Technically, summer doesn't start until June 21. But for most people it officially began on Memorial Day weekend, and this past weekend sure felt like summer is here.
One of my favorite activities is outdoor grilling - year-round, but especially in the summer. For the convenience of it I use propane, and it's nice to have a giant tank that Dixie LP Gas sends a truck to my house to refill so I don't have to lug those little tanks around.
But the story I saw the other day made me even happier to have a big tank - and made me angry on behalf of people with the little tanks who've been getting ripped off.
The culprit is those tank exchanges. They're everywhere, mostly from Blue Rhino or Amerigas. They're exceptionally convenient; just drive, up, drop off an empty tank, pay about $25 and pick up a new, full tank.
Well, not so fast.
It seems those tanks aren't quite full. A story the other day revealed that last year, when the price of propane went up, Blue Rhino and Amerigas cut back the amount of gas they put in those little tanks - to just 15 pounds in the 20-pound tank. (Keep in mind: They'd previously put only 17.5 pounds in the tanks anyway - for "safety reasons.")
Cutting back on the amount of gas in the tank allowed them to avoid raising prices. That's understandable; we've all grown accustomed to cereal boxes shrinking while the price stays the same.
But in this case, when the price of propane dropped, the companies didn't increase the amount of gas in the tanks - and didn't lower the price, either.
If you're using a tank-swap, you're paying a lot extra just for convenience. Dixie LP Gas - on Washington Road in Martinez - wisely took notice. Their sign out front says "Refill here - why pay more for less with swap out."
They'll fill your tank and charge you for exactly as much propane as you get - and even with more gas, it's typically a lot less expensive than a swap.
And no, they didn't pay me to say any of this - but I'll gladly pay them to refill my tank rather than swap it at a convenience store and get robbed.
Our community has been robbed in recent days by several deaths.
First, on May 8, was Michael Jeffers of Martinez, husband of occasional News-Times columnist Mindy Jeffers and an all-around good man.
Then, on May 23, the Appling community lost L.B. Anderson, father of state Rep. Lee Anderson.
Like his politician son, Mr. Anderson was a Columbia County farmer, having retired from operating a dairy. He passed away at age 88.
Two days later, John P. Reichel of Martinez died at age 90. A retired U.S. Army master sergeant and World War II veteran, Reichel's name perhaps was known best outside his family for his strong, conservative, patriotic letters to the editor of The Chronicle.
Then, last week, Bobby Shore passed away. That one hit close to home for me.
Shore, a mere 61, was the husband of Marianne "Honey" Shore. He was an emergency room nurse and formerly a paramedic; Honey also is an emergency room nurse, and serves as the public information officer for Martinez-Columbia Fire Rescue.
Many years ago, I took over Honey's job as Car 4 with WBBQ Mobile News, and from there came to know Honey and know of Bobby. Like her, he always worked in a job caring for others in some of their times of greatest need, and he will be sorely missed.
Bobby died from pulmonary fibrosis, Honey tells me - the same disease that took the life of Charlie Norwood. She says they'd planned to retire together in six months - and urges everyone to enjoy their time together, now, rather than putting off all their plans until some future day.
I'm sure all these families would appreciate our prayers.
Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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