(08/31/2005)
By Bob Weaver

Do not panic, this is only a drill.

Well, we hope so.

Gasoline problems are mounting as the cost of crude is rising to $70 a barrel, resulting in pump prices pushing toward $3 a gallon.

Insult to injury, the gasoline availability is hitting parts of West Virginia this week following hurricane Katrina.

Gas prices are spiking above $3 a gallon in the Parkersburg area, with one local resident reporting they paid $3.25 a gallon in Belpre, Ohio.

Ray Holbert, owner of Holbert's Store in Big Bend, said the wholesale price of gas went up 65 cents in two days.

"There is going to be a lot of hurt over this, a thing over which we have no control down here in Big Bend," Holbert said.

"Those of us on the front lines are concerned about our businesses and our customers, but this situation is out of our hands," he said.

Holbert says he will be saving about 100 gallons of gas for someone who is experiencing a family emergency.

Several gasoline providers in Calhoun are either out of gas, or nearly out, but are working on obtaining supplies.

John David Stump, owner of Barker's Mart in Grantsville, says he has been unable to get a delivery and is out of gas.

Just like in other parts of the state, Stump says he has concern for our local emergency services and school buses.

"The state's Office of Emergency Services should be looking into the matter," Stump said.

"I sure don't want to create a panic, but it is a problem, he said.

Stump said his supplier cannot get gasoline from their usual bulk company at Marietta, but told him yesterday they could go to Canton, Ohio, but it would cost $3.15 a gallon wholesale.

"We're concerned about our customers and particularly the folks who have to drive out to work," Stump said.

The Pit Stop at Mt. Zion says they still have low-test at $2.79.

Cha-Tis in Grantsville is reportedly struggling to get gasoline, but has apparently obtained a limited supply, selling it for $2.99 a gallon.

Speedy Mart at Arnoldsburg had low test at $2.92.

Holbert's Store has a small supply of high test gas at $2.99 a gallon.

Ashland-Marathon, which supplies most of the gasoline for the State of West Virginia and county governments and agencies, is coming up short.

Calhoun workers who generally travel 100-175 miles a day to work are in a big crunch.

The crunch is also affecting the cost of products and services, all of which are spiking these past few weeks.


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