Governor halts rise in gas prices

Published 5:00 am Wednesday, September 12, 2001

Cars snaked across parking lots or into city streets Tuesdayafternoon as motorists lined up to fill their gas tanks in fear ofa shortage following terrorist attacks in New York and Washingtonearlier in the day.

“Everybody’s rushing to get that gas,” said Brookhavenite GradyCase as he completed a purchase at the Brookway BoulevardB-Kwik.

Case relayed reports of gasoline as high as $4 a gallon in someplaces. In Brookhaven, prices for regular unleaded ranged fromaround $1.30 a gallon to $1.49 a gallon, after several stationsraised prices.

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As word of escalating prices came in from across the state, Gov.Ronnie Musgrove declared a state of emergency.

”The country is suffering,” said Musgrove, who noted that anemergency declaration is necessary to activate a state statue thatallows prosecutors to pursue price gougers. ”We do not need peopleto take advantage of this horrific incident to raise gasprices.”

Mississippi Attorney General Mike Moore asked Musgrove for thedeclaration after his office fielded over a thousand calls fromangry motorists.

Moore said he received reports of gas prices as high as $3.60 insome areas of the state. ”This really concerns me because this isa day that everybody should be pulling together,” Moore said.

”Our nation has been attacked and for someone to take advantageof that monetarily is just not going to stand. There is nojustification for this, and I know the public is very mad aboutthis.”

Several other states also reported higher gas prices.

Distributors here sought to assure motorists Tuesday there aresufficient gasoline supplies.

In some places in Brookhaven, gas prices climbed 10 to 15 centsa gallon starting around noon.

Jann Banks, assistant manager of the Brookway Boulevard Exxonstation, said the station had been “very busy” since she arrivedfor work at 2 p.m. The station raised the price of regular unleadedfrom $1.35 to $1.49 a gallon at noon.

Greg Waldrop, manager of the Amoco station on BrookwayBoulevard, said his station raised prices around 4 p.m. afterconducting a survey of some other stations. Regular unleaded therewas also $1.49 a gallon.

“We raised it some, but we’re still competitive with others,”Waldrop said.

Waldrop said there were lines at his store’s pumps and employeeswere focusing on meetings customers’ needs.

At Brookway U-Save, lines of cars stretched back into the movietheater parking lot and out into the street in the other direction.There was a similar scene much of the afternoon at Tillotson’s onHighway 51 south.

“It was the busiest day we ever had,” said T.L. Lea, BrookwayU-Save manager.

The station ran out of regular unleaded around 4 p.m. and out ofplus gasoline a few hours later. The premium gasoline supply didnot run out before tanker came around 10 p.m. Tuesday to resupplyall gasoline grade levels.

At Lea’s station, the regular unleaded price stayed at $1.30 agallon. Lea was critical of those who raised prices, especiallythose elsewhere who raised prices to several dollars a gallon, inthe wake of a national tragedy.

“I don’t think you ought to do stuff like that,” Lea said.

Waldrop urged people to stay calm.

“People are panicking it looks like to me and that’s not a goodsign,” Waldrop said Tuesday.

Despite the terrorism, Waldrop said the U.S. remains strong.

“We’ll just have to hold ourselves together until this thingblows over,” he said.