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|Pump panic - Consumers drain wallets to fill tanks|
Gas prices are rising faster than you can pump $5 worth in the tank, and folks in Franklin Parish are feeling it.
During a Friday morning visit to Boone's store in Gilbert there was no shortage of people ready to talk to The Franklin Sun about how the $3.49 a gallon for regular unleaded gasoline was affecting them, their families and their lifestyles.
(As of Tuesday the price of a gallon of regular unleaded had jumped to $3.59 per gallon with diesel at $4.19)
"It's eating my pocketbook up," said a disgusted Odell Beckwith, as he put gas in his truck, on his way to his farm in Tensas Parish.
Beckwith said the $30 he put in would last for only a day, because he had to come back from the farm to run his bus route for the Franklin Parish School Board.
"Driving the school bus, it's (diesel) tripled to run that bus," he said. "I can't cut back. I've got to drive the bus."
"I'm going in the hole," Beckwith said.
Sharon Lemle must drive from Gilbert to her retail job in Monroe. She used to fill up often, but now puts in what she can, when she can. To make fuel-ends meet, she's sacrificed elsewhere.
"I've cut out extracurricular activities, things like shopping. Pretty soon it's going to go up to $4. What are we going to do then," she asked.
Cricket Collins, manager of Boone's for 16 years, said her supplier told her that gas would reach $4 to $4.50 by Memorial Day.
"If the prices keep going up, small convenience stores are going to go out of business," Collins said. "Nobody is buying products, they are saving every penny to put gas in the tank."
Collins said it's a misconception that convenience stores make a killing when gas prices go up, at least not in her case.
"We make one cent off every gallon. The rest goes to the company that owns the tanks. If you own your own tanks, you might be making money," she said. "But I pay for the electricity and the clerk to watch the pumps and for a penny I don't make anything."
Billy Lewis of Choudrant was delivering Coca-Cola beverages to Boone's and said he and his wife have been looking at getting an economy car, but the prices on fuel-efficient vehicles have gone up. They're going to make do with what they have.
"I put some in at a time, but you do what you have to," Lewis said.
Purvis Lighten of Winnsboro said he'd just paid $35 for six quarts of oil and an oil filter.
"It's ridiculous," he said. "Hopefully in time they'll get this corn and ethanol thing going and the prices will come down."
Lighten said it costs $75 to fill up his Ford 150 pickup, but his wife's Toyota is a little less hard on the wallet.
"We have to switch cars sometimes because her's is cheaper to drive," he said.
Lighten added that his family's outings have been cut in half because of fuel prices.
Collins said she's seen a big change in the lifestyles of her patrons.
"People who I've known for years who come in here everyday aren't buying cigarettes, Cokes or beer. All they can afford to buy is gas," she said.
Elaine Smith, who works at Boone's, said she's saving money by having her daughter run errands for her, but she's afraid of what will happen as prices continue to rise.
"Right now I can only afford to go to church and to work," Smith said.
With summer driving season around the corner, prices are not expected to drop any time soon.