The cost-of-living crunch

Tracy resident John Novy fills up his gas tank at Casey’s General Store in Tracy at $3.89 per gallon last Friday. Photos / Per Peterson

Frustration persists over soaring prices in various aspects of our lives

By Per Peterson

A little more than three years ago, the price of a gallon of gas in Tracy was $2.21.

That was then, this is now. And the now, complete with a price tag for that gallon of gas at $3.89, is stressing all motorists.

Take Tracy resident Lisa Towne. Her commute from Tracy to Wilmont for her job at Vestas American Wind Technology covers more than 40 miles, one way. And with gas prices flirting with $4 a gallon, that journey is taking a toll.

“It’s extremely frustrating,” Towne said Friday, as she filled up her tank at Casey’s, Tracy’s only (full service) gas station. “It’s hard. I drive almost an hour to work every day.”

Towne gets some compensation from her employer as an expense, but with rising gas prices, it doesn’t make much of a difference in her checkbook when she’s on the road for more than 80 miles a day.

“It hurts, really bad, because it’s not just my car, I’m filling my son’s (car),” she said. “It gets to be expensive. Everything is — we did break down and have a steak the other day just because we hadn’t had one in so long.”

Prices on everything from fuel to groceries has indeed continued to rise, putting a new burden on everyone’s bottom line. The latest cause has been the war in Ukraine, which has resulted in a reported 20% rise in food prices compared to two months ago. Oil prices, of course, resulted in the spike at the pumps, but have backed off since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Brent crude neared $140 per barrel right after the war started but has since pulled back. Still, oil prices are high enough that motorists continue to feel the pinch at the pump.

“My heart goes out to all the people over there who are in the middle of it,” Towne said of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. “It’s having a big effect on us, too. Everybody’s being affected by it, with the rising grocery prices. I do my mom’s grocery shopping and her lists are getting smaller and smaller. She’s watching every penny she has. But we have no choice, we just have to deal with it — that’s the hard part, just having to deal with it.”

John Novy, a Tracy resident for two years, is equally frustrated.

“It’s crazy,” he said. “I’m older, so I’ve seen it be this bad before, but … it doesn’t need to be this high.”

Novy, who works at Premium Plant Services in Tracy, said he doesn’t pay much attention to the news and the reasons behind the rising cost of just about everything these days. Like so many others, he simply goes about his life and deals with those rising costs.

Gas prices in Minnesota averaged $3.91 Tuesday, according to AAA. If you think that’s bad, consider the average price for a gallon of regular, unleaded gas in California on Tuesday was $5.86 and $5.13 in Nevada.

See this week’s Headlight Herald for more on this article.