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Fuel prices rise 26 cents in one month

The warm winter weather in Mitchell brought with it a big price jump at the fuel pump over the weekend. According to AAA South Dakota, fuel prices in Mitchell rose to $1.96 per gallon for regular gasoline, up about 15 cents per gallon since last ...

The warm winter weather in Mitchell brought with it a big price jump at the fuel pump over the weekend.

According to AAA South Dakota, fuel prices in Mitchell rose to $1.96 per gallon for regular gasoline, up about 15 cents per gallon since last week and about 26 cents per gallon since Feb. 16.

Marilyn Buskohl, a spokesperson for AAA South Dakota, attributed the rising costs to a decline in gasoline supplies, high demand and refinery maintenance being conducted prior to the switch to producing summer gasoline blends.

Mitchell and eight of South Dakota's larger cities saw an increase over last week's prices, while Huron saw a 2.6 cent reduction. Only Rapid City and Sioux Falls have seen fuel prices drop in the last month.

While Mitchell's average fuel prices sit about 2 cents above the state average, Yankton prices were significantly higher than prices throughout the state at $2.10 per gallon. Despite South Dakota's average increase of about 28 cents in one month, the average price is still about 40 cents lower than it was in March 2015.

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While Mitchell residents are feeling the burden of increased fuel costs, Buskohl said the late winter increase is common and typically comes earlier in the year.

"Normally we see this rise earlier on than what we did this year, but it's pretty typical to see a 30- to 50-cent increase through February to May," Buskohl said Monday.

As of Monday, only Brookings and Yankton had surpassed average per gallon prices of $2, but Buskohl doesn't expect the rise in fuel costs to exceed the $2 per gallon rate by much more than it has in Yankton.

"I don't foresee that they'll get too much over $2.00 per gallon, but I could be wrong," Buskohl said. "There are so many variables with gas prices that one small thing or one refinery shutting down can cause it to fluctuate a lot."

AAA promotes safety first on St. Patrick's Day

While rising gas prices may be burning a hole in the pockets of Mitchell residents, AAA could save locals a few bucks on cab fare on St. Patrick's Day.

AAA South Dakota is offering its free Tipsy Tow service for what Buskohl estimated as the ninth year in an effort to keep drunk drivers off the roads during the holiday.

The Tipsy Tow program is a free tow service available to both AAA members and nonmembers in Mitchell, Rapid City, Yankton and Sioux Falls from 6 p.m. Wednesday to 4 a.m. Friday. By calling 1-800-222-4357, residents in the four cities will have their vehicle towed home. The caller and one additional passenger will also receive a ride.

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Buskohl said many people do not like to call a cab because it requires a vehicle owner to leave their car behind, but she hopes the AAA public service will help keep the roads a little bit safer on St. Patrick's Day.

"Hopefully it will be an attractive enough proposition that people will give us a call," Buskohl said.

In a news release issued Monday, Buskohl said South Dakota had 47 alcohol-related crash fatalities in 2014 and 42 in 2013. AAA encourages motorists to take advantage of the Tipsy Tow service, use a designated driver or call a cab.

Buskohl said the service has not garnered much use in recent years, but she hopes for an increase in use this year in an effort to "keep people safe."

"I've heard different people say, 'Well, there's got to be a catch,' " Buskohl said. "And there is no catch. We're not trying to sell you a membership, we don't take your name or anything like that."

Related Topics: PUBLIC SAFETY
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