Archive for Wednesday, December 29, 1999

Y2K preparations nearly wrapped up

December 29, 1999

For two years, we've heard more than enough about the approaching new year Y2K.

Now that the day of rumored infamy is nearly upon us, we're realizing that, regardless of whether it's been a lot of hype, people are taking it seriously. From buying up bottled water to testing generators to letting your fingers do the walking, local and area businesses and officials are, indeed, preparing for the year 2000.

Call me sometime
Southwestern Bell customers planning to use their telephones on New Year's Eve to reach out and touch someone should think again.

"Basically, we are asking customers to refrain from calling friends and family at midnight or 12:01 a.m.," said Terry Diebolt, director-external affairs for Southwestern Bell. "At worst, what would happen is somebody might be getting a fast busy or an all circuits busy."

Diebolt said the phone company expects no service problems related to the new year.

"The bottom line is: When SBC customers pick up the phone on Jan. 1, our network will be ready to serve the, just as it always has," said Mike Gilliam, vice president-Year 2000 for SBC. "And so will the wireless, data, Internet and other services we provide."

Power to the people
"We'll keep the lights on for you," is more or less what the city has been told by KP&L.

Chris Eppley, Tonganoxie city administrator, said, "We have been notified by KP&L that they will still be in business as of January 1, at 12:01 a.m."

With the exception of a few businesses on the northeast side of Tonganoxie, Eppley said, KP&L furnishes power to the entire city.

"They are guaranteeing us that they are Y2K compliant and that we should not worry," Eppley said. "We have no other choice than to accept that."

Just in case, Eppley said, the city has generators that will keep the water treatment plant and the sewer plant operating.

"So, no matter what," Eppley said, "We'll still be able to provide potable water for the community."

And at the Tonganoxie Nursing Center, it's a pretty sure bet that the 73 residents will be toasty warm as the new year rings in.

Mike Truman, executive director, said the backup generator was tested Tuesday.

"We will be ready," Truman said Tuesday. "We've checked our generator many times before, but today's like a last final run to make sure all will go well."

The generator is diesel-powered, Truman said. "I'm not sure how long it will run," he said. "But it will help if the heat goes out."

Since the nursing center opened in 1986, the backup generator has only had to be used a couple of times, Truman said.

Even though he said he thinks all will be well, he's not taking chances.

"I'm keeping my fingers crossed, knocking on wood and everything else," Truman said. "But yeah, I think we'll be OK."

You can bank on it
Representatives of Tonganoxie banks say they're prepared for Y2K. And they're not expecting any problems.

"It's been extremely rare that anybody has expressed any concern, and we've been pleased about that," said Bill New, chairman at First State Bank and Trust. "We have our own in-house computers, so we're in especially good shape. We don't have to rely on other people. We're 100 percent there will be no problem."

At Community National Bank, branch president Bill Altman said he believes the Y2K concerns have waned during the past several months.

"I think, and rightly so, the customers that I'm very familiar with have quite a lot of confidence in the banking industry," Altman said. "We were talking about that at our last loan meeting. As far as computer glitches are concerned, I think it's a non-event."

Altman assures customers that the bank's computer systems have been tested.

"Our main bank is going to come in on the first (of January) and open the mainframe, as part of our standard procedure," he said. "We're not doing anything out of the ordinary."

David Hoppes, president of Mutual Savings Association at the company's main office in Leavenworth, said he anticipates that customers won't withdraw any more funds this week than they normally would in anticipation of a three-day holiday weekend.

"I think really more of a concern in the public's mind right now are the recent news events we've heard about that there might be a heightened risk of terrorist activities," Hoppes said.

Water, water everywhere
Barry Hummelgaard, manager at B&J Apple Market, has been watching his customers fill their grocery carts with bottled water during the past few weeks.

"Water's going faster than normal, probably twice as much as usual," he said.

He's unclear whether canned goods also are moving swiftly because of Y2K or because of the usual holiday shopping.

The store will close at 9 p.m. Friday and reopen at 5 a.m. Saturday, Hummelgaard said.

"We're well-stocked," he said Tuesday morning. "We're putting up a big truck today, and on Thursday we'll get another one."

Keeping track
When it comes to accounting and keeping backup records to help businesses leap the possible hurdle of Y2K problems, accountant Richard Smith's advice might come too late. "You should have started six months ago," he said.

Making backup records is an ongoing process for Smith's business and this week is no exception.

"I will start tomorrow making backups of all my data files," Smith said Monday afternoon.

It's critical for businesses to make copies of:

Accounts receivable files.
Check registers and bank accounts.
Records kept on a software accounting program.

"It's important to have a backup of the data, not necessarily of the program," Smith said. "Just in case everything blows up, you've still got that."

And in the event of a belated tax filing because the Y2K bug ate your tax return?

The IRS might be more understanding this year than usual, Smith said.

"One of the things in recent years is that the IRS has been encouraging people to file their tax returns electronically," Smith said. "We may run into some problems if people are using some of the older software."

And rounding it all up
Mark Williams, of the Tonganoxie police force, said lots of officers will be working on New Year's Eve, and others will be on call. As far as preparing for possible Y2K glitches, he said that Bill Adkins, police chief, has already made sure the computers will continue to work after the new year begins.

Kent Heskett, utility superintendent at the city of Tonganoxie's water plant, will be on-call if any problems occur on New Year's Eve. If needed, he will get backup generators going and ensure that water will be available.

The traffic light at Fourth Street and U.S. Highway 24-40 should not go on the blink come midnight, according to a representative from the Kansas Department of Transportation in Topeka.

City officials will leave responsibility in the police department's hands. City Hall will not have any other representatives working come midnight New Year's Eve. Police officers will be on duty or on call in case their assistance is needed.

The Leavenworth County Sheriff's Office is not too concerned. This New Year's will be the same as any for the department, except it will be double-checked for adequate fuel supplies and emergency generators on hand.

The computer hardware at the sheriff's office was made Y2K compliant a few months ago. More officers will be working New Year's Eve, but not because of technological problems. They will be patrolling to prevent alcohol-related incidents.

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