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Gasoline prices set record

August 10, 2005|by ADAM BEHSUDI

TRI-STATE

adamb@herald-mail.com

Taking up two pumps at the Sam's Club gas station with his truck and trailer, Jesse Luhn had a lot of gas tanks to fill Tuesday.

"It's tearing me up," said Luhn, who operates his own lawn maintenance company and needs to fill not just the tank in his truck, but the tanks in his lawn mowers.

With the price of regular unleaded gas hovering around $2.35 a gallon at stations in Hagerstown, prices have hit record highs across the country.

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At $2.27 a gallon, gas at Sam's Club was a bargain. But for Luhn, who said he pays about $80 each of the three times a week he stops at the gas station to fill his truck and lawn equipment, every visit is painful.

Amanda Knittle, a spokesperson for AAA Mid-Atlantic in Towson, Md., said as of Tuesday the average price of gas in Maryland hit its highest level at $2.38 per gallon. In Pennsylvania, gas prices averaged $2.35 per gallon; in West Virginia, the average price per gallon topped out at $2.37.

Knittle said average prices are based on credit card swipes at the end of the previous day.

With gas prices nearly 10 cents cheaper per gallon than at other stations in town, customers at Sam's Club were grateful for the low prices but still shocked at the overall trend.

Lisa Downie held up her receipt. It cost her $40.73 to fill the tank of her sport utility vehicle.

"I plan my errands very strategically," she said.

Her husband commutes to Frederick in their more fuel-efficient car.

"I have a van and a pickup truck, and it's pretty expensive to fill them up," Bob Neff said, shaking his head as looked at the receipt for the gas he pumped into his truck.

Consumers aren't the only ones dealing with the increase in gas prices.

Travis Sheetz, vice president of operations at Sheetz, Inc., said high prices have a negative effect on the supplier.

"It is not good for us," Sheetz said. "We're a low-cost retailer, our costs go up just like everyone else."

He said three factors go into how much a consumer will pay per gallon at the pump: The pure costs a retailer pays for gas from a larger supplier, the capacity a store can handle and local competition from other gas stations. Competition, Sheetz said, has the most impact on how much gas will cost.

He wasn't optimistic about any imminent relief from the record-breaking prices.

"It's been a couple of years now and we've had constantly rising gas prices," Sheetz said. "I think we're in for the long haul."

Luhn said he tries to work longer days so he doesn't have to travel as much to Frederick, where most of his clients are.

"It just puts a crunch on a small business," he said.

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