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Gas prices put the squeeze on locals

By: Cheri March The News Messenger
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Approximately a month after soaring past the $4 mark, gas prices are showing no signs of slowing. By Monday, the California average had hit $4.45 per gallon, up more than $1 from last June, according to AAA. The national average hovered just over $4. Lincoln resident Humberto Miranda said he sank a staggering $100 into the gas tank of his new Chevrolet Silverado at Shell on June 4. “It’s ridiculous,” Miranda said in frustration. “This affects my job, my food, everything. I don’t have a choice because I need to drive.” Jessika Jewett stopped by the Raley’s station one afternoon last week, hoping to skim a few bucks off with her grocery discount. “It just cost me $75 to fill up,” said Jewett. “I feel like it should still be $25.” But like Miranda, Jewett said she doesn’t really have a choice. “The thing is, we have to get from point A to point B, so it doesn’t matter,” she said. Jewett said she’s able to conserve gas somewhat by staying at home with her two children. Her family will still manage a summer vacation. But she said she wouldn’t be surprised to see $5 a gallon by summer’s end – a scenario she’s dreading. And it’s not just consumers who are concerned. Jennifer Ibarra, the owner of Lincoln Florist & Gifts in downtown, said she’s watched fuel costs eat into her shop’s bottom line. “We travel all over rural Lincoln, Sheridan, Pleasant Grove, Roseville and Rocklin,” Ibarra said. “Once you get outside the little city limits, it has big impacts on monthly gas expenses.” Ibarra said the business has had to carefully redesign its routes, so that her delivery drivers don’t waste fuel by visiting the same area twice in one day. “It puts pressure on the designer to have the arrangements ready first thing in the morning so the delivery driver can take them in one run,” she said. “And it doesn’t always happen that way, unfortunately.” Additionally, the florist’s suppliers have increased their surcharge, in some cases by double, she said. “It makes it hard for us little businesses to survive,” she said. “I’ve thought about (not delivering), but I wouldn’t ever seriously consider it. Even though gas is expensive, it’s just a service we provide to our customers.” Just across the street, Old Town Pizza is dealing with the skyrocketing cost of produce – which must be trucked in – and grumbling delivery drivers, who must pay for half their fuel costs on the job. “A lot of (employees) have started walking to work to save money,” said Lindsey Pearson, Old Town Pizza’s morning manager. Pearson herself walks from P Street, a 20-minute trek. But it’s better than filling up her SUV, she said. “Plus I get fresh air,” she said. Despite the pinch at the pump, Pearson said Old Town has no intention of increasing pizza prices anytime soon. “Right now, we’re just handling it day by day,” she said. “We just hope our loyal customers keep coming back.”