02/27/11 — Drivers' anger rising as gas prices soar

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Drivers' anger rising as gas prices soar

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on February 27, 2011 1:50 AM

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The price for gas was $3.29 at the Solo gas station on U.S. 117, south of Goldsboro on Saturday. Many gas stations have raised their prices in recent days, with some stations reaching $3.50.

Want to make people angry?

Just bring up gas prices.

In the last week alone, they've gone up an average of 20 cents a gallon.

And pundits are predicting that by summer vacation months, prices will hover between $4 and $5 a gallon.

Some of it is being attributed to the recent unrest in the Middle East.

But no matter where it originated, the ramifications are definitely being felt and the bottom line is, it's not making consumers happy.

Around Wayne County, prices vary -- from $3.25 at Adams Mini-Mart on William Street and $3.29 at Murphy's in Mount Olive, climbing to $3.33 at BP on Buck Swamp Road and $3.39 at Exxon at the intersection of William and Fedelon and $3.50 at the BP station on Ash Street.

"It's ridiculous, it's terrible," said Dot Person of Mount Olive, pumping gas Saturday at Murphy's. "We're cutting back a little bit. We're having to go to the doctor in Greenville (but) we don't go any more than we have to."

At the next pump, Linda Nobles of Mount Olive said it was taking $50 to fill up her Ford Explorer, which was already half full before she even drove in.

"I think the government should step in and have this at a reasonable price," she suggested. "People have to go to work. It just defeats the purpose of going to work."

She said she is fortunate to have a job at Mt. Olive Pickle Co., but her husband's recent hospitalization for a week at Wayne Memorial Hospital meant more driving back and forth.

Typically, she said she tries to consolidate trips as much as possible.

"When I get off work, I will, most time, pay my bills then do my grocery shopping," she said. "But I try to get everything lined up when I go in one trip."

Lalisa Woodberry recently moved to Mount Olive with her three children, ages 7, 5 and 2, along with her fiancé, Devega Pearsall.

"It's just too high," she said of the rising fuel prices. "We've cut back -- just go out, get what we need and that's it."

"It's unfortunate that the government has their hand in the middle of it," Pearsall said.

Shawn Howard of Pikeville said it wasn't that long ago when gasoline prices started to drop. He said he recalls them getting down to $1.79 but since then, "they've climbed back up."

"It's going to get worse in the summer time," he said. "What it is, people travel, (the oil companies) know they're going to make money."

Gale Kriger of Goldsboro, mall walking at Berkeley Mall on Saturday morning, said so far the rising costs have not forced her to drastically change her habits.

"I don't let my gas get too low that it affects me that much," she said. "I'm fixing to fill up and I know that it will cost me approximately $5 to $10 more.

"I think it's outrageous and I think it's just a ploy but what can you do? You have to go on with your daily life."

Ms. Kriger said she essentially travels to and from work and has curtailed out of town shopping trips but otherwise doesn't allow herself to feel frustrated.

"You just learn to live with it because there's really nothing we can do," she said.

For Lamont Smith, who lives in Durham, travel is a critical part of his job.

The bail bondsman said he drives wherever needed -- Goldsboro, Wilson, Chapel Hill, Greensboro and Wilmington among his assignments.

"Gas prices just hit me," he said. "My percentage when I bail people out doesn't go up so that means I have to write more bonds, I can't be so lenient."

It's a challenge, he admits, prompting some creativity.

"Sometimes, I try to be in a neutral area," he said. "Sometimes I have to wait in my car until late or if I have to get one bond in Chapel Hill, I try to stay in Chapel Hill.

"It's just hard."

And there doesn't appear to be any relief in sight, he said, noting that it's likely to get worse in other areas, too -- such as food prices as truckers who transport goods have to get paid and supermarkets in turn then have to charge more.

The ripple effect is causing most to shake their heads in disbelief.

"It's a downward spiral," said Pearsall.