Gas prices have been up and down in the last several months and some local entities have taken steps to ease the crunch of the rising costs.

AAA’s Web site shows the average price of a gallon of gas in Oklahoma is $2.20 for regular unleaded and $2.40 for premium unleaded. Diesel was at $2.38 a gallon. National regional averages show a price of $2.28 a gallon.

A quick windshield tour of Tahlequah Saturday shows regular unleaded prices at $2.05 to $2.07 depending on the location.

Rising fuel costs have caused local government agencies to look at some conservation methods.

“We had all our departments come up with a plan when the prices started going up,” said Assistant City Administrator Kevin Smith. “They worked out plans and the departments are sticking with their plans. It’s working pretty good.”

One ot the departments using a large amount of fuel is the police department. Police Chief Steve Farmer said officers have been told to use regular unleaded gas in their patrol vehicles instead of premium.

Farmer said the plan has been in effect since prices started to increase several months ago.

“We’re also doing some other things,” he said. “The officers are working districts and getting out and talking to people.”

Much the same is true at the county level.

Sheriff Norman Fisher said he instructed deputies early on to start using regular unleaded.

“We want the deputies to get out at some of these stores and schools when it’s possible,” he said. “They’re still patrolling, but they’re not driving for eight hours.”

Another major user of fuel in county government is the three commissioner districts. District 1 Commissioner Doug Hubbard said higher gas prices have meant spending about $2,000 a month more in fuel costs in his district.

“It’s about the same in all three districts,” Hubbard said.

The commissioners said the numbers could have been higher, if not for the dry conditions. Some roadwork has been less than usual because of the dry roads.

Tahlequah Public Schools Transportation Director Chris Hall said things aren’t too bad right now in terms of the school district dealing with gasoline prices.

“We caught it early enough that we got a load of fuel when the prices were still down,” Hall said. “We also appropriated some more money for it.”

The district continues to run 18 bus routes. He said TPS is actually helping local residents deal with the increased fuel costs.

“We’re handling more students,” he said. “More are riding the bus. I guess it’s [gas prices] getting hard on some of the families.”

Some helpful tips for conserving fuel are available for those people.

Chuck Mai, spokesman for AAA, says you can stretch that fuel dollar by using an energy conserving vehicle, if you own more than one and one is a less fuel efficient truck, sport utility vehicle or van. He also suggests using premium fuel only if the owner’s manual says you should because it doesn’t give you more power or better performance.

Consolidating trips and errands cuts down on driving time and ultimately fuel use. You should also avoid sudden starts or stops

“Only use the air conditioner [or heater] when needed,” he said. “Keep your tires properly inflated and keep your engine tuned up and your air filter clean.”

Mai also suggests removing excess weight from the vehicle such as items stored in the trunk.

Heating costs are also expected to jump this winter due to the higher gas costs.

Smith and Hubbard both said the unseasonably warm weather so far this winter has kept local agencies from feelng the brunt of higher heating costs.


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