It’s been an expensive winter for propane users.
A steady stream of customers at the MFA Propane outlet in Duncan visibly wince or roll their eyes when the soaring price of propane is brought up.
They are recreational vehicle dwellers, folks living in the country without access to natural gas, itinerant pipeline workers who travel the country in their RVs and dedicated outdoor cooks who barbecue even in the dead of winter.
“They’re more understanding that I thought they’d be,” said MFA bookkeeper Paul McElroy, who takes the orders and pumps the propane at the MFA store on Bois ‘D Arc.
“We hate to charge so much, but no more’s going in our pocket than what we had before.”
Before the shortage, a gallon of propane cost $2.19, she said. Then it shot to $4 a gallon.
In the midst of a bitterly cold winter, customers have little choice but to pay the going rate.
“It’s too cold to go without it,” said Belinda Adams, a Duncan woman who lives in a 38-foot recreational vehicle that is warmed by two electric heaters.
Her 7-gallon propane tank will last about four days, she said.
The high prices and short supply have been blamed on high demand, the nationwide cold weather, increased exports and the shutdown of a pipeline to the midwest in December.
Propane supplies are 44 percent below last year’s level, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
The U.S Department of Transportation has granted 31 states, including Oklahoma, so-called "Hours of Service Relief" to allow truckers to drive longer hours to expedite propane deliveries.
Gov. Mary Fallin also instructed the Oklahoma Department of Human Services to expedite financial help to low-income families who can’t afford their propane bills.
In Stephens County, 10 applications for help with propane costs were processed while three were processed in Cotton County, said Rodney Wade, the DHS director in Duncan.
Up to $650 per family can be authorized for propane heating assitance, Wade said.
There are about 400,000 propane consumers in Oklahoma.
It’s been an expensive winter for propane users.
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Bench found competent, trial to start Monday
A jury took 50 minutes on Thursday to find Miles Sterling Bench competent to stand trial for first-degree murder and District Judge Joe Enos scheduled the trial to begin Monday.
Bench, 23, of, Velma, is accused of the bludgeoning death of 16-year-old Braylee Henry of Velma. She was killed in June 2012 in the Teepee Totem convenience store in Velma where Bench was employed.
Miller pumps up decathlon students
Dr. Ché Miller, who helped bridge a funding gap needed to send the Duncan High School Decathlon Team to the national competition in Hawaii, gave the team a pep talk on Thursday.
Miller, recently recognized as the Man of the Year by the Duncan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, told the students they are about to embark on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and advised them to absorb as much of the experience as they can.
Churches prepare for Easter Sunday
Churches throughout Duncan and Stephens County are preparing to celebrate Easter this Sunday, the day Christians celebrate the ascension of Jesus Christ into heaven.
Today is known as Good Friday to mark the day Christ was crucified on a cross.
Ellis named new CEO of regional United Way
Lauren Ellis, who’s led the United Way of Stephens County for more than two years, has been named the new chief executive officer of the United Way of Southwest Oklahoma.
Her new job will be based in Lawton but Ellis said she will remain in Duncan and commute.
Jurors to decide Bench competency issue today
Jurors will hear final arguments on Thursday and then be asked to determine whether 23-year-old Miles Sterling Bench is mentally competent to stand trial for first-degree murder in the bludgeoning death of 16-year-old Braylee Henry nearly two years ago.
DHS Decathlon Teams prepares
Not every high school student gets an all-expense paid trip to Hawaii. But that’s exactly what’s happening with the 10 team members of the Duncan High School Decathlon Team.
Baseball tourney to be held in Wiles' memory
The Duncan Middle School baseball team will hold a tournament in memory of the late Alyssa Wiles.
Corporon memorial planned for Friday in Marlow
A candlelight vigil for Dr. William Corporon and his grandson Reat Underwood will be held at Marlow High School at 8 p.m. Friday.
Gay recuses himself from Morales trial
Associate District Judge Dennis Gay on Wednesday disqualified himself from the trial of Dr. Oscar Morales Jr.
Psychologists disagree on Bench’s mental competency
Two psychologists on Tuesday offered differing opinions about the mental competency of Miles Sterling Bench to stand trial for first-degree murder in the 2012 death of Braylee Henry.
Bench, dressed in a dark blue suit, sat through a second day of court proceedings that will determine if the case against him goes to trial. The state is seeking the death penalty.
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- Bench found competent, trial to start Monday