Soaring gas prices frustrate drivers here

Published 9:52 am Wednesday, March 31, 2004

By By JAMES COLLINS / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- Increasing gasoline prices may be frustrating Niles area motorists, but that does not mean the prices will stop them from buying gas.
Last week, the retail price for gasoline reached an all-time high with a national average of $1.74 per gallon.
Marathon Oil officials said the high prices are an issue of supply and demand. Strong demand and tight supply coupled with high oil prices are creating prices that have caused Niles motorists to become fed up.
Recent retiree Sonja Schmidt said she does not like paying anything more than $1.65 per gallon, but said driving was a necessity and filled up her tank despite the price of nearly $1.70 per gallon.
If prices continue to rise, Schmidt said she will start buying gas less frequently.
Niles resident Dean Weathers also said he has to keep driving, but will just drive as infrequently as possible.
Gasoline consumers are not the only ones who don't understand the increased prices, local gas station officials also say they do not know what to expect with prices.
Pete Adams, owner of Pete's Marathon, located at 1293 S. 11th St., said the price of gasoline differs from load to load.
Both Adams and Macedo said they set their retail prices based on the prices of local competitors.
Macedo does a survey of all the local gas stations and tries to set her station's prices at the lowest amount possible.
Adams said it is important to keep prices as low as possible because of the consumers' tendency to shop around for the best price.
Peggy Hooper, manager of Tank Town Citgo, located at 2326 S. 11th St., expects the prices to continue to rise and eventually reach $2 per gallon sometime this summer.
She also expects people to continue to buy gasoline, despite increasing prices.
Michiana resident Earl Williams said he has already cut down on the amount of time he spends on the road and blaims the rising prices on OPEC.
Dowagiac resident Kevin Kaiser, who fills his tank on a weekly basis, said he will start driving his fuel efficient car instead of his truck if the prices get up to $2 per gallon.
While no one agrees with increasing gas prices, it is apparent that everyone will continue to buy gasoline out of necessity.