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The Marathon service station in Iron Mountain, Mich., flexed its capitalist muscle Wednesday by lowering gas prices to nearly 20 cents below its nearest competitor, only to be squelched by local police who eventually told station officials to raise the price of gas or shut down, according to the Iron Mountain Daily News.

The station attracted so many customers with its low prices that cars were lined up down the street as patrons waited for their turn at the pump. The increased traffic prompted complaints from a few of Iron Mountain’s 8,500 citizens. Station manager Angela Rochon told The Daily News Wednesday about the police’s demand.

“We don’t want to put the police down — they did what they thought they had to do,” she said. “They did try whatever they could before telling us to raise prices.”

According to the police report, “Officers attempted to control the problem by contacting the drivers and having them move on, as well as posting several no parking signs along the boulevard approaching the intersection.” It continued, “As drivers continued to stop along the northbound traffic lane, station management was contacted and advised that they were in fact creating a public safety situation and were requested to cease and desist for the time being.”

It is estimated that about 15 to 20 vehicles were lined up on the highway and side street of the 8.5 square-mile town waiting to get gas at any given time during the day. As summer approaches, gas prices have again begun to soar, making even a few-cent difference in price a tempting offer to consumers. The discounted gas at Marathon was too much to resist for the people who braved long lines Wednesday.

Gas prices at Marathon Tuesday were $1.65 for unleaded regular, $1.72 for mid-grade and $1.78 for premium. By contrast, the Citgo station across the street was charging $1.84, $1.89 and $1.96, respectively, during the same time period — prices that reflected the area’s average price for gas Tuesday. Marathon eventually did raise its prices Wednesday night, and the traffic-flow problem was eliminated.

But Lt. William Revord of the Iron Mountain Police Department said the station was merely notified to “eliminate the situation causing the traffic problem,” and never explicitly told the manager to raise prices.

City Manager Perry Frazoi told WorldNetDaily the situation has been resolved, and there were no traffic complaints Thursday, though he said he did not know whether the station has again lowered its prices.

A spokesman for the Marathon station could not be reached for comment.

If the station does lower its gas prices again, police are ready to “work on traffic control,” remarked Frazoi.

According to the police report, “The Iron Mountain Police department would like to remind drivers that there is no parking, standing or stopping along Stephenson Avenue, as all four lanes are for the flow of traffic. Drivers can be cited for this violation, which obstructs the normal flow of traffic.”

Revord said police could have cited people for traffic violations but chose not to since that “wouldn’t be a very popular position, either,” he told the local paper.

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