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Rising fuel prices hit poor hardest

‘Someone needs to write about Chevron,’ Ron Frederick said Thursday while preparing food at his Corydon restaurant. The oil giant had just announced that its first-quarter profits had soared 49 percent.
That afternoon, a painter fueling up his truck at Cowboys Food Mart for $2.89 per gallon said he was paying $300 a week for fuel to reach job sites. Two years ago, the same gas would’ve cost him $100 less.
ExxonMobil’s reported first-quarter profit was $8.4 billion, the fourth largest ever reported in any quarter for a Standard and Poor 500 company.
Anthony McGuire, 19, of Corydon bought $5 of gas which would take him to work the following morning. That put a little less than 1-1/4 gallons in his tank.
‘I don’t drive my truck much. I just sit at home,’ he said.
ConnocoPhillips reported a 13-percent increase, amounting to a net income of $3.29 billion.
Bill Saltsgaver of Depauw gassing up his ’56 Chevy created an obscene image. However, the engine and other components have been replaced, allowing the classic to get about 20 miles to the gallon. His truck, on the other hand, has been parked by high fuel costs.
Those three oil companies profited a combined $64 billion last year, and they’re already up 17 percent this year.
Rand Heazlitt’s pick-up is still rolling. He drives it to his Louisville art and pottery business, ‘Thrown Together.’
‘I try not to make any trips I don’t have to make. It hurts hugely,’ said Heazlitt, who spends about $125 on gas each week. But, he said, what he is really bracing for is the inflation that high fuel prices are bound to create.
It’s clear that high fuel prices don’t affect everyone equally. For some, they’re absolutely devastating.
‘For people living with few options ‘ from paycheck to paycheck ‘ any increase in a necessity increases vulnerability to failure to maintain the basics: food, clothing, shelter, medical care,’ said Shirley Raymond, executive director of Harrison County Community Services.
‘People who we work with often drive older, fuel-ineffecient vehicles out of necessity. For entry-level wages for those commuting out of county, two hours of take-home pay is often needed just to get to work,’ Raymond said.
About 9,000 Harrison County residents commute out of the county to their jobs, according to a June 2003 study by Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business. More than 3,000 commute into the county.
In recent weeks, Harrison County Community Services has averaged three requests per day for gasoline assistance from individuals who couldn’t make it to work or medical appointments, including chemotherapy treatments. And one family requested assistance so that members could visit a critically ill, hospitalized child.

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