Gas jumps above $4

FAIRMONT – Area motorists found themselves in new territory Friday, when gas prices made a 22-cent jump to $4.19 per gallon.

“We’ve gone up by 56 cents since last Wednesday,” Alan DenOuden, manager of the Casey’s store on Blue Earth Avenue in Fairmont, said Friday afternoon. “We dragged it out as long as we could this morning, but the state sends the minimum we can sell for, and stores can get fined if they sell under that minimum.”

The recent hikes are blamed on outages and extended maintenance at oil refineries in Joliet, Ill., and Whiting, Ind., along with refineries at Tulsa, Okla., and Eldorado, Kan.

According to USA Today on Friday, Minnesota was the priciest state for gasoline in the continental United States, surpassing California. The average price for gas in Minnesota was $4.15. California currently has an average of $4.06 per gallon.

However, the price hikes are being seen throughout the Midwest, and are likely to affect gas prices nationwide. The current national average is $3.62 per gallon, but is expected to climb, with no relief in site.

“I don’t foresee it going down for quite a while,” said Jan Byers, manager of the Freedom Value Station in Fairmont. “Some people have said after the Fourth (of July), but I don’t see anything soon.”

While locals have voiced everything from concern to anger about the price jumps, they also realize there is no local angle to the blame.

“They’re nice to us, because they know we have nothing to do with it,” DenOuden said. “They also know it’s worse elsewhere. But they are concerned. We have heard lots of comments about limiting their travel, if they will be able to go on their fishing trips. One of the jokes now is people can’t afford to drink and to drive.”

Some people are taking a harder look at their driving routines.

“It looks like I’ll be doing more walking on my noon hour than driving,” said Barb Poppe of Welcome after stopping at Kwik Trip in Fairmont on Friday afternoon. “I didn’t fill up today, I’m procrastinating. I’m sure it’ll go up again before I need to. I don’t like how it’s jumping up all crazy. I’m disappointed in our country.”

Another customer, Julie Hill of Welcome, plans to coordinate more of her errands.

“I live in Welcome, so walking to work is not an option,” she said.

But motorists like Eric Cox of Fairmont have no plans to make any changes, and are taking the price spike for what it is.

“I did fill up today,” he said. “You still got to get to where you need to get to.”