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High fuel prices leave local residents struggling to get by

Kevin Castle • Apr 29, 2008 at 12:00 AM

Gas prices are at record highs throughout the region, and area residents say high fuel costs are increasing food prices and putting a damper on family vacations.

The Times-News asked some residents in Tennessee and Virginia Tuesday about how they’re coping with the high gas prices. Tri-Cities drivers are paying approximately $3.45 per gallon, while the U.S. average is $3.50 per gallon, according to AAA.

Ryan Pope, a senior at Gate City High School, said he has to rely more and more on his motorcycle for daily transportation, keeping his pickup parked in the driveway at his home in Fort Blackmore.

“You have to kind of limit where you go and what you do...” he said. “(I just make) necessity trips and nothing that you don’t need to do. If you want to go out and do something, it’s maybe once a week.”

Jennifer Crawford of Church Hill has a commute of more than 20 minutes into Scott County for her job at the public library, where she is the children’s programmer.

She is reminded daily of sacrifices that families, including her own, are making in order to afford gasoline and other necessities.

Crawford said she’s a bit resentful of oil companies such as BP and Shell, which announced Tuesday record profits of a collective $17 billion.

“It is discouraging, especially for families who have children and are having to make sacrifices where (they) are concerned as far as clothing and their basic needs being met. We see a lot of that in the area right now, especially here where I work. I deal with several families and children, and a lot of the families are being affected by this and having to make cutbacks in several areas of their life,” said Crawford.

Shawn Stout of Colonial Heights has elected to carpool with family members while trying to stretch his paycheck because the cost of gasoline has limited his opportunities and his options.

“It’s getting harder to pay for it. We’re not making enough with our jobs, and gas prices keep going up. It’s hard for us to get around and get to one point and another,” said Stout. “We can’t take family trips anymore, like trips to the beach. We just can’t afford it.”

Crawford said high gas prices have also had an impact on her family’s grocery purchases.

“As a family, we have had to cut back on a variety of things,” she said. “We are just buying the basics and not opting for the healthier foods that we would normally buy, the low fat and things that cost more. We’re just getting by right now.”

Pope said students and teachers are talking about soaring prices. He feels now is the time for members of Congress to step in and do something.

“Oil companies are making a killing. … They are making too much and they are hurting the economy,” he said.

Stout agreed.

“They’re jacking up the price,” he said.

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