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Hannibal Courier - Post - Hannibal, MO
  • National average for gas: $4

  • Today there is both bad news and good news for Missouri motorists.


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  • Today there is both bad news and good news for Missouri motorists.
    First the bad news. Along with the rest of the nation, Missourians learned Sunday that the national average price for a gallon of gas was more than $4 for the first time in history.
    Now for the good news - Missouri’s gas prices remained the lowest in the nation, with the prices Sunday averaging $3.80.
    In Hannibal the price at the pump at nearly all the service stations was $3.85 per gallon for the cheapest gas.
    Several of the motorists pumping gas at the Ayerco Convenience Center at 1208 Mark Twain Ave. Sunday evening said they were doing less driving.
    Mark Fitzpatrick of Hannibal was filling his mid-size sedan, and explained he had a smaller car at home, a Chevrolet Cavalier, but he is still cutting down on his driving. “I’d just like them to lower the price,” he said.
    Shelby Griffin of Fall Creek, Ill., said his Ford Bronco II gets 21 miles per gallon, and he has cut his driving in half. “I used to get 20 gallons every week and now I get 20 gallons every two weeks,” he said.
    As a retiree, he said, “I don’t drive nearly as much now.”
    This is disappointing, he said, because,“I used to just go here and go there. ...Anymore, I just can’t do that.”
    About the price of gas continuing to rise, he declared, “I think it’s plumb ridiculous. The politicians could do something, but they won’t - too many have their finger in the pot.”
    Jeff Ellingsworth of Hannibal was eager to hit the road, with a four-hour drive ahead of him Sunday night. As a vehicle maintenance worker with Burlington-Northern-Santa Fe Railroad, he travels across Missouri. Once at his destination, he drives a BNSF vehicle.
    He must do a lot of driving for his job, however, Ellingsworth is cutting down on driving for his “extra stuff.” His Mercury Sable gets 27 miles per gallon, he said. When not driving to his latest job site, he said, he rides his Harley.
    Leaders of Missouri’s tourism industry expect the state to fare better this summer than some other states, according to Beau Hicks, executive director of the Hannibal Convention & Visitors Bureau. “On Monday (June 2) I was in St. Louis with tourism directors from around the state,” he said.  “We were talking about what to expect, and we expect it will be a bit soft, but we will be in better shape than a lot of other states.”
    Hicks added that people are still traveling - “our hotel numbers are good -  but we know they are going to spend less money.”
    Considering this, Hicks said, Hannibal has a big advantage. “One thing appealing in Hannibal is there’s a lot of free things to do and to see.
    Page 2 of 2 - “On Friday Henry Sweets (curator of the Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum) and I were talking about the increased traffic to the lighthouse, and people going to Lover’s Leap. And they are going to the mall area outside the (boyhood) home and getting their pictures taken.”
    This spring the weather has combined with the gas prices to hurt tourism, Hicks said.
    One thing the HCVB  has done to encourage business for downtown merchants is put together a summer savings coupon book.
    “We had 55 businesses participating,” he said. “The CVB is picking up most of the cost. It was only $20 to be in it. We think it will help drive some traffic to the downtown shops.” This free coupon book will be available in about 10 days at the HCVB and at local hotels.
    “We asked merchants how we could help, and with gas being higher, they said putting together a coupon book would help.”
    The Associated Press contributed to this story

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