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Truckers, shoppers all feeling rising fuel prices
Casey Cornwell shops for dinner Tuesday afternoon. Rising grocery costs have not changed what he considers having for meals. - photo by Alena Parker / Coastal Courier
Last week's truck-driver protest wasn't visible in our area, but the same forces that prompted drivers to stop for short periods are changing how the average person shops here.  
Ron Howard, a trucker from Midway, participated in a strike on April 3 with an estimated 15 other drivers at a fast food restaurant in Douglas.  They parked their 18-wheelers with signs posted in the windshield.
"All day long we got honks and waves from people," Howard said. "They realized that we're not just doing this for us."
He said the strike was to protest $4 a gallon diesel fuel.
Those runaway prices at the pump are affecting other areas of the economy, causing food prices to go up with it.
Dr. Bill Levernier, an economics professor at Georgia Southern University, agrees the cost of living is rising because of fuel prices.
"Not only does it cost them more to drive, but it costs them more to buy virtually anything that has to be transported to market," Levernier explained.
When Carey Cornwell stopped by Wal-Mart after work for something to make for dinner, he did not change his plans because of the higher prices.
"It doesn't matter," Cornwell said. "I got to eat, don't I?"
"There isn't much they can do about the prices," Levernier said. "Since many of these products, like food products, are things people will have to continue buying."
Glenda Cook has always been a coupon clipper, but has had to "tighten up a little bit more."
"I know how to stretch a dollar until it screams," she said.
Cook tracks different store prices and has all the local groceries' discount cards.
"I know if something has gone up 10 cents because I compare prices a lot," she said.
Shelley Williams looks for coupons to print out from the Internet and takes advantage of tax-free shopping at the Fort Stewart Commissary.
She said she always considers the price before she buys, "unless it's something I really want."
Frednell Walthour said her income is flexible enough to keep up with the climbing costs. But she considers those who are finding it hard to make ends meet because of the spike in consumer goods.
"I feel for the elderly because I noticed how they're on fixed incomes and these things are continuously going up," she said. "I'm willing to spend, whereas they cannot spend like they want."
Walthour is now keeping her own elderly mother in mind when at the grocery and "accommodates for what she (her mother) cannot accommodate for."
"As long as fuel prices continue to increase sharply, we will continue having a relatively high inflation rate," Levernier said.
"The price charged for an item depends on its production cost and on the cost of transporting it to market," he explained. "Generally, it costs more to transport something a longer distance than a shorter distance."
Howard, the trucker, knows firsthand how mileage can make a dent in rates. He continues to make runs to all 48 continental states, but has had to recently cutback in other areas.
He changed his operations, coming home typically twice a month instead of every weekend.
He has also tried saving fuel by driving slower.
His rig has a 240-gallon diesel tank and gets an estimated six miles per gallon. A fuel surcharge on freight is "not sufficient to cover the $4 gas."
"I think the problem we have with our strike is we could not get sufficient participation," Howard said. "I don't think it (the strike) will continue long term."
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