City Council, county commissioners believe they're ready for New Year's Eve

In an effort to inform the community of city and county precautions against Y2K, the Moffat County Board of Commissioners and Craig City Council held a press conference Monday. The goal was to assure residents that city and county officials had taken every action possible to combat possible problems associated with the year 2000.

Anything from global chaos to minimal power failures has been predicted for Jan 1, 2000, because of a computer programming error that may cause computers to crash or display inaccurate data due to a problem converting the date to the year 2000. No one is sure what will happen.

The city and county have been working for more than a year to combat possible Y2K incompatibilities in local government computer systems and officials are confident any systems not Y2K compatible have been upgraded or replaced.

"We're confident county business will be conducted as usual," Moffat County Emergency Manager Clyde Anderson said.

City and county law enforcement personnel expect a higher than average demand for public services, but are prepared to meet that demand, Anderson said. Both entities have cancelled holiday leave and will have extra personnel on duty New Year's Eve.

It was discovered early on that the county 911 emergency call system was not Y2K compatible. According to Anderson, the system has been replaced and operates with a back-up battery and generator in case of a power failure. The only worry is that increased calls for service may clog the system.

"We're telling people, 'Don't call 911 unless you have an emergency,'" Anderson said.

There will be a command center located in Council chambers at City Hall. The command center will be equipped with televisions to monitor news stations, cellular phones, regular phones, Internet links and a HAM radio.

"Between all those systems, I think we'll have what we need to talk to each other," Anderson said.

The most important thing, Anderson and the commissioners stressed, was to use common sense and not panic. People are urged to prepare as if for a winter storm and have at least a 72-hour supply of food and water on hand.

"People should prepare to whatever level they are comfortable with," Anderson said.

City Manager Jim Ferree attended the meeting to tell about the status of the city water and wastewater systems. He said the water tanks will be filled before New Year's Eve. Water to most homes in the city is gravity fed and will continue with or without power. Ferree said people were encouraged to have a supply of water so water in the tanks can be saved for fighting possible fires.

It is estimated water will continue to flow for two to three days after a power outage.

The wastewater collection system will continue to operate without power. Officials say residents have no need to be concerned about the system.

Earlier predictions of the dire impacts of the Y2K computer bug have fallen flat in the days after more research has been completed, Anderson said.

"I don't think this is going to be the horrible thing it was once predicted to be," he said. "There have been a lot of changes over the past year. There was a lot of information at first that just wasn't good information."

Though hard to plan for an event nobody can predict, Moffat County Sheriff Buddy Grinstead and Moffat County commissioners said they are happy with the progress they've seen.

"We want everybody to have a safe, happy and healthy new year and use common sense," Commissioner Marianna Raftopoulos said.

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