For the week of January 20, 1999   thru January 26, 1999  

Blaine County Task Force prepares for Y2K

Meeting and forum dates set

Express Staff Writer

As planet earth goes ‘round and ‘round, spinning the days away, the world moves ever closer to the turn of the century, the year 2000.

As clocks around the globe tick off the seconds, so too do all the computer systems in the world countdown to the new millenium.

And just as unpredictable as the prophesized Armageddon is the effect the clocks striking midnight Jan. 1, 2000, will have on all those computers.

People must seriously consider the consequences associated with this event, dubbed Y2K for short, say public officials.

Government workers scramble to prepare, to anticipate the chain of events that may be triggered when the century turns.

No one knows exactly what will happen when the clock strikes midnight. Predictions made concerning this moment range from total catastrophe to mere inconvenience, as computer hardware and software reacts to a programming glitch called the Millenium Bug.

"Whether Y2K is an event or non-event, we will be prepared for whatever happens," Blaine County Commissioner Mary Ann Mix said.

The Blaine County Y2K Task Force was recently formed to address public concerns about the Millennium Bug, which strikes when a programming shortcut using a two digit year rather than the full four digits clicks to zero zero.

Exactly what complications may result when the date turns to zeros and the computer becomes confused trying to decide whether it’s the year 1900, 2000 or no year at all, is the question facing the Y2K Task Force.

Coordinator Mary Ann Mix said the county has been overwhelmed by public input and interest in the situation.

According to Mix, Y2K and emergency preparedness go hand in hand. The problems associated with Y2K and potential computer system breakdowns are similar to the circumstances that exist in an emergency situation or natural disaster when county services and operations are disrupted, because nearly every aspect of life is now controlled by computers.

"We want to make people aware, make sure the community is prepared and provide the adequate resources in the event of an emergency," she said.

The Blaine County Y2K Task Force will hold its second meeting next Wednesday, Jan. 27, at 4:30 p.m. at the old county courthouse in Hailey. Idaho Power and Intermountain Gas representatives will be present to answer questions.

Public experts and officials will discuss various Y2K implications involving all utilities, communications, water supply, sewer, food and shelter.

The task force will also make plans for the Y2K Community Forum and Resource Fair to be held Feb. 27.


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