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January 15, 2015     Lovell Chronicle
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January 15, 2015
 

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6 I The Lovell Chronicle I January 15, 2015 Gas retailers pleased as price of fuel plummets BY DAVID PECK As gasoline prices have plummeted nationwide, the effect has been felt here in North Big Horn County, too, and that plunge brings a smile to local gas station owners, even as they worry about the effect on the local economy. Minchow's Service own- er Jim Minchow said he re- calls the price of unleaded (regular) gas reaching as high as $3.79 per gallon, and the price was around $3.49 a gallon about a month and a half ago before the plunge. This week the price at Minchow's and other local stations and convenience stores stood at $2.17 per gallon, a drop of $1.32 in the last five or six weeks. Minchow said he's not sure about the reasons for the fall in prices nationally. "You wonder if it's gov- ernment controls or what- ever," he said. "You hear that the federal govern- ment wants to increase the federal gas tax or it's over- seas - a way to force Russia back in line because their economy is so dependent on gas and oil. Or maybe it's ISIS. They were making millions on the oil and you wonder if it doesn't go along with that. "You wonder if it doesn't have to do with the Key- Gas prices have reached $2.18 in North Big Horn County, following the national plunge in the price of oil. stone Pipeline, too. They could say we don't need it because there's plenty of supply. Who knows? It's far above our heads, but it's nice when we get a load of fuel that's a third to half less than it was. People seem to be enjoying it, be- cause they should." On the other hand, Minchow said, a glut of oil could mean reduced drill- ing, leading to a slowdown in the related bentonite in- dustry, which could cost lo- cal jobs. "I worry about our econ- omy with the bentonite," he said, "the plants and strip- ping and hauling. It could shut that all down (if drill- ing slows or ceases)." Minchow said he real- ly hasn't seen an increase in business at his sta- tion because of the time of year. He said people may have enjoyed Christmas more if they had a few ex- tra dollars in their pocket, but with cold weather and sometimes questionable roads this time of year, peo- ple aren't driving as much. He said he hopes lower pric- es will allow parents to follow their kids to school activities easier. "With warmer weather we'll see more travel," Min- chow said. "Road conditions haven't been good enough to see if people will travel more." As of mid-week, the na- tional average price of gas- oline was $2.12 per gallon, according to the American Automobile Association, and some areas are well under $2, including South- east Wyoming. Asked why prices in Northwest Wyoming are higher, Minchow said west- ern Wyoming is further by pipeline from Southeast Wyoming. Even Casper is higher than Lovell right now, he pointed out. "We used to be able to order our gas out of Casper and save 12 to 13 cents per gallon, but that's not the case now," he said. "Plus, shipping costs about 12 to 13 cents (per gallon) from Casper, whereas Billings gas is about 5 cents per gal- lon to ship. Billings stations pay a flat rate, and we pay for distance and time for the trucking." Gas taxes factor into the price, too, Minchow said. He said there is a fed- eral tax of 18.4 cents per gallon, and the Wyoming state tax is 23 cents per gal- lon, plus 1 cent for storage tank cleanup in the state. Diesel has a higher federal tax at 24.4 cents per gallon, Minchow said, noting that prices soared when the fed- eral government required refineries to take sulfur out of diesel for environmental purposes. Minchow said gas sta- tion owners are happy when the price of fuel comes down. "It definitely does (make him happy)," he said. 'Tou want to be fair to your customers and treat them right, and you want them to get a good product. It makes me happy when I don't have to pay as much so I can pass that on, and they're excit- ed when they don't pay as much. "What dictates the price is the product in stock. We always average the price between the gallons in the tank and what the new price is, whether it's up or down." Minchow said his sta- tion buys gas from the Exxon-Mobil refinery in Billings. Until a few months ago, Minchow was able to resist purchasing gas with eth- anol in it, feeling that the bio fuel is bad for engines. But now he can only pur- chase premium with no eth- anol, so he is adding an ad- ditive, Mix-I-Go, to his fuel, which he said stabilizes the fuel and add lubricity to the fuel, which is good for fuel pumps and injectors. The additive also removes moisture so the fuel burns cleaner and provides better gas mileage. But he said the additive does add about 3 cents per gallon to the price of gas. Editor's note: The Chronicle left a message for Conoco Country Store own- er Lisa Dickerson on Tues- day, but she was unable to return the call by press time. 4- Bighorn Canyon proposing higher campground fees Bighorn Canyon Na- tional Recreation Area is proposing a modifica- tion to camping fees, be- ginning in May of 2015. This proposal is part of a larger National Park Ser- vice (NPS) effort that is under way across the na- tion. Parks are authorized to change recreation fees in 2015 to align with the NPS's new standard fee schedule, which was last updated in 2006. The proposed increase will increase camping fees for sites at Horseshoe Bend with water and electrical hook-ups, also known as utilities sites, from $15 per night to $20 per night. The park is proposing a flat rate of $10 per night for the remaining front-coun- try campsites, which are available without water and electricity at Horse- shoe Bend, Trail Creek/ Barry's Landing, Afterbay and Grapevine Creek. All "boat in only" sites would remain free of charge. While other parks are also looking at increas- ing entrance fees, Bighorn Canyon will not be in- creasing these fees. Big- horn Canyon entrance fees will remain at the cur- rent rates: Bighorn Can- yon Daily Pass, $5, and the Bighorn Canyon An- num Pass, $30..The fees for interagency passes will be unchanged by this pro- posal and will remain at the current rates: Annual Pass, $80; Lifetime Senior Pass, $10; Lifetime Access Pass, free; Annual Military Pass, free. More than 80 percent of fee revenues are rein- vested directly back into Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area. Recently funded projects include a new historic ranch exhib- it at the Bighorn Canyon Visitor Center in Lovell and improvements to the amphitheater in the After- bay Campground at Fort Smith. Future revenues from the proposed modification will be used to enhance visitor services, including maintenance of park facili- ties, additional upgrades to campgrounds, restoration of historic buildings and landscapes and additional park interpretive and edu- cational programs. Bighorn Canyon will be taking public com- ments regarding the pro- posal until Feb. 10, 2015. Those who wish to com- ment on proposed camp- ground fee modification may enter comments on- line at the National Park Service website Planning, Environmental and Public Comment Site (http://park- planning.nps.gov) or may mail comments to Chris- tiann Tillman, Fee Coordi- nator at Bighorn Canyon NRA, P.O. Box 7458, Fort Smith, MT 59035 or email comments to christiann_ tillman@nps.gov. Greenfield named assistant library director The Big Horn County Library Board and Director Donna Capellen announced the board has hired an as- sistant director for the Big Horn County Library System. Christina Greenfield of Basin accepted this posi- tion effective Dec. 1, 2014. "Ms. Greenfield has done an excellent job as an employee with the Big Horn County Library in Basin. She has served as the branch manager for the last year and will con- tinue to serve the library in this position as well as taking on the duties of the assistant director. We wel- come her and look forward to serving with her," Ca- pellen said. No Health Insurance? Sponsored by Don't let medical costs beat you up! loin us at a Marketplace Access Event on Wednesday, Jan. 21 from 6-8 p.m. Multi-purpose room of New Horizons Care Center. Trained navigators will be here to explain the marketplace and provide enrollment assistance. Anyone is welcome to attend. Big 00orn 00Cospital/strict 1115 Lane 12, Lovell, WY 307-548-5200. www.nbhh.com Ir acelook Enroll Wyoming Navigators are ready to guide you to affordable health coverage. Looking for an OB provider? How about a Certified Nurse Midwife? Now offering outreach clinics in Basin and Lovell. In Basin every ]-hursday Midway Clinic- 388 ttighway 20 In Lovell every 2nd Wednesday North Big Horn Hospital Clinic- 1115 Ln 12 Sharae Bischoff, CNM, APRN Certified Nurse Midwife For appointments, please call 754.7770 Ortoll free -- 888.284.9308 Shame Bischoff CNM, APRN Certified Nurse Midwife Stock Up and Red Heart Super Savers 4/Sll Spice Time Spices 99 54 t. Storage Tote Suet Plus s.49 5/s4