Hennepin County in good shape for Y2K

Nicole Vulcan

Members of emergency departments throughout the city won’t get much of a break when the holiday season rolls around.
To be prepared for the hype surrounding the impending millennium, police and fire departments in Minneapolis won’t be able to take leave from mid-December 1999 to mid-January 2000, said Dave Redman, Y2K coordinator for Hennepin County.
Despite the preparations, the consistent message of Tuesday, or “Y2K Day,” at the Hennepin County Government Center, was “take it seriously, but don’t panic.” Members of Hennepin County offices and local businesses convened on the main floor of the courthouse to inform passersby of the preparations they should take for the new millennium.
Of the companies present, including Northern States Power and Hennepin County Medical Center, all professed that their “mission critical” equipment is almost up to speed. In other words, the companies have taken inventory of computers and other equipment necessary to get through the critical 1999 to 2000 switch-over.
“It’s going to be like any other day,” said Stan Tessmer, manager of NSP’s delivery systems reliability. “There won’t be any increased risks because of Y2K.” Tessmer said NSP had tested thousands of computers and spent $24 million in 1999 alone in preparation for Y2K. But after all of the money and time spent, Tessmer said they hadn’t seen any “showstoppers” — problems involved with Y2K that would affect what their devices are supposed to do.
Similarly, Redman said most of the problems Hennepin County has encountered have been security issues, but “nothing major,” he said. He said the county had spent $7 million in preparation since they began taking inventory of the possible problems in 1996.
The largest issue Hennepin County will have to deal with come January will be with public perception, Redman said. He added that only 25 percent of the problems involved with Y2K are anticipated to occur on Jan. 1. The first murmurs of the magnitude of the problems will occur around July 1, when some businesses’ fiscal years begin.
“We’re planning for a non-event, but it is realistic that we are going to miss something,” Redman said. But when it comes to having the streets plowed and the street lights on, he said the county is prepared.
Also present at the event were members of the Minnesota Year 2000 Project, an organization created in 1996 to prepare for possible problems the new millennium could pose. The organization maintains a Web site to inform members of the community of the preparations they should be making and can be found at www.y2k.state.mn.us.
Kent Sulem, Y2K project coordinator, told listeners to keep paper copies of everything and “don’t put all your eggs in one basket.”