Gas protest gets scant support
The organizer hopes support for her two-day gasoline boycott will increase.
By VIRGINIA ROSS
NEW CASTLE, Pa. -- Shirley Sallmen has been operating her advertising business for 14 years. But with gasoline prices increasing almost daily, the Shenango Township woman said she doesn't know how much longer she can keep her small company, Shirley Shopper, afloat.
"With gas costing so much, I don't know that it will be worth it to keep working," said Sallmen.
On Saturday, she waited at the Vale' maria Manor parking lot on U.S. Route 224 in Union Township for local residents to respond to an effort she is coordinating to try to put the brakes on high gas prices. She is asking the public to boycott gasoline next Saturday and Sunday. She had hoped some truck drivers, sales people and other area residents who rely on their vehicles to make a living would have met her at the parking lot Saturday afternoon. But fewer than a dozen people showed up.
"I'm disappointed," Sallmen said. "But just because they're not here today doesn't mean they can't make a difference next weekend. That's what I'm really hoping, that we can all pull together next weekend."
Meanwhile Saturday, the price for a gallon of regular gas at various service stations and convenience stores throughout Western Pennsylvania and Northeast Ohio ranged from about $2.51 to $2.69, marking an increase of at least 40 cents a gallon at many locations over the past few months. Sallmen said her fear is that a gallon of cost could cost between $3 and $5 by Labor Day.
"It's just too much money," she said. "Look at how much it could cost, how much it's costing now, to go anywhere. All I'm asking is for two days.
"If no one bought any gas the entire weekend, what a statement that would make. What would the people in Washington, D.C., think? If we could do this, we would be sending a message that something has to be done and we're not going to just sit back and let this happen to us."
Sallmen said she contacted several trucking companies last week and received a lot of verbal support. She said some company representatives said they had tried a similar approach to fight increasing gas costs a few years back but received backlash for their efforts.
"I think some people are just afraid," she said. "But if this keeps up, what are any of us going to do? We won't even be able to pay for the gas we need to get back and forth to work. It's hard enough on business people and families to make it these days. I don't think it's that much for any of us to set two days aside to make our point. It's something we all need to do. If you need to drive, fill your tank up on Friday. I think if we work together, we could send our message loud and clear. & quot;