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Drivers cope with rising gas prices

Rising gasoline prices are already taking toll, and at leastthree more months of the peak driving season are to come.

“It always goes up when people start driving a lot, but thisyear it’s gone up more than usual,” said Mary Ann Barker whilepumping $25 worth of gas into her vehicle.

Prices here vary from $1.48 to $1.74 per gallon at the pump,which is up about 12 cents from last year.

Supplies of conventional gasoline are tighter for this time ofyear than they have been since the federal government began keepingtrack in 1963, officials said.

The smaller supplies are the result of refiners focused onproducing heating oil over the winter, rather than replenishing thegasoline supply in anticipation of summer.

Since gasoline has almost become a necessity for Americans, theproduct is in great demand, allowing suppliers to increase theprices, according to some analysts.

Those who must travel on a regular basis are really feeling thestrain of the high prices, but they often have no other reasonablechoice for travel.

“In the line of business I’m in, it makes a difference. Iaverage driving around 200 miles some days. Even though I get paidsome mileage, it’s still high,” said Sherry Britt, a hospice nurse.”I’m just glad I’m not working in California.”

Prices in California and in large cities, such as Chicago andMilwaukee, are expected to reach $3 a gallon.

Upcoming summer vacations, which usually require traveling, willalso be affected. Members of a local youth group planning to make atrip to a camp in Florida are already preparing for moreincreases.

“It will make us have to raise more money. I just pray theprices aren’t $2.50 by then,” said Lori Yeatman, the youth directorat Carmel Baptist Church in Monticello.

Most motorists do not foresee changing their driving habits ordestinations because of the high prices, rather they will just savemoney elsewhere.

The overall feeling of motorists is one of aggravation anddisgust at the increased prices for the peak driving season.

“I think they could come down on it some. It’s just ridiculous,”said Britt.