They hiked 9 miles from where their car was stuck in snow before it became waist deep and they couldn’t continue on foot.
In North Idaho for the first time in their lives, Trena and William Sissom – who live in rural Oklahoma near the town of Jennings, and have seven children – were now exhausted, weak, soaking wet from snow and rain and unable to start a fire.
“That night we almost froze to death,” Trena said Saturday from their home in Oklahoma, recalling the details of their five-day, four-night ordeal from a week earlier when they were stranded in the still snowy mountains of the St. Joe National Forest. “That’s kind of still in our heads. It felt like we were out there a lot longer than five days. It’s silent out there, like total silence, except for the animals scurrying and the river roaring.”
On the morning of Monday, April 8, after a brief visit to Coeur d’Alene for business, Trena, 40, and William, 31, set out for Oklahoma, traveling east along Interstate 90 in their Crown Victoria police interceptor.
They decided it would be relaxing to take their time traveling home. Soon after leaving Coeur d’Alene they spotted a sign saying “Scenic Byway.” They decided to take it and turned south on Highway 3 toward St. Maries.
“I like taking pictures, and I like animals,” said Trena.
After reaching St. Maries, they headed east on St. Joe River Road and made it to Avery. They continued east, planning to connect up with I-90 again at St. Regis, Mont. According to their map, the winding road would work.
“It showed that the road went all the way through,” she said.
Though they apparently missed a road closure sign, it was a pleasant drive until about 29 miles east of Avery, Trena said.
“We went around a bend, and then there was snow,” she said.
The car got stuck, and they tried for two days to get it out. They would dig it out, only to get it stuck again.
“The second day, the car died,” she said. “We used over a half of a tank of gas trying to get out. We burnt the rear end up.”
With the battery dead, and nobody showing up to help, they would have to do something, she said.
“We decided to walk, and on the map it showed St. Regis was closer than Avery,” she said.
So they set out on foot toward St. Regis, which they had calculated was about 20 miles ahead.
Avery looked like it was 30 miles or more behind them. They only had a few snacks as they set out. William ate a little, but Trena said she was too upset to eat. They found a bottle of water along the way and also drank from small springs and ate snow.
They both had several layers of clothes and coats on. They wore bags over their feet. He wore cowboy boots, and she had sneakers.
“The snow got really deep,” she said. “It was to our waist in the center of the road.”
Even in good conditions, it’s hard for her to walk vigorously because of back troubles. They just prayed and kept walking.
In the 9 miles, which they kept track of using road markers, they stopped two or three times for rest. At one point they made a fire to dry their clothes off. They had some paper to get the fire going. They also used their map and her hairspray.
But they had to keep moving.
“It was raining, like full-on raining,” she said.
When the snow was too deep they stopped, walked up a nearby hill under some trees and settled down.
“I kind of like passed out, and he was worried,” she said. “He came over and jostled me around.”
They couldn’t get a fire going at this point. They covered up with a blanket.
“Our minds weren’t all there because we couldn’t breathe that good,” she said. “We felt like we were breathing really fast. Plus we were really cold, and we were really wet.”
She said she could feel herself freezing to death.
“That was the part that was traumatizing,” she said. “I was like, ‘God, this is cruel.’ I thought that for about 30 seconds, and then I thought, ‘God is going to take care of us.’”
Doubts did creep in.
“I told (William), I said, ‘We may have to accept that this is where we’re expected to be,’” she said. “Maybe we’re supposed to die up here.”
The next morning, Thursday, April 11, when they finally saw daylight, they were convinced their time wasn’t up.
Still, it was a brutal night on their bodies. They shook hard throughout the night.
“I know it was at least 20 degrees when we were up there,” Trena said. “We froze to the ground. Like literally. Our clothes and everything was stuck to the ground.”
They got no sleep that night, she said. In fact, they didn’t really sleep the entire time they were stranded, which made the days and nights longer.
“He dozed off once,” she said. “He snored and I popped him in the forehead, cause I was like, ‘Shush, there’s animals around here.’”
They had seen all kinds of animal tracks, found a lot of animal waste, and believed they heard elk and wolves at different points.
They decided their best chance was to turn back.
They mustered every bit of will and strength they had left and set out for the car.
“He said he didn’t think he could move his legs,” she said. “Our legs stopped working that night, too.”
They walked back, slipping their feet and legs into the holes in the deep snow they created on the way in. Through severe fatigue and cramping they reached the car.
“We took breaks on the way up there, but on the way back we did not,” she said. “We couldn’t, because if we had we wouldn’t have been able to make it. We walked straight through.”
Once back at the car they tried to light the spare tire on fire to create a smoke signal. But they couldn’t get it lit.
They stayed in the car that night. They talked about getting back to Avery, and of the nearly 20 miles they’d walked the past two days for nothing.
“We were afraid our legs weren’t going to make it to Avery,” she said. “They were really, really bad.”
They were too cold and wet to sleep that night.
They left in the morning with everything they could find that was dry. They also took the blanket they used to cover themselves when they slept in the forest, in case they would be spending another night in the elements. They eventually ditched the blanket along the road because it became too wet and heavy.
“There’s rags and towels and blankets all over that mountain,” she said.
They found several bloody deer carcasses along the road as they hiked back to Avery.
“They hadn’t been there a while because they weren’t there when we drove up, and then there was blood splattered all over the snow,” she said.
All but the animals’ legs had been eaten, she said. “Evidently something went through that was killing animals.”
They had walked about 8 miles when they spotted a pickup truck driven by Darin Thatcher, who was out horn hunting.
Paramedics and first responders examined them when they reached Avery, and Scheffy’s General Store. They were taken to a hospital and treated and released.
“My temperature after being at the store for two hours was 95 degrees,” she said. They said they were told they had moderate hypothermia.
Throughout the ordeal their children – they’re also raising two grandchildren – and family didn’t know where they had gone. The Sissoms couldn’t get a cell phone signal.
“My family thought something had happened to us, like we had been kidnapped,” she said.
Jay Cunningham, of Jay’s Towing in St. Maries, retrieved their car.
“They made a bad choice going up there,” he said. “They’re lucky they made it out of there alive.”
On Saturday, the Sissoms said they still can’t feel their toes, and she can’t feel her fingers. They’re having some trouble sleeping, she said, because of the ordeal.
“We’ve got to go to another doctor, or counselor, because they said it would be kind of like a post-traumatic stress disorder kind of thing,” she said.
They plan to return to North Idaho in the summer.
“Mentally we’re kind of stuck in Idaho, I think, but physically we’re OK,” she said.
SPOKANE - Four North Idaho College students took home several gold and silver awards at the 2013 ADDY Awards in Spokane for graphic design.
The American Advertising Federation-Spokane puts on the annual awards, which is one of the biggest of its kind in the area. All gold and silver awards are eligible for competition at the district level.
“Last year, NIC Graphic Design students received two TMR scholarships (Toni M. Robideaux), the year before two as well, the year before that year – same deal,” said Philippe Valle, NIC graphic design instructor. “The tradition continues: different year, different students, same results.”
Lauren Brandt, of Coeur d’Alene, won a Gold ADDY for a book design cover, two Silver ADDYs for a poster and a logo design, and a TMR scholarship.
Ernie Bauer, of Priest River, won a Gold Addy in the non-traditional advertising category and a Silver Addy for an advertising campaign.
Ryan Maskell, of Coeur d’Alene, won a Silver ADDY Award for a logo design.
Hannah Shields, of Hayden, won a TMR Scholarship. Shields also finished first in the Business Professionals of America Graphic Design category and will represent the state of Idaho in the national 2013 BPA National Leadership Conference in Orlando, Fla. May 8-12.
The era of mobile devices is here, and now. People are spending more time than ever before on their mobile devices, using Internet applications to connect to their entire world of friends and information. A Microsoft study shows that by 2014, mobile Internet usage will overtake desktop Internet usage.
As all the studies predicted, now more than 50 percent of all local searches are done from a mobile device. Driven by bandwidth and a rich ecosystem of “anytime, anywhere” wireless capabilities, mobile activity continues to rise. This means more people are looking for your goods or services from their smart phones and tablets than from their laptops and desktops.
Those who use computing devices to access the Internet, e-mail, watch videos, listen to music or play games now rely on mobile devices to do it better, easier, faster, more portably and more conveniently. As a business owner it is now more critical than ever to understand this digital shift. However, it doesn’t mean you need to do tons of research and become an expert on Mobile Marketing. That would be pretty inefficient, but you do need to be informed before making your decisions.
What Gives Mobile Devices That Edge?
Today’s smart phones are driving the overall increased use of networked applications and Web content. What is it that has so greatly enhanced their appeal?
Service providers now bundle mobile devices with Internet access on faster 3G and 4G networks. Ongoing increases in the growth of public Wi-Fi spots makes it more practical to browse with a mobile device than using a laptop.
With GPS services, your phone knows where you are. Businesses can provide geo-targeted information, guiding users to local products and services.
Internet applications for mobile devices or “apps” allow you to customize a phone to your specific set of wants and needs. The last time I checked there were over 700,000 apps each for both the Android platform and the Apple platform.
In-phone cameras now enable you to make video calls in seconds, record videos, read QR codes and barcodes. The high quality of pictures you can take with your phone eliminates the need for a digital camera.
Capturing and sending media on a mobile device is much faster and easier than transferring images from a camera, or using a camera on a PC/laptop.
Phones are becoming the consumer’s wallet and the retailer’s storefront. Mobile access is being spurred on by the ease of e-commerce, featuring location-based services. Smart phones have made making purchases, reservations, and appointments incredibly easy and seamless.
How Do Mobile Devices Affect My Business?
Make no mistake: The world is turning mobile … right now. Due to the staggering increase in mobile usage, most companies have already optimized their websites for smart phone and tablet users.
Mobile ad spending will become the leading form of Internet ad spending this year, and by 2015 it will be the No. 1 source of overall advertising spending. In most countries, at least 70 percent of the population operates a mobile device. As people get more comfortable searching and interacting on the go, the Internet’s landscape is once again changing, and mobile marketing is certainly at the forefront.
While businesses have been quick to jump onto the mobile marketing bandwagon, not all their choices are positive. Here we offer some advice as well as some common mistakes we see:
The mobile version of your website should be more than just a shrunken version of what your site looks like on a desktop computer. The content, design and interface should be very simple, user-friendly, and attractive and must load quickly.
Many businesses continue to add content that is not mobile friendly. What you need to do is add engaging, relevant content (text, pictures, videos) that is easily downloadable and offers users a pleasant experience.
Mobile users become frustrated when information doesn’t translate correctly on their specific device, so ensure you optimize your campaign for every medium, device, system and browser.
Many businesses will simply use a QR code to drive people back to their original website. This is another way to lose a potential customer. Instead, send users to mobile-friendly landing pages, informing them about specials and promotions. The key is to provide an experience which will hold their interest.
Next week: How to make your website mobile.
Jacob Myong is a WSI Internet Consultant who has worked in digital media for over 15 years. Email email@example.com or call 208-416-5173.
WALLACE – Microbrewing has seen a significant surge in the Northwest in the past decade, and one of the Silver Valley’s own breweries has seen its popularity grow so impressively this past year it caught the eye of a new distributor ready to quadruple the Wallace-based brewery’s output.
Beers from the Wallace Brewing Company have only been available this past year in North Idaho, but now with new distributor Odom Corporation, a selection of Wallace Brewing Company’s beers will be available in Washington, Oregon, Alaska and the 10 North Idaho counties.
Wallace Brewing General Manager Chase Sanborn said he expects having Odom as a distributor will quadruple the brewery’s production and output. He added this was a big step for the brewery.
“We’re very excited to enter a new phase with this great business partner,” Sanborn said. “We’ve undergone tremendous changes in the last year, new quality assurance programs, new recipes, new brewing processes, new equipment and some new personnel. We’re now ready to move forward, having learned from our past, and deliver a great local beer to a large market.”
Wallace Brewing’s stock has been on the rise for a couple of years now, but the real boost came in June when the brewery won its first award for brewing when the North American Brewers Association awarded Wallace Brewing’s Red Light beer the bronze medal in the Irish-Style Red Ale.
Sanborn added that Odom has been watching Wallace Brewing since they began, and he is excited about the partnership and where it will take the brewery.
“I think they can sell more beer than we can make but we want to push ourselves to test that limit,” Sanborn said.
Sanborn said with the new distributor making Wallace Brewing products much more widely available across the Northwest will mean a much busier brewery. He said they are expecting to up their brewing from once to four times a week. Moreover, he also expects to be hiring one or two new employees to help with the new demand.
The new distributor is also excited about the new partnership, saying it will be a relationship beneficial to both parties.
“We’re real excited to add Wallace Brewing’s beers to our line up of quality products,” John Lone of the Odom Corporation said. “We’ve been watching them grow slowly over the last few years and feel they have made the right changes and now we have a local Idaho beer that we can offer throughout Odom’s entire distribution network.”
Sanborn credited the brewery success to its perfectionist-like attention to detail to ensure the beers they brew are of the highest quality.
“We’re very proud that we’re now able to deliver a consistent product. Not only have we developed our own lab at the brewery for testing but we now also send a sample of every batch to an independent third party lab for off-site testing.” Sanborn said. “A lot of people don’t realize that beer is a growing thing and can continue to evolve after brewing if it’s not monitored and controlled. We have processes in place from brewing to shipping that help ensure a consistent product in flavor, carbonation, color, and alcohol level.”
He said that last year the brewery decided to really focus on quality and that’s how they began sending each batch brewed to Alpha Analytics to be tested for quality, and that quality is a major factor in success and longevity.
“There are lots of breweries popping up and you have to set yourself apart and just make great beer and push yourself. We’re doing all we can to make sure we stick around for a while,” Sanborn said. “We’ve got many more people that have come to recognize us … We just want to make the best beer possible, and it’s bringing the fun back.”
Visit the Wallace Brewing website at wallacebrewing.com or the company’s Facebook page for more information about the brewery.
Rathdrum Trading Post Hardware plans to open Jan. 7 at 16484 N. Highway 41. The 10,000- square-foot location, a Do-It-Best store, formerly was Lakeland Hardware.
The renovated store will offer an expanded inventory with power tools and rigging, rental tools and all needed to make the place a one-stop destination. Lumber products and gardening materials will be offered in the spring.
Trading Post Hardware has more than 1,000 member-owned locations in the United States and more than 50 countries. Rathdrum manager Matt Smith will have about 10 employees.
The store will be open daily with hours to be determined. Phone 687-4730.
Motor Heads for repairs, apparel
With more than enough room for vehicle repairs, Motor Heads is a new store at 3645 N. Government Way that also offers snowmobile service and an apparel shop. The 3,500-square-foot building formerly housed Lake City Transmission, which moved to Atlas Road in Hayden.
The full-service auto repair portion includes three bays. Custom performance repairs also are offered for snowmobiles as well as the sale of used rigs, accessories and apparel.
Owners Guy Ravsten and Rod Bauer combine for more than 20 years experience in vehicle repair. Hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays. Phone 664-6388.
Lyman Knee Clinic to Riverstone
The only orthopedic practice in the region specializing solely in knee care, the Lyman Knee Clinic will move to the Oxyfresh building at 1875 N. Lakewood Drive in Riverstone in January.
The expansion from 1,500 to 2,400 square feet will allow the clinic’s seven employees to include a nurse practitioner and an X-ray technician. The clinic uses advanced technology and surgical techniques such as computer navigation and minimally-invasive surgery.
Dr. Jeffrey Lyman moved the clinic to Coeur d’Alene from Scottsdale, Ariz., in 2011. Originally from Moscow, Idaho, he was educated at Occidental College, the University of Washington and the University of North Carolina and studied with a renowned knee surgeon through a fellowship in Sidney, Australia.
Phone 758-0716. Check www.lymankneemd.com.
Hang on for these Tidbits
- Watch for the opening of Bullman’s Wood-Fired Pizza in Riverstone (behind Grooveberries Yogurt). We’ll have details right before it opens.
- The LCDC (Lake City Development Corp.) will soon have a newsletter highlighting Riverstone. When asked my thoughts, I suggested a market such as Trader Joe’s that would actually be a shopper’s destination as well as serve the condo people there.
- The Now & Then resale boutique has moved from Best Avenue in Cd’A to 30640 Highway 200 in Ponderay. The store has furniture, home decor and women’s fashions and accessories. Phone 255-1070.
- Without “art,” “Earth” is simply “eh.” Earth meaning the planet is capped; meaning dirt, it’s not.
- I wondered why the baseball kept getting bigger. Then it hit me.
- Contact Nils Rosdahl at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hecla’s Lucky Friday Mine may not be so lucky.
The Mullan mine was one of six mines singled out for extra precautions.
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration announced Wednesday that the six mines across the U.S. received warning letters placing them on notice about a potential pattern of violations of mandatory health or safety standards. The notice was based on section 104(e) of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977. The PPOV screening from which these letters resulted represents the third since MSHA established the current criteria and procedures in September 2010.
Lucky Friday and the mine in Harlan County, Ky. have not yet returned to active status, although Hecla plans to ramp up activities at Lucky Friday after the first of the year. Lucky Friday was shut down for one year under a MSHA order in December of last year.
Hecla’s Chief Financial Officer Jim Sabela said that MSHA is not instituting any new procedures at this time at Lucky Friday, and that the notice they received was based on the fourth quarter of 2011.
“They expect us to implement procedures to decrease the number of citations,” Sabela said Thursday. “We are already increasing our safety training in preparation for startup in the first quarter (of next year). It remains business as usual.”
MSHA implemented improved screening criteria in 2010 to better identify mines that have been subject to closure orders, including for serious issues such as failing to correct violations cited by MSHA, unwarrantable failures to comply with health or safety standards, failure to provide miners with required training and imminent dangers in the mine.
The criteria better identify mines where these tools have been used but have not been sufficient to improve compliance.
The criteria also consider whether a mine has a high number of significant and substantial violations involving elevated negligence as well as a mine’s injury severity rate, targeting operations that have an above-average injury severity measure.
As a result of the first screening under the improved criteria conducted in October 2010, MSHA issued 17 PPOV notices. As a result of an October 2011 screening, MSHA issued eight PPOV notices at mines that were in nonproducing status, inactive or abandoned.
“The revised potential pattern of violations program, along with other enforcement actions such as impact inspections, is making mines safer,” said Joseph A. Main, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. “The number of chronic violators meeting improved screening criteria has substantially dropped since we began implementing these criteria in 2010.”
The Mine Act provides for enhanced enforcement at mines that exhibit a pattern of violations of significant and substantial health or safety violations. MSHA regulations provide that the agency screens for PPOV mines at least once a year. Mines that receive PPOV notices have the opportunity to implement corrective action programs, and they must reduce their S&S rates to targets set by the agency. Mine operators that do not meet these targets are subject to receiving a notice for a pattern of violations and closure orders.
In addition to Lucky Friday, the other mines that received warning letters include: Ten-Mile Coal Co. Inc.’s No. 4 Mine in Harrison County, W.Va.; Argus Energy WV LLC’s Deep Mine No. 8 in Wayne County, W.Va.; Pike Floyd Mining Inc.’s No. 3 Mine in Pike County, Ky.; D & C Mining Corp.’s D & C Mining Corp. in Harlan County, Ky.; and Noranda Alumina LLC’s Gramercy Facility in St. James County, La.
NEW YORK – Stocks slumped on Wall Street Tuesday after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he was frustrated by the lack of progress in talks over the U.S. budget impasse in Washington.
The Dow Jones industrial average closed down 89.24 points to 12,878.13. The Dow and other indexes had been moving between small gains and losses for most of the day, then turned lower after Reid’s comments in the early afternoon.
“We have to get away from the happy talk and start talking about specific things,” Reid told reporters in televised comments.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 lost 7.35 points to 1,398.94 and the Nasdaq composite index lost 8.99 points to 2,967.79.
Worries about the budget talks have been hanging over the stock market for weeks. Stocks slumped immediately after the Nov. 6 election over concerns that politicians would be unable to reach a deal to trim the deficit before a Jan. 1 deadline.
If that deadline isn’t met, under current law a series of sharp tax increases and spending cuts will come into effect. Economists have warned that the measures could push the economy back into a recession. That deadline has come to be known as the “fiscal cliff.”
“The markets are getting whipped around, rather sharply, on headlines,” said Sal Arnuk, co-founder at Themis Trading. “For example, Harry Reid feeling we’re not making enough progress on the fiscal cliff.”
Last week stocks pared some of the losses that followed the election. President Barack Obama plans to make a public case this week for his strategy for dealing with the issue as he pressures Republicans to allow tax increases on the wealthy while extending tax cuts for families earning $250,000 or less.
The S&P declined as much as 5 percent in the weeks after voters returned a divided government to power, with President Barack Obama returning to the White House and Republicans retaining control of the House.
Earlier in the day, investors took little comfort from the latest deal to deliver financial aid to Greece and increases in U.S. consumer confidence and orders for machinery and equipment.
While stocks have gained this year as the Federal Reserve has maintained it bond-buying stimulus program, concern about global growth and the budget fight in Washington may limit further advances, said Uri Landesman, President of Platinum Partners, a New York-based hedge fund. The S&P is up 11 percent this year, the Dow 5 percent.
“The glass is half-empty right now,” Landesman said.
The S&P rose as high as 1,465 in September, the highest in almost five years, after the Federal Reserve said it would extend its so-called quantitative easing program and buy more bonds. The program is intended to lower borrowing costs and stimulate hiring.
Two reports that suggested that the outlook for the U.S. economy may be improving failed to encourage investors to push stocks higher.
Consumer confidence rose this month to the highest level in almost five years, pushed up by steady improvement in hiring. The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index rose to 73.7 in November from 73.1 in October. Both are the best readings since February 2008.
The government reported separately that U.S. companies increased their orders of machinery and equipment last month, a sign that business investment is rising. Orders rose 1.7 percent in October, the best showing since a 2.3 percent rise in May.
The yield on the 10-year Treasury note edged down to 1.65 percent.
Among other stocks making big moves:
-ConAgra advanced $1.34, or 4.7 percent, to $29.63 after it agreed to buy Ralcorp for $5 billion in a deal that will make it the nation’s biggest maker of private-label foods. Ralcorp surged $18.57, or 26.4 percent, to $88.80.
-Corning Inc., a specialty glass maker, rose 78 cents, or 6.9 percent, to $12.13 after it said that North American television sales are stronger than expected in the fourth quarter, boosting demand for its products.
- Las Vegas Sands Corp. rose $2.33, or 5.3 percent, to $46.36 after the casino operator said it would pay a special dividend of $2.75 per share, distributing about $2.26 billion to shareholders before the end of the year.
-Monster Beverage Corp. soared $6.69, or 13.3 percent, to $51.97 as concerns eased about increased regulation for the energy drink maker following a letter to senators, made public Tuesday, from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
You may pay more than ever for a late-summer drive.
U.S. drivers paid an average of $3.72 per gallon on Monday. That’s the highest price ever on this date, according to auto club AAA, a shade above the $3.717 average on Aug. 20, 2008. A year ago, the average was $3.578.
More daily records are likely over the next few weeks. The national average could increase to $3.75 per gallon by Labor Day, said Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst at Oil Price Information Service. By comparison, gas prices stayed below $3.70 in late August and early September in both 2008 and 2011.
Retail gasoline prices have gone up about 39 cents per gallon, or 12 percent, since hitting a low of $3.326 on July 2, according to AAA, OPIS and Wright Express. Kloza estimates that U.S. drivers are paying $149 million more each day for gas than in early July. That isn’t what the sluggish economy needs, since any extra money that goes to fill gas tanks doesn’t get spent at movie theaters or restaurants.
The price at the pump in the U.S. fell more than 60 cents per gallon during the spring when oil fell as the global economy slowed and turmoil in the Middle East seemed to subside.
But oil has risen to $96 per barrel from $78 in late June. Investors have been worried about disruption to oil supplies in the Middle East and North Sea. In the U.S., there were problems with refineries and pipelines in the West Coast and Midwest, including a fire in California. Seasonal factors are also at play: Summer blends of gas cost more and demand goes up as families go on vacation.
Analysts expect prices to drop after Labor Day, so at least drivers shouldn’t have to worry about a return to the April high of $3.94 per gallon, barring a hurricane or other unforeseen event.
Still, commuters and vacationers are frustrated, said Michael Green, spokesman for AAA. It’s tougher to budget a summer trip and discouraging to see a larger chunk of one’s pay check going toward gas costs. As for a post-Labor Day drop, he said in an emailed statement that, “It would take a significant decline in the price of gasoline for most Americans to feel comfortable with what they pay at the pump.”
Still, that frustration shouldn’t stop people from hitting the road said Brooke Ferencsik, director of communications at TripAdvisor. He said a majority of travelers recently surveyed by the travel advice site indicated they’ll stick to fall travel plans even if they pay more for gas.
Whether pump prices impact the presidential election remains to be seen. But the Obama administration appears to be concerned. A senior administration official told The Associated Press Friday that the U.S. is considering a release of oil from the country’s strategic reserves. It will monitor gas prices to see whether they fall before making a decision.
Across the U.S., prices range from a low of $3.43 per gallon in South Carolina to $4.32 in Hawaii. Arizona, Mississippi and New Mexico also have average prices below $3.50 per gallon, while California and Illinois are up above the $4 mark.
A few drivers are catching a break. Kloza said gas prices are lower than this date in 2011 in four states – Montana, Wyoming, Utah and Idaho. And drivers who recently purchased a new car can stretch a gallon a bit further. The average fuel economy of new light vehicles in the U.S. in July was 23.6 mpg, up from 20.5 mpg at the end of 2008.
Gas hit an all-time high of $4.11 per gallon in July 2008. But a plunge in oil prices knocked it down to $3.69 by the end of August. Though the national average jumped back to $3.85 in mid-September when Hurricane Ike hit the Gulf Coast, it plummeted to $1.62 per gallon by year-end as the global recession took hold.
On Monday, oil fell slightly in New York trading after four days of gains on more concerns about Europe’s economy. European leaders are beginning a series of discussions that could determine Greece’s future and the stability of the 17 countries that use the euro.
Benchmark oil dropped 4 cents to $95.97 per barrel in New York. Brent crude, which is used to price international varieties of oil, slipped a penny to $113.70 per barrel in London.
Other futures prices on the New York Mercantile Exchange:
- Heating oil was flat at $3.09 per gallon.
- Wholesale gasoline rose less than a penny to $3.03 per gallon.
- Natural gas rose 5.7 cents to $2.776 per 1,000 cubic feet.
COEUR d’ALENE - The Kootenai County commissioners voted 2-1 on Thursday morning to grant Idaho Forest Group a permit to expand its 251.6-acre Chilco Mill onto another 46.5 acres.
The conditional use permit, allowing the lumber company to improve operations at the site, had been protested by neighbors of the mill worried about water supply impacts and increased noise pollution.
“That’s a high concern of mine, after my relatives were here and stayed at a hotel because they couldn’t stand the noise,” Kristine Marsan, a neighbor of the mill, told the officials before their deliberations. “They said they couldn’t do it. Too much clanging and banging.”
But Commissioner Dan Green, who voted in favor of the project, noted that the expansion would allow the Athol mill to consolidate operations and make work more efficient.
“It’s weighing building economic prosperity versus the needs of local residents,” Green said.
The vote followed a public hearing continued from last week, to allow for a site visit.
The three elected officials also approved a variance allowing mill buildings to be only 160 feet from a nearby residence, instead of the usual 1,000 feet.
According to the project narrative, expanding onto two adjacent parcels will allow for the relocation of the mill’s parking lot, storage pond and piping network to allow for additional lumber storage.
IFG also plans to construct a 130-foot portal crane to store and water logs more efficiently at the mill. More space is also expected to provide separate room for truck scales, truck tarping and turnaround to relieve lumber yard traffic congestion.
An IFG spokesman could not be reached on Thursday afternoon.
To mitigate impacts on neighbors, some of whom have said they can’t open their windows in the summer because of noise from the mill, the commissioners conditioned that a vegetative buffer on top of an existing berm be completed at once, instead of phased over several months.
“It’s easier to enforce,” Green said. “It’s done or it’s not done, instead of (the county) periodically going back and forth and reviewing the phasing.”
Commissioner Todd Tondee also pressed for a 6-foot, 100 percent obstruction fence at part of the mill’s perimeter, to shield activities from the nearby residence of Larry Tipke.
“If you have lights coming in, it’s something I’d like to see mitigated,” said Tondee, who also voted for the project.
Commissioner Jai Nelson voted against approval.
As for some nearby residents’ concerns about the mill impacting water supply, the commissioners noted that the Department of Environmental Quality has found nothing to support that theory.
“The DEQ, they’re going to keep up and monitor (the situation),” Tondee said.
That didn’t necessarily placate Tipke, whose property line borders the mill’s.
Tipke said on Thursday afternoon he is still concerned the environmental agency won’t follow up on initial water quality monitoring.
He worries that polluted water used to wash logs at the mill could end up in the Chilco Aquifer, he said.
“My concern is if they keep doing this, that the Chilco Aquifer runs into the Spokane Aquifer,” he said. “How many other people have to be affected?”
The project site is located on the west side of Old Highway 95, about 1.5 miles north of Chilco Road.
The Chilco Mill processes logs from North Idaho and Washington and sells lumber throughout the world. The mill employs 226 workers.
SAN FRANCISCO - Analysts expect West Coast gas prices to rise beyond $4 a gallon after a fire knocked out a key section of one of the nation’s largest oil refineries.
Meanwhile, the same U.S. Chemical Safety Board team that investigated the oil spill in the Gulf Of Mexico was standing by with state and company inspectors waiting for structural and environmental tests to see if it was safe to enter the unit.
In all, five separate investigations will be done to determine the cause and effects of the Monday night blaze at Chevron’s Richmond refinery.
“This is an important accident in its own right, it was a large fire and has the potential to affect fuel supplies and prices,” said Dr. Daniel Horowitz, a member of the chemical board.
The average price of regular gasoline jumped in California from $3.86 a gallon on Tuesday to $3.94 on Thursday, according to the website GasBuddy.com.
Some experts expect the disruption in production to last for weeks and push prices beyond $4 a gallon.
“It’ll depend on Chevron getting their facility repaired,” said Patrick DeHaan of GasBuddy.com.
The Richmond refinery produces 16 percent of the region’s daily gasoline supply. The fire knocked out a unit that makes a specialized blend of cleaner burning gasoline that satisfies air quality laws in California, Oregon and Washington.
Sean Comey, a spokesman for Chevron, said myriad factors were pushing gas prices higher, not just the loss of one unit at the refinery.
“There are a variety of economic conditions like rising crude and ethanol costs, which also affect what consumers pay at the pump,” he said.
Comey said the refinery continues to produce gasoline, diesel and jet fuel but in reduced amounts.
Experts said inventories of the cleaner burning gas already were low. With the refinery’s output in question for what could be weeks, analysts say prices could reach $4 a gallon as soon as Friday.
“California has the cleanest-burning gas in the nation, so this is definitely a market disruption,” said Rayola Dougher, a senior economic adviser with the American Petroleum Institute.
California can’t easily replace those supplies with imports from Washington state, Asia and the Gulf Coast, so it’s more difficult to ease the impact of the lost production, Dougher said.
Some analysts believe other refineries in California could make up for the shortfall, if Chevron’s capacity remains limited by the fire.
Tradition Energy analyst Addison Armstrong said California refineries have been producing about 6 million barrels a week, down from 7 million a week last month.