Effingham is a small town located in southern Illinois about 30 miles west of downtown Chicago. It is part of a wider industrial area known as the Tri-State area, which also includes neighboring towns such as Palatine and Des Plaines. As the home of the Southern Illinois Penitentiary, the town is also well-known for its high incarceration rate. Today, Effingham is best known as the location of the annual Memorial Day festival, which features an impressive fireworks display to celebrate the unofficial start of the summer season.
Like other small towns in America, the gas stations in Effingham are among the town’s main attractions. The first one to open its doors in the town was actually built more than a century ago and according to the locals, it has stayed fresh looking ever since. Today, the station offers full-service gas stations and convenience stores, making it one of the few remaining gas stations in Illinois that offer all of those amenities.
However, the price of fuel in Effingham is no longer a mystery. Thanks to the tireless efforts of a dedicated group of motorcyclists, who posted detailed gas prices around the town on social media, the answer to that question is now available for everyone to see.
That group, known as the Gas Station Rats, meets every Thursday evening at 6:30 PM at a local bar to compare gas prices and discuss the latest news and events in the area. On May 23rd, they posted the following note about the price of gas in Effingham:
“Anybody else out there having trouble finding $2.50 gas?”
The reply to that question was almost immediate, with several people suggesting that the group change its meeting time to earlier in the day or later in the evening to reduce rush-hour traffic (especially on Thursdays, when many students are driving to and from school). With the help of the group’s founder, who goes by the online handle “The Gas Man”, those suggestions were put into action and a meeting time and location for the group was set for the first week of June.
What Drives The Price Of Gas In Effingham?
While there are several factors that could explain the recent increase in the cost of gas in Effingham, there is one simple answer that is often overlooked: the Midwestern state of Illinois is now harvesting its crops. Thanks to ongoing drought, the corn and soybeans that America’s breadbasket is known for producing are looking more attractive these days, which in turn has led to an increase in demand.
There is also a good chance that China will continue to buy significant amounts of American agricultural products, especially since the price of food has increased off the shelves worldwide as a result of the pandemic. When the time comes to pick up supplies for the upcoming summer season, people with access to a car will find that the cost of gas is likely to rise as well.
How Much Does It Cost To Operate A Car In Effingham?
While gas prices at the pump are certainly important, what is equally if not more important is the cost of operating a car in Effingham. Thanks to the increasingly expensive cost of living in America, even small towns such as this one are feeling the impact. The fact that the cost of gas is rising while the cost of most other things is staying the same makes it clear how much the overall cost of doing business is increasing in this part of the country.
On a per-gallon basis, the cost of operating a car in Effingham is now close to $2.50. That is mostly due to the town’s outdated and under-saturated gas supply, which is forcing motorists to pay more for what they use. The situation is even worse for those who use alternative fuels, such as biodiesel or E85, which are more expensive than regular gas because of the need for additional processing before they can be used in a vehicle. (Effingham does not yet have a garage, where cars can be stored. Those who live there have to park on the streets, which leads to a significant amount of air pollution due to auto emissions. If the town is to have any hope of turning that around, it has to find a way to build a garage and fix its gas station.)
More Cost Effective
According to the Gas Station Rats, building a bigger and more expensive garage is not the way to go. Instead, they say that it would be more cost-effective to build smaller cars that are more fuel-efficient. For those who have a large family and need a bigger car, they suggest looking into a minivan or SUV, which are more likely to get better gas mileage than smaller cars. (This makes sense, as bigger cars require more fuel to run, but also have more capacity to hold passengers and luggage.)
Also, many gas stations in small towns offer discounts to military personnel and those who show proof of insurance. Those who fit that description might also consider taking advantage of those savings opportunities.
Prices Moving Upward
While it is too soon to tell whether the recent increase in gas prices in Effingham is going to be short-lived or not, people there are clearly not happy with the situation. According to the Gas Station Rats (and the locals are showing their discontent as well), gas prices in and around the town have been steadily increasing over the past year:
Jan 2019: $2.40Feb 2019: $2.55Mar 2019: $2.67Apr 2019: $2.82May 2019: $2.93Jun 2019: $3.03
Since that time, the price has continued to rise, hitting a record high above $3.50 (before taxes and fees) earlier this month. While drivers in bigger cities might want to pass on the increase, those in smaller towns will likely feel a significant pinch.
In the meantime, drivers in and around Effingham are doing their part to mitigate the cost of gas by trying to minimize their trips and make more fuel-efficient and environmentally-sound choices. According to the group, those efforts have led to a 16% decrease in fuel consumption over the past year, with more savings to be expected in the future, as a result of more hybrid vehicles, more electric vehicles, and fewer drivers going above and beyond to keep their cars’ engines running.
Where Can I Find Specific Information About Gas In Effingham?
If you are looking for information about gas prices in Effingham, you can visit the Gas Station Rats’ website, which is the ultimate resource for all things related to fuel economy and cost-effective driving in the greater Palatine area. The website is maintained by a group of volunteers who post gas prices around the area every week, which means it is always up to date and correct. Also, you can follow them on social media to get the latest news and price comparisons.
What Are The Risks Involved In Driving In Effingham?
Driving in Effingham is safe and legal. The only real risk is found in the unknown, which is exactly why those who live there have to take every precautionary measure to protect their cars, families, and themselves. It would help if the police department would stop by the gas station a few times a week to make sure everything is copacetic and that people are taking the proper precautions. In the meantime, drivers must always be aware of their surroundings, watch their speed, and obey all traffic signs and signals.
If you are wondering about the risks involved in gas station driving, it would be safer to buy your groceries at a big-box store and park in the garage of a friend or family member. At least then, you will know what kind of tools are in your vehicle and can be sure to have them available if you need them. (And given the pandemic, you probably will need them at some point.)
Hopefully, those who live in and around Effingham will realize that building bigger and more expensive garages does not guarantee lower energy consumption or prices. Instead, it can lead to all sorts of problems such as air pollution, weight distribution issues, and poor customer service. For now, let’s enjoy the good weather while it lasts and try to be more frugal about our fuel consumption, so we can get a better handle on the rising costs of gas.