Representatives assure city residents of Y2K preparedness

Megan Boldt

The city of Minneapolis began a weeklong series of Y2K-preparedness meetings Wednesday at community centers in four regions of the city.
The first meeting was held at Logan Community Center in northeast Minneapolis on Wednesday. City officials as well as representatives from local banks, health-care organizations and utility companies reassured northeast residents that computer systems are prepared for the new millennium.
Paul Willig, a city spokesman, said efforts to become Y2K compliant are on schedule.
“Our target date to have all services fixed is Oct. 1,” Willig said.
The fire department and 911 services are already prepared for 2000. By Oct. 1, computer systems monitoring water treatment, police equipment and traffic lights will also be updated.
University Police emergency response systems, which rely heavily on the city’s technology, are also ready for the new year, said University Police Chief George Aylward.
But computers controlling the parking-ticket system are not yet compliant, he said.
At the meeting Wednesday, representatives from Northern States Power Company, Reliant Energy Minnegasco, U S West, health care organizations and banks briefed residents on their progress toward full compliance.
Those officials said they are confident their services will run smoothly when the new year rolls around.
Minnegasco representative Lori Schletty said the gas company’s service-delivery systems have been tested and will run as usual on Jan. 1.
“The good or bad news is that bills will probably be sent out on Jan. 2,” Schletty said.
Other utility officials noted that some minor problems might occur.
U S West representative Patricia Williams said some problems might result from telephone systems that are not Y2K-related.
“Phone systems could fail temporarily just because of overloading,” she said.
A large number of people picking up their phones on New Year’s Day could cause a delay in telephone service, but this could happen on any day, Williams pointed out.
City officials offered several suggestions to residents on how to avoid potential emergency problems that are Y2K-related or otherwise.
People should prepare for a three-day loss of electricity, gas, water, phone and other services, officials said.
Families are urged to have an emergency kit with blankets, warm clothes, water, nonperishable food items and medical supplies to last at least three days.
Other meetings will be held next week at Powderhorn and Lynnhurst community centers in south Minneapolis.

Megan Boldt covers city government and welcomes comments at [email protected] She can also be reached at (612) 627-4070 x3224.