By LEE J. KAHRS
BRANDON — Residents and boaters alike are lamenting the end of gas pump sales at McDonough’s Fuels and Service.
The gas station on Franklin Street at Champlain and Pearl has been selling gas since 2003, but was one of the few places in the area that sold non-ethanol gas. Boaters use it to extend the life of their motors, as ethanol attracts moisture and can compromise those engines over time.
An ad in last week’s Reporter generated plenty of attention as folks learned the news that McDonough’s Fuel and Oil was ceasing gas pump sales.
“On the behalf of Michelle, Mike & John, We would like to thank all of our loyal customers purchasing gasoline all these years at our pumps,” the ad read. “Unfortunately at this time, this service will no longer be available. We announce the end of our gasoline service, but John will still be delivering home heating oil and diesel fuel as normal, and Mike will remain offering his normal garage services such as inspections, oil changes, and general repairs. Thank you to all our customers, and it has been a pleasure serving you and hope we can continue doing so. “
New laws in Vermont requiring the upgrade of gas pumps left owner Mike McDonough weighing the cost to upgrade versus taking the pumps out all together. He chose the later, and the pumps came out of the ground on June 23, the day the ad appeared in The Reporter.
“It just wasn’t economically feasible,” McDonough said. “It would’ve been well up into the tens of thousands of dollars. Our profit margin is very small and upkeep was expensive.”
Area boaters headed to Lake Bomoseen, Lake Hortonia, Lake Dumore and Lake Champlain would all stop at McDonough’s for non–ethanol gas. Ethanol is a corn-based fuel additive that breaks down the rubber parts inside an engine over time, especially in outboard motors. Boaters seek out non-ethanol gas for their boat motors in order to extend the life of the motor, but it’s hard to find.
Those is search of non-ethanol gas can find it at Kampersville on Lake Dunmore in Salisbury, at Maverick on Court Street in Middlebury, and at Champlain Valley Plumbing on Exchange Street in Middlebury.
Egress was another factor. McDonough said the recent upgrade of Route 7 through downtown changed the curbing and access to the pumps, making it harder for larger vehicles and boat trailers to get in and out of the station.
“We could’ve dealt with it, but it didn’t help,” he said.
The McDonough’s Home Heating Oil side of the business will continue its diesel fuel and home heating fuel delivery. Oil changes, inspections, and some vehicle repairs are still being offered at the service station on Franklin Street.
McDonough said pulling out the pumps wasn’t an easy choice to make, but it was the best decision for his business overall.
“It all comes down to the almighty dollar,” he said