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Area residents welcome cheaper gasoline

November 22, 2008|By MIKKEL WALLECH

TRI-STATE -- With a weakening economy and Thanksgiving just around the corner, the sight of lower gas prices is a welcome relief for many local residents interviewed last week.

Edie Riker, 53, of Summit Point, W.Va., said Wednesday that the lower gas prices will help people get out of the house, ultimately helping the slumping economy.

"With gas prices dropping, I am more inclined to get out of my house and go shopping," Riker said. "With the economy the way it is and people not spending, now is the perfect time for gas prices to fall."

Carolyn Shaw, 61, of Hagerstown, said she thought lower gas prices would help the economy.

"I will not be traveling for the holidays, but due to the current state of the economy, I am excited to see the prices falling," Shaw said.

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Nicola Larson of Shepherdstown, W.Va., said she often travels long distances and, with the holidays approaching, lower gas prices are a relief.

"I'm thrilled. I always have to travel, so I am excited," Larson said. "My wallet is feeling relief and I am optimistic that prices will continue to drop."

Gary Martin, 46, of Hedgesville, W.Va., said higher gas prices would not have prompted him to change his travel plans, but he's not unhappy about the lower prices.

"I would have traveled if they hadn't fallen, but it is definitely a relief," Martin said. "I just hope they stay this way."

Mark Mooney, 53, of Smithsburg, said lower prices have made a short vacation possible for him and his wife.

Their wedding anniversary is next month and, thanks to lower gas prices, "we are going to travel down South for a few days to celebrate," he said. "It's a welcomed relief. Gas is no longer a deterrent ..."

Curtis Cowan, 47, of Hagerstown, said his job forces him to commute on a daily basis, so falling gas prices are great.

"I commute to D.C. every day, so it doesn't matter if it is $2 or $4 a gallon, I have to buy gas," Cowan said. "But it certainly is a relief."




AAA sees drop in holiday travel despite cheaper gasoline



HAGERSTOWN -- Bathroom breaks and questions of "Are we there yet?" aside, that trip to grandma's house is shaping to be a little more bearable this Thanksgiving -- more than $1 per gallon less expensive for area residents.

According to travel services provider AAA Mid-Atlantic, the average price of regular gasoline in Hagerstown was $1.92 per gallon Friday, down from $3.11 per gallon at this time last year.

Even with lower gas prices, AAA Mid-Atlantic forecasts a small decline in the number of Americans traveling during the holiday weekend.

About 41 million Americans are expected to travel 50 miles or more from home this Thanksgiving weekend, a 1.4 percent decrease from last year. In Maryland, the decline in holiday travelers compared to last year is estimated at 1.5 percent, with 795,200 Maryland residents projected to travel.

"This is the first decline in six years, since 2002, for Thanksgiving holiday travel, and is the fourth consecutive travel holiday this year with a year-to-year decline in the number of travelers," said Ragina C. Averella, public and government affairs manager for AAA Mid-Atlantic. "This Thanksgiving holiday, it seems Americans are in a tug of war between their heart strings and their purse strings in terms of travel plans, given the overall state of the economy."

More than 33.2 million Americans -- 81 percent of all holiday travelers -- expect to travel by automobile, a 1.2 percent decrease from a year ago. In Maryland, about 649,600 travelers will take to the roads, a decline of 1.5 percent from last year's holiday.

Prices at individual gas stations are available online at AAA's Fuel Price Finder at http://aaa.opisnet.com.

-- Heather Keels

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