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Drivers just grin and bear gas prices above $4
Chuck Mitchell gambled that driving from the Seattle area to Sacramento would be cheaper than flying.
His destination was the recent Autorama show at Cal Expo, where his wife was doing a professional photo shoot. Things did not work out so well.
"When I calculated the trip, gas was at $3.50 (per gallon)," said Mitchell, who was filling up his tank at the Shell station in Williams on Tuesday. Regular unleaded gasoline was $4.05 at the station.
He said he was surprised how quickly the prices escalated.
"It seemed the farther south we drove, the higher the prices got," Mitchell said.
Gas prices eclipsed the $4 mark in Colusa County over the weekend, and some projections have it going up another 60 cents per gallon by summer.
"We didn't spend as much money as we wanted to. We had to be careful where we ate, and we didn't do any shopping," Mitchell said of his trip to Sacramento.
That is not good news in Williams, especially since city officials are pushing for the local voters to continue a half-cent sales tax increase first approved in 2007.
The measure is expected to go on the ballot in November, and represents about $400,000 to the city's annual budget.
But that total will certainly be down if travelers along Interstate 5 can only afford to buy gas and are not stopping to spend money at motels and restaurants or retail shops.
Marlin Stafford, who was buying gas at the Chevron station in Colusa where a gallon of regular unleaded was priced at $4.05, said there was not much he can do about it.
"Between the world situation and the oil companies, I think we are at their mercy," the Colusa man said. And he said there is not enough difference in the prices between one station and another to drive around to find a deal.
The gas prices are going to hit Christina Cervantes hard.
She travels from Sacramento to Colusa each weekend to take care of her mother, Mary, and takes a number of other people to doctor's appointments as part of her volunteer work.
She drives about 1,000 miles a month.
The difference between $3.85 per gallon and $4.05 per gallon, which she was paying at Chevron in Colusa, is $150 a month.
Kelcey Leverette of Redding, who was filling up in Williams, said that can be the difference in people being able to pay their bills.
"Every time the price goes up 15 cents, you put people in the poor house," said Leverette, who said he made the decision to move from the Bay Area to Redding three years ago, in part because of the price of gas and general cost of living.
"But it is something you deal with, just like everything else you deal with in life," Leverette said.
Cervantes agrees that complaining will not change things.
However, she believes the increase has more to do with politics than economics.
"I think politicians are getting a share of this, and I would like the Obama administration to do something to balance this out so people can afford to (pay their bills)," Cervantes said.
James Tefford of Woodland, who was getting gas in Arbuckle, said the United States should use its reserves to flood the market with more oil and force the prices down — at least in America.
"I don't expect that to happen because the oil companies spend a lot of money to make sure that doesn't happen," Tefford said.
"Every report I read said demand in the U.S. is down, so prices should be down." he said. "But, obviously, they are not, and the price of gas will keep me from traveling anywhere I absolutely don't have to go."