September 18, 2020

Dexter sets meeting on possible Y2K trouble> Plan assumes disruption of public services

DEXTER — Dexter town officials have taken steps to prepare for the worst should it occur when the clock strikes midnight on Dec. 31.

For months, town officials have brainstormed to arrive at a Y2K emergency response plan that could be carried out in the event of an emergency.

“It’s like the coach of a football team — you never feel like you’re totally prepared regardless of who your opponent is,” Dexter Town Manager Robert Simpson said Friday.

Dexter officials have tentatively scheduled a meeting to discuss the Y2K issues on Dec. 1.

Simpson said he would much rather have had a detailed, on-the-books plan from which to work, but the town had no such plan in place. In the past, each department in the town has dealt with issues as they surfaced, he said.

“All you can really do is take a pessimist’s viewpoint and prepare as best as you can,” Simpson said.

No one is sure what will occur when the year 2000 begins, but many Maine communities are working on similar response plans.

Dexter’s plan assumes a possible disruption of public services and utilities on or about Jan. 1, 2000; creates a local emergency management structure to deal with crisis situations, including a crisis action staff and council involvement; designates a local emergency management director; identifies three municipal shelters; and outlines the duties and responsibilities of department heads.

Simpson said should an emergency occur, the Town Council will convene to determine the level of response needed from the town. The town manager would assume the responsibility as the emergency management director if the council declares an emergency response condition, he said.

Under the plan, the Dexter police office will be staffed the evening of Dec. 31, and all officers and staff will be available to report for duty, if required.

The Fire Department and ambulance service also will be staffed on that evening.

The fire chief will serve as assistant emergency management director if a crisis is declared by the council, and the Fire Department will serve as the town’s primary shelter in the event of a crisis, according to Simpson. The town hall will serve as a secondary shelter.

For Simpson, the plan is a work in progress, a plan to be improved and adapted enough for any emergency crisis that may arise at any time of year.

“The basis is common sense,” Simpson said of the plan.

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