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Gas prices give me the blogs#8221; By Cal Bryant 12/01/2005 For those who know me the best, they#8217;ll be the first to tell you I#8217;m normally just a happy, go-lucky guy. With that in mind, pleas

For those who know me the best, they’ll be the first to tell you I’m normally just a happy, go-lucky guy.

With that in mind, please forgive me this week as I need to blow off some steam.

Topping my “headache” list this week is gas prices.

Yes, I’ve used this exact space in the past to air my grievances over the price of petro, but that fact should not deter me from doing it again.

Why is it that this little section of North Carolina always has the highest gas prices? Is the petro we purchase that much better than the fuel pumped at any other location across the Tar Heel state?

On Friday of last week, I rode with our Sports Editor Thadd White and Circulation Manager David Friedman to Gaston to cover the Manteo at Northampton-West football game.

As we motored past the gas station at the “top of the hill” in Gaston, I took note of the price of regular unleaded – $2.05.9 per gallon. Back in Ahoskie on that same date, regular unleaded was $2.15.9. In less than 50 miles, gas was 10 cents cheaper. (Note: Ahoskie’s price dropped to $2.12.9 on Monday.)

To make matters worse, I have a friend and neighbor who works in Elizabeth City. The per gallon price there last week stood at $1.99.9. On Monday of this week, it had dropped another six cents in Elizabeth City.

Using gasbuddy.com, I checked other local areas and found out that regular unleaded in Greenville and Tarboro was priced at $1.99 per gallon on Tuesday.

The cheapest price I found in the whole state was $1.87 per gallon at the Main Street Amoco in downtown Andrews, a tiny municipality in the mountains.

Gee, I wonder who is their gas supplier? Bet’cha it’s not one of the “Big 3” that has the Roanoke-Chowan area in a stranglehold.

Secondly, I have a bone to pick with Dean Stephens, author of the Bertie Patriot, an online blog.

I met Dean a while back at a Bertie County function that we were respectively covering an event for our different forms of media. He’s a heck of a nice guy, one that moved home to Colerain to take care of his elderly mother.

Dean has a nice online journal. His recent piece on the Innsbrook development in Bertie County was especially pleasing, particularly the photographs.

While it didn’t drive me past the point of being stark-raving mad, it did upset me a bit when I read his points of interest to an article, with my byline, published last week in the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald.

My story dealt with Dr. Nettie Collins-Hart, Superintendent of Bertie County Public Schools, addressing the county’s Board of Commissioners at their Nov. 21 meeting. There, Dr. Collins-Hart, in an effort to set the record straight, wanted to let the Commissioners know that she and the school system did appreciate the $6 million loan they obligated to build a new middle school.

Her remarks were in contrast to an earlier statement to the Commissioners where she strongly felt $6 million was not enough to build a middle school (one priced at $18.5 million) that would be adequate for the educational needs of the county’s children.

Dean used the first three paragraphs of my story. He then interjected his personal thoughts, which he has every right to do.

My beef with him is that, to the average reader, his thoughts appear to be part of my article. Sure, he inserted a dotted line to break my story from his opinion and the shade of type used between my words and his is different.

However, I’m basing my beef on perception. Those reading my article, which was posted under a headline and my byline, on his blog may assume that I am the author of entire piece.

Dean did bring up a good point in his opinion. He commented that the median middle school cost in North Carolina is $12 million, compared with $18.5 million being asked for in Bertie County.

“Why is Bertie County, with a significantly lower tax base and significantly lower construction costs, being asked to build a school 50% fancier than the median middle school in North Carolina,” Dean inquires.

He continued, “Are Bertie County and its people so rich that we can spend money at such a profligate rate? Will this money educate a single student better?”

This middle school project in Bertie County may be just the tip of the iceberg. A recent facilities audit of the Bertie school system suggested the closing of three schools, possibly a fourth, upgrading the remaining facilities and building a new elementary school.

This issue will be discussed during a 6 p.m. public comment session on Monday, Dec. 5 at the Bertie Central Office in Windsor.

Dean, hope to see you there!