Gas prices continue to increase

By Jennifer Lassiter
Star Staff
jlassiter@starhq.com

   With crude oil prices reaching around forty dollars a barrel, Saudi Arabia, a leading OPEC producer, is pushing for more production, but until OPEC meets in June, the price of gas is expected to increase.
   This time of year is especially crucial, since typically consumers purchase more gas during summer and plan more vacations.
   In Johnson City last month, gas prices rose 4.24 percent, and some Elizabethton residents are raising more than just eyebrows around town. Local citizens and volunteers have banned together to form the organization The Voice of the Common People.
   The group was formed after local residents Dale Landingham, 39, and Lincoln Anders, 37, witnessed a senior citizen at a local gas station crying over whether to get more gas or a gallon of milk.
   Many senior citizens in our area live on fixed incomes, and increasing gas prices are affecting their daily lives. Landingham, who is disabled, also survives on a fixed income.
   "Later that evening we were cookin' out and decided to do something about it," said Landingham.
   Citizens are rapidly getting the signatures of "common" people to send to state legislators. Anders said, "We hope to wake up Congress and the president. "
   About 75 volunteers are helping gather signatures from all over the county, state and nation. This Saturday alone the organization garnered over 3,000. "We already have support in 12 other states," said Landingham.
   However, the group has run into bumps along the way as some local businesses, mainly large corporations, aren't letting them use their parking lots to raise support. "They say we are soliciting," Landingham said.
   Landingham's daughter, Morgan, 9, is also involved in the organization and, like most children, her optimism is unshakeable. "I think we will be successful, and prices will go down," she said.
   Landingham believes the project is a good way to teach his daughter about current events and the economy.
   The group also plans to build a Web site. "A Web site will help us network with other groups around the nation," Anders said. TVOCP hopes to eventually get people to sign their petition via e-mail.
   "The main thing people are saying to us when they sign the petition is, 'Why are gas prices so high?'," said Landingham, "I tell them to ask our senators the same question."
   Anders, who is a former truck driver, said, "Gas prices effect everything, and if truckers strike prices will jump even higher."
   The future of The Voice of the Common People is certain, according to Landingham, "Yes, we will be successful because we have the everyday people behind us."
   Those interested in volunteering for The Voice of the Common People, should call Dale Landingham at (423) 547-9517, Lincoln Anders at (423) 543-5102, or e-mail andersiwn@wmconnect.com.