Commonwealth Journal

Local News

June 24, 2014

City moves forward with sale of gas

City pumps should be up and running next month

Somerset —

The City of Somerset is officially in the gasoline business. 
City councilors voted unanimously Monday to approve the second reading of Ordinance 14-03. The ordinance effectively allows the city to move forward with its plan to sell gasoline to the public from its fuel center on Chappells Dairy Road.
“You are probably the first (city) in the nation to do this,” Somerset Mayor Eddie Girdler told the councilors.
Councilor Jim Rutherford did not attend Monday’s meeting. 
Girdler several months ago announced that, after much legal research, the city was looking into selling gas to the public. The announcement came after city officials — led by Councilor John Ricky Minton — voiced their displeasure for years at what they called unfair gas prices in the county. 
“It’s been his driving force that’s done it,” Girdler said about Minton. “It took him a couple years to convince us it was the best thing to do.” 
City councilors and members of the public claim Somerset is an island of high gasoline prices, often 20-30 cents more than in neighboring towns and across the state. In May, the council approved a resolution to begin ordering equipment and negotiations with Somerset-based Continental Refining Company as a first step toward entering the private market. 
The city’s decision to sell gas to the public has garnered national attention. The endeavor has been mentioned in a number of national blogging sites and news sites, including USA Today. 
“We will be making more national news,” Girdler told councilors after Councilor Mike New pointed out the amount of attention the city has received. 
The city’s gas station, which had already been used by its own employees and the Somerset Independent School System, will feature 10 pumps in a kiosk, with an attendant on-duty throughout normal business hours. Gasoline, Girdler said, will be available “most hours of the day.”

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