Pain at the pump
WILLMAR -- It keeps going up, and we keep filling up. With per-barrel prices near record highs and no alternative sources on the horizon, gas prices continue to soar. And consumers aren't letting up at the pump. "We set a record for Fourth of Jul...
WILLMAR -- It keeps going up, and we keep filling up.
With per-barrel prices near record highs and no alternative sources on the horizon, gas prices continue to soar. And consumers aren't letting up at the pump.
"We set a record for Fourth of July travel," said Gail Weinholzer, director of public affairs for AAA Minnesota/Iowa.
Many people are laying off the gas pedal, not taking as long of trips or adjusting other parts of their budgets to keep up with the skyrocketing prices, Weinholzer said.
Weinholzer said crude per barrel hit a record high of $77 per barrel recently. And some oil companies are setting records of their own, with Exxon Mobile announcing record second-quarter profits.
Couple that with unrest in the Middle East, concerns about future supply and threats of oil spills, and you have a recipe for "turm-oil."
At-the-pump pains have gotten different reactions from different people. Everyone seems to have a solution for the prices, whether it's a mental or physical solution.
Keith Orsten said he doesn't let his truck get past half-empty anymore. "It doesn't seem as bad that way," he said while filling his truck Wednesday evening.
The $10-$15 it takes to fill a fraction of the tank is easier to deal with than the $75 tab Orsten said he would rack up if he filled the whole tank. Because he lives and farms south of town, he said he tries to fill his tank everyday before heading home.
While many others have chosen Orsten's method of coping with gas costs, Clara City native Steve Martin has taken a different approach.
Martin recently traded in his pickup truck for a streamlined silver -- and gas efficient -- motor cycle. Martin said the 36 miles per gallon he gets with his new cycle is a lot better than the 10 mpg he used to get.
"It beats the hell out of my pickup," Martin said as he filled his tank Wednesday. As the pump thunked off at $14, Martin gave a satisfied chuckle about his full tank.
When Martin did have his pickup truck and his own business, he said he had to fill his truck twice a day. And the $50 costs added up quickly. Even at 36 mpg, trips back and forth aren't cheap.
"You don't make two or three trips to town anymore," he said.
Pam Lippert of Willmar reiterated Martin's comments saying, "We're just not traveling as much as we'd like to."
Lippert said her Sports Utility Vehicle fits the size of her family, but that hasn't prevented thoughts about getting a new vehicle.
As of Thursday, gas prices across the state averaged $2.97 per gallon for regular unleaded gasoline, according to AAA. A far cry from the $2.17 average on Aug. 3, 2005. Those prices would have been welcomed Thursday in Willmar, as gas rose to $3.09 at many stations in town. Prices at other stations even soared as high as $3.19.
And as the prices continue to rocket upward, so do concerns about society keeping up with the cost.
Mel Odens, Willmar city engineer, said gas prices have been noticed the most on the construction projects around town. And although oil is an ingredient used in road resurfacing, another oil cost is hurting construction projects more. "The truck-hauling costs," Odens said.
"It's gone up dramatically in the last three years," he said. "There's only so many dollars you want to spend a year."
So what will come of these increased costs? Odens says the impact will be the development of a program that's affordable. Especially if gas prices continue to rise at their current rate.
But the gas isn't any cheaper for the people doing the haulin'
Jeff Dahlke owns his own semi and says the gas prices continue to hurt the trucking industry. "A lot of guys are looking to get out of it," he said.
Although Dahlke owns his rig, he gets paid a specific rate for the fuel he uses while hauling goods. Last fall Dahlke had to renegotiate his contract to accommidate for higher gas prices. Dahlke may soon be renegotiating a new rate again, if trends continue.
And while no one can predict where the next year or five years will bring gas prices. Dahlke was reminiscent of the days two years ago when gas was $1.86. The price may have seemed high then, but it would be a welcome discount to many now.
With that said, Dahlke chuckled and said, "I don't think we'll ever see that again."