to fill up the tank in his Dodge Durango.

Butch Hasbrook said he ran out of gas driving into town and was reluctant to make it to Casey's and fill up. He wasn't happy about the sudden price increase.

"We have oil in this country, why not use that?" Hasbrook said. "They are always finding excuses to raise prices."

Hasbrook, owner of Butch's Lawn Service in Clara City, said he drives about 300 miles per week for business, and since gas prices began increasing, he has been forced to charge his clients more for their lawn care services.

According to the AAA Daily Fuel gauge report, the current national average for regular gas is $3.98 while one year ago the national average was $2.89 per gallon of gas. Minnesota is currently sitting at an average of $3.96 with neighboring states such as South Dakota at $3.93 and Wisconsin at $4.05.

While most gas stations were over $4, Holiday Convenience Store on Litchfield Avenue was busy Thursday afternoon as many were happy to see they were at $3.99 per gallon.

Georgia Zachariason of Willmar said she put just enough gas in her car to make it the 90 miles to see her boyfriend in St. Michael.

"It's beginning to be a struggle going back and forth," she said.

Brandon Wortz, a freshman at Ridgewater College, also joined in on the cheaper gas.

Wortz said the opening of fishing season on Saturday may be a reason for the sudden increase.

"I suppose they will make more money with everyone going north with their trucks and trailers," Wortz said.