Gas, safety top Memorial Day holiday priorities

Published 1:04 am Sunday, May 25, 2008

NATCHEZ — With gas prices at record highs — the national average for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline is approximately $3.78 — gas station clerk Jacqueline Champ sees her share of sad faces.

Most people don’t complain, but rather are just resigned to having to pay the high prices, Champ said.

“One man paid $136 to fill up his Ford F-150,” Champ said. “That man came in here and handed me the money, but all he did was make a face and say, ‘I will be glad when something happens to bring the price down.”

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Fayette resident James Harried is certainly feeling the squeeze every time he squeezes the gas pump.

“It’s costing me about $100 a week to come to work here in Natchez from Fayette,” Harried said.

According to a report released last week by the AAA, more Americans — approximately 300,000, or approximately 1 percent — will be staying home for the Memorial Day holiday this year than last year.

Harried is one of those people who will be celebrating the holiday without a lot of travel.

“I usually like to celebrate Memorial Day at home, but (gas prices) probably helped me decide that in a way,” Harried said.

For those who will be out on the roads this weekend, local law enforcement agencies will be out to make sure the roads are safe.

Adams County Deputies and Reserve Deputies will be out doing roadblocks to check for seat belt violations, inspection stickers and tags and DWI violations, Sheriff Ronny Brown said.

“We are going to be out in force to try to not have any fatalities this year,” Brown said. “If you drive during the holiday weekend on the county roads, you are going to get stopped.”

In Concordia Parish, Sheriff Randy Maxwell said both road and boat patrols will be increased for the weekend.

“We’re urging everyone to be safe on both the highways and on the lakes this weekend,” Maxwell said. “This is the first big weekend of the summer and there’s sure to be a lot of people traveling on the highways and boating on the lakes.”

One accident is too many, Maxwell said.

“There’ll be people driving, boating and swimming all weekend, so we all have to watch out for one another and remember that the top safety hazards are speed and alcohol — whether it’s a boat, car or truck.”

Like the highway patrols, the boat patrols will be to make sure boaters and jet-ski operators stay within safety guidelines and avoid hazards such as alcohol consumption and excessive speed.

Along with reminding boaters to wear a life jacket, Maxwell said it is illegal for anyone younger than 13 to operate a jet ski.