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iBerkshires.com Columnist Section

Sue Bush
More articles from Sue Bush

Gas Goes Up, Consumers Get Squeezed

By Jen Thomas
06:41PM / Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Tara Phienboupha gassed up today but questioned how she will continue to pay rising gas prices. [Photo by Jen Thomas]
"It’s going to get worse before it gets better," said Nick Mecdeci, an Adams 7-Eleven gas station worker."It’s just not good right now."

Mecdeci is among those feeling the pain at the gasoline pump. And he’s not the only one. Nationwide, the average price for regular grade gasoline rose 11.5 cents today, breaking records at a $3.218 a gallon price tag, according to the Energy Information Administration(EIA).


Cumberland Farms gas prices[Photo Jen Thomas]
Berkshire Bargain?

Though it’s only $3.07 a gallon at the 7-Eleven, it isn’t changing how Berkshire commuters feel about the new hit to their wallets.

“I’m responding like everyone else. I’m angry,” said Adams native Marie St. John while filling her Subaru Outback this afternoon. A notoriously fuel-efficient vehicle, a Subaru fill-up cost about $40.

To complicate her travel cost woes, St. John has four children spread throughout New England - in Easthampton, Westfield, Peabody and Portland, Maine.

"It’s costing us a lot," she said.

A recent weekend round trip to visit their daughter cost the family about $80 just in vehicle fuel costs.

Hitting Everyone

"Everyone has been affected by it," said Kirk Hawlend of Williamstown.

With the increasing strain, different folks are finding their own ways to cope with the new expense.

"I really have to plan when I’m going out," said Dorothy Martell of Adams. "I work in Great Barrington and I have to be really careful about how many trips I’m making."

Martell said she’s lucky because her employer reimburses her for the mileage she accumulates while on the job, but she marveled at the price hikes.

Shell station gasoline prices [Photo by Jen Thomas]


"It costs $50 to fill up the tank at this point," she said. "Last summer, I could have done that for about $25. It just keeps getting higher and I’m not exactly sure why."

Recent college graduate Tara Phienboupha of North Adams doesn’t know how she’s going to continue to afford gas for her Honda Civic.

"I have no money anyway, and the little I do have goes to gas money,"she said.

Phienboupha said she doesn’t remember the gas prices being under $2.50, and Hewland shared a bleak prophecy.

"I think it’s going to be up to $5 [per gallon] by the fall," he said.


A Bill Tague photo from about the early 1970s shows gasoline was sold for much less - if there was any to sell.
As the nation nears the inflation-adjusted peak of $3.223 (set in 1981), consumers can expect to see rising prices until June.

"We are expecting that things should improve in June," EIA Administrator Guy Caruso told the Associated Press. "We still have some more of the wholesale (gasoline) prices to pass through (to the pump). We're not at the peak yet."


"I really feel for everybody’s families," said St. John. "We can afford this, but what really concerns me is low-income folks. I don’’t know how they’re doing it."

"It’s unfortunate," she said. "This cuts into their grocery money sometimes."

At least one person in Berkshire County isn’t too worried about the cost.

"What’s the alternative [to these prices]?" asked Paul Catelotti of Cheshire. "This is what’s available."

Catelotti worries federal price controls may make a comeback, and could exacerbate the problem.

"I lived through the 70s, and I don’t believe in price caps," he said, referring to the gas shortage that caused consumers to wait in long lines at the pumps. Though it costs him $70 to fill the tank of his GMC Yukon, Catelotti has no regrets.

"When I purchased the vehicle I assumed I’d pay more because it’s bigger and doesn’t have great mileage, but I like the ride," he said.

The cheapest gasoline prices found today in the area was $3.05 per gallon for regular unleaded fuel, available at the Getty on State Road in North Adams, and the Cumberland Farms locations on Ashland Street in North Adams, on Union Street in North Adams, and on Main Street in Williamstown.

Regular unleaded gasoline was selling for $3.09 at the Shell station on Curran Highway in North Adams and the Mobil and Sunoco stations on Route 2 toward Williamstown.

As the prices get higher, Phienboupha sees only one way out.

"I think I’m going to do a lot of walking," she said.

Jen Thomas may be reached via e-mail at jthomas@iberkshires.com or at 413-663-3384.
Your Comments
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it is about time our local politcans get involved with the price of gas......sink your teeth into something that effects everyone
from: gas guzzleron: 05-23 00:00:00-2007


 
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