NC Gas Prices Continue to Trend Downwards

AAA Carolinas reports that the gas prices in North Carolina are the lowest they have been in more than a month and drivers are paying less this July than the July of last year; this trend is predicted to continue as the summer progresses.

Public Relations Manager at AAA Carolinas, Tiffany Wright, says that the drop in gas prices this past month is certainly impressive, and that this current trend in prices is not going to stop yet.

“Gas prices are trending downward, and that’s something I think is going to continue,” says Wright. “When you look at the fact we’ve seen North Carolina’s average gas price drop 12 cents in a month, I think that’s saying a lot.”

She attributes to the recent decline in prices to a greater reliance on gathering oil within the U.S.

“They’re trending down right now because right now we are producing a ton of oil domestically,” she says. “So, as we rely less on overseas oil and, at the same time on our end, consume less, that results in declining prices at the pump.”

Because of this dependency on oil we have accessed on our own soil, Wright says that gas prices are not being heavily affected by the conflicts going on in the Middle East.

“It’s a little opposite of what you think would be happening right now, everything that’s going on overseas,” says Wright. “Despite that, oil prices are expensive, and they remain expensive, but they’re relatively stable right now because oil production and export levels, they haven’t really noticeably changed that much. So, we really aren’t having to rely that much overseas.”

While the unrest in Russia progresses as well, Wright says she believes that as long as we stick to our oil supply, we will not encounter much difficulty.

“It’s hard to tell,” she says. “As long as we keep producing as much as we’re producing domestically, I don’t think that will be a problem.”

Wright says she expects travel to continue to as usual, and gas prices will continue to fall below less than what they were around this time last year.

“July and August typically are the busiest driving months of the year, but right now gas prices, they’re really in a good position,” says Wright. “For the remainder of what we call the ‘summer driving season,’ gas prices might actually cost less than in recent years this August, just as long as the refinery production continues and remains strong.”

To see the AAA Carolinas gas price chart that compares prices from this year to last year, click here.

Russia Tops Olympic Medal Count, US Second

The 2014 winter Olympics, marking the 22nd winter games, came to a close yesterday, and the United Statse did not fare in the medal count the way it expected.

The host country, Russia, took the most medals, including the most gold medals. With 33 overall, the Russians took five more than the next highest count held by the Americans. The Russian Federation bested Norway for the most gold medals, 13, and took one more silver medal than Canada with 11.

One of the biggest disappointments for the US was in hockey. Hockey powerhouse Canada, which took the gold medal, knocked the United States out of the gold-medal game with a 1-0 decision in the semifinals. After that heartbreaker, the Americans were trounced in the bronze-medal game 5-0 to Finland.

The US women took the silver medal in ice hockey after falling to Canada, 3-2 in overtime.

Shaun White was also expected to take gold again in the snowboarding halfpipe, but he missed the podium by two points.

In all, Americans brought home the fourth-most gold medals, nine, seven silver medals, and the most bronze medals, 12, totaling 28.

The next chance for winter Olympians takes place in Pyeongchang, South Korea in February 2018.

In two years, the summer Olympics head to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Council Asks For Public Input Before Cutting Ties To Sister City

CHAPEL HILL – The Town Council decided Monday to postpone a decision about severing ties with Saratov, Chapel Hill’s sister city in Russia. The country’s anti-gay policies prompted a petition to end the relationship, but the Council delayed taking action to have more time for public input.

The petition was proposed by Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt and council member Lee Storrow last month in response to Russia’s growing discrimination and violence against its lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens. Both leaders are openly gay.

Storrow explained that the postponement wasn’t an indication of what the Council will ultimately decide, but rather an acknowledgement of the differing opinions surrounding the issue. He added that occasionally a petition that is non-controversial or doesn’t have much substance to it will be taken up immediately by the Council.

“Mark and I and the rest of the Council thought it would be best to schedule a public hearing in either September or October,” Storrow said.

An excerpt from the statement released by Storrow and Kleinschmidt last month said: “As openly LGBT politicians, the visuals and news stories coming out of Russia since the enactment of Russia’s new anti-Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) law banning “homosexual propaganda” have been heartbreaking.”

They added that Chapel Hill currently has no communication with Saratov, and due to the enactment of Russia’s anti-LGBTQ policies, they saw no reason to keep the relationship even in name. Storrow said that elected officials in Saratov have not responded to the statement.

Some Chapel Hillians, though, have expressed their desire use the Town’s relationship to show the importance of tolerance.

“I think that there is a way we can take a stance that includes ending the ties and severing the relationship, or there might be another creative solution we can talk about,” Storrow said. “I look forward to getting that input during the public hearing.”

Storrow said the non-profit group, Equality NC, emailed several cities in the area last month, asking them to consider ending relationships with Russian cities following the country’s enactment of laws banning “homosexual propaganda.”