Prius

Sam and LuAnn Field show off their 2006 Toyota Prius hybrid car.

When Dan Buening retired from Quebecor World several years ago, he hoped to use his free time to travel, such as many retirees do.

But with gasoline prices topping $3 per gallon recently, Buening spends much of his time reading books or newspapers at Village Square Mall less than a mile from his home.

“I don’t drive as much as I used to,” Buening said. “I don’t go out and eat as much. I don’t shop as much. And I avoid all trips.”

Buening said he’d love to visit Branson, Mo., Chicago or Indianapolis from time to time, but the high gas prices preclude those outings.

“When I retired two years ago, I thought I would get out and travel a little bit, but it’s just too costly.”

Linda Wiedman said she has stopped driving out of town for trivial reasons.

“We’ve stopped going out of town for no particular reason,” she said. “We think twice if we really need to go.”

Local business owners also have been hit by gasoline prices that were at $3.09 per gallon in downtown Effingham this morning.

“I have reorganized my schedule,” said Paula Rohwedder of Altamont, operator of Paula’s Cleaning Service. “I do houses in the same part of town on the same day.”

Rohwedder said she has successfully resisted raising her rates by such schedule-juggling. But she added the higher gas prices do cut into the time she spends with her family.

“On the nights I clean the Cancer Center, I stay in town for two or three hours instead of going home and coming back,” Rohwedder said. “Before, I might have gone home to eat dinner with my family. So I’m sacrificing my family for the gas.”

But Rohwedder said she’s still planning a family vacation this summer.

“We’re still going away in two weeks, but we haven’t been anywhere in six years.”

Even younger drivers are feeling the pinch.

“It took $35 to fill up my tank,” said Lake Land College student Jenna Slone, a 2005 graduate of Effingham High School. “It’s crazy.

“I have a lot less spending money now,” Slone said. “Once school starts, I’ll be putting so much spending money in the gas tank that I won’t have anything left.”

Bill Grimes can be reached at 217-347-7151 ext. 132 or bgrimes@effinghamdailynews.com.

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