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Lower gas prices may mean more holiday travel, gifts


NEWARK – They say money can’t buy happiness, but local residents are going to give it a try this holiday season. Lower gas prices mean more funds available to visit far-away family during the holidays and spend a little more on Christmas presents, local residents said. The average price in Ohio for regular unleaded gasoline dropped below $3 on Oct. 24, the first time it had been that low since Dec. 21, 2010, according to AAA Ohio Auto Club. The peak average price in Ohio was $3.70 on April 28. The lowest was $2.84 on Nov. 10, but local stations dropped as low as $2.75 before a jump of about 20 cents. The local price was about $2.85 to $2.89 on Friday. “It’ll mean a little better Christmas this year,” said Dustin McClain, of Newark. “I have four boys. We’ll have a little more put back. I hope (it continues). It’s nice to see them down, for once, and staying down.” Several motorists who stopped for gas Friday at the BP station on Deo Drive said they will enjoy the savings when they travel out of state for Thanksgiving. “It’s fantastic,” said Ed Lopeman, of Newark. “I’m thrilled to death, especially at this time of year, when I’m getting ready to travel.” Lopeman, who plans a trip to North Carolina for Thanksgiving, said he expects prices to remain low for a while. Wendy Davidson, a Newark resident heading to northern Virginia for Christmas, said she will enjoy it as long as it lasts. “I think it’s great,” Davidson said. “If they will just stay that way. It goes up every time the holidays come around. I fill up my tank now, and it lasts twice as long.” Government projections are for the low prices to remain not only through the holidays but all of 2015 as well. The Energy Department predicted an average price below $2.94 a gallon in 2015, a 44-cent drop from the outlook a month ago. Kacy Malcolm, of Newark, said the lower prices are a real benefit for her job. “I think it’s great,” Malcolm said. “It’s wonderful. I do home health for a living. It means me being able to fill my gas tank a little more. I run from home to home. That (lower price) helps a lot in my business.” Brian Pritchard, of Newark, who expects prices to jump again because of the “greed” of oil companies, said the lower prices are important to him. “I’m on the road all the time, and I’m on fixed income,” Pritchard said. “A $10 extra in the gas tank means less food or doing without something I need. It’s extremely hard on people on fixed incomes or the elderly when gas is $3, $3.50 or $4.” Kimberly Schwind, spokeswoman for AAA Ohio Auto Club, said lower crude oil prices have caused prices to fall at the pump. Supplies are up and demand is down, she said. “A lot of it is increase in production in the United States and around the world,” Schwind said. “There are ample supplies of crude oil and lower demand worldwide.” It’s not unusual, Schwind said, to see prices fall toward the end of the year, although it’s been four years since they were this low. Schwind explained the reason for the roller-coaster nature of gas prices in Ohio. “We’re in the part of the country with the most volatile gas prices, tied to the Chicago stock market,” Schwind said. “It tends to overreact to market factors. “And there are relatively few companies that own the gas stations in Ohio, so they tend to have a lot of control over prices.”

 


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