January 18, 2022

Pittsfield, Skowhegan expect incident-free New Year’s Eve> Smaller area towns say computer systems are Y2K-compliant

PITTSFIELD — Although the town managers of Skowhegan and Pittsfield are confident that the new year will be welcomed in without incident, both said Tuesday they are prepared in case of emergencies.

Pittsfield Town Manager D. Dwight Dogherty said that he will be at the town office at midnight Dec. 31, “just in case.

“Not that there is anything I can do except maybe make decisions,” he said. “I am confident that all will be well.”

Dogherty said that a backup generator, owned by Cianbro Corp., can be used at the water pumping station if necessary. “We can use that 12 hours a day, if need be,” he said. Although the pumping station has many computer parts and runs off electricity, it can be run manually, said Dogherty.

“We have basically followed the same routine we would if a major storm were approaching,” he said. “We will fill up all the water tanks, fill all the town trucks with gas, and we have a generator for use by the public safety department.”

Maine Central Institute’s Wright Gymnasium is the designated Red Cross shelter, if needed, said the town manager.

“It not only is the end of the millennium,” he said, “but it is the end of the year. We are currently backing up all our municipal data with printouts so there will be no loss.”

Dogherty also said that “we’ve talked to our heating system service company and our elevator company, and all seems to be well.”

The town was ready for a computer update anyway, said Dogherty, so $29,000 was spent earlier this year for computers and software.

In Skowhegan, Town Manager Pat Dickey said the town’s computers were updated well in advance of Y2K, more than two years ago. “Diane Barnes, our chief financial officer, has been monitoring the Y2K situation for three years now and has been advising us,” said Dickey.

“We have no fears,” she said, although she admitted that all firefighters, police officers and department heads will be on call New Year’s Eve and Day. “I’ll be right here” at the town office, she said.

“We are basically prepared to do just as we did in the [1998] ice storm or the flood of 1987,” Dickey said. “If necessary, we will enact the town’s disaster plan. Shelter, if needed, will be available at the town office, community center or public works garage.”

Dickey said Skowhegan held an educational seminar earlier this fall, which informed citizens of the possible problems they could experience with Y2K.

“I think that was very helpful for our residents,” she said.

In Detroit, Town Clerk Kathy Walston said, “I’m crossing my fingers,” regarding the town’s computer system, which is supposed to be Y2K-compliant.

The fire station will be the emergency shelter, she said, and a crew will be on hand to deal with emergencies.

“Hopefully, it’ll go just like every other day, and we won’t even notice,” she said.

In Canaan, the Fire Department also is in charge of emergency preparations. Assistant Town Clerk Barbara Small said the town’s computer system is “all A-OK.”

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