NEWARK â€“ They say money canâ€™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. â€œItâ€™ll mean a little better Christmas this year,â€ said Dustin McClain, of Newark. â€œI have four boys. Weâ€™ll have a little more put back. I hope (it continues). Itâ€™s nice to see them down, for once, and staying down.â€ 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. â€œItâ€™s fantastic,â€ said Ed Lopeman, of Newark. â€œIâ€™m thrilled to death, especially at this time of year, when Iâ€™m getting ready to travel.â€ 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. â€œI think itâ€™s great,â€ Davidson said. â€œIf 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.â€ 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. â€œI think itâ€™s great,â€ Malcolm said. â€œItâ€™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.â€ Brian Pritchard, of Newark, who expects prices to jump again because of the â€œgreedâ€ of oil companies, said the lower prices are important to him. â€œIâ€™m on the road all the time, and Iâ€™m on fixed income,â€ Pritchard said. â€œA $10 extra in the gas tank means less food or doing without something I need. Itâ€™s extremely hard on people on fixed incomes or the elderly when gas is $3, $3.50 or $4.â€ 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. â€œA lot of it is increase in production in the United States and around the world,â€ Schwind said. â€œThere are ample supplies of crude oil and lower demand worldwide.â€ Itâ€™s not unusual, Schwind said, to see prices fall toward the end of the year, although itâ€™s been four years since they were this low. Schwind explained the reason for the roller-coaster nature of gas prices in Ohio. â€œWeâ€™re in the part of the country with the most volatile gas prices, tied to the Chicago stock market,â€ Schwind said. â€œIt tends to overreact to market factors. â€œAnd there are relatively few companies that own the gas stations in Ohio, so they tend to have a lot of control over prices.â€
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